News Feed 20120509

Financial Crisis
» EU: Barroso and Schulz: Fiscal Treaty Will Not be Renegotiated
» German Export Machine Defies Crisis, Picks Up Speed in March
» ‘Greece Out of Euro’ Calls Multiply in Germany
» Greece: Composer Theodorakis Express Support for Syriza
» Greek Leftists Seek Coalition Repealing Bailout
» IMF Tells Germany to Do More for Eurozone
» Italy: Monti Must Explain Meaning of “Human Consequences”, PDL
» Italy: Integration Should Spur EU Growth, President Napolitano Says
» Italy: Monti Wants Technology Investments Exempt From Deficit Rules
» Juppé: Greek Situation ‘Extremely Worrying’
» ‘No Alternative’ To Austerity: German Leaders Threaten End to Greek Aid
» Portugal’s War on Corruption Still Lacking: Report
» South African Unemployment Rate Rises to 25.2%
» Spain to Force Banks to Raise Bad-Loan Provisions
» Spanish 10-Year Bond Yields Spike Above 6.0%
» UK: This Omnishambles is No Joke
 
USA
» Adam Yauch Was a Muslim Hero
» Al Qaeda Colon Bomb Forces Universal Airport Colonscopies
» Backlash Against Muslims? Then Why Are Their Numbers Growing?
» Black Conservatives Should be Listened to
» DuPage Nixes Mosque Plan Near West Chicago
» Islam-Offending US Teacher Forced to Apologise
» Pfizer and Merck Under Investigation for Colluding With Obama Administration on Health Care Overhaul
» Second Victim Dies in Beating of Elderly Couple, As Suspect Could Face More Charges
» SpaceX Shows Off Manned Dragon Capsule at Space Expo
» The Global Climate Change Initiative, More Waste of Taxpayer Dollars
» The Most Dangerous Man in the World
» Time to Terminate Big Wind Subsidies
» US Ready to Bet $60 Million on 3D Printing
 
Europe and the EU
» ‘Anonymous’ Hackers Expose Norway Rivals
» Belgian Beer Triumphs on Export Markets
» Cardinal Bagnasco Unhappy With Low Turnout in Local Polls
» Child Sex Ring Jailed in Britain
» David Cameron: Euro Needs Single Government
» Denmark: Breivik Show Will Go on
» Denmark: Teen Arrested in Folkets Park Assaults
» Denmark: Roskilde to Rock All Year Round
» EU Leaders Should be Like Putin, Says Romanian FM
» Europe Has Reached a Watershed Moment and Leaders Need to Refocus
» France: 93 % of Muslims Voted for Hollande
» Germany: Cop Suspended for Radical Islamist Beliefs
» German Government Forced to Hand Over Secret Documents That Exposed Euro Flaws — Before They Became a Reality
» Huge Satellite Envisat is Dead in Space
» Islam Seminar at Mackintosh Hall in Gibraltar
» Italy: Four Ciarelli Clan Members Held Over Pescara Fan Murder
» Italy: Police Raid World’s Oldest Bank
» Italy: Ex-Fiat Workers Vent Anger in Front of Tax Office
» Italy: Law on False Accounting to Fight Corruption, Di Pietro
» Italy: Senate Passes ‘Golden Share’ Bill Into Law
» Italy: Tax Evasion Rife in Rural Bed and Breakfasts and Health Spas
» Mini Mammoth Once Roamed Crete
» Netherlands in Treaty With India for Healthcare Personnel
» Norway: Bank Tells Customer: We Don’t Take Cash Anymore
» Norway: Breivik ‘Whooped With Joy’ On Killing Spree
» Polish President Asks Ukraine to Repeal Outdated Laws
» Stakelbeck on Terror Show: A Conversation With Geert Wilders
» UK: ‘Targeted Because They Were Not Part of Your Community or Religion’: Judge Blasts Sex Grooming Gang ‘Driven by Lust and Greed’ As They Are Jailed for Total of 77 Years
» UK: 9 Men Sentenced for Rape of 631 Teenagers Over 5 Years
» UK: Bournemouth Councillor Suspends Herself After EDL Twitter Comment
» UK: Daughter of Widow, 94, Tells How She Tried to Save Herself From Yob as £5,000 Reward is Offered for Arrest
» UK: Drug-Dealing Armed Robber Might Escape Deportation; ‘it Would Violate His Human Rights’
» UK: For Queen and Country Muslims Go the Extra Mile
» UK: Grooming Offences Committed Mostly by Asian Men, Says Ex-Barnado’s Chief
» UK: Keith Vaz Says Child Sex Ring Case ‘Not Race Issue’
» UK: Live: Nine Men Sentenced for Sex Abuse of Young Girls in Rochdale
» UK: Muslim Council Condemns Shocking Sexual Abuse
» UK: Manchester Sex Trafficking Case ‘Not About Race’, Say Police. Do They Expect US to Believe That?
» UK: Pensioner Fights Off Sword-Wielding Robber With Pen He Was Using for Sudoku Puzzle
» UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Split Views on Race Issue
» UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Police Accused of Failing to Investigate Paedophile Gang for Fear Appearing Racist
» UK: Two Not Charged in Rochdale Grooming Gang Case: One Already in Jail, The Other ‘A Victim’ Herself
» UK: The Truth About ‘Asian Sex Gangs’
» UK: The End of the Media Mogul?
» US Self-Defence Guru Tim Larkin Barred From Britain
» Wave of Violence in Germany Over Party’s Use of Anti-Muslim Cartoons
» World’s Largest Telescope Eyes Swiss Funding
 
Mediterranean Union
» Energy: EU Aims at New Partnership With South Med States
 
North Africa
» Egyptians Choose S Arabia Over Turkey as Model: Poll
» Morocco: ISESCO Condemns Holy Quran Burning by American Pastor
» Morocco: Optimism After Election Hollande
» What the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Wants
 
Middle East
» Bomber in Al Qaeda Plot Was ‘Double Agent, ‘ Say US Reports
» Iraq Demo Over ‘Anti-Islam’ Magazine Turns Violent
» Kuwait: ‘Prince of the Believers’ Gets 10 Years Jail Term
» Saudi Arabia: World’s First Underwater Mosque Built in KSA
» Saudi Arabia: Breast Cancer Battle Starts by Breaking Taboos
» Turkey Tired of ‘Government Controlled’ Media
» Turkey: Ankara’s Nightmare, Post-Assad Partition of Syria
 
Russia
» Chess Greats Duel in Moscow in Echo of Soviet Epic
» Russian Police Detains Opposition Activists on Victory Day
» Russian Parliament Confirms Medvedev as PM
» Superjet: Russia’s Great Aviation Hope
 
Caucasus
» Azerbaijan: Singing Its Own Praises: Azerbaijan’s Eurovision P.R. Blitz
 
South Asia
» Bangladesh Teacher Arrested Over Burns on Pupils’ Legs
» Indian Court Further Delays Marines’ Hearing
» Indonesia: Islamists Warn ‘Satanic’ Lady Gaga
» Malaysia Police Hold Five Over Dutch Boy Kidnapping
» Pakistan: Slain Adnkronos Reporter to be Honoured in Washington
 
Far East
» Philippines: Imelda Marcos: The “Poor” Widow of Dictator Among the Richest Politicians in the Country
» The Worrying Truth About the Chinese Economy — Part II
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» South African Police Seize $6.8 Mln Assets From Rhino Poachers
 
Immigration
» EU Judges to Consider Qatada Case
» House Votes to Stop Obama Immigration Lawsuits
» Italy: North African’s Stabbing Sparks Rampage in Perugia
» Netherlands: Iraqi Asylum Seekers Set Up Camp in Protest at Rejection
» Out of Bulgaria and Romania: Wave of Immigrants Overwhelms German System
 
Culture Wars
» Beastie Boy Adam Yauch: Not Just a Celebrity Activist
» Obama Tells ABC News Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legal
» Obama ‘Evolves’ To Support of Gay Marriage
» UK: Why Liberals Turn a Blind Eye to the ‘Grooming’ of Girls
» World-Weary Swiss Seniors Seek Suicide Help
 
General
» Electronics of the Future May Thrive on Bacteria
» How Telerobotics Could Help Humanity Explore Space
» Is Einstein’s Greatest Work All Wrong-Because He Didn’t Go Far Enough?
» Mission to Mars: Why Russia & US Should Tag Team Red Planet
» Mysterious Blob Filmed in the Deep — And No-One Can Work Out What it Could be
» Psychopaths Have Different Brains to Normal People — and Current ‘Therapies’ For Killers May be Useless

Financial Crisis


EU: Barroso and Schulz: Fiscal Treaty Will Not be Renegotiated

Asked by German broadcaster WDR for a one-word answer on whether the fiscal treaty will be renegotiated, EU commission and parliament chiefs Jose Barroso and Martin Schulz both said “No”. Changing the fiscal treaty featured high in the new French president’s election campaign — though details always remained unclear.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Export Machine Defies Crisis, Picks Up Speed in March

Although recession has engulfed their main markets in Europe, German firms in March exported more than ever before in a single month. With imports similarly at a record high, Europe’s biggest economy helps others, too.

In March, German companies sold goods worth 98.9 billion euros ($128.5 billion) abroad — the highest volume of exports since first records were taken in 1950, the German Federal Statistics Office, Destatis, said Wednesday. The previous German export record had been set in March 2011, Destatis added, which had now been surpassed by 0.7 percent.

Compared with inflation and seasonally adjusted February figures, exports rose by 0.9 percent, supporting analysts’ assumptions that Germany might avoid a technical recession, which is two consecutive quarters of contraction.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Greece Out of Euro’ Calls Multiply in Germany

German politicians have called for Greece to leave the eurozone and return to the Drachma, as the country fails to form a government following Sunday’s election in which mainstream parties were punished for EU austerity measures.

“We should make Greece the offer to leave the eurozone in an orderly fashion, without leaving the European Union,” said Klaus-Peter Willsch, budgetary expert for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

He told Wednesday’s business daily Handelsblatt it was not up to the Germans to tell the Greeks how to live, but the election results indicated that the Greeks were not willing to make the effort required to make their country competitive. “The dogma that no country can leave the eurozone has already caused too much political damage in Europe,” he said.

He was joined by the deputy chairman of the CDU’s parliamentary faction, Michael Meister, who told the paper that although it was not the aim of EU partners to throw Greece out of the common currency, “it is clear that if the new Greek government, contrary to expectations, does not keep to the contracts, it will have to accept the consequences already announced.”

Frank Schäffler, a finance expert from the CDU’s coalition partner the Free Democratic Party, also said he was open to a possible exit of the Greeks from the eurozone. He told the Handelsblatt that although the Greeks must be given time to sort themselves out, “one must be prepared.”

He said dozens of private studies had been carried out into the possibility. “The government should now, at the very latest, draw up a plan B,” he told the paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Composer Theodorakis Express Support for Syriza

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 9 — The renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis last night expressed his support for Syriza and the efforts of its leader, Alexis Tsipras, “to form a government that will terminate the memorandum and will seek to recover our country’s national sovereignty”. He was speaking after a meeting with Tsipras, Manolis Glezos MP and constitutional law expert Yiorgos Kassimatis. Theodorakis called on all “patriots” and “creative Greeks” to assist in bringing Greece to self-sufficiency, progress and rebirth.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greek Leftists Seek Coalition Repealing Bailout

The party charged with the task of forming Greece’s new government has said it will scrap international bailout agreements if it can form a government. But whether they will achieve the latter is unclear. The leader of Greece’s left-wing party Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, said Tuesday that he would reject all EU and IMF-backed austerity measures should his party succeed in forming a coalition, after Greece’s general election launched the country into fresh political turmoil.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



IMF Tells Germany to Do More for Eurozone

Germany’s economy is doing well in its recovery, but the country should be more “active” in helping the rest of the eurozone cope with the crisis, the International Monetary Fund has said.

“As the euro area’s largest economy, Germany can play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges posed by the crisis. Articulating more clearly the Economic and Monetary Union’s shared vision of an appropriate post-crisis architecture will help in restoring market confidence,” the Washington-based body said in a country report published on Tuesday (8 May).

As exports are picking up again, “the conditions are in place in Germany for a domestic demand-led recovery,” driven by consumption and investment.

The IMF also said that the EU’s economic powerhouse should allow for its workers to get higher wages. This is in line with France and other southern countries’ criticism about Germany’s well-performing economy: That it keeps its wages low to boost production and exports, at the expense of less “competitive” euro-states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: Monti Must Explain Meaning of “Human Consequences”, PDL

(AGI) Rome — Premier Mario Monti must explain the meaning of his words and to whom he was referring when he spoke about “human consequences” of the crisis yesterday, as asked by 42 Pdl parliament members in a parliamentary inquiry. “It is a moral and political duty, for Cabinet President Mario Monti, to expplain clearly what he meant when he spoke about ‘human consequences’ on May 8 2012, with a clear reference to the chain of suicides, and to whom he was referring if not to the Pdl party when he specified: ‘those who brought economy to this state’“, the 42 parliamentary members wrote. Among the signers there are the deputy president of the Pdl group at the Lower House, Maurizio Bianconi, the former ministers Renato Brunetta, Maria Stella Gelmini, Giorgia Meloni and the deputies Viviana Beccalossi, Pietro Laffranco, Michele Scandroglio and Marcello De Angelis.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Integration Should Spur EU Growth, President Napolitano Says

‘Must not be confined to consolidation and stability’

(ANSA) — Florence, May 9 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday called for fiscal integration among EU economies that would aim to bolster growth.

“Integration cannot be confined to…fiscal consolidation and financial stabilization. It must seek to promote convergence between the economies and prospects for renewed, stronger and sustainable growth on a European scale,” he said at the conference ‘The State of the Union’ in Florence. Italy has upped its push for growth measures in the eurozone after Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won France’s presidential elections, the parties that passed austerity measures in Greece were hit at the ballot box in the vote there and left-wing and grassroots parties made big gains in Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Monti Wants Technology Investments Exempt From Deficit Rules

Premier says move would be compatible with fiscal discipline

(ANSA) — Florence, May 9 — Italian Premier Mario Monti continued his drive to get the European Union to do more to promote growth on Wednesday when he suggested exempting some technology investments from budget-deficit calculations.

Italy, like many countries hit by the eurozone debt crisis, is suffering the effects of austerity after Monti’s emergency government of technocrats passed a tough package of tax hikes and spending cuts in December.

The former European commissioner, who replaced Silvio Berlusconi as premier in November, is now seeking to put growth at the top of both the domestic and European agendas.

He proposed that “investments in broadband and the digital agenda” should be encouraged by leaving them out, for three years, of the calculations for the Fiscal Compact that European leaders recently signed in order to protect the euro.

Monti added that there would “nothing evasive” in this for budget discipline. The premier, who recently said Italy would come close to hitting its target of balancing the budget next year, also applauded the importance French president-elect Francois Hollande has given to promoting economic growth. “The greater warmth, the greater insistence that Hollande puts on the issue of growth is welcomed by Italy,” he said. “I think this can be reconciled with budget discipline”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Juppé: Greek Situation ‘Extremely Worrying’

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Wednesday that the situation in Greece was “extremely worrying” after elections punished mainstream parties backing an EU-IMF bailout package.

“The situation is extremely difficult, extremely tense. The result of the elections showed a very strong reversal for the two governing parties and an increase of extremes, so it is extremely worrying,” he told Europe 1 radio.

Greece is facing a political impasse after the vote Sunday pushed out the parties accepting an EU-IMF bailout package that included harsh austerity measures.

After the conservative New Democracy party failed to form a government Monday, the task has fallen to radical left-wing party Syriza — whose leader, Alexis Tsipras, said Tuesday the vote had “clearly nullified” Greece’s loan agreement.

“The questioning of the treaties that were painstakingly negotiated … risks sparking turbulence that will be difficult to control,” Juppé said.

Juppe was to attend his final cabinet session as foreign minister later Wednesday after President Nicolas Sarkozy was ousted by Socialist François Hollande in France’s election on Sunday. Hollande has vowed to renegotiate the EU’s fiscal pact to put emphasis on economic growth as well as austerity but is facing fierce resistance from Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘No Alternative’ To Austerity: German Leaders Threaten End to Greek Aid

The Greek left-wing politician tasked with forming a new government after the country’s parliamentary elections has called the Greek bailout agreement invalid. Several German leaders responded Wednesday by demanding that Greece stick to the negotiated austerity measures if it wants to receive future international financial aid.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Portugal’s War on Corruption Still Lacking: Report

Portugal’s efforts to crack down on corruption as it grapples with deep recession are being hindered by a lack of political will and poor coordination, according to a report published Monday.

The study drawn up under the auspices of the Portuguese arm of global anti-corruption group Transparency International paints a picture of widespread graft and impunity which has undermined public confidence.

“Poor coordination between various agencies, lack of specialised judicial enforcement authorities and a lack of political will to adopt a coherent strategy against corruption are the main flaws in Portugal’s anti-corruption efforts,” said National Integrity System assessment, the first on Portugal.

Transparency rates Portugal as the 18th most corrupt country in Europe and 32nd in the world, and the report said the results from the survey were worse than expected for a developed and industrialised country within the EU.

The report also pointed to the risks of corruption associated with the current austerity measures aimed at pulling Portugal out of its deep economic malaise.

The rush to undertake such policies as privatisations “can hide very shady deals”, it said, while warning that budget cuts in the justice and public administration sectors could made public officials and judges “more susceptible to pressures or bribes”.

The government is slashing spending and raising taxes to meet the terms of its 78 billion-euro ($104 billion) bailout agreed with the EU and International Monetary Fund a year ago. But the austerity has plunged the country into a deep recession.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



South African Unemployment Rate Rises to 25.2%

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 25.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from 23.9 percent in the previous quarter, official data showed on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate jumps to 33.8 percent if the number of disenchanted are factored in, while informal estimates put unemployment as high as 40 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain to Force Banks to Raise Bad-Loan Provisions

Spain’s government on Friday will force banks to boost their financial cushion against risky property assets, an official said, as Madrid struggled to soothe international worries. “There will be new provisions” against property-related assets demanded in a package of banking sector measures to be issued on Friday, an economy ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, without giving further details.

The extra money set aside against risky loans and seized real estate linked to the distressed property sector could amount to 35 billion euros ($45 billion), said business daily Cinco Dias. That figure comes in addition to the 53.8 billion euros in provisions already demanded in a reform announced in February.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish 10-Year Bond Yields Spike Above 6.0%

The interest rate on Spain’s benchmark 10-year bonds soared above 6.0 percent on Wednesday, a borrowing rate widely believed to be unsustainable for the crisis-hit Spanish government.

Shortly after mid-day yields on the secondary market were 6.028 percent, up sharply from 5.817 at Tuesday’s close, as investors worried over the possible fallout of the crisis in Greece where anti-austerity parties made huge gains in general elections on Sunday. The yield on Germany’s benchmark bonds meanwhile fell to a record low level of 1.521 percent.

“The extreme fragility of the political landscape in Greece and the increasing likelihood that the next loan installment from Europe and the IMF will be blocked means risk aversion will dominate the markets,” BNP Paribas analysts said in a note.

Investors are flocking to the safety of German sovereign debt amid talk of Greece reneging on commitments to international creditors agreed in return for rescue loans and a debt write-off earlier this year.

Italian bond yields, which had eased from danger levels in recent months, jumped to 5.578 percent, up from 5.441 percent on Tuesday. French benchmark yields rose to 2.888 percent, up from 2.804 percent. “The chance of Greece leaving the eurozone risks putting the very idea of Europe into question on the markets,” said analysts at brokerage Aurel BGC.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: This Omnishambles is No Joke

by Martin Bright

[…]

We are staring into the political abyss and we think it is mildly amusing to talk in terms of an omnishambles. But this is no joke. At the heart of government, as we contemplate the consequences of the double dip recession and rising interest rates, there is an ideas vacuum. The coalition’s best minds, Steve Hilton and Richard Reeves, have announced their departure for the Unites States, which is where European intellectuals fled during the 1930s.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

USA


Adam Yauch Was a Muslim Hero

The Beastie Boy was about more than his “right to party” — he spoke out against Islamaphobia before the term existed.

Brooklyn, NY - In 1998, the Beastie Boys walked up to the VMA mics in matching utilitarian grey outfits, Ad-Rock sneering at the cameras as if to imply it was about time. Behind him, Mike D and MCA (whose birth name was Adam Yauch) followed in single-file, not particularly cheery, stiff — as if walking to the gallows. After a brief round of thank you’s from Mike D, Yauch approached the mic in front of the screaming crowd, and assumed a solemn tone. He began, “I think it was a real mistake that the US decided to fire missiles into the Middle East. I think it’s very important that the US look into non-violent means of resolving conflicts.” Applause from the crowd mixed with a few loud heckles. Yauch attempted to calm the crowd and explain what he had meant, knowing full well his message needed to be concise. A month earlier he was booed at a show in the heartland of the United States for saying the same thing.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Al Qaeda Colon Bomb Forces Universal Airport Colonscopies

Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t President Obama say that he had decimated Al Qaeda? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t President Obama kill Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda Yemen head Anwar al Awlaki? So what’s with the news that the CIA just foiled an Al Qaeda bomb plot in Yemen to blow up a US airplane over One World Trade Center with a non metallic bomb inserted inside the colon of an Al Qaeda suicide bomber? Why is our national defense beginning to sound like a scene from “Get Him to the Greek” with Jonah Hill clenching his buttocks to protect Russell Brand’s heroin?

If you mow your lawn and cut off the tops of the weeds the weeds will always come back. Unless you get down on your hands and knees with your $2 weeder and pull out the roots of the weeds the weeds will always come back. The root of the Al Qaeda bomb plot is the Koran which states “Make War on the Christians, Jews and Infidels, all non Muslims, and I will reward you with 72 virgins, 80,000 servants each, eternal paradise with Allah, crystal clear streams and endless wine with no side effects.” (Koran Chapter 9:5, 29-30, 111, Chapter 56, Hadith.)

Was the scene inside the situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden President Obama’s version of “Mission Accomplished?” Sigmund Freud said that a person’s personality is determined by the age of 5. President Obama is the son of a Muslim father. President Obama went to elementary school in the world’s most populous Muslim nation Indonesia. President Obama stood in Cairo and said “Islam is a great religion.” How can we expect a Muslim President to protect us from nuclear armed Muslim Pakistan or to stop Muslim Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons to attack US within the coming months while he is busy rallying support for the ground zero mosque? How is your puppy going to feel with a fiber optic camera on a tube passed through her anus every time she wants to travel?

[JP note: If this is parody, it is too close to the bone for comfort.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Backlash Against Muslims? Then Why Are Their Numbers Growing?

Jonathan S. Tobin

Most of the mainstream media still takes it as a given that there is an ongoing and brutal post-9/11 backlash against Muslims in America that fuels discrimination against followers of Islam. The fact that there is virtually no evidence for this assertion and much empirical data to argue for the opposite conclusion has not prevented liberals and radicals masquerading as the representatives of American Muslims to continue to claim the existence of a backlash. As we’ve previously noted, FBI hate crime statistics consistently show attacks on Muslims are rare and constitute a fraction of the far more prevalent bias crimes committed against Jews. Nor has the relative paucity of Muslim villains in popular culture or the reflexive support for Islam on the part of American leaders debunked the backlash myth.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Black Conservatives Should be Listened to

Lloyd Marcus, Professor Walter Williams, Dr. Thomas Sowell

On May 02, 2012, one of America’s bravest warriors spoke out against the tyranny of the liberal Democrat establishment.

No, he’s not one of our brave military warriors fighting against our enemies in the world of terrorism or the scarred fighting fields of Afghanistan instead, he is fighting the stubbornness of his fellow black Americans in an attempt to wake them up to the fact that the liberal Democrats in America are using them to make themselves look like saviors while burying them deeper in the dregs of indebtedness and abject or hopeless poverty.

That brave warrior is Lloyd Marcus, a black conservative, and he spoke out against liberal Democrat tyranny in an article titled “The ultimate appeal to persuade fellow blacks to stop voting Democrat” on May 02, 2012 online, in the freedom and democracy loving Canada Free Press (CanadaFreePress.com) which touts in its masthead, “Because without America there is no Free World.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



DuPage Nixes Mosque Plan Near West Chicago

A plan to transform a house near West Chicago into a mosque has been rejected by the DuPage County Board. The board voted 15-3 against granting Islamic Center of Western Suburbs the conditional-use permit it needs to use the home at 28W774 Army Trail Road as a religious institution.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Islam-Offending US Teacher Forced to Apologise

Saudi students in US protest anti-Islam remarks by female American teacher

A female university teacher in the United States had to apologise to her Saudi students for offending Islam after they protested her behaviour to the management, Saudi newspapers reported on Tuesday. The students went straight to the teacher’s direct manager and complained that she had placed anti-Islamic pictures with abusive remarks in their books. They threatened that in case no action was taken, they would go to the chairman of the University of Central Arkansas in the southern state of America. “We went into the office of the manager of the institute where we study and submitted a protest…we told her that if she does not take action against the teacher, we will go to the head of the university,” Saudi student Ahmed bin Daheem Al Hajour said, quoted by the Saudi Ajel newspaper. The manager did take action as promised and forced that teacher to apologise to us by sending messages to each of us on our Facebook pages…. she even removed her son’s picture from her Facebook page and replaced it with the flag of Saudi Arabia.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pfizer and Merck Under Investigation for Colluding With Obama Administration on Health Care Overhaul

(NaturalNews) Most Americans have no idea what truly went on behind closed doors during the crafting and illegitimate passing of Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But a congressional investigation currently underway is seeking to unearth the dirty details, including how drug giants like Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. greased the financial wheels to make sure their pharmaceuticals received preferential treatment as part of the health care overhaul.

As reported by Bloomberg, Republicans from the House Energy and Commerce Committee have been toiling for roughly a year now to obtain key documents, emails and other pertinent information exposing the truth about Big Pharma’s role in the creation of Obamacare. But to date, neither the Obama White House nor Big Pharma has cooperated in any significant way in releasing any of this information, according to the committee.

“This has been like pulling teeth, trying to get information,” said Congressman Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), to Bloomberg. Besides Pfizer and Merck, drug companies Amgen Inc., Abbott Laboratories and AstraZeneca are also being pressed by Rep. Burgess and his allies for information, as are industry lobbyists, lawyers, and several doctor and hospital groups.

What is it they hope to find? To start, it is already clear that Big Pharma agreed to provide price discounts on drugs in exchange for their being covered as part of Obamacare. But other secret deals between Obama and the drug industry were likely made as well, and Rep. Burgess wants to know what those were and under what terms they were negotiated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Second Victim Dies in Beating of Elderly Couple, As Suspect Could Face More Charges

An Oklahoma man suspected in a brutal home invasion — already facing a murder charge for allegedly killing an elderly woman — could face additional charges after the death last week of her husband, a D-Day veteran.

Bob Strait, a 90-year-old Tulsa resident, died on Friday, and a medical examiner is determining his cause of death, News On 6 reports.

He was injured March 13 when, police say, Tyrone Woodfork, 20, entered the house and attacked, allegedly beating and sexually assaulted Strait’s 85-year-old wife, Nancy Strait, who died two days later. The couple had been married for 65 years.

Woodfork was arrested a day after the incident when he was spotted driving around in Strait’s vehicle, a Tulsa Police Department spokesman told FoxNews.com.

Woodfork was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on March 15 and is being held on charges of first degree murder, first degree burglary, armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Bob Strait was a World War II paratrooper who took part in the D-Day invasion as part of the 101st Airborne Division, where he was awarded a Bronze Star, News On 6 reports.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]



SpaceX Shows Off Manned Dragon Capsule at Space Expo

As private spaceflight company SpaceX puts the finishing touches on the interior of its prototype crewed capsule, the firm brought a life-size model of the vehicle to display here at the first annual Spacecraft Technology Expo.

The design of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule recently passed a series of key reviews, during which a group of NASA engineers and former space shuttle astronauts tested how well they could maneuver inside the spacecraft. The NASA team practiced entering and exiting Dragon under normal and emergency scenarios, and they also evaluated the layout of the vehicle’s controls and instruments.

“This milestone demonstrated the layout of the crew cabin supports critical tasks,” SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager Garrett Reisman said in a statement. “It also demonstrated the Dragon interior has been designed to maximize the ability of the seven-member crew to do their job as effectively as possible.”

SpaceX let attendees of the expo — which runs from May 8-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center — see what the NASA evaluators saw. The company displayed the test version of Dragon at a special exhibit called the “Human Spaceflight Park,” which includes full-size and scaled models of various other rockets and spacecraft, including XCOR Aerospace’s suborbital Lynx space plane.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Global Climate Change Initiative, More Waste of Taxpayer Dollars

President Obama signed on September 22, 2010 the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, elevating foreign development assistance to a national priority status involving development, diplomacy, and national security.

According to Richard K. Lattanzio, analyst in Environmental Policy, the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) aims to “foster low-carbon growth, promote sustainable and resilient societies, and reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation.” (Congressional Research Service)

GCCI is actually three programs, adaptation assistance, clean energy assistance, and sustainable landscapes. The total budget request for FY 2013 is $769.5 million. It may seem like a rounding error when compared with the trillions spent in the past four years, but it is significant.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Most Dangerous Man in the World

Ed Note: This is a speech I first gave to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in 1996, just four years after the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio. At the time I gave this address there were strong indications that Maurice Strong could be chosen as the next UN Secretary General. It didn’t happen, but that didn’t diminish his influence over the body. In fact, In 1996 all roads in the UN led to Maurice Strong. This speech represented the first time that the CPAC audience and most conservatives had ever heard of the radical agenda of the environmental movement. It was probably the first time the term Sustainable Development was ever heard by a conservative audience. In fact, at the time I gave this speech, environmentalism was the most popular and most powerful movement in the world. Yet, here, 15 years before “Climategate” I was revealing the very root of what was to become the “Climate Change” movement and its drive to destroy the industrial West. By the way, tapes of this speech became the most popular of any ever produced by the American Policy Center and continues to be one of our best sellers. TD

[…]

So, when Maurice Strong speaks of Man’s consumption of meat, the use of air conditioning, or the ownership of suburban housing, can there be any doubt what he plans for the future? Can there be any doubt where he intends to take the United Nations once he’s Secretary General?

Maybe this will make it clearer. In yet another interview, Maurice Strong said, “It is not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful.” That’s the Constitutional sovereignty of the United States he is talking about. And what does he plan to do about it?

You may have heard recent reports that the United Nations is floating the ideas for global taxation to fund the UN’s activities. There has been a lot of whining that the UN can’t live on its members’ contributions and that sound economics demand that it find an independent way to sustain itself. The media is reporting these taxation ideas as just possibilities. But the plan is very well along toward implementation, and Maurice Strong is the driving force behind it.

[…]

But there’s more — Maurice Strong, the man who will soon rule the United Nations’ empire, the man who will control the UN’s army and its massive income and will be unelected by any of us — wants to write a novel.

During an interview for “West” magazine, Strong mused about the plot of his novel. It reveals much about how the man thinks.

According to Strong’s book idea, each year, world leaders would meet in Switzerland for an economic forum. These leaders would decide that the only way the planet could survive would be for the rich nations to voluntarily agree to reduce consumption. Strong goes on to explain that, in his novel, the rich countries do not sign such agreements, so the world leaders decide the only way to save the planet is to bring down industrialized societies.

They create a secret society and place its members in strategic government positions and at the helm of critical financial institutions. Then at meetings of the forum in Switzerland, mercenaries are hired to hold the world leaders hostage while the members of the secret society proceed to crash the world’s economy by jamming the gears of the commodity and stock markets preventing any of the world’s markets from closing.

Within hours, “the rich countries…” Strong stopped the story and flicked his fingers as if he were tossing a cigarette butt. — gone.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Time to Terminate Big Wind Subsidies

Unprecedented! As bills to extend seemingly perpetual wind energy subsidies were again introduced by industry lobbyists late last year, taxpayers finally decided they’d had enough.

Informed and inspired by a loose but growing national coalition of groups opposed to more giveaways with no scientifically proven net benefits, thousands of citizens called their senators and representatives—and rounded up enough Nay votes to run four different bills aground. For once, democracy worked.

A shocked American Wind Energy Association and its allies began even more aggressive recruiting of well-connected Democrat and Republican political operatives and cosponsors—and introducing more proposals like HR 3307 to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Parallel efforts were launched in state legislatures, to maintain mandates, subsidies, feed-in tariffs, renewable energy credits, and other “temporary” ratepayer and taxpayer obligations.

To confront the growing onslaught of wind industry pressure and propaganda, citizens should understand the fundamental facts about wind energy. Here are some of the top reasons for opposing further handouts:

Energy 101. It is impossible to have wind turbines without fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Turbines average only 30% of their “rated capacity”— and less than 5% on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most. They produce excessive electricity when it is least needed, and electricity cannot be stored for later use. Hydrocarbon-fired backup generators must run constantly, to fill the gap and avoid brownouts, blackouts, and grid destabilization due to constant surges and falloffs in electricity to the grid. Wind turbines frequently draw electricity from the grid, to keep blades turning when the wind is not blowing, reduce strain on turbine gears, and prevent icing during periods of winter calm.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



US Ready to Bet $60 Million on 3D Printing

Today’s 3D printers can already create robots and artificial body parts layer by layer based on computer designs. But the U.S. government has much bigger plans for the futuristic technology — it wants to reshape American manufacturing by offering up to $60 million for a new 3D printing institute.

Unlike traditional factories, 3D printing technology offers the flexibility of tweaking digital designs on the fly and then rapidly “printing” the physical object on demand. The new Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute would harness 3D printing as the first of up to 16 centers dedicated to U.S. manufacturing innovation — part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation announced by President Obama on March 9.

“This pilot Institute will serve as a technical center of excellence, providing the innovation infrastructure to support manufacturing enterprises of all sizes and ensure that the U.S. manufacturing sector is a key pillar in an enduring and thriving economy,” according to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s solicitation issued yesterday (May 8).

The Department of Defense has taken the official lead on the 3D printing effort, but civilian agencies such as the Department of Energy have also promised funding. Any university or research institute that eventually hosts the new institute is expected to match the taxpayer contribution for a possible total budget of $120 million.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


‘Anonymous’ Hackers Expose Norway Rivals

Norwegian police have confirmed the arrests of two suspected hackers after members of the Anonymous collective revealed the identities of a group of young people believed to be behind a spate of recent attacks on major websites. According to internet activists Anonymous Norway, the so-called distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks were perpetrated by a group calling itself DotNet

[ers.

Among the organizations targeted by the hackers were security police service PST, DnB bank, a range of IT news websites, and national lottery firm Norsk Tipping. The National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) on Wednesday revealed it had arrested two suspects, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old, in connection with attacks carried out in recent weeks.

The crimes of which they are suspected carry a maximum sentence of six years, NCIS said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Belgian Beer Triumphs on Export Markets

Belgian beer exports rose to 11 million hectolitres last year. Belgian beer is in increasing demand abroad and its special ales in particular that are doing well.

The Federation of Belgian Brewers reports that Belgian beer exports surged by 4.7% last year. In money terms the increase was even more impressive, but exact figures are not yet available.

78% of Belgian beer exports go to other EU countries, especially neighbouring countries. Exports beyond the EU have risen by 17%. It’s especially the Japanese — up a thumping 73.5% — and the Americans — plus 16.7% — that have fallen for Belgian beer.

The lion’s share of Belgian beer exports consists of lager, but the increase is most pronounced among special beers. Grimbergen, Affligem and the Trappist beers Westvleteren, Orval and Chimay posted impressive increases in their export figures.

Leuven-based AB InBev is responsible for half of all Belgium’s beer exports. AB InBev markets popular brands including the Stella Artois lager, the Hoegaarden white beer and abbey beer Leffe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Cardinal Bagnasco Unhappy With Low Turnout in Local Polls

(AGI) Vatican City — Following local elections in Italy, Cardinal Bagnasco said he hopes everybody can make serious contributions. Asked by reporters to comment on the results of local elections in several Italian cities on Sunday and Monday, the president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, said he hopes “everybody, without distinction, can make serious and constructive contributions to help deal with the problems that are already being seriously addressed by the government and the parliament”. Bagnasco went on to say that “the government will take into account the results of the vote”. Pending the final results, he said that “the first element to be considered is the lower turnout which is evidence of indifference to the dynamics of politics and parties”. Referring to the low turnout, Bagnasco added: “We can’t be pleased, because voting is a fundamental expression of democracy”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Child Sex Ring Jailed in Britain

A group of nine men of Pakistani and Afghan origin were sentenced to jail Thursday for grooming white British schoolgirls for sex, using drink and drugs.

The men, aged between 22 and 59, were convicted Wednesday of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of 16, and other offences.

Passing sentence at Liverpool Crown Court in northwest England, judge Gerald Clifton gave them prison terms ranging from four to 19 years. Some of the girls were as young as 13 at the time.

“All of you treated them as though they were worthless and beyond any respect,” Clifton told the defendants. “One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion. “Some of you, when arrested, said it was triggered by race. “That is nonsense. What triggered this prosecution was your lust and greed.”

The abuse took place in the market town of Rochdale outside Manchester in northwest England.

Eight members of the gang were of Pakistani ethnic origin. They included taxi drivers, a takeaway worker and a religious studies teacher. Some were married fathers. The other gang member was a 22-year-old Afghan illegal immigrant who will be deported once he has served his four-year sentence for conspiracy and trafficking.

Clifton said the group had been “grooming and sexually exploiting” several young girls.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



David Cameron: Euro Needs Single Government

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the Daily Mail newspaper that a successful eurozone requires a single government “There’s nowhere in the world that has a single currency without having more of a single government,” he said in Wednesday’s edition. The eurozone accounts for 40 percent of UK’s exports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Breivik Show Will Go on

Director says he has no plans to drop play based on mass muderer’s manifesto

Christian Lollike, the artistic director of Café Teatret, says he has no plans to drop the play based on the manifesto written by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

A story that appeared Monday afternoon on the website of public broadcaster DR seemed to indicate that Lollike was planning to cancel his controversial piece, ‘Manifesto 2083’. Lollike seemed to indicate that he felt Breivik’s public trial had accomplished what the director had stated were the goals of the play, namely to “demystify” Breivik and allow the public to hear the murderer’s own voice.

But Lollike now says that was a misunderstanding on the part of DR.

“There is nothing to the story, and DR has promised to correct it. We are not cancelling the play,” Lollike told Berlingske newspaper. “The trial obviously affects us, but I will only drop the play if I cannot write anything interesting.”

‘Manifesto 2083’, which is scheduled to premiere in the autumn, was to be based on a manifesto Breivik published containing his personal philosophy, racist propaganda, diary entries and bomb-making instructions. Lollike said the point of using Breivik’s own material was an attempt to show how a seemingly normal man could turn into a uniform-wearing mass killer that killed 77 Norwegians last summer.

Lollike said he now plans to change the play to include material other than the manifesto. “All I can say right now is that the entire play will not be based on the manifesto,” Lollike told Politiken newspaper.

Lollike has been the subject of controversy since he announced in January that Café Teatre would stage a play about Breivik. He was accused of being insensitive to the victim’s families and giving a mass murderer attention in a crass effort to sell tickets.

Pia Kjaersgaard, the leader of Dansk Folkeparti, was one of the most vocal critics of the play and she remains opposed to its production. “It is insensitive and distasteful even to think about turning this unspeakable tragedy into a play,” said Kjaersgaard to DR Kultur.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Teen Arrested in Folkets Park Assaults

Investigation continues in brutal attack on tourists

Copenhagen Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with Saturday afternoon’s attack on three men and one woman in Nørrebro’s Folkets Park.

The 16-year-old appeared before a magistrate in city court and is now being detained in a secure location. He was not jailed due to his age.

One of the victims was stabbed three times and suffered a collapsed lung during the attack. The four victims were driving near Folkets Park when they were assaulted by a group of between 10 and 12 people.

The area around the park is known for its open-air drug trade and has a history of gangs and violence. The most notorious example is the stabbing murder of an Italian tourist in 2003. In mid-April of this year, shots were fired at a car as it drove down Stengade. The shots apparently came from inside Folkets Park. In a separate April incident, three Polish victims were assaulted with guns and knives on Kapelvej.

“This cannot continue,” Lau Thygesen of the Copenhagen Police told bt.dk. “There cannot be areas of Copenhagen that are unsafe for people to enter.”

Police say that the 16-year-old in custody is known in the area and that they are continuing to look for other suspects. The search is being hampered because the victims were so shaken by the attack. Even though the assault occurred in broad daylight, neighbours said they could not identify the perpetrators.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Roskilde to Rock All Year Round

Long-planned rock museum clears final financial hurdles and will open in 2014

For many, the name Roskilde is synonymous with music and instantly brings to mind thoughts of four summer days of concerts and camping. In the near future, the tunes won’t be confined to just a few days in July, and fans will get the chance to enjoy rock music in Roskilde all year round. The long-planned Danmarks Rockmuseum recently received the final financial donations needed to start the project, which has been in the works for about ten years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Leaders Should be Like Putin, Says Romanian FM

“(Russian President) Putin is a very competent man, it would be good if leaders in Europe and our country were as competent,” Andrei Marga, Romania’s new foreign minister said during parliamentary hearings. The Liberal minister is set to clash with the country’s president on the issue, a staunch pro-Atlanticist.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Europe Has Reached a Watershed Moment and Leaders Need to Refocus

By now you will know the result of the French Presidential election — and it could be momentous. We are at a watershed moment — not only in France but across the whole of Europe.

By Roger Bootle

The common European money — the euro — is just the most important addition to this list. It wasn’t willed by the people but was rather thrust upon them by their leaders, without sufficient thought or preparation. They have created a monster which threatens to destroy the European economy — and with it, to threaten the world.

The euro is not the sum total of Europe’s ills. Things were going wrong before it was created. European leaders have been focused on utterly the wrong things. Their dreams have been about building unity when they should have been about creating excellence — even if that means diversity, which it has throughout most of our European history.

The fault lies primarily with Europe’s governments, which have been pursuing a chimera. They are big, but that does not make them effective. On the contrary, they are hopelessly ineffective at doing what governments have traditionally been there to do — defend citizens against internal and external danger.

Whether it is crime, immigration or defence, the modern European state is a pathetic failure. Big, dithery, expensive — but incompetent. That is the critique from the right. From the left now comes the complaint that the state is failing in its role as provider of “social security”, under the onslaught of globalisation and market pressures.

The decline of Europe is the result of the interaction of economics and politics. Economic prosperity has allowed indulgence in self-destructive habits: degenerate politics have perpetuated the sources of decline, as politicians have dished out various opiates to the people.

Across Europe the people are stirring. Will the elites respond? If not, we are we going to be faced with something very ugly. The combination of economic collapse, lack of faith in political institutions, xenophobia and racism could be deadly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: 93 % of Muslims Voted for Hollande

Via La Vie:

According to a poll by OpinionWay and Fiducial for Le Figaro, 93% of Muslims voted for Hollande. 7% voted for Sarkozy. The poll was conducted May 6th among 1000 voters.

According to the polling agency, there are about 2 million Muslim voters. 59% of Muslims voted for Hollande in the first round. 23% voted for Jean-Luc Melenchon (Left Front) and 7% voted for François Bayrou (Democratic Movement). Sarkozy got 4% of the Muslim vote in the first round

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: Cop Suspended for Radical Islamist Beliefs

Western German police chiefs have suspended an officer after they discovered he belonged to a branch of Salafist Muslim fundamentalists, and had been distributing radical religious material, it was reported on Tuesday.

“Disciplinary action is underway, with the aim to dismiss the man from the police force,” North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Ralf Jäger confirmed on Tuesday. It is the first time a policeman has been suspended for radical beliefs in Germany.

The head of the Essen police force told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the suspended officer does not believe in the German constitution, which is required of police officers — rather he holds Islamic law to be paramount. When questioned by state security if he lived under Islamic law, he said only that “what he believed privately was his business.”

He has also admitted to having contact with radical Salafists who promote violence towards non-believers.

It also emerged that the 31-year-old, identified only as Ali K., had worked with the police intelligence service, spending six months in 2009 with a mobile observation team who were instructed to keep an eye on extremist activity.

Background checks showed that he was a Muslim but had no fundamentalist beliefs at that time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Government Forced to Hand Over Secret Documents That Exposed Euro Flaws — Before They Became a Reality

The German government has been forced to hand over hitherto secret documents that expose the flaws of the euro — and the misgivings of European politicians — in the years before it became a reality.

Der Spiegel news magazine made a successful request for the release of the euro files at a time when the odds on Greece quitting the common currency within 18 months rise to 75 per cent and the chances of a complete shattering of the eurozone have never been higher.

Born in 1998 and introduced across the continent four years later, the euro was always a time bomb waiting to go off. Many of Helmut Kohl’s aides had huge doubts at the time — and pinpointed Italy as the weakest link.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Huge Satellite Envisat is Dead in Space

The European Space Agency declared the death of its massive Earth-observing satellite Envisat today (May 9) after a month of mysterious silence from the school bus-size spacecraft.

Envisat is the world’s largest Earth-watching satellite for civilian use, with ESA officials touting its 10th anniversary in space earlier this year. The $2.9 billion satellite was originally designed to snap high-resolution photos of Earth for five years, but managed to last 10 years during its successful mission.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Islam Seminar at Mackintosh Hall in Gibraltar

GIBRALTAR (Spain), 17 Jumada Al-Thani/8 May (IINA)-Moroccan Workers Association last week organised a two-day seminar and exhibition on Islam at the Mackintosh Hall. It included speakers from UK and invitations to all other major religions in Gibraltar who were represented. There were numerous explanatory posters about Muslim culture, exhibits on display including the Koran, religious artifacts, symbols and clothing. Speaking to the Chronicle Mr. Sarsri said that “co-existence, tolerance and acceptance of others” is a central tenet of the Islamic religion. “In the past Moroccans working in Gibraltar did not have stability. Now as we become more and more integrated, into the local community with more naturalisations taking place, we thought it would be appropriate to do an event like this, so that people better understand what Islam is,” he declared. “We want to show the real nature of our religion and our true intentions,” he said.

“People of different faiths should have no problem with each other. Hate is a crime for us. While we believe that our route to salvation is the correct one we have no ill feeling toward people of other religion whatsoever,” he added.

[JP note: Liar.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: Four Ciarelli Clan Members Held Over Pescara Fan Murder

(AGI) Pescara — Four Ciarelli clan nomads are being held over the murder of Pescara fan Domenico Rigante. The men were arrested by the flying squad last night, in connection with the killing 24 year old Domenico Rigante on 1st May. They are now in prison, accused of murder, attempted murder, carrying illegal weapons, breaking and entering and threatening behaviour. Three of the men are brothers, cousins of Ciarelli, the 24 year old who was arrested on Saturday for shooting Rigante, and a nephew.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Police Raid World’s Oldest Bank

Siena, 9 May (AKI) — Italian finance police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), the world’s oldest bank, on suspicion of market manipulation related to its 2007 purchase of Banca Antonveneta.

Investigators believe Italy’s third-largest bank may have obstructed regulatory activity and misled financial markets when it bought the smaller lender from Spain’s Banco Santander, the Siena prosecutors office said in a statement.

The investigators are looking into how MPS financed its 9 billion-euro acquisition of Antonveneta.

The Tuscan bank said it will “assure the maximum collaboration” with investigators.

MPS was founded in 1472.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Ex-Fiat Workers Vent Anger in Front of Tax Office

Termini Imerese, 9 May (AKI) Hundreds of former Fiat workers demonstrated Wednesday in front a tax-collection office in a Sicilian town where the automaker shut a plant to protest against bleak work prospects.

The Equitalia tax office has become a sort of symbol for disgruntled Italians to vent their anger against a weak economy, high unemployment, and a government that raised taxes, reformed pensions and waged a war on tax cheats to put its finances on firmer footing.

The Termini Imerese assembly plant in northern Sicily where Fiat made its Lancia’s Ypsilon brand closed in December and employed around 1,400 workers.

Armed with a rifle and two pistols, a 54-year-old businessman in financial difficulty last week took 15 hostages at the Equitalia tax collection office in the city of Bergamo. He released all but one hostage and threatened to kill himself before being arrested after a six-hour standoff.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Law on False Accounting to Fight Corruption, Di Pietro

(AGI) Rome — “On false accounting we want to see whether the government and its parliament majority will pass from words to facts. We have always asked for the elimination of this shameful regulations”, as Italia dei Valori president Antonio Di Pietro said. Di Pietro is the first proposer of a law to bring back the offence of false accounting. “The offence of false accounting — he added — was one of the few regulations that still worked against corruption, before Berlusconi eliminated it. Now we are at casting out nines: if they really want to fight corruption and tax evasion our proposal must be rapidly passed” ..

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Senate Passes ‘Golden Share’ Bill Into Law

Changes rules on ‘strategic’ holdings

(ANSA) — Rome, May 9 — The Senate on Wednesday passed into law a reform to Italy’s golden-share policy changing the state’s veto power in companies in strategic sectors of the economy.

The decree redesigns the Italian policy of special government powers in the sectors of defence and national security, energy, transport and communications, in compliance with parameters defined by the European Union.

The measure is a response to a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling against Italy in 2009 for criteria which the ECJ said were “too vague and imprecise” and penalized investors who could not predict a government veto.

The golden share had long been criticised by the EU and the former European commissioner for the internal market, Charlie McCreevy, who repeatedly said that “golden shares have no place in the single market”.

Supporters of the golden share argued that the state should have veto powers in companies which operate under a government license which cannot be bought or sold, as in the case of transport, telecommunications and utilities.

Under the new decree, the government can only veto acquisitions in those sectors made by parties outside the European Union.

Special provisions were made for defence contractors such as Finmeccanica, retaining some government veto rights in the interest of national security.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Tax Evasion Rife in Rural Bed and Breakfasts and Health Spas

Rome, 9 May (AKI) — Over a quarter of rural bed and breakfasts, health spas and resorts are dodging taxes, according to the results of recent raids carried out across Italy by tax police.

The raids uncovered some 1,000 people being employed off the books in rural bed and breakfasts, health spas and resorts and uncovered tax irregularities in 1,700 enterprises out of 6,000 targeted.

The highest proportion of tax evasion was in the south (36 percent), followed by the north (26 percent) and the lowest in central Italy (23 percent), according to tax police.

While some of the businesses were paying no tax at all, others were not declaring the full amount of their takings. One rural bed and breakfast near the northwestern port city of Genoa issued regular invoices to guests but recorded only half the amount they paid, police said.

Another bed and breakfast owner in the eastern coastal city of Pesaro refused to allow guests to pay with bank cards, telling each one that his machine was out of action, and made them pay cash without giving them a receipt.

During the raids, police also seized meat and other foodstuffs which were past their sell-by date, which in some cases had been altered by hand with a biro. They also uncovered rotting fruit and unlabelled soft drinks.

Italian agriculture group Coldiretti praised the crackdown. “Too many outfits are are out there which are not officially recognised as rural bed and breakfasts and which are damaging the agriculture sector’s image and unfairly taking away business from it,” said the group.

The number of rural bed and breakfasts in Italy has virtually doubled over the last decade and the official number is over 20,000 according to Italy’s central statistics office Isat.

Official Italian rural bed and breakfasts are typically small farms where guests are should to be able to enjoy homecooked fresh, organic produce.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Mini Mammoth Once Roamed Crete

Evolution crafted pint-sized pachyderm on Mediterranean island.

Scientists can now add a ‘dwarf mammoth’ to the list of biological oxymorons that includes the jumbo shrimp and pygmy whale. Studies of fossils discovered last year on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea reveal that an extinct species once thought to be a diminutive elephant was actually the smallest mammoth known to have existed — which, as an adult, stood no taller than a modern newborn elephant.

Previously, the ancient pint-sized pachyderm was known only from fossilized teeth unearthed in Crete in the early twentieth century. Even though those molars had some features that were characteristic of mammoths, the scientist who described the species at the time placed it on the elephant branch of the tree of life, mistakenly thinking that a mammoth couldn’t have co-existed on the tiny island with another known species of elephant. But reanalysing those teeth and another fossil molar found at the same site last summer revealed a distinctive pattern of ridges and loops in tooth enamel that is seen only in mammoths, says Victoria Herridge, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Netherlands in Treaty With India for Healthcare Personnel

NEW DELHI, 09/05/12 — Health Minister Edith Schippers expects that a treaty can shortly be signed between the Netherlands and India on the exchange of personnel such as nurses.

The minister is currently leading an economic mission of some 20 companies and institutions. She has discussed areas that are interesting for partnership including vaccinations, biotechnology and ICT in healthcare. She was not yet able to give details of the treaty.

Schippers sees big opportunities for Dutch companies in the Indian healthcare sector, currently estimated at about 50 billion euros. India is among the top three countries with the fastest-growing investments in this area. The minister expects that the Netherlands can also advise India in the area of health insurance.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Bank Tells Customer: We Don’t Take Cash Anymore

A returning Norwegian traveller wanting to pay cash into his account thought bank staff were pulling his leg when they told him they no longer accept bank notes.

Last week, Bjart Berge headed to his local Nordea branch in Stavanger city centre to deposit his remaining dollars after returning from a trip to the United States, only to be told the bank no longer handles cash of any kind over the counter, newspaper Bergens Tidende reports. “I thought it was an April Fool’s joke; I couldn’t believe it was true,” Berge told the newspaper.

The Stavanger branch stopped taking cash on May 1st, bringing it in line with company policy. Of Nordea’s 98 branches in Norway, only nine still handle cash. Nordea spokesman Thomas Sevang explained that the bank was in the process of automating all its cash services and was installing new machines for withdrawing and depositing cash across its network.

“He (Berge) has encountered the bank of the future,” said Sevang. But in the bank of the present, none of the deposit machines take dollars, and the bank was not able to say when this would become possible. “You can take money out of an ATM in either Norwegian or foreign currency,” said Berge. “The same should apply for deposits. But when that possibility doesn’t exist, it’s a bit early to cut the umbilical cord.”

Nordea’s Sevang said he understood it wasn’t optimal for the customer to have to ask a friend to deposit the dollars in another bank before having the money transferred to his own account.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Breivik ‘Whooped With Joy’ On Killing Spree

Anders Behring Breivik whooped with joy as he shot dead dozens of people on his murderous killing spree last July, a witness told an Osloo court on Wednesday. Tonje Brenna, secretary-general of the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing (AUF), said she could see the 33-year-old right-wing extremist holding his gun as he stood three to four metres above her hiding place on Utøya island.

“I am absolutely certain I heard cries of delight when his shots hit their intended targets. If I were to spell it out, it would maybe be: ‘woo-hoo’. They were obvious scenes of happiness,” the 24-year-old Brenna told the court.

Prosecutor Svein Holden pointed out that Breivik has denied this to be the case, but Brenna said she was sure of what she had heard as she lay playing dead on a rock near the so-called Lovers’ Path where many of her peers were killed.

Brenna described how she and two boys had led an estimated 20 youths down a cliff face. But the hideout did not protect all of its occupants, with Breivik returning several times to fire shots down at the group.

“There were mini-avalanches of rocks and soil as people fell down. One relatively big rock landed on my neck and I’m fairly sure this rock was hit,” she said, explaining how close she believes she came to being shot.

To help ward off the desperation and fear, she said the young people tried to encourage each other by saying things like: “We’ll be home in the warmth tomorrow watching the Saturday movie with our parents”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Polish President Asks Ukraine to Repeal Outdated Laws

(AGI) Warsaw — In the dispute between the Ukraine and Europe concerning the detention of Yulia Timoshenko, Broisaw Konorowski, the president of Poland which together with the former Soviet republic will host the European Soccer Championships, spoke out today demanding that the Ukraine repeal its “anachronistic” laws used to pass prison sentences on politicians, even when charges involved decisions made when in power. The former Ukrainian prime minister Timoshenko has been sentenced to serve a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of power.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Stakelbeck on Terror Show: A Conversation With Geert Wilders

On this week’s edition of Stakelbeck on Terror, we sit down for a wide-ranging interview with Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Al Qaeda wants him dead. The British government once labeled him a security risk. Even in his own country, some want him thrown in prison—or worse. Such is the price today for speaking out against Islamic jihadists.

Wilders—who leads the Freedom Party, Holland’s third largest—has been called “Islam’s Public Enemy Number One” because of his bold stance against the Islamization of Europe.

In his new book, “Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me,” he describes his personal ordeal and lays out his case against Islam and multiculturalism.

Click the link above to watch the interview.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Targeted Because They Were Not Part of Your Community or Religion’: Judge Blasts Sex Grooming Gang ‘Driven by Lust and Greed’ As They Are Jailed for Total of 77 Years

A judge today said nine men preyed on white girls as young as 13 for sex ‘because they were not part of your community or religion’ as he jailed them for a total of 77 years.

The men, all but one originally from Pakistan, were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court after they were convicted of luring up to 47 girls into sex with drink, drugs, fast food and free taxi rides over a number of years.

One girl was subjected to a horrific ordeal when she was raped by 20 men in a single night.

Opening his sentencing remarks, Judge Gerald Clifton said: ‘All of you treated (the victims) as though they were worthless and beyond respect.

‘One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion.

‘Some of you, when arrested, said it was triggered by race. That is nonsense. What triggered this prosecution was your lust and greed.’

The hearing took place amid tight security with police standing guard in the courtroom and around the building amid fears of a large demonstration or disruption by far-Right groups.

The ringleader, a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for a total of 19 years for conspiracy, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

The defendant was previously banned from court because of his threatening behaviour and for calling the judge a ‘racist b******’.

Simon Nichol, defending, earlier said that his client did not wish to attend the sentencing hearing and had ordered the barrister not to put any mitigation before the judge on his behalf.

Mr Nichol said: ‘He has objected from the start for being tried by an all white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears.

‘He does not take back any of the comments he has made to your honour, to the jury, or to anyone else in the court during the course of the trial.

‘He believes his convictions have nothing to do with justice but result from the faith and the race of the defendants.

‘He further believes that society failed the girls in this case before the girls even met them and now that failure is being blamed on a weak minority group.’

The judge called the defendant an ‘unpleasant and hypocritical bully’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: 9 Men Sentenced for Rape of 631 Teenagers Over 5 Years

(AGI) London — Nine men of Pakistani origin are accused of having raped 631 teenage girls from youth shelters over the past five years, the Times of London reports, explaining that on Tuesday the rapists were all found guilty of sexual violence by a court in Liverpool. The victims, writes the Times, were drawn from centers, drugged or made drunk and taken to apartments, pubs and clubs with the complicity of the taxi driver to Greater Manchester, in Lancashire, and West Yorkshire where they were systematically raped. Two of the girls from shelters in Manchester and Rochdale died because of the violence. According to the Times investigations verified that the youth shelters, which have over 1,800 teenagers, registered 631 cases of girls between the ages of 12 and 16 being used for sexual purposes, of which 187 in the last ten months alone. The trial, which saw nine men between 22 and 59-years of age sentenced, among whom eight were of Pakistani origin and one Afghan exile, out of a total of 26 arrests and 56 questioned, revealed that many cases could have been avoided if the police had not ignored a complaint made in 2008 by a social services employee who spoke of “clear evidence of sexual exploitation organized in youth centers.” At the same time, a complaint by a 15-year-old girl claiming to have been raped by ten men was considered not reliable by the police. The behavior forced the Manchester police and Rochdale social services to publicly apologize for mistakes that “delivered children into the hands of rapists.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



UK: Bournemouth Councillor Suspends Herself After EDL Twitter Comment

A Bournemouth councillor has apologised “unreservedly” after saying online that only the English Defence League “sticks up for the English”. Conservative councillor Sue Anderson said she had suspended herself from the party and referred herself for disciplinary procedures. She made the comment via her Twitter account on Saturday. Ms Anderson said she had also referred herself to Bournemouth Council’s Standards Board.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Daughter of Widow, 94, Tells How She Tried to Save Herself From Yob as £5,000 Reward is Offered for Arrest

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A 94-year-old who was savagely attacked in her own bed has told relatives how she was ‘screaming for help but no one came’.

Great-grandmother Emma Winnall was found unconscious and covered in blood when carers came to check on her on Tuesday morning last week.

And a £5,000 reward was offered today for information leading to a conviction in the case of the brutally beaten pensioner.

She had a fractured skull, a broken arm and wrist and a partially severed finger. The beating was so severe that the frail widow’s palms were bruised from her attempts to protect herself, while blood had splattered on to the walls behind her bed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Drug-Dealing Armed Robber Might Escape Deportation; ‘it Would Violate His Human Rights’

A drug-dealing robber from Jamaica could be allowed to stay in the UK after complaining that being sent home would violate his human rights.

Despite an order for deportation, Peart could now be allowed to stay in the country after a ruling by three senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London.

Lord Justice Moore-Bick said that, among other things, a lower judge had failed to take proper account of the effect deportation might have on his young son.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: For Queen and Country Muslims Go the Extra Mile

LONDON, May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ —

Thousands expected for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee charity walk

Muslims from across Britain are heading for London — to honour Her Majesty The Queen. They will converge on the Tower of London on May 13th for a 10km charity walk which is expected to raise up to half a million pounds for The Queen’s charities. The charity walk is an annual fixture in the community’s calendar and in recent years has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for British charities each year. This year a special effort is being made in honour of the Diamond Jubilee. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson; Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP; and a number of senior figures from charities; the Metropolitan Police; and the Armed Forces together with various diplomats and parliamentarians will attend the historic walk. The occasion will also see the launch of 100 special buses in London congratulating The Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee. The banners on the London buses will also sport the Jubilee Logo and the Ahmadiyya Muslim motto: Love for All, Hatred for None. The charity walk & the bus campaign are a prelude to a series of activities to mark the Jubilee celebrations including:

  • A letter from the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, to Her Majesty The Queen congratulating her on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee
  • Interfaith peace symposiums and jubilee dinners across the country
  • Ahmadiyya Muslim mosques being lit up and decorated and sporting the British flag
  • Prayers for the Queen
  • Charity events in aid of British charities
  • Blood drives to donate blood in the UK

The National President of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mr Rafiq Hayat, said:

“We share in the national pride and joy at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As Muslims, we feel we are duty bound to serve Queen and country and we regard this as an important act of faith. Love for our country and its monarch is our Islamic obligation. It is with a tremendous sense of national pride and civic duty that we participate in this charity walk that provides a testament to our faith and sense of duty to Queen and country. Our mosques throughout Britain will be decorated for the Jubilee and will host dinners or organise street luncheons to mark this historic occasion.”

The event is entirely organised by an army of volunteers with every penny being raised going to charity.

Contact: Basharat Nazir, [email protected], Tel +44-7703-483-384 OR Mahmood Rafiq, Tel +44-7971-060-962,

www.loveforallhatredfornone.org

www.alislam.org

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Grooming Offences Committed Mostly by Asian Men, Says Ex-Barnado’s Chief

Martin Narey urges inquiry into why Pakistanis and Afghans are ‘overrepresented’ in child exploitation crimes in northern towns

The former head of Barnardo’s has said that grooming of teenage girls for sex in the north of England appears to be “overwhelmingly” carried out by men of Pakistani and Afghan origin and urged and investigation into the issue. Martin Narey’s comments came as nine men — one from Afghanistan and the rest of Pakistani backgrounds — await sentencing for being part of a child exploitation gang that passed vulnerable girls around a group of men for sex in the Heywood area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in 2008 and 2009.

He said he was not stigmatising the Asian community as a whole, noting that during his time managing the prison service — prior to joining Barnardo’s — sex offenders were “overwhelmingly white”, but the Labour MP Keith Vaz warned that the BNP was setting the agenda.

Narey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “For this particular type of crime, the street grooming of teenage girls in northern towns … there is very troubling evidence that Asians are overwhelmingly represented in the prosecutions for such offences.” The former Barnardo’s chief executive said he did not know the reason for their “overrepresentation” and rejected the idea they were specifically targeting white girls. He suggested that vulnerable girls on the streets were more likely to be white, while Asian girls subjected to strict parenting were more likely to be at home and so less prone to fall victim to such crimes. He added: “I’m not saying this is just Asian or Pakistani men… [but] street trafficking in the north does appear be overwhelmingly about Pakistani and Afghan men.”

Vaz, chair of the home affairs select committee, warned against generalisations and said the criminal justice system “shouldn’t dance to the tune of the BNP”. Security outside Liverpool crown court, where the nine men were tried, was stepped up after hundreds of English Defence League and BNP protesters picketed the court. The trial was almost derailed when the British National party leader, Nick Griffin, tweeted that seven verdicts had been reached, which was an alleged contempt of court. The trial was also delayed for a fortnight at the outset in February when two Asian defence barristers were attacked outside the courtroom by the far-right. Vaz told the Today programme that the police themselves had said that it was not a race issue, citing Greater Manchester’s assistant chief constable, Steve Heywood, who said: “It just happenst hat in the particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men.”

Vaz, the MP for Leicester East, said: “It’s quite wrong to stigmatise a whole community … This is where it all ends up. It’s already extended from ‘Pakistani men’ into ‘Asian men’ — that’s a very wide group.” He added: “What the BNP is saying is that this is a crime committed by Pakistani men and Asian men — that’s wrong.” Narey said the fact that the BNP were trying to make political capital out of the issue should not prevent discussion. Abdul Aziz, 41, Abdul Rauf, 43, Mohammed Sajid, 35, Adil Khan, 42, Abdul Qayyum, 44, Mohammed Amin, 45, Hamid Safi, 22, Kabeer Hassan, 25, and a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons will be sentenced on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Keith Vaz Says Child Sex Ring Case ‘Not Race Issue’

Leading MP Keith Vaz has insisted the case of an Asian paedophile gang that exploited dozens of vulnerable white teenagers is not a “race issue”.

Mr Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said the “appalling” offences of the kind carried out by the gang needed to be looked into but it was important not to “stigmatise a whole community”. He made the remarks after nine men from Rochdale were convicted for their role in a child sex ring.

Police and social workers have been accused of failing to investigate the gang for fear of being perceived as racist, allowing them to prey on up to 50 young white girls.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood acknowledged that officers could have dealt with the case “better than we did”. But he denied that the girl’s complaints had been “brushed under the carpet” because officers were reluctant to confront the issue of race.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Live: Nine Men Sentenced for Sex Abuse of Young Girls in Rochdale

Nine members of the Rochdale sex grooming gang were today being sentenced at the end of the dramatic 11-week trial. The gang members were convicted of abusing five under-age white teenagers. They plied the troubled girls with drink and drugs before raping them and ‘sharing’ them with other men as far afield as Leeds and Bradford. Reporter John Scheerhout is at Liverpool Crown Court, and will update the live blog below with the sentences as they are read out …

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Muslim Council Condemns Shocking Sexual Abuse

There should be no place within Britain’s Muslim communities for paedophiles or sexual abusers, said the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) today, reacting to news of nine men’s guilt in an appalling grooming case. The men were found guilty of grooming teenage girls, following a 10-week trial in Rochdale. The court heard that these men used alcohol and drugs to help them prey on vulnerable young women.

Despicable

“These are despicable and wicked acts which must not be tolerated within any society or any community,” said Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB. “No abuser should feel safe to hide their actions within their community,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the victims, and our thanks to the police and those within the community who helped bring this case to court. I was outraged when I read of this case. There can be no justification whatsoever for this evil behaviour. There can be no religious or cultural explanation. It is simply abuse of humanity.” He called on leaders within all communities to remain on their guard, create awareness and report such behaviour to the authorities as their duty.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Manchester Sex Trafficking Case ‘Not About Race’, Say Police. Do They Expect US to Believe That?

by Damian Thompson

Six members of a gang who preyed on under-age girls in Rochdale, Greater Manchester have become the first in Britain to be convicted of sex trafficking. All the men were of Asian background; all the victims were white. Yet were are asked to believe this:

Commenting on the case, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood denied that it was about race. He said: “It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men.”

Perhaps Mr Heywood would like to explain why some spokesmen for the Asian community don’t agree with him. Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, says: “There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community, there is an over-representation amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming, there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals.” And Jerome Taylor, religious correspondent of the Independent and a specialist in South Asian politics, has tweeted this:

Sadly, the far right will dominate the debate over sex-grooming gangs because of left’s refusal to see the issue as race/culture specific.

But it’s not just the Left’s failure. How did the police manage to leap in one generation from a racist canteen culture — overtly and disgracefully hostile towards blacks and Asians — to disingenuous political correctness?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Pensioner Fights Off Sword-Wielding Robber With Pen He Was Using for Sudoku Puzzle

Mr Dowe had just completed his Sudoku puzzle and was sitting down in the living room when Storey forced his way into the pensioner’s home.

Moments later Storey threw a bed sheet over his victim’s head and repeatedly punched him.

Michael Bunch, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: ‘He (Mr Dowe) heard the living room door open and strike the back of his chair.

But Mr Dowe refused to give in to his attacker and began to fight back. He grabbed the pen he had been using to do the puzzle and struck out at Storey, the court heard.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Split Views on Race Issue

The conviction of nine Asian men for grooming and abusing white girls has prompted strong, split opinions on whether race is an issue in such cases. A Muslim community leader has said there is a “problem” of British Pakistani men thinking “white girls are worthless and can be abused”. And the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) said it was “investigating why there may be a majority of Asians in these particular kinds of offence”. But police said grooming was “not a racial issue” and MP Keith Vaz also said “no particular race or religion” tended to be involved.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Rochdale Grooming Trial: Police Accused of Failing to Investigate Paedophile Gang for Fear Appearing Racist

Police and social workers were last night accused of failing to investigate an Asian paedophile gang for fear of being perceived as racist, allowing them to prey on up to 50 young white girls.

The nine men from Rochdale were yesterday convicted of abusing five vulnerable teenagers after plying them with alcohol, food and small sums of money in return for sex.

However, the true number of victims, who were “passed around” by the gang, is likely to be nearer to 50, police have admitted. Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have now apologised after they failed to bring the case of the first victim — Girl A — to trial following her cry for help in August 2008. One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, Liverpool Crown Court heard. Complaints to social workers and the police were ignored because they were “petrified of being called racist”, former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said. Mrs Cryer, who has campaigned to bring the issue of Asian sex gangs to light, said the girls had been “betrayed” and condemned to “untold misery” by the police and social services. “This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness,” she said. “They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Two Not Charged in Rochdale Grooming Gang Case: One Already in Jail, The Other ‘A Victim’ Herself

Two alleged members of the child sex grooming gang didn’t face trial as it was ‘not in the public interest’. One of them, Anya Miah, was a fugitive from the law when he was working as a chef at the Balti House in Heywood. Although jurors were told ‘Chef’ took part in the sexual abuse, prosecutors decided it was not in the public interest to charge him as he was already serving a long jail sentence for another sex crime. Miah, 53, of Picton Square, Oldham, was jailed for 15 years in February last year. He had repeatedly sexually abused a young girl over a three-year period in the late 1980s. The second alleged member of the gang who did not face charges is a young mum, now 19, dubbed The Honey Monster in court because of her size. She helped recruit fresh girls for the gang. From the age of 15, she became an enthusiastic helper, earning a finder’s fee of £10 or £20 every time she brought a girl to one of the sex parties. She introduced a steady stream of new girls and had a year-long sexual relationship with the 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: The Truth About ‘Asian Sex Gangs’

Despite the conviction of nine Asian men for child exploitation in Rochdale and worrying signs in the statistics, racial profiling won’t help potential victims

In January 2011 the Times proclaimed a “conspiracy of silence” around groups of Pakistani men sexually exploiting white British girls. Political correctness and fear of appearing racist had trumped child protection, the paper claimed. Soon the terms “Pakistani” and “Asian” were being conflated, much to the disgruntlement of other British Asians and a heated media debate ensued around the “Asian sex gang” problem. Jack Straw demanded the Pakistani community take responsibility, while BNP leader Nick Griffin gleefully decried “Muslim paedophilia”, campaigning with natty slogans such as “Our children are not halal meat”. The EDL were regulars at major trials: either in the courtroom taking notes or outside spitting hate.

The defendants in question are at most nominally Muslim. Practising Muslims certainly aren’t supposed to have sex with children. But race has proved a contentious and enduring feature of this crime’s coverage. Opinions have been vociferous and commentators have rushed to explain a racial profile that is yet to be established clearly. And there have been official studies and action plans. Today saw the culmination of a major investigation, the latest in a series of high-profile trials involving large groups of adults sexually exploiting British children. All nine of those found guilty of crimes in the area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, had conspicuously Asian names.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: The End of the Media Mogul?

British lawmakers declared Rupert Murdoch unfit to run a major international company. Does this mark the end of the all-powerful media mogul in a democratic society?

Last week, British lawmakers found that Rupert Murdoch should take “ultimate responsibility” for the illegal practice of phone hacking that has corroded his global media empire.

A cross-party parliamentary committee said the 81-year-old lacked credibility, adding that his company was guilty of “willful blindness” toward its staff at the News of the World tabloid.

It’s the latest in a series of blows for the man who has held sway over British politics for decades.

In the report, his company’s British newspaper arm was also criticized for misleading parliament during its investigation into the hacking of phones belonging to prominent public figures and victims in high-profile crimes.

That scandal led to a public outcry against scandal-mongering journalism and to the closure of the Sunday tabloid News of the World last summer. Initially, “rogue reporters” were blamed for the incident, but it has since emerged that the practice was widespread. Several journalists from the mass-circulation Sun newspaper, also owned by Murdoch, have now been arrested over allegations of phone hacking and bribery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



US Self-Defence Guru Tim Larkin Barred From Britain

Tim Larkin, a US self-defence instructor who teaches pupils to “inflict crippling pain from injury to easily damaged body parts” has been barred from Britain where he was due to give seminars in areas hit by last year’s riots.

Tim Larkin, who runs Target Focus Training and has been accused of promoting vigilantism, was turned back at the airport in Las Vegas on Tuesday with notice that he had been denied entry by British interior minister Theresa May.

He had been due to speak at the Martial Arts Show in Birmingham and give classes in areas including Tottenham in north London, where a rioting and looting broke out last August. Mr Larkin’s website says the core of Target Focus’ philosophy is that “violence is rarely the answer, but when it is, it’s the only answer”.

It claims he has been teaching “elite military and law enforcement agencies in 58 countries” for 20 years. In a statement, the Home Office said: “We can confirm that the individual in question is subject to an exclusion order.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Wave of Violence in Germany Over Party’s Use of Anti-Muslim Cartoons

GERMANY is beginning to regret its decision to allow a far-right political party to display anti-Muslim cartoons near mosques as part of an electioneering campaign. Spikes in violence at recent gatherings — including a major riot on Saturday that left two police officers seriously injured with stab wounds — have triggered fears of more bloodshed. Courts in Germany took the view that cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed and Allah — both outlawed under Islam — were acceptable in a country where freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution. But with resistance growing to the tactics of the radical Pro NRW party, Germany is looking to defuse tensions.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



World’s Largest Telescope Eyes Swiss Funding

Switzerland is contributing around SFr65 million ($70.2 million) towards the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the largest optical/near-infrared telescope in the world.

The government on Wednesday gave the green light to paying five per cent of its costs, ensuring Swiss scientists would have access to the telescope, which according to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) will gather 100,000,000 times more light than the human eye.

The revolutionary ground-based telescope will have a 40-metre in diameter main mirror and will be “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”, the ESO added.

The E-ELT will take 11 years to assemble at a total cost of SFr1.3 billion. It will be built on Cerro Armazones, a Chilean mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres and about 20 kilometres from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

The ESO said the telescope would tackle the “biggest scientific challenges of our time” and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the habitable zones where life could exist — one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy.

It will also perform “stellar archaeology” in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

The ESO will take the final decision on construction and financing in June.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


Energy: EU Aims at New Partnership With South Med States

Sources to be diversified

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — A new EU-Southern Mediterranean partnership for energy: this is one of the proposals sent out by a report approved by the European Parliament’s energy commission. According to the document, the European Union’s objective must now be to reduce the reliance on Russian supplies and diversify sources. The idea has stemmed from here to exploit the enormous potential of solar energy held by regions in the South Mediterranean and the request by MPs in the European Commission to elaborate common strategies with the suppliers and key partners for the benefit of the whole Union.

According to the EU’s energy commission, if members states decide to join forces with the European Commission, the Union will also hold a stronger position when contracting energy deals with third parties. The report speaks of “new sources for non Russian petrol, gas and electricity for those countries which rely too much from the single supplier.” Russian gas amounts to 24% of all gas consumed in the EU but 12 states out of 27 actually employ up to 48%. The European Parliament’s plenary council vote on the report is expected in June.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egyptians Choose S Arabia Over Turkey as Model: Poll

The majority of Egyptians prefer Saudi Arabia over Turkey as a model for the role of religion in governance, a poll says. Six out of ten want Shariah while secular figures are paradoxically still most favored by society

Most Egyptians see Saudi Arabia as a better model than Turkey for the role religion should play in government as they want Islam to play a major role in society and believe the Quran should help shape the country’s laws, a recent survey indicated.

When asked which country, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, served as the better model for the role of religion in government 61 percent said Saudi Arabia. Only 17 percent choose Turkey while the remaining 22 percent responded that neither country was an appropriate model, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Results of the survey in Egypt are based on 1000 face-to-face interviews conducted from March 19 to April 10. The sample taken was representative of the country’s adult population.

A majority of Egyptians, 64 percent according to the survey, continue to believe Islam plays a positive role in their country’s politics. According to the survey, Egyptians want Islam to play a role in shaping the nation’s laws as the majority, 60 percent to be exact, said Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Quran. About 32 percent say the country should follow the values and principles of Islam but not strictly follow the teachings of the Quran. However, most also endorse specific democratic rights and institutions which do not exist in Saudi Arabia, such as free speech, a free press and equal rights for women. Among those who choose Saudi Arabia over Turkey as the best model for Egypt, two-thirds also said democracy is preferable to any other kind of government. More than six out of ten people, or 64 percent, said it is very important to live in a country with a free press. Sixty-one percent responded with freedom of speech.

Army still popular

Despite the country’s ongoing political conflict, many of the organizations and leaders who played key roles in last year’s revolution, such as the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal April 6 Movement, remain popular. While the military’s ratings may have dropped since 2011, a majority of Egyptians continue to view the military, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and the country’s ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in a positive light. However, the influence of the military has dropped from 88 percent to 75 percent when compared to figures from 2011. Tantawi is well regarded by 63 percent of Egyptians, although his favorability rating has fallen from last year’s 90 percent.

Of people surveyed 83 percent said religious leaders have a very good or somewhat good influence on the country. Despite the political turmoil which has surrounded the military over the past year 75 percent of Egyptians have continued to say it has a good influence in the country. Ex-Mubarak foreign minister and current presidential candidate Amr Moussa is also very popular with the Egyptian public with 81 percent giving him favorable ratings, down only slightly from 89 percent in 2011…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Morocco: ISESCO Condemns Holy Quran Burning by American Pastor

RABAT, 17 Jumada Al-Thani/8 May (IINA)-The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) strongly condemned the insane gesture by Terry Jones, pastor of an Anglican church in the US state of Florida, who burned copies of the Holy Quran in callous disregard for the feelings of Muslims in the world. In a communiqué released today, ISESCO faulted Quran burning as being despicably racist and disdainful to Islam, and an intolerable affront to international law and the basic principles of human rights. ISESCO called for an international campaign to deter reoccurrence of similar crimes, and urged on the Florida church to severely reprehend the perpetrator and denounce such an act of aggression against revealed religions.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Morocco: Optimism After Election Hollande

No illusions on immigration politics, hope for more respect

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, MAY 9 — The election of Francois Hollande in France, Morocco’s main partner, is not expected to change the relations between the two countries. But Morocco has closely watched the French elections. Morocco does not expect France to radically change its immigration policies, but does expect more respect and dignity for migrants, more than under Sarkozy. The outgoing president, in the eyes of most Moroccans, has dusted off reactionary ideas, in spite of the cultural diversity present in France, considered by Morocco to be France’s real wealth. Focusing on Francois Hollande, his statements on the Renault factory opened in Tangiers are still an open question, but could be seen in the context of the electoral campaign. What Morocco expects from Hollande is a more balanced approach to the Middle East conflicts and the question of the Union for the Mediterranean, without forgetting about national sovereignty regarding the Saharan conflict. According to the results of the ninth foreign constituency, 9,415 of the 30,056 French citizens living in Morocco with a right to vote have voted for the socialist candidate Franois Hollande and 7,664 for outgoing president Sarkozy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



What the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Wants

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Watch the election rally for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi here.

Egypt now has its “democracy” and its “freedom.” And that means the Jihad against Israel will be not a minor theme, not a major theme, but the theme, of Egyptian political life. And the American government refuses to understand this, and despite the best efforts of the well-informed to end aid to the Egyptian military — the aid that makes an assault on Israel more, not less likely, and that makes the task of Israel’s Defense Ministry even more hellish than it already is — the Obama Administration refuses to recognize what has happened in Egypt. And the press, of course, whose members could take in the same material as is sometimes put up here, the videos and transcripts supplied so usefully by MEMRI, they do not do so?

Why don’t they? Why don’t they help inform the public, rather than continue to misinform and mislead and confuse it? Why does that happen here, and in the United Kingdom, and in France, and all over Europe? Why?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Bomber in Al Qaeda Plot Was ‘Double Agent, ‘ Say US Reports

A man under orders from al Qaeda to blow up a US-bound airliner was a double agent, according to media reports. The operative is believed to have infiltrated the group and volunteered for the mission.

The al Qaeda plot to bomb an airliner heading for the United States was disrupted with the help of a Saudi double-agent, according to media reports from the Washington Post and the New York Times late on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service played a pivotal role in planting operatives within the group known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

One man is reported to have spent several weeks undercover in Yemen, where a bomb designed specifically to escape detection at airports was being prepared for an attack.

The agent is understood to have volunteered for a mission to smuggle the bomb aboard an aircraft and detonate it. CIA operatives spent weeks tracking the bomb, which was eventually handed over by the Saudi agent after he left Yemen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Iraq Demo Over ‘Anti-Islam’ Magazine Turns Violent

ARBIL, Iraq — Thousands took to the streets of the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil on Tuesday as a rally to demand swift punishment for a magazine editor who ran a story decried as “against Islam” turned violent. Demonstrators gathered in front of the Kurdish parliament building in Arbil to protest the article published in the latest issue of Al-Hamsa (The Whisper), a monthly magazine published in Kurdish and Arabic in the regional capital.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Kuwait: ‘Prince of the Believers’ Gets 10 Years Jail Term

Kuwait’s criminal court recently sentenced a non-Kuwaiti in his fifties to ten years in jail with labor for pretending to be a prophet, said security sources. Lawyers Duwaim Al-Muwaizri and Adel Abdul Hadi sued the suspect for his claims.

Notably, the man had published online calls for people to convert to a doctrine that rejects all social and religious systems followed in Kuwait.

Commenting on the verdict, lawyer Al-Muwaizri said the suspect would have been executed if the recently approved law had been published in the official gazette.

“The suspect stated before the prosecution that he is the prince of the believers (amir al-momineen), the caliph of the Muslims and that people would have to believe him,” said Al-Muwaizri. He said the suspect claimed to have followers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who support him financially.

Informed sources said the suspect was sentenced to death in KSA and that he is currently an unemployed retired Kuwait army soldier who used to live in Jahra.

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]



Saudi Arabia: World’s First Underwater Mosque Built in KSA

A group of private Saudi divers said they have built what they describe as the first underwater mosque in history and that they performed prayers inside it just after it was completed, Almadina Arabic reports.

The divers used massive plastic pipes filled with sand to construct the symbolic mosque under the water off the northwestern town of Tabuk, close to the border with Jordan, according to the newspaper. “One of our colleagues came up with this idea last summer and we decided to carry it out,” diver Hamadan bin Salim Al Masoudi, said. “We have just completed the construction of the mosque. When we put the final touches on it, it was time for afternoon prayers, so we performed group prayers in the first underwater mosque in history,” he added.

The story follows last Wednesday’s announcement that the shipbuilding arm of Dubai World has signed a deal to develop undersea hotels in Dubai with a Swiss firm. Drydocks World unveiled an agreement with BIG InvestConsult, which holds the technology rights, to build the World Discus Hotel. The hotel, featuring a discus-shaped residential underwater building connected to another discus above water, will be funded by BIG which is in talks with other investors. “Drydocks and Maritime World is appointed as the exclusive main contractor for construction of the new concept hotels and cities floating in the Middle East,” Drydocks said in a statement.

Extravagant projects were the hallmark of Dubai during the 2002-2008 boom years but many were put on hold or cancelled following the downturn. However, its logistics, trade and tourism sectors have performed well since and, benefiting from its status as a safe haven amid the Arab Spring, Dubai has been making a recovery. On Wednesday, the firms said two developments with five hotels attached to them are planned in the Middle East. The Swiss firm is eyeing the coast of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “We are in the design and fabrication side for the project; it’s the same concept as rigs,” Khamis Juma Buamim, chairman of Drydocks World told reporters. This project has seven different types of designs and each will cost in the range of around $50m (AED 184m) to $120m (AED 441m). The amount varies based on the design. The discussions are to build these around the world, not just the UAE,” he said.

[JP note: Can’t wait until the Supreme Islamic Space Commission (SISC) put a mosque on Mars.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Saudi Arabia: Breast Cancer Battle Starts by Breaking Taboos

Deal with General Electric on prevention campaign

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — Breast cancer has a strong ally in Saudi Arabia: a conservative cultural tradition and a great decency, factor that delay prevention and therapy. But now the oil state has decided to throw its feelings of shame and social stigma regarding this issue overboard.

In fact several awareness campaigns have been organised, and technical measures have been taken in the medical field to fight the most widespread form of cancer in the country. Saudi Arabia has also started to work together with international organisations and institutions to fight against the existing ignorance, shame and suspicion. The most recent campaign was set up by princess Al Shaalan, the wife of king Abdullah, and General Electric. The programme is divided in four stages: the creation of a special website (www.healthymagination.me/ar, a GE project in which a billion USD is invested in cancer research over the next five years) with information in Arabic and English on prevention and on the instruments that are available for every woman to protect her health; the creation of a call-center; the availability of three mobile clinics to reach the more remote and rural parts of the kingdom, and the possibility of interventions at the Fahad Medical City in Riyadh. Breast cancer is the most common form among women in Saudi Arabia with an average rate of 18%, higher than the global average of 16%. Seventy percent of women are diagnosed when the tumour has reached a terminal stage, because they wait too long before visiting a doctor. This causes the mortality rate to be very high, made worse by the fact that 30% of cases of breast cancer are found in women under the age of 40. The taboo on a simple form of prevention, mammography, is hard to break in a country with a very strict sexual segregation — from bars to schools and sport, recreation and cultural events — and a strict dress code that covers the entire body. So going to a doctor is, paradoxically, a “courageous” decision in Saudi Arabia. In March, the month that was dedicated to the prevention of breast cancer, imams were asked to address the question in their sermons. In 2010 the disease was made more “visible” by the creation of the largest human pink ribbon ever created. The next goal is to remove the social stigma on women that have breast cancer. Patients are asked to talk about their disease in a short video that is posted on YouTube. Men will also be asked to be more involved, asking them to wear a pink ribbon for example or, more importantly, convincing them not to divorce their wife when she get breast cancer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey Tired of ‘Government Controlled’ Media

A growing number of young Turks are turning to social media, complaining that mainstream media are being increasingly controlled by the government.

Sitting in a busy cafe in downtown Istanbul, Hale holds her Blackberry, while sipping tea, and checks the latest events in Turkey.

“I am trying not to use the phone to check Twitter,” says Hale, “I only check for hot news, or something urgent, mostly there is in Turkey. But I check newspaper sites less now because I get most of my information from Twitter.” “You have blogs, you have news sites. So, I don’t care what the mainstream media does,” she says.

Hale is part of a growing phenomenon, according to media and Internet expert, Associate Professor Yaman Akdeniz, of Istanbul’s Bilgi University. Akdeniz claims the media is increasingly seen as under the thumb of the government since its third successive landslide victory last year. “Since the elections,” says Akdeniz, “we can feel that the media is not directly but indirectly controlled by the government.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Ankara’s Nightmare, Post-Assad Partition of Syria

With Alawi state on Mediterranean, risking domino effect

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The nightmare scenario for Turkish diplomacy takes the following form: an exploding of Syria that has up to now been held together in the iron grasp of the Assad dynasty, leading to the risk of a partition of the country along lines of ‘ethnicity’, leading to an Alawi state bordering the Mediterranean, a Kurdish state between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan and a Sunni state on the remainder of the territory.

This is not officially talked about in Ankara, but according to political analyst Abdullah Bozkurt, the idea gives rise to “true concerns” along Turkey’s corridors of power. There is indeed an impression that the moves of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad over the past months have been in this direction. Faced with a revolt by a Sunni majority, among which there is a strongly influential Alawi minority — that of the al-Assad clan — the regime appears to be working towards a kind of ‘community-based cleansing,’ preparing the way for a partitioning of the country. The rocky Mediterranean shore, a traditional territory of the Alawites who make up 12-15% of Syria’s population, around the cities of Latakya, Banyas and Tartous (which is the base for the Russian Mediterranean fleet), would form the nucleus of an Alawi state that would remain under Assad’s control. In this state the minority would be safe from pressures of the Sunni majority. Under the French protectorate following the First World War, there already was an Alawi state of Latakia between 1922 and 1936, which was allied with the French against the Sunnis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia


Chess Greats Duel in Moscow in Echo of Soviet Epic

Chess world champion Viswanathan Anand of India goes up against Israel’s Boris Gelfand in Moscow on Friday, in the first game of their battle to decide the world title — and $1.5 million in prize money. The last time two grandmasters clashed for the world crown in Moscow the Cold War was still raging and chess was one of its biggest psychological guns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Russian Police Detains Opposition Activists on Victory Day

Russian police detained opposition activists including protest leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow early Wednesday ahead of the tightly-policed Victory Day parade. Police in riot gear detained several dozen including Navalny at an unsanctioned gathering in a small park on early Wednesday morning ahead of the parade on Red Square watched by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s lawyer Nikolai Polozov told Moscow Echo radio station that Navalny was being charged with disobeying police, facing a maximum punishment of 15 days in police cells. He said that 23 others were detained but were expected to be released shortly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Russian Parliament Confirms Medvedev as PM

Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly confirmed former head of state Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister after he was nominated by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin. Medvedev was backed by 299 deputies in the State Duma with 144 voting against his nomination, sealing a job swap with Putin who until his inauguration Monday had served as premier for four years.

Medvedev’s approval had been guaranteed after the ruling United Russia party and the largely pro-government bloc of the ultra-nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky pledged their support. Putin then signed the decree meaning that Medvedev formally assumed his duties as premier.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Superjet: Russia’s Great Aviation Hope

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, the Russian jet which has gone missing in Indonesia, is a brand new passenger plane built by Russia in a bid to lift its civil aviation industry from a post-Soviet crisis.

The Superjet only made its first commercial flight last year and if a major accident is confirmed it would be the first disaster to involve the aircraft, which is made by legendary Russian planemakers Sukhoi.

The plane is crucial to Russia’s hopes of becoming a major player in the modern aviation market and improving its image in an industry scarred by frequent crashes of ageing Soviet-era jets.

The mid-range Superjet airliner is designed to carry up to 98 passengers and is a direct rival of similar aircraft produced by Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier.

So far it is being flown by two airlines, Russia’s Aeroflot and Armenia’s Armavia, although orders have been confirmed with several more. Its first commercial flight was operated by Armavia in April 2011 and Aeroflot followed later that year.

The demonstration flight in Indonesia was part of a tour called Asian Roadshow aimed at promoting the aircraft abroad that started May 3 and earlier took in Kazakhstan and Pakistan. It was due to go on to Laos and Vietnam.

In August last year, Indonesian regional carrier PT Sky Aviation agreed to buy 12 of the planes, with deliveries due to begin in 2012. The Superjet project is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, which is part of the aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Azerbaijan: Singing Its Own Praises: Azerbaijan’s Eurovision P.R. Blitz

Last May, Ell & Nikki, an obscure duo from Azerbaijan, won the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. The country’s President, Ilham Aliyev, treated the musical win like a military triumph, describing it as “a victory for the people of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani state.” By winning the pan-European singing contest — which, kitschy as it is, unites the region like little else — Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku, earned the right to host this year’s show, which will be broadcast to more than 100 million people at the end of May.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Bangladesh Teacher Arrested Over Burns on Pupils’ Legs

Bangladeshi police have arrested a teacher from a religious school who allegedly placed a burning hot iron rod on the legs of her pupils for failing to pray regularly.

The teacher, Jesmin Akther, has made no comment. Police said she went into hiding after parents complained. Officials say 14 girls, aged between eight and 12, received burn injuries. Bangladesh banned corporal punishment in educational institutions, including religious schools (madrassas), in 2010. “Acting on a tip-off, we raided a house in the old part of Dhaka and we arrested Jesmin Akther, who is accused of burning the legs of her students. We are seeking to remand her in custody for seven days,” police officer Shafiqul Islam told the BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan in Dhaka.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Indian Court Further Delays Marines’ Hearing

‘Release on bail’ a possibility, says judge

(ANSA) — New Dehli, May 9 — The Indian supreme court in New Dehli on Wednesday put off a hearing until July 26 to decide jurisdiction for two Italian anti-piracy marines who allegedly killed two Kerala fishermen, Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki, on February 15. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are being held in a jail in the city of Thiruvananthapuram and have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between India and Italy since being detained in February after an incident that took place while they were guarding the Enrica Lexie tanker.

The court said that the government had no objections to the two marines being transfered to another structure and that they had the “right to ask for release on bail”.

The Italian government believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Islamists Warn ‘Satanic’ Lady Gaga

A HARDLINE Islamic group has warned it would not let Lady Gaga set foot in Indonesia.

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) vowed to mobilise 30,000 demonstrators to protest the US artist’s June 3 performance in Jakarta and to intercept her at the airport. “We will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country,” said FPI Jakarta chairman Salim Alatas. Her style is vulgar, her sexual and indecent clothes will destroy our children’s sense of morality. She’s very dangerous,” he said.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Malaysia Police Hold Five Over Dutch Boy Kidnapping

Malaysian police said Wednesday they had arrested five people over the kidnapping of a 12-year-old Dutch boy who was returned to his family last week. Nayati Moodliar was abducted while walking to the Mont Kiara International School located in an upmarket suburb near the capital Kuala Lumpur on April 27.

He was found last Thursday by his family at a highway rest stop north of the capital where the kidnappers left him. Police said a ransom was paid. Bakri Zinin, head of the federal crime investigation department, told AFP that police investigating the case had arrested four men and a woman in Kuala Lumpur and northern Malaysia since Monday. The five were in custody and under investigation for kidnapping, he said.

Police are still looking for two other Malaysians, one of who is believed to have fled to Europe. Bakri said police would alert Interpol about the man. Police have also recovered some of the ransom paid by the Moodliar family for the boy’s release, though Bakri declined to reveal any figures. Local media reported the ransom was 300,000 ringgit ($100,000).

The kidnapping drew wide attention with even Prime Minister Najib Razak calling via Twitter for the safe release of the boy, who has dual Dutch and South African nationality.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Slain Adnkronos Reporter to be Honoured in Washington

Washington, 9 May (AKI) — Slain Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad’s name will be included on the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington.

The badly beaten body of Shahzad, 40, who worked as a correspondent for Adnkroknos International and Southeast Asia bureau chief for the Asia Times Online was found in a canal 150 kilometres southwest of Islamabad in May 2011, two days after he disappeared in the capital.

“He was killed for writing the truth and for this he sacrificed his life,” the Newseum said in a statement, using the words of Shahzad’s brother.

The 14 May ceremony will honour Shahzad and 71 other journalists who last year lost their lives because of their work.

The memorial is a two-story glass structure bearing the names of reporters, photographers, editors and broadcasters who have died in the line of duty, the Newseum says on its website.

Suspicion over Shahzad’s murder has fallen strongly on ISI, which in an unusual move denied involvement in his death. Days before Shahzad’s disappearance he published an article in Asia Times Online alleging links between Al-Qaeda and officials in the Pakistani navy.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Far East


Philippines: Imelda Marcos: The “Poor” Widow of Dictator Among the Richest Politicians in the Country

This is shown by the ranking published by the Philippine parliament commission to fight corruption. With assets of 22 million dollars the parliamentarian ranks second after the boxer Pacquiao. For years she has declared herself poor. Filipinos held slaves by a few rich and powerful political families.

Manila (AsiaNews) — With its wealth of 22 million U.S. dollars, Imelda Marcos, widow of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos is the country’s second richest parliamentarian, after the boxer Manuel Paquiao. The news, which has emerged in recent days, has shocked the Filipinos, who fear the great influence of the former first lady and her family in Filipino politics more than 20 years after the death in exile of the dictator. AsiaNews sources explain that despite the “tabloid gossip” the question of the Marcos family shows the endemic problems of politics in the Philippines for decades in the hands of the same families.

“These families — they say — control the finance and base their power on clientelist relations, using the money to buy votes during elections. The system is consolidated and is difficult to change.”

In these years, Imelda Marcos has always declared herself to be poor and penniless, although there were rumors about the immense fruits of her husband’s crimes. Once elected deputy in 2010, she moved into a luxury apartment in one of the most fashionable parts of Manila and wears jewelry and designer clothing at parliamentary sessions, in sharp contrast to her vaunted poverty. On April 30, by virtue of the transparency policy promoted by President Aquino all MPs and Filipino senators have published their financial situation. As a deputy Marcos was forced to declare the list of assets.

According to sources, the continued success of Marcos was made possible through culture that characterizes the country, still based on clans and not on individuals. “Every Filipino — they explain — is tied to their land of origin. Once elected, politicians do everything to offer as many privileges as possible to their won people.” This enabled Marcos to reappear on the political scene after her return from exile in the ‘1990s. In fact, despite the crimes of the dictator, the people of Llocos Norte (northern Philippines) continue to elect members of the family. To date, as well as his widow, his son Ferdinand Jr. is campaigning on the political scene, a former governor of North Llocos elected to the Senate in 2010, and his daughter Imee, elected governor in the same region where previously her brother had held power.

“Even Aquino — sources tell — is part of this system and, unfortunately, no different from others. Despite the good name and the apparent modesty of the President his relatives have huge estates and money invested in major Philippine companies.”

The immobility of the Philippine political system is also visible in the parliamentary elections to be held May 13, 2013, for the renewal of the Assembly and Senate. The sources stress that from the lists of candidates little or nothing has changed, the names are always the same. Moreover, few people are able to finance an election campaign to destroy the system of patronage, especially in rural areas. To combat the problem, the Church began offering training courses since 2010 for young people about the true meaning of politics.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



The Worrying Truth About the Chinese Economy — Part II

Now on to the main argument in John Lee’s brilliant analysis, which concerns the second phase of China’s economic reforms:

“In a rapidly industrializing system, the Party faithful realized, urban elites determined the fate of authoritarian governments. The great lesson of the East European and Soviet revolutions learned in Beijing was that authoritarian regimes become irrelevant to their own elites at their very considerable peril.”

Thus following the Tiananmen Square massacre, China’s leaders ensured that the “most important and lucrative sectors of the economy” would be dominated by a select group of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). For instance, the state controls almost the entire banking sector in China and thus the accumulated savings of the Chinese people:

“Even though state-controlled enterprises produce 30-50 percent of all output in the country, they receive more than 75 percent of the country’s capital, and the figure is rising. SOEs received more than 95 percent of the stimulus monies lent out in 2008-09 and an estimated 85 percent in 2010… the assets of SOEs amount to more than 66 percent of all assets in the country, up from 60 percent in 2003. This is the reverse of what occurred in China during the first ten years of reform, when the majority of new fixed assets were effectively controlled by the emerging private sector.”

While the state encourages the SOEs to compete against one another and allows the existence of millions of privately-owned enterprises, the whole system is ruthlessly managed to enhance the control of the Communist Party — and to do so despite China’s participation in world markets. Lee describes this system as “corporate Leninism” and he warns that it poses a massive challenge to the international liberal order created by the west. The cosy assumption that China will follow the same economic and political pathway as countries like Japan and South Korea is profoundly mistaken:

“It is a characteristic of the denatured Enlightenment mentality to think that the way the West developed in this regard essentially fell from the sky as the only logical possibility… China is too important to ignore, too big to intimidate and too formidable to browbeat. It will not march along a well-trodden path to some inevitable destination, just because Western observers are too intellectually lazy or culturally smug to imagine other possibilities.”

We have been warned.

[JP note: Link to John Lee’s article China’s Corporate Leninism here http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1231 ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


South African Police Seize $6.8 Mln Assets From Rhino Poachers

South African authorities Wednesday seized assets worth almost $7 million of a game farm owner and two veterinarians accused of rhino poaching, police said. Prosecutors, police and environmental officials “seized assets in the region of 55 million rands ($6.8 million, 5.2 million euros) believed to have been acquired through criminal activities, particularly rhino poaching,” national police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement.

More than 161 people are currently on trial for rhino poaching or the illegal trade in rhino horn. More than 200 rhinos have been poached in South Africa since the start of the year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration


EU Judges to Consider Qatada Case

Europe’s human rights judges will meet to consider whether Abu Qatada’s appeal over deportation should be allowed to go ahead. A panel of five judges will hold talks on Wednesday about whether the case involving the Jordanian terror suspect should be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. A spokeman for the court has said it is possible they will not reach their final decision immediately and, even if they do, they may not announce it until later. They are also unlikely ever to reveal any reasons for their decision. Qatada’s appeal, lodged on April 17, prompted a row with Home Secretary Theresa May over whether the three-month appeal deadline from the court’s original decision on January 17 expired on the night of April 16 or 17. It will remain unclear whether Mrs May was right to claim that Qatada’s appeal was made too late as the judges are likely to simply state whether or not the appeal against deportation can go ahead. Very few Grand Chamber appeals are successful, but if the appeal is granted, Qatada, 51, is likely to apply to a senior immigration judge for bail and could be freed from Belmarsh high-security jail within weeks.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



House Votes to Stop Obama Immigration Lawsuits

The House voted early Wednesday morning to stop the Obama administration’s lawsuits against state immigration laws. The amendment, which strips funding so that the Justice Department cannot pursue the lawsuits, passed 238-173. Twelve Democrats voted for it, while six Republicans voted against it.

The amendment specifically applies to laws in Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Indiana. The Obama administration and immigrant-rights groups have sued to block laws in each of those states.

“Instead of using tax dollars to sue states, the Department of Justice and other branches of this government should start focusing on enforcing existing immigration laws,” said Rep. Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican who as mayor of Hazleton oversaw a city ordinance cracking down on illegal immigration. “Until they do, the Department of Justice should not receive one federal tax dollar to sue states.”

Last month the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Obama administration’s challenge to Arizona’s crackdown law, which requires state and local police to check the legal status of those they are investigating whom they suspect of being in the country illegally.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: North African’s Stabbing Sparks Rampage in Perugia

Perugia, 9 May (AKI) — Gangs of immigrants ran amok in the central Italian city of Perugia late Tuesday after a North African man was stabbed, smashing store windows and overturning rubbish bins in one of the main shopping streets, according to police.

The unnamed North African was taken to hospital, where his condition was not critical, doctors said. Police were called to Perugia’s Corso Vannucci after residents and witnesses said they heard several shots being fired during the disturbances which broke out at around midnight .

Police said they were investigating a feud between rival immigrant gangs that may have triggered the late-night rampage.

On the orders of local magistrates, police in Perugia earlier on Tuesday arrested Albanian seven suspects following a year-long probe that investigators say smashed a major drugs and prostitution racket in the city.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: Iraqi Asylum Seekers Set Up Camp in Protest at Rejection

A group of some 50 failed Iraqi asylum seekers have set up camp outside the refugee centre in Ter Apel, urging the immigration service to re-open their cases, Nos television reports on Wednesday. At the end of last month, 76 Iraqi nationals were told their applications for asylum were being refused because the country is now safe enough to return to. The group of 56 in Ter Apel disagree.

Last year, a group of 45 Somali asylum seekers set up a similar camp in the Groningen village after they were refused permission to stay in the Netherlands. The immigration service agreed to look into their cases again and several were granted refugee status, Nos said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Out of Bulgaria and Romania: Wave of Immigrants Overwhelms German System

Worlds are colliding as a flood of impoverished Bulgarians and Romanians stream into Germany, overwhelming authorities. But efforts to help integrate the new residents have been sluggish and many of the immigrants find themselves awash in system they don’t understand.

In their hands they hold plastic bags filled with letters from German authorities and reminders from debt collection agencies, most of them unopened.

“Why do Germans write so many letters?” asks one Bulgarian woman, shaking her head in disbelief as she stands in a long line outside the Verikom advice center in Hamburg. “In our village we didn’t even have a mailman,” she says.

To ease her frustration, she has sorted her baffling assortment of mail. Yellow envelopes are overdue payment notices and therefore dangerous. Letters bearing a heraldic eagle are from the state. Colored logos usually mean bills from telephone companies.

Worlds have been colliding ever since increasing numbers of Bulgarians and Romanians began streaming into Germany. In many ways the authorities are just as overwhelmed by the often penniless European Union citizens as the immigrants themselves are by the realities of life in Germany.

This week, the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) will present its 2012 evaluation. The annual report, which analyzes collaboration on integration policy between national, regional and local authorities, comes to a sobering conclusion: Coordination is inadequate, while effective cooperation is largely non-existent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Beastie Boy Adam Yauch: Not Just a Celebrity Activist

by Hadley Freeman

My brief encounter with Adam Yauch taught me that he was a musical pioneer, a champion of independent films, and a man who was true to himself

As is only right for a man who packed such diversity into less than half a century, it is impossible to choose just one detail from the career of the Beastie Boy Adam Yauch that sums up why his death last week at the cruelly young age of 47 feels so especially sad.

There’s his film company, Oscilloscope Laboratories, which was behind some of the best indie films since its inception in 2008, including Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop and the breathtaking documentary about Maurice Sendak, Tell Them Anything You Want. Or there’s the very funny 30-minute movie he made last year in which he satirised his own image, Fight For Your Right (Revisited). Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood play the Beastie Boys, circa 1987, having just left the video for (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) and acting as bratty and hedonistic as the Beasties were thought to do then and, undoubtedly, did.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama Tells ABC News Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legal

President Obama declared for the first time on Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage, putting the moral power of his presidency behind a social issue that continues to divide the country.

“At a certain point,” Mr. Obama said in an interview in the Cabinet Room at the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

The comments end years of public equivocating over the divisive social issue for the president, who has previously said he opposed gay marriage but repeatedly said he was “evolving” on the issue because of contact with friends and others who are gay.

[Return to headlines]



Obama ‘Evolves’ To Support of Gay Marriage

President Obama said Wednesday that he now supports same-sex marriage “personally,” reversing his opposition amid growing pressure from his liberal Democratic base and some of his own administration officials.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview arranged specifically on the hot-button issue at the White House. He said his position has evolved “over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors.”

Mr. Obama added that he came to the decision “when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained … because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage.”

He is the first president to support same-sex marriage, although he didn’t say in the excerpt aired by ABC how or whether he would pursue it as administration policy. The president did say he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Why Liberals Turn a Blind Eye to the ‘Grooming’ of Girls

by Ed West

To understand how a modern liberal will come down on any complicated issue, simply look for a victim. It’s been the case in every major battle of the last 50 years, and it’s an almost infallible guide to Leftist thinking. The conviction yesterday of nine men in Rochdale on “grooming” charges, a rather gentle word for the sexual abuse of children, is a classic example. Almost immediately the Guardian produced a comment piece denying that there was a racial element. Sunny Hundal made the same point, even while linking to a criminal justice report which seemed to suggest the opposite. The BBC this morning went out of its way to deny there was a cultural element to this phenomenon.

Yet if the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of a particular type of crime come from one ethnic group, we can say that this crime has a racial or cultural element; if the vast majority of their victims come from another group, definitely so. To deny this seems bizarre. As Norman Dennis once wrote: “One of the unintended effects of teaching statistics to students in social-affairs departments is that a historically unprecedented large number of people have been equipped with the tools that enable them to dismiss out of hand all figures but those they want to believe.” Yet despite several prominent Pakistani-Britons saying as such, the liberal media still see their primary job as dismissing these figures in order to defend their favoured victims.

[…]

[JP note: Still too sensitive a topic for the Daily Telegraph to allow reader comments — similarly, for the Damian Thompson piece.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



World-Weary Swiss Seniors Seek Suicide Help

New figures show that more and more Swiss seniors are taking advantage of assisted suicide even when they do not suffer from any terminal diseases. The latest reports from Exit, the organization that offers assisted suicide to the Swiss, show that one in every five French speakers and one in every three German speakers opting for assisted suicide are not suffering from a life-threatening illness, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

This section of the elderly are coming forward in ever increasing numbers, citing “weariness of life” together with a bad bill of health as the main reason for the decision. Although not terminal, many suffer from debilitating health, with incurable problems such as blindness, incontinence and mobility issues greatly reducing quality of life.

Exit is able to assist these people because, although they are not quadriplegic or suffering from terminal illnesses, they nevertheless meet the required criteria: the person’s prognosis must be for an incurable health issue leading either to death or disability, and physical and psychological pain and suffering must also be present.

“In addition, sometimes the last great hope (for some of these older people) in the winter of their lives is to join those who have already left,” Jérôme Sobel, president of Exit in the west of Switzerland, told the newspaper.

Sobel explained that the expansion of types of cases taken on by Exit occurred as a result of requests from the organization’s members. Nevertheless the practice is not without its critics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

General


Electronics of the Future May Thrive on Bacteria

Researches in the UK and Japan have turned to nature (read, magnetic bacteria) to help produce electronics on a nano scale. They say the bacteria could help us make better hard drives and faster internet connections.

Researchers at Britain’s University of Leeds and Japan’s Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have used a type of bacterium that “eats” iron to create tiny magnets inside themselves, similar to those found in traditional hard drives.

The research could lead to much faster, higher density hard drives and a range of other high-performance, environmentally friendly electronic devices, the scientists say.

“We’re forever trying to make electronic components smaller but are quickly reaching our limits with traditional manufacturing techniques,” Sara Staniland from Leeds University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, told DW. “Nature can help us.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



How Telerobotics Could Help Humanity Explore Space

Advances in telerobotics are in high gear here on Earth, enabling scientists to plumb the deepest oceans, extract resources from dangerous mines and even carry out high-precision surgery from thousands of miles away.

Now researchers are considering ways to adopt and adapt telerobotics for more far-reaching duties — in outer space. The ability to extend human cognition to the moon, Mars, near-Earth objects and other accessible bodies remotely could curb the challenges, cost and risks of deep-space exploration, some scientists say.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Is Einstein’s Greatest Work All Wrong-Because He Didn’t Go Far Enough?

From a farmhouse in the English countryside, gentleman scientist Julian Barbour plots to take relativity to its logical extreme and redefine the very nature of gravity, space, and time.

by Zeeya Merali

From the March 2012 issue; published online May 1, 2012

Perhaps the most far-reaching aspect of Barbour’s view of gravity is that it could reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics, the physics of the subatomic realm, marking a major step toward the long-sought theory of everything. This incompatibility tortured Einstein in his later years and has flummoxed physicists ever since. The crux of the problem is that the quantum realm of the extremely small is defined by uncertainty. Before observing a subatomic particle, there is fundamentally no way of predicting exactly where you will find it when you measure it. Quantum equations describe only the probability of finding a particle in a certain place. This fuzziness is not due to poor measurement; it is an intrinsic property of particles on the quantum scale. In many, many experiments, quantum particles, when measured, turn up in various locations with the same frequencies as predicted by their probabilistic equations.

The problem comes when theorists try to combine relativity with quantum physics. Quantum mechanics still relies on the absolute measurements of time that Einstein discarded. String theorists have tried to reconcile the differences but keep running into roadblocks: For instance, the ripples caused by uncertainty might cause such frenzied gyrations of Einstein’s space-time that every location would be riddled with black holes, an impossible outcome. In other words, relativity and quantum mechanics seem to be hopelessly at odds.

“Most physicists are trained to get on with calculating things and not worry too much about these contradictions,” Barbour says, but to him, they were key. In his true Machian theory, there is no space-time fabric that could be torn apart by quantum fluctuations. In fact, there is no fundamental dimension of time to create conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics, removing any obstacle to coming up with a complete theory of gravity that works in both cosmic and quantum realms.

Gryb, Koslowski, and Gomes took their first tentative steps toward developing a theory of quantum gravity. They hope to show that Barbour’s model, unlike Einstein’s, does not cause gravity to flare up to infinite levels in tiny regions. Without those infinities, there should be no fundamental obstacle to uniting Barbour’s theory with quantum mechanics. Such a marriage could lead to astonishing new insights, like an explanation of what happens inside black holes and what conditions were like at the moment of the Big Bang, when the whole universe was born. “That’s the dream we are working toward now, although the math is tough,” Gryb says with a touch of understatement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Mission to Mars: Why Russia & US Should Tag Team Red Planet

Russia is ready and willing to partner with the United States for a manned mission to Mars, a senior Russian space official said recently.

And while NASA has not yet entered into any formal agreement to pursue the Red Planet, the agency’s chief agrees that international cooperation is the way to do it.

“I have to say that currently there is no country that could organize a manned spaceflight to Mars and a safe return,” Sergey Saveliev, the deputy head of Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), said April 12 at the United Nations headquarters here to mark theInternational Day of Human Space Flight.

“We strongly believe that this project can be accomplished only through international cooperation,” Saveliev said through a translator. “In this field, Russia is ready to cooperate with the United States, with Europe and with other countries.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Mysterious Blob Filmed in the Deep — And No-One Can Work Out What it Could be

A mysterious ocean ‘blob’ has been recorded by a deep-sea remote-controlled underwater camera.

The creature looks like nothing seen before, with speculators suggesting it is everything from a jellyfish to the remains of a whale placenta.

While, at a quick glance, the description of a jellyfish makes sense, the creature has organs and appendages never spotted on a jellyfish before.

Meanwhile it could be a whale placenta, but if that is the case then the hexagonal shapes on the skin are a mystery.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Psychopaths Have Different Brains to Normal People — and Current ‘Therapies’ For Killers May be Useless

Psychopaths have physically different brains from ‘normal’ people — and may be ‘born to kill’.

In scans by scientists, they had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples’ emotions.

Psychopathy — a disorder suffered by many (but not all) violent criminals — is characterised by an inability to ‘empathise’.

Now it seems it might be caused by a structural abnormality in the brain.

The new finding may mean that there is simply no point treating psychopaths with current ‘behavioural’ treatments.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120508

Financial Crisis
» Chinese Companies Discover the US
» Europe’s Left-Wing Turn Worries Markets
» ‘Germans Won’t Pay for Greece’s Vacation From Reality’
» Greece: Farms Looking for Workers, But Greeks Don’t Respond
» Greek Vote Plunges Bailout, Euro Membership Into Doubt
» Hungary in Crisis: Viktor Orbán’s Dismal Mid-Term Review
» Italy: Monti Deflects Blame for Crisis Suicides
» New Documents Shine Light on Euro Birth Defects
» Political Chaos in Athens
» Spanish Bank Needs Up to €10bn
» The EU’s Black Holes
 
USA
» A Fraudulent President for a Fraudulent System
» Attorney at KSM Trial’s Disrespectful Stunt
» DuPage Board to Vote on Mosque Near Bartlett
» Islam: Growing in Number, Changing in Image
» It’s All Your Money: Taxpayers May be on Hook for US Postal Service Losses
» Light From Alien Super-Earth Seen for 1st Time
» Machionne Must Decide How to Make Minivan Success Last
» Maurice Sendak: Author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are, ‘ Dies at 83
» ‘Muslim Day’ At California Capitol Promotes Civic Engagement
» NASA Probe Gets Extended Stay at Huge Asteroid Vesta
» Norwalk Board to Begin Debating Mosque
» Obama: “2012 is Make or Break for American Marxism”
» Only Eyewitness to Breitbart’s Death Disappears
» Preparing for Massive Civil War, Re-Education Camps
» Richard G. Lugar Loses Republican Senate Primary in Indiana
» Ron Paul Wins Big in Nevada, Maine
» Secret Air Force X-37B Space Plane Mission a ‘Spectacular Success’
» ‘Trayvon Amendment’ Would Deny Federal Funds to States That Allow Self-Defense
» Would the Media be Interested if Assad Set Up Re-Education Labor Camps for Political Dissidents?
 
Europe and the EU
» 70,000 Italians Converted to Islam, UCOI
» Austria: Iraqi Man Arrested
» Britain is Shackled to the Corpse of Europe
» Britain’s Wind Power High Costs
» French President is Another Bilderberg Stooge
» Germany: Newsflash! Pro NRW Can Show Mohammed Caricatures in Cologne, Too!
» Germany: First Videos of Salafist Attacks in Solingen
» German Cartoon Riots: Clubs, Bottles and Stones
» Germany: Anti-Islam ‘Pro-NRW’ Provokes German Violence
» Germany: Neonazi-Salafi Clashes in Bonn, 30 Police Hurt
» Germany: Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn
» Germany Accuses Islamist of Attempted Murder After Stabbings
» Italy: Pescara Police Keep Order After Football Fan Murder
» Italy: Witness Tells of Berlusconi ‘Sex Parties’
» Italy: Left-Wing, Grassroots Candidates Lead Local Italian Vote
» Italy Backs Turkey’s EU Bid
» Italy: Naples Businessman Shoots Himself in Head, Critical
» Netherlands:10 Years After Pim Fortuyn Was Murdered: What the Papers Say
» New Rules for Italian Judges
» Pragmatism Likely in Merkel-Hollande Relationship
» Radical Left and Neo-Nazis Score Well in Greek Elections
» Resisting Threat of Fanatical Islam: West Must Not Surrender Permanent Liberty for Temporary Tolerance
» UK: Bill for Abu Qatada Saga Hits £3m … and Guess Who’s Paying?
» UK: Grooming Gang Found Guilty: Nine Men Shared Girls Aged 13 to 15 for Sex and Raped One Up to Twenty Times a Day
» UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11
» UK: The Unspeakable v the Uneatable
» Ukraine Paper Sorry for Saying ‘Germany Like Third Reich’
» Ukrainian President Can’t Win Struggle With Tymoshenko
 
North Africa
» 62.5% of Tunisians Are Practicing Muslims
» Algeria: Bomb Discovered Outside School
» Egypt: Jihadists Behind the Attack Against the Defence Ministry in Cairo
» Libya Funded Sarkozy’s Campaign, Belarusian Leader Says
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Hamas Urges French President-Elect Hollande to Visit Gaza
» Israel’s Peace Disease
» Surprise Joint Netanyahu — Kadima Government
 
Middle East
» Bomber in Plot on U.S. Airliner Said to be a Double Agent
» Konya, Turkey: The Dance of the Devout
» Turkey Launches New Crackdown on Ex-Officers
» Work With Yemen Led to Bomb Discovery, Says Obama Adviser
» Yemen: US Thwarts Al Qaeda Airliner Bomb Plot, Officials Say
 
Russia
» Anti-Putin Demonstrators Cleared From Moscow Streets
» Putin Returns to the Kremlin
 
Caucasus
» Armenia: May 9: Day of Victory for Shoushi, 20 Years Ago
» Azerbaijan Sends Letter to UN Secretary General Over So-Called “Presidential Elections” In Nagorno-Karabakh
» Azerbaijan: Islamism in Azerbaijan
» Azerbaijani Leader Opens Baku Crystal Hall — Arena for Eurovision 2012 — Photos
 
South Asia
» Hillary Clinton Issues Stern Message to Pakistan
» Indonesia: Jakarta Tells Muslim Religious Leaders to Lower Volume of Minaret Loudspeakers
» Indonesia: Central Java: Islamic Extremists Attack Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, Repelled by Police
» Pakistan: Saints and Singers in Pakistan’s Punjab
» Pakistan: Punjab Govt Takes Note of Illegal Mosque Construction
» Thai Man Jailed for Anti-Royalty Text Dies, Lawyer Says
» US Secretly Releasing Taliban Prisoners From Bagram Prison
 
Far East
» Al Jazeera Reporter Expelled From China
» Yuan Replacing More and More US Dollar as International Currency
 
Australia — Pacific
» $1.5 Million to Recognise Islamic Culture and Heritage
» Are Aussies Too Biased to Try This Muslim Man?
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Attack Foiled in Kano, Boko Haram Suspected
» Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Keep Children Out of School
 
Latin America
» Trade Chief Warns of Imminent Action Against Argentina
 
Immigration
» Austria: Kurz Tackles Immigration at School Level
» Belgium’s Integration Problem
» ‘Immigrant Kids Need More Schooling’: Sweden
» Netherlands: Get Rid of That ‘Allochtoon’ Word, Advisory Group Tells Government
» Second Arson Attack at Swiss Asylum Centre
» UNHCR: 81 Have Died in the Mediterranean in 2012
 
Culture Wars
» Fox News Won’t Fire Black Racist Commentator
» The Criminalization of America’s Schoolchildren
» The Psychology of Racism, Part 2
 
General
» Scientists Should ‘Cool it’ On Alien Life Claims, Biologist Says

Financial Crisis


Chinese Companies Discover the US

For years, industrial production has been moving to Asia. But the tide has started to turn. Amid the economic crisis and mass unemployment, investing in the USA has become increasingly attractive for Chinese companies.

South Carolina is not necessarily the first state German companies have in mind when they venture off to establish themselves in the United States. But in the past six years, 28 German companies have created around 5,600 jobs there.

The South has not only become a popular place for German companies. Chinese companies have also started catching on. Wages are low, as are utility prices such as that of electricity. It’s also an employer-friendly place. For these same reasons in the past, companies worldwide usually went to Asia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Europe’s Left-Wing Turn Worries Markets

With a Socialist president in France and a strong popular mandate in Greece for re-negotiating the terms of its bail-out, the German-driven focus on budget discipline in Europe may have to soften.

The euro traded at its lowest in three months on Asian markets Monday morning (7 May), down to $1.29 from $1.3 on Friday. It also fell against the Japanese yen from 104.5 on Friday to 103.4.

An investor note from the National Australia Bank spelled out the worries: “The Hollande win in France is not necessarily a surprise. However it brings home the reality that incumbents following the prescribed austerity measures are going to find it difficult to remain elected.” “What happens to these austerity measures now are what are weighing on (the euro),” the bank said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Germans Won’t Pay for Greece’s Vacation From Reality’

Greece’s election has brought a political sea change to the country, after bitter voters hammered established parties for supporting austerity measures in exchange for international bailouts. As Athens veers towards political chaos, German editorialists predict hard times ahead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Farms Looking for Workers, But Greeks Don’t Respond

Ad for peach harvest, 5,000 Albanians and 19 Greeks reply

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 8 — In its government programme, the defeated PASOK party promised that Greece would return “to its origins” by relaunching its agricultural industry to generate jobs. A plan that would have been doomed to failure according to reports coming from the northern part of the country. A job offer in the sector, although temporary, was completely ignored by young Greeks, a segment of the population currently crushed by unemployment, while thousands of interested foreigners eagerly responded. Two weeks ago, the Young Farmers’ Union of Greece posted a job offer on the internet stating that farmers were looking for help with the peach harvest in the Imathia and Pella regions in central Macedonia (northern Greece). Unemployment figures in the area are dramatic, hitting 50% in Pella and 25% in Imathia. The job offer was for 6 days a week at 23 euros per day for 4 months out of the year, including room and board. Anyone who was interested simply had to send a text message to a number provided in the ad to express their interest. Nearly 5,000 people responded to the Union’s ad, with 4,885 Albanians (over the years these immigrants have mainly been employed in the agriculture and construction industries) and only 19 Greeks expressing interest, including a retired doctor and an unemployed engineer. “This year,” said Nikos Angelopoulos, the President of the Young Farmers’ Union of Imathia, while speaking to Protothema, a Greek weekly newspaper, “we were expecting significant interest from the Greek public due to the crisis and high unemployment levels. But it seems as though Greek people do not want to work in the agricultural industry. We know that this is hard work, but when you don’t have a job, you take the work that is available. To satisfy the requests we will probably hire foreign workers from nearby countries, Bulgaria, Albania and FYROM (Greece does not recognise the name Macedonia for the former Yugoslavian republic, editor’s note).” There are around 1,700 farmers in the Imathia region, who need about 5,000 workers for the peach harvest four months out of the year. The news came a few days after the Greek government announced that the unemployment level in the country rose to 22% for the first time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greek Vote Plunges Bailout, Euro Membership Into Doubt

The rise of anti-bailout parties in Greece threw the country’s debt rescue into fresh doubt on Monday as markets wavered and European partners worried over revived risks of a eurozone exit.

“We see significant potential for a new Greek government to miss the next round of targets,” said economist Guillaume Menuet of Citi, referring to tough budget cuts and reforms agreed in exchange for 240 billion euros of international rescue funds. Menuet cited a sharply-raised, 75-percent “probability” of what he labelled “Grexit” within 12-18 months.

Pro-bailout mainstream parties on the right and left failed to secure a majority in parliament with a combined share of the vote of just 32.1 percent while far-left and far-right groups made enough gains to acquire significant bargaining power in talks to form a coalition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was “of utmost importance” that Greece stick to the reform course agreed with its international backers, despite the votes of Greek citizens. In Berlin, she said: “At its core, the discussion is about not whether we need budget consolidation or growth — it is absolutely clear we need both,” she told reporters.

“Rather, I think the core of the debate lies in whether we need debt-financed stimulus programmes or whether we need growth measures that are sustainable and lead to an improvement of the economic strength of individual countries.”

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said that the Brussels executive “hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect the engagements that Greece has entered into.” And EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn’s spokesman underlined that “solidarity is a two-way street.”

In Athens, Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said the goal was to assemble “a national salvation government” that would “keep the country in the euro,” and “amend” the bailout terms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Hungary in Crisis: Viktor Orbán’s Dismal Mid-Term Review

A political landslide brought Viktor Orbán into power in Hungary, where he quickly cemented his position with a two-thirds majority. But halfway through his term, the state of his administration is grim. The nation, deeply divided and on the brink of financial ruin, is being sidelined on the international stage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: Monti Deflects Blame for Crisis Suicides

‘Blame who brought us here’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 8 — Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday that he was not to blame for the rising rate of suicides amid the economic crisis in Italy. “The human casualties should make us think about who brought the economy to this state and not who is trying to get us out of it,” he said. Monti’s emergency administration, which replaced Silvio Berlusconi’s in November, passed a tough package of spending cuts and tax hikes in December with the aim of putting Italy on course to balance the budget next year and take it out of the centre of the eurozone debt crisis.

Suicides amid the crisis and austerity measures are on the rise, mostly among indebted small-business owners and the unemployed. The premier came under fire last month from Antonio Di Pietro, the head of the Italy of Values anti-graft party, who said that the suicides were “on Monti’s conscience”. According to CGIA, an association of artisans and small-business owners, over 30 entrepreneurs have taken their own lives since the beginning of 2012, mostly due to the economic crisis.

The situation is worse for those without a job as nearly one unemployed person commits suicide everyday in Italy, the majority of whom are men, according to the Eures think tank.

A gathering of widows marched in Bologna Friday to honor the numerous Italians who have recently killed themselves, notably 58-year-old craftsman Giuseppe Campaniello who set himself on fire in front of a tax agency amid a fiscal dispute in March.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



New Documents Shine Light on Euro Birth Defects

Newly revealed German government documents reveal that many in Helmut Kohl’s Chancellery had deep doubts about a European common currency when it was introduced in 1998. First and foremost, experts pointed to Italy as being the euro’s weak link. The early shortcomings have yet to be corrected.

It was shortly before his departure to Brussels when the chancellor was overpowered by the sheer magnitude of the moment. Helmut Kohl said that the “weight of history” would become palpable on that weekend; the resolution to establish the monetary union, he said, was a reason for “joyful celebration.”

Soon afterwards, on May 2, 1998, Kohl and his counterparts reached a momentous decision. Eleven countries were to become part of the new European currency, including Germany, France, the Benelux countries — and Italy.

Now, 14 years later, the weight of history has indeed become extraordinary. But no one is in the mood to celebrate anymore. In fact, the mood was downright somber when current Chancellor Angela Merkel met with her Italian counterpart Mario Monti in Rome six weeks ago.

Even as the markets were already prematurely celebrating the end of the euro crisis, the chancellor warned: “Europe hasn’t turned the corner yet.” She also noted that new challenges would constantly emerge in the coming years. Her host conceded that his country had not even overcome the most critical phase yet, and that the fight to save the currency remained an “ongoing challenge.”

It didn’t take long for the two leaders’ concerns to prove justified. The Spanish economy has continued its decline, interest rates for southern European government bonds are rising once again, and election results in both France and Greece have shown that citizens are tired of austerity programs. In short, no one can be certain that the monetary union will survive in the long term.

Many of the euro’s problems can be traced to its birth defects. For political reasons, countries were included that weren’t ready at the time. Furthermore, a common currency cannot survive on the long term if it is not backed by a political union. Even as the euro was being born, many experts warned that currency union members didn’t belong together.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Political Chaos in Athens

Greek Parties Have Little Chance of Forming Government

There seems to be little chance of Greece’s political parties being able to form a viable coalition government after voters punished the two main parties in Sunday’s election. It’s a worst case scenario for the country’s European partners, whose whole approach to fighting the Greek debt crisis is now in question.

Now the worst case scenario has arrived: Greece threatens to become ungovernable. The situation after Sunday’s election in Greece looks hopeless. No matter which coalition of parties one calculates, whether big or small, left or right wing, it is impossible to come up with a viable majority government.

The Greeks have once again defied their international partners. They have not been cowed by threats, advice or even the prospect of their own bankruptcy. It’s unclear where this new twist in the endless Greek drama will take the country. For Greek voters, the priority was to punish those people who, in the eyes of most Greeks, are mainly to blame for the country’s misery: the politicians.

They are supposedly responsible for the steadily shrinking economy and the ever-increasing unemployment. They are blamed for declining salaries, pension cuts and the rapidly deteriorating standard of living. They are to blame for the fact that proud Greece is no longer viewed as an enviably beautiful island nation, but as a symbol of the European debt crisis. But it is highly debatable whether the rage that has now been vented will have a liberating effect in the long term.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish Bank Needs Up to €10bn

Rodrigo Rato, chairman of Spain’s Bankia, stepped down on Monday as the bank faces a possible €10 billion bail-out. Between €5 billion and €10 billion in a state-backed loan at a rate of near 8 percent may be used to rescue the bank, says Spanish newspaper El Pais.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The EU’s Black Holes

Saving the Euro Will Require Banking Sector Reform

As concerns about Spanish banks grow, leading economists are warning that Europe’s banking system urgently needs to be overhauled, otherwise the entire monetary union could be in jeopardy. The continent’s leaders missed their chance to reform the system in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and are now paying the price.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


A Fraudulent President for a Fraudulent System

Having Barack Hussein Obama II at the helm of the postmodern ship of state is perfectly fitting. Sometimes a country gets what it deserves. Sometimes it gets what fits.

Barack Obama is an abject fraud on almost every level. He is a vindictive ideologue who strolls among us as a smiling pop star. He is a hard-left collectivist who presents himself as Reaganesque. He is a domestic enemy of our Constitution who masquerades as a promoter of American values.

At a foundational level, it is ironically appropriate that the man who views our Constitution as a “deeply flawed” document does not qualify under it to hold the high office.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Attorney at KSM Trial’s Disrespectful Stunt

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

These people, and I use THAT term loosely, who plotted the 9-11 attacks, killed 3,000 people and wished they could have done more, can’t focus on their trial because some women in the court proceedings at GITMO are not covered up from head to toe in hijabs???

That is the case one of their defense attorneys is trying to make.

Cheryl Bormann, counsel for defendant Walid bin Attash went to last week’s circus of a court hearing in HER hijab and demanded the court ORDER all other women there to do the same so that her client would NOT have to avert his eyes, “for fear of committing a sin under their faith.”

RUBBISH!!!

Adding to the circus atmosphere of this trial…Bowman, the head defense CLOWN held her OWN press conference this morning where she stated, “If because of someone’s religious beliefs, they can’t focus when somebody in the courtroom is dressed in a particular way, I feel it is incumbent upon myself as a counsel to point that out and ask for some consideration from the prosecution. Suffice to say it was distracting to members of the accused.”

[…]

The “Religion” she seems so concerned with is one which treats women like garbage. It allows for them to be stoned to death for the crime of being raped. It allows for them to be “honor” killed for talking to a man. It allows for acid to be thrown in their faces.[photo]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



DuPage Board to Vote on Mosque Near Bartlett

DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners Tuesday will consider whether a house near west suburban Bartlett can be used as a mosque.

The petition to get land use approvals to allow the Islamic Center of Western Suburbs onto the single-family property has stoked controversy in that neighborhood for several years. Many neighbors and county officials have been concerned about whether the property can accommodate up to 30 people gathering at once, several times a day. ICWS is just one of several mosques that the Board has had to consider recently, but attorney Mark Daniel, who represents the petitioners, says this proposal has taken longer to win approval than the others. “It’s been in the zoning pipeline in one form or another for about four years,” said Daniel. County officials have been particularly concerned about whether the property’s septic tank and stormwater drain systems will be able to accommodate the more intensive use. There was also a delay in the zoning process because members of the congregation were using the house for worship gatherings before the space was legally zoned for that use. Daniel says that’s no longer the case.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Islam: Growing in Number, Changing in Image

The second largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam — founded in 622 A.D. — is also the fastest growing, embraced by about a quarter of the world’s population. “There are two factors that lead to the growth of Islam,” said Imam Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California. “One is a higher birth rate among Muslims, the second is through conversion.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



It’s All Your Money: Taxpayers May be on Hook for US Postal Service Losses

The U.S. Postal Service is often the butt of jokes, but there’s nothing funny about the agency’s bottom line. The USPS is losing up to $25 million dollars a day. Until now, taxpayers have not been on the hook for its mounting losses, but that could be about to change. A bailout recently approved by the Senate would appropriate $34 billion in federal money.

“If the post office was a business, it would be in bankruptcy,” said Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla. “It’s insolvent.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Light From Alien Super-Earth Seen for 1st Time

Light from an alien “super-Earth” twice the size of our own Earth has been detected by a NASA space telescope for the first time in what astronomers are calling a historic achievement. NASA’s infrared Spitzer Space Telescope spotted light from the alien planet 55 Cancri e, which orbits a star 41 light-years from Earth. A day on the extrasolar planet lasts just 18 hours.

The planet 55 Cancri e was first discovered in 2004 and is not a habitable world. Instead, it is known as a super-Earth because of its size: The world is about twice the width of Earth and is super-dense, with about eight times the mass of Earth. But until now, scientists have never managed to detect the infrared light from the super-Earth world.

“Spitzer has amazed us yet again,” said Spitzer program scientist Bill Danch of NASA headquarters in Washington in a statement today (May 8). “The spacecraft is pioneering the study of atmospheres of distant planets and paving the way for NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to apply a similar technique on potentially habitable planets.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Machionne Must Decide How to Make Minivan Success Last

Detroit/Turin, 3 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — Almost 30 years after the minivan was introduced, after attacks from all sides, Chrysler remains on top. Now, CEO Sergio Marchionne will have to decide how best to sustain the success.

So far, the moves made by Marchionne, who is preparing to merge Chrysler with majority owner Fiat, have paid off. The choice he faces now: whether to merge Chrysler’s two remaining minivans into one and whether to dramatically redesign one or both. Either way, Marchionne and his dealers are committed to Chrysler’s signature product.

“I don’t care if the minivan market shrinks as long as I’m King Kong in it,” Chuck Eddy, a Chrysler dealer in Austintown, Ohio, said in a phone interview. “That is Chrysler’s attitude, too. The minivan is here and the minivan won’t ever go away.”

Just four years after a 1979 government bailout, Chrysler chief executive officer Lee Iacocca introduced the Dodge Caravan, and minivans soon joined Ram pickups and Jeep sport- utility vehicles as the company’s most important product lines. To some extent, Chrysler created the minivan and the minivan saved the company.

Three decades later, Chrysler maintains its sales lead in minivans. It’s one of the longest runs atop a vehicle segment in the U.S., along with the 35-year pickup reign of Ford’s F-Series line. The long-lasting supremacy, along the lines of Coca-Cola and Kleenex, has made the minivan a symbol of the company.

“When people think Chrysler, is minivan a product that comes to mind? The answer is ‘absolutely,’ “ Alexander Edwards, president of the automotive practice at San Diego-based Strategic Vision, a marketing and branding company, said in a phone interview. “Most everybody that is in the minivan segment recognizes Chrysler as the creator.”

Onslaught of Entries

Chrysler has kept the title despite an onslaught of entries from Ford, Toyota, Honda and the predecessor of General Motors, Ford and GM eventually quit the segment, and Chrysler has claimed at least 40 percent of the US minivan market every year since 2007.

Marchionne is closing in on deciding whether Chrysler still needs two entries for the US minivan market. He led a complete overhaul of Chrysler’s lineup in the 19 months after its US — backed bankruptcy in 2009, introducing 16 new or refreshed models. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan have drawn praise from critics, including Consumer Reports.

The revamp has led to 11 months of U.S. sales gains exceeding 20 percent and made Chrysler the biggest gainer of market share through April. Deliveries climbed 33 percent in the first four months, boosting market share by 2 percentage points to 11.6 percent.

Profit Growing

Chrysler’s first-quarter profit quadrupled from a year earlier to $473 million, the company said 26 April. It was the company’s most profitable period since 1998’s third quarter. Marchionne reiterated Chrysler’s forecast that full-year net income will grow eightfold to about $1.5 billion, from $183 million in 2011.

With its minivans, the company is “studying all options,” including eliminating one of its models and then broadening the target market for the other one, Saad Chehab, president of the Chrysler brand, said in a phone interview. Right now, the company aims to sell the Dodge Grand Caravan for less than $30,000 and its Chrysler Town & Country, which has more equipment standard, for more than $30,000.

Marchionne would have to decide which will survive.

“If it is one, you have to look at can Dodge go up to the upper-market world of minivans, and same thing, can Chrysler really go down to capture the markets that Dodge Caravan does,” Chehab said. “It’s a difficult answer.”

Lower Prices

Buyers paid an average price of $32,735 for the Town & Country in March, less than the $33,032 paid for Toyota’s Sienna and $32,949 for Honda’s Odyssey, according to Edmunds.com data. Grand Caravans sold for $27,151 on average.

Chrysler offers more-generous incentives on minivans than its competitors. The average incentive per Town & Country sold was $3,106 in March and $2,236 for Grand Caravan, compared to Sienna’s $1,650 and Odyssey’s $974, according to researcher Edmunds.com.

Those four models have accounted for 90 percent of minivan sales so far this year in the U.S., where, over the past decade, many buyers have switched to car-based SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Traverse and redesigned Ford Explorer.

Segment Stigma

“Some folks have still some concern of the stigma with what the minivan is,” Chehab said. “If we resolve the styling element, it would be a big hit whether we stay with one or two vehicles. Even if we do go with two vehicles in the future, we have to continue to separate the brand image.”

Chrysler has reason to tread carefully in choosing the fate of the namesake brand’s Town & Country and Dodge’s Grand Caravan. For all the shrinking the segment has done since its 2000 sales peak of 1.37 million deliveries, automakers sold 472,398 minivans in the US last year.

Minivans represent a significant portion of Chrysler’s sales. The Town & Country and Grand Caravan accounted for 15 percent of the automaker’s 1.37 million deliveries in the U.S. last year, according to Autodata Corp. Odyssey was 9.3 percent of Honda’s 2011 sales, and Toyota’s Sienna was 6.8 percent of its total.

“Buyers are still in a somewhat more pragmatic head space than they’ve been in the past,” Ed Kim, an analyst at industry researcher AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, California, said in a phone interview. “Vehicles like minivans therefore have the potential to experience something of a small resurgence. It’s practical, functional transportation.”

No. 1 Again

Chrysler sold a combined 84,152 Town & Country and Grand Caravan minivans this year through April, a 21 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Autodata. The gain outpaced the 5 percent sales rise by Honda’s Odyssey and the 9.2 percent drop for Toyota’s Sienna, according to the Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based researcher.

The Grand Caravan also is on pace to help Chrysler reclaim minivan leadership on an individual-model basis for the first time since 2007. Odyssey was the leader from 2008 until last year, when Sienna topped the minivan market.

Consumer Reports has consistently rated Chrysler’s minivans of lesser quality than Toyota’s or Honda’s, after cost-cutting by former parents Daimler AG and Cerberus Capital Management LP, David Champion, the magazine’s senior director of automotive testing, said in an interview. Chrysler maintained sales leadership because their minivans were cheaper and because of the company’s reputation as inventor of the segment, he said.

Factory Delay

Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant is the sole producer of Grand Caravan and Town & Country. The factory was scheduled to close for 10 weeks beginning in October 2013 to be overhauled for making the next-generation minivan, said Rick Laporte, president of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 444, which represents workers at the plant.

The automaker told the union that down time has been pushed back to 2017, Laporte said in a phone interview. That forced the CAW to delay bargaining with four supplier plants in Windsor that provide instrument panels, tires and rims, axles and front- end modules until Chrysler provides the union with more information about future product, he said.

If Chrysler pares its lineup to one minivan, it would leave the U.S. with six entries in the segment, compared with 22 in 2004, according to researcher R.L. Polk & Co. Chrysler told Margaret Zewatsky, a product manager for Polk, at the Detroit auto show in January that 2012 will be the last model year for the Dodge Grand Caravan, she said. The automaker once sold five minivans, including Plymouth models.

Concept Criticized

Chrysler showed a concept minivan called the 700C at the Detroit auto show that was a starting point for improving the styling of the company’s minivans, Chehab said. The concept’s design was more swoopy than the box-shaped Town & Country or Grand Caravan. The pillar between the 700C’s leaf-shaped side windows sloped back diagonally to the roof.

Automotive News, an industry trade publication, called the concept a “train wreck,” with a “snoutlike hood” and “goofy proportions.”

Not all aspects of the 700C will make their way into production, Marchionne told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s convention in February.

“The oval window in the back was not a big hit,” he said.

Chrysler will introduce a “completely overhauled” minivan architecture by 2014, Marchionne told reporters on April 30 in Detroit.

The minivan segment has been limited by its reputation as a favorite of soccer moms who demand utility features such as extra storage, low cabin-entry points and DVD players.

“People buy it because they need it,” Chrysler’s Chehab said.

Big Family Hauler

Americans like Anna Chiang, a mother of five under 8 from Rolling Hills Estates, California, don’t want to see minivans like Chrysler’s go extinct. Chiang and her husband, Mason, bought a new Town & Country in the past month to replace their 2005 Honda Odyssey. While they looked at a Chevrolet Suburban while shopping for a new vehicle, the large SUV had less storage space and sold for thousands of dollars more.

“I couldn’t see myself spending all this extra money for a vehicle that’s not going to suit all my needs,” Chiang said in a phone interview. “The minivans suit our lifestyle. They’re lower to the ground so our kids can enter and exit. It’s roomy and accommodates all of us as a family.”

While there may still be a place for the minivan in the U.S. market, Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said, the Santa Monica, California-based researcher’s data suggests the segment may still end up shrinking further. Edmunds data show minivan shoppers consider purchasing from different segments, while fewer buyers from other segments shop minivans.

‘Hard Case’

“The way the volumes are now, it’s a hard case for Chrysler to produce two minivans, especially when they have so many other plans,” Caldwell said in a phone interview. “Chrysler is going to be changing a lot in the foreseeable future. You can only put so many resources in certain places.”

Eddy, the Ohio dealer, said there was a need for two minivans when Chrysler had fewer of its retailers carrying all of the company’s brands under one roof. He would like to see Chrysler take the spending that goes into producing and marketing a second minivan and shift it to investing in a new product such as a small SUV or crossover.

“It ties up floor space, dollars and blacktop when you’ve got a row of Caravans and row of Town & Countrys and you’re trying to have a lease point, price point and incentive package that works for each vehicle,” he said. “If you go to one vehicle, it frees up the ability to market and spend dollars on another product.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Maurice Sendak: Author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are, ‘ Dies at 83

Maurice Sendak, widely considered the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century, who wrenched the picture book out of the safe, sanitized world of the nursery and plunged it into the dark, terrifying and hauntingly beautiful recesses of the human psyche, died on Tuesday in Danbury, Conn. He was 83 and lived in Ridgefield, Conn.

The cause was complications from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor.

Roundly praised, intermittently censored and occasionally eaten, Mr. Sendak’s books were essential ingredients of childhood for the generation born after 1960 or thereabouts, and in turn for their children. He was known in particular for more than a dozen picture books he wrote and illustrated himself, most famously “Where the Wild Things Are,” which was simultaneously genre-breaking and career-making when it was published by Harper & Row in 1963.

[Return to headlines]



‘Muslim Day’ At California Capitol Promotes Civic Engagement

Muslims have gathered from across the state to take part in the first-ever Muslim Day at the Capitol. The day is meant to engage Muslim voters on a state and federal level. A report released by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding shows that Muslim voters could play a decisive role in swing states in the presidential election this November. It follows the launch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2012 “Muslims Vote” campaign, which encourages American Muslims to increase their presence in politics and elections. Zahra Billoo Is the executive director for CAIR San Francisco. Billoo says the day at the capitol is modeled after the work of a number of other minority communities. The day gives Muslims the chance to make a personal connection to their legislators. CAIR officials say this connection is important because some people are attempting to diminish the role that Muslims play in American politics.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



NASA Probe Gets Extended Stay at Huge Asteroid Vesta

A robotic probe currently studying the giant asteroid Vesta is going into bonus rounds in the asteroid belt, with NASA clearing the spacecraft to spend 40 extra days gleaning more of the space rock’s secrets.

The Dawn spacecraft has been circling Vesta, which is the second most massive object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, since last July, and is now slated to stay until Aug. 26. It is the first spacecraft to visit the asteroid, and will have spent more than a year in its environs by the time it leaves.

“Dawn has beamed back to us such dazzling Vestan vistas that we are happy to stay a little longer and learn more about this special world,” Christopher Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator at UCLA, said in a statement. “While we have this one-of-a-kind opportunity to orbit Vesta, we want to make the best and most complete datasets that we can.”

At about the length of Arizona, Vesta is thought to be an intact chunk of the ingredients used to make the solar system around 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists suspect it may be what’s called a protoplanet, and might have developed into a full-fledged planet of its own if things had turned out differently.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norwalk Board to Begin Debating Mosque

NORWALK, Conn. — Approving a proposal to put a mosque in a Norwalk neighborhood would be “the right thing and send a positive message about this wonderful and diverse city,” according to the lawyer arguing on its behalf. Marc Grenier, attorney for those who oppose the application, has given Norwalk’s Zoning Commission other advice. “The special permit criteria allows you to look at this in total, in this particular case, this size lot, 27,000 square foot proposed use on 1.5 acres,” said Grenier, who represents the Stone Gate and Fillow Ridge Condominiums. The Zoning Commission’s plan review committee will begin deliberating Thursday on a controversial proposal to allow a mosque at 127 Fillow St. When they meet, the members will weigh the facts presented in three public hearings.

John Santo, chairman of the commission, has said the matter will be decided strictly by zoning regulations. John Fallon, lawyer for Al Madany Islamic Center, has made a case that the religious aspect cannot be ignored.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama: “2012 is Make or Break for American Marxism”

Campaigning non-stop since 2008, except for his frequent golfing and vacation adventures, he has never ended his ongoing run for POTUS. On Saturday 5 May, Obama continued along this course and gave, yet, another campaign speech on Saturday 5 May. Although repeating one of his oft-used campaign mantras that the upcoming 2012 elections “will be a make or break moment for the middle class,” as Obama has actually been summarily and purposefully destroying jobs and the economy of the middle class, I believe an accurate translation is needed.

That translation is: “The 2012 elections will be a make or break moment for Marxism, my forced imposition of totalitarianism, the complete bending and surrender of Americans to my will and the destruction of their God-given freedoms, religion and liberties!”

[…]

The ObamaPolice have already begun shutting down meetings [url] that involve supporting the US Constitution. When CAIR complained that a pro-Constitution meeting was being held, the Allegan, Michigan Police Department shut the assembly down.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Only Eyewitness to Breitbart’s Death Disappears

Following the suspected arsenic poisoning of a forensic technician in the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, the only eyewitness to Andrew Breitbart’s death has now vanished.

26-year-old Christopher Lasseter saw Breitbart drop dead “like a sack of potatoes” on March 1, hours before Breitbart was set to release a damning video that showed Barack Obama fraternizing with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.

Lasseter reported that Breitbart’s skin was a bizarre bright red color when he collapsed, a symptom not associated with heart attacks and one which was not explained in Los Angeles County Chief Coroner Craig Harvey’s autopsy report, which lists the cause of death as heart failure.

“I asked Lassiter specifically about Breitbart’s skin color and he said it was “bright red.” That bothered me because as an Army medical corpsman I knew that most heart attack victims turned blue,” wrote Paul Huebl, adding that Breitbart had drunk little alcohol and, “Poisons like cyanide, or carbon monoxide are known for turning skin red…The reality is they cannot be detected by normal toxicology testing.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Preparing for Massive Civil War, Re-Education Camps

“No nation ever did nor ever can retain its liberty after the loss of the sword and the purse.” — Patrick Henry

The past few days the Internet has been burning up with these stories:

Yes, The Re-Education Camp Manual Does Apply Domestically to U.S. Citizens [url]

“A shocking U.S. Army manual that describes how political activists in prison camps will be indoctrinated by specially assigned psychological operations officers contains numerous clear references to the fact that the policies do apply domestically to U.S. citizens.”

Joel Skousen: Army Document Reveals Citizens to be Treated as Enemy Combatants [url]

Why this would shock anyone who has been active in fighting the totalitarian thugs in Washington, DC, is beyond me. Let me once again cite this from many of my past columns that should have been a warning to wake up:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Richard G. Lugar Loses Republican Senate Primary in Indiana

Richard G. Lugar, a six-term Republican senator from Indiana, lost his bid to stay in office after his Tea Party-backed rival questioned his conservative credentials and accused Mr. Lugar of losing touch with Indiana and its voters.

Richard E. Mourdock, the state’s treasurer, defeated Mr. Lugar in the Republican primary on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Mourdock will face Joe Donnelly, a Democratic member of the House, in November.

[Return to headlines]



Ron Paul Wins Big in Nevada, Maine

Despite the media blackout, Ron Paul is still a leading candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential election against President Barack Obama. On Sunday May 6 2012, the results out of Nevada and Maine marked a historical event in the history of presidential elections. He won overall 43 delegates in the two states, who he will be bringing to Tampa, Florida for the national convention. Ron Paul, who has run for president three times altogether, continues to de facto shape national debate and the coming presidential election.

Indeed, on May 6, 2012 Ron Paul took 22 of the 25 available delegates in Nevada and 21 of 24 in Maine. Mitt Romney should be totally embarrassed. His lackluster support left no contest for Paul. The entire establishment should be embarrassed that their propaganda has failed so utterly to hoodwink the American people. Their fore-bearers, kings, are rolling in their graves, ashamed. Expect a continuation in the undoing of civil liberties in the United States, as totalitarian forces harden against reasonable and sane people so as to maintain power.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Secret Air Force X-37B Space Plane Mission a ‘Spectacular Success’

The U.S. Air Force’s secretive robotic X-37B space plane mission continues to chalk up time in Earth orbit, nearing 430 days of a spaceflight that — while classified — appears to be an unqualified success.

The space plane now circuiting Earth is the second spacecraft of its kind built for the Air Force by Boeing’s Phantom Works. Known as the Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2, the space plane’s classified mission is being carried out by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

The robotic X-37B space plane is a reusable spacecraft that resembles a miniature space shuttle. The Air Force launched the OTV-2 mission on March 5, 2011, with an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket lofting the space plane into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Trayvon Amendment’ Would Deny Federal Funds to States That Allow Self-Defense

House Democrats said Tuesday they will offer an amendment to push to overturn stand-your-ground self-defense laws in states like Florida.

The amendment, which would withhold some grants from states that have such laws, will come as part of the House’s debate on the Commerce Department spending bill.

[…] Federal money shouldn’t be spent supporting states with laws that endanger their own people,” said Reps. Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the two Democrats who are offering the legislation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Would the Media be Interested if Assad Set Up Re-Education Labor Camps for Political Dissidents?

A couple of months ago, the mainstream media got all excited about leaked emails from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ‘bombshell’ revelations such as the fact that Assad’s wife likes to spend a lot of money on expensive furniture.

Would that same corporate press be interested if documents were leaked showing that Assad’s military forces had set up detention camps in which they planned to incarcerate political activists and subject them to re-education programs and slave labor?

Of course it would, the story would be all over CNN, ABC and Fox News. The documents would be heralded as chilling evidence that Assad is in charge of a dictatorial regime that plans to kidnap demonstrators and imprison them in North Korean-style gulags.

The documents would be held up as solid justification for a swift NATO military action in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

And yet last week we had the release of documents which prove the existence of re-education forced labor camps for political dissidents not only abroad but inside the United States itself! An even more shocking story you would imagine?

And the reaction from the mainstream media? You could hear a pin drop.

We have now exhaustively proven in a series of articles that the U.S. Army is training its personnel, through the policies outlined in a manual entitled FM 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations (PDF), to “indoctrinate” “political activists” incarcerated in detention camps into developing an “understanding and appreciation of U.S. policies and actions.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


70,000 Italians Converted to Islam, UCOI

(AGI) Rome — According to Ucoi (the Union of Islamic communities in Italy) about 70,000 Italians converted to Islam, a real boom of conversions heightened by the crisis of values but also by the economic crisis in Italy, as Elzir Izzedine commented during the Youtube programme KlausCondicio, by the anchorman Klaus Davi, who is carrying out a report on the Italians espousing Islam. Ucoi made known a few data: 70 thousand Italians converted to Islam and what strikes most is the high number of Italians contacting Mosques to study Islam.

“It is an absolutely positive fact”, Izzedine commented. “If you consider that there are already 150,000 Muslims with Italian citizenship and one million resident Muslims, you can understand that it is an unprecented boom” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Austria: Iraqi Man Arrested

Austrian police have finally managed to arrest a man wanted for the murder of a woman 11 years ago in the Favoriten district of Vienna. The man who was originally from Iraq but who had Austrian citizenship fled the country shortly after the killing. He was married to the murdered woman.

Once back in the country, the man, who is now 79 years old, adopted a false name and went to live at Dohuk in northern Iraq. The allegation is that the man murdered his ex-wife with a gun on 30 April 2001 at her home in the Sonnleithnergasse.

The couple had been estranged, and she had hidden from him, but he allegedly managed to force his daughter at gunpoint to tell him where his ex-wife was — and he then drove there with his daughter to confront her.

At the end of a heated row he shot her with several bullets according to the indictment, and also injured his daughter by shooting her in the arm. He was arrested in 2010 by Interpol investigators working with police in Baghdad and has finally been extradited to Austria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Britain is Shackled to the Corpse of Europe

by Daniel Hannan

Europe’s economic problems are about to get a whole lot worse. For the past three years, governments have tried, however ineffectually, to tackle the debt crisis. Now, though, in country after country, voters are demanding precisely the high-tax and high-spend policies which caused the recession in the first place. Yesterday’s elections in France and Greece were the first of what will surely be many advances by the populist Left. In both places, candidates were elbowing each other aside during the campaign to demand more intervention and an end to cuts. The new French President is an unapologetic Socialist of the kind we haven’t known in this country since Michael Foot. François Hollande wants wealth taxes, stimulus spending and a massive expansion of the state payroll.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Britain’s Wind Power High Costs

Astounding cost of Britain’s go-to-it alone obsession with using wind turbines

Vast expansion of wind power, bankrolled by taxpayers is required to meet the pledges in the Climate Change Act, in which Britain signed up for emissions cuts by 2050—the only country in the world to do so. (3)

This is all coming at a very high price. Two recent studies report the astounding cost of Britain’s go-to-it alone obsession with using wind turbines to generate much of the electricity the nation needs. Both studies came to similar conclusions: wind is astronomically expensive compared to other sources of energy—and consumers and businesses must pay a high price for the privilege of subsidizing such an inefficient technology. (4)

[…]

The other study, a report by Gordon Hughes, shows meeting Britain’s target for renewable energy by 2020 would require a total investment of some 120 billion pounds in wind turbines and back-up. This is almost ten times more than the 13 billion pounds it would cost to generate the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-fired power stations. A typical turbine generates power that is worth around 150,000 pounds a year, but attracts subsidies of more than 250,000 pounds a year. These subsidies are, of course, added directly to the bills of energy users. (6)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



French President is Another Bilderberg Stooge

The mass media is promulgating the notion that the election of Socialist French President Francois Hollande represents some kind of massive sea change and is a direct challenge to the European Union, and yet Hollande’s past and the people he surrounds himself with confirms the fact that he is merely another committed globalist and an enthusiastic supporter of the dictatorial EU’s sovereignty-stripping ethos.

“In the whole of Europe it’s time for change,” Hollande told cheering crowds who gathered to hear his victory speech in Paris early Monday,” reports the L.A. Times.

“Observers agree that Mr Hollande’s election represents a sea-change in the governance of the eurozone and the management of the single currency crisis,” reports Sky News.

Hollande is merely another creature of the establishment and an enthusiastic pro-European superstate globalist. He supported the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, the document which outlined the introduction of the euro single currency and was itself based on a 1955 Bilderberg blueprint. Hollande also supported the European Constitution in a 2005 referendum despite most of his socialist allies voting against it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Germany: Newsflash! Pro NRW Can Show Mohammed Caricatures in Cologne, Too!

A tenth-round victory for NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger against PRO NRW: According to a quick decision by the Cologne district court today, the Mohammed caricatures by Kurt Westergaard can be shown at the PRO NRW meeting in front of the mosque construction site in Ehrenfeld. Markus Beisicht: “That is a great achievement again for us and for freedom of speech.”

The following was communicated in a press release from PRO NRW:

Cologne district court likewise lifts “caricature ban” by NRW Interior Minister

PRO NRW also wins the last round in the “war of trials” against them started by the Interior Minister. The Cologne district court, with today’s decision (Az.: 290 L 590/12), lifted the “caricature ban” decreed in an edict by NRW Interior Minister Jäger for Cologne as well. The PRO NRW Citizens’ Movement will be able right away to exhibit the caricatures from Kurt Westergaard even at the last rally by the nation wide “Freedom instead of Islam” election tour. “This is a beautiful day for free speech and for the rule of law, which was profoundly confirmed by the district courts of the state of NRW in a ‘trial war’ that has been going on for almost two weeks,” PRO NRW president and top candidate for his party, Markus Beisicht, commented of the achievement by his party in court.

Meanwhile, the next to last stage of the “Freedom instead of Islam” tour by PRO NRW in Düren this morning (photo above) went off smoothly. The retinue is now making its way to Cologne, where starting at 2 p.m., the rally will start with a speech by Susanne Winter. In addition, a live ticker will be on freiheitlich.me[3]. We will give an extensive report soon afterward.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: First Videos of Salafist Attacks in Solingen

PI [Politically Incorrect] has reported before about the attack of islamic extremists on police officers in Solingen in which three police officers and a pedestrian were injured. Meanwhile, video recordings of the scenery have surfaced that we don’t want to hold back from our readers. “Allahu akbar” and “Sharia, Sharia” rings throughout downtown Solingen. The noise continues to swell when a PRO-NRW activist stretches out the famous Mohammed caricature by Kurt Westergaard into the air. Suddenly dozens of stones are flying, the Salafists with hate-contorted faces beat police officers with rods who then protected themselves with swaths of pepperspray. Several Salafists tried to break through the police barricade; one could be stopped only when he was just a few meters away from the caricatures. Everywhere there were helmeted police, islamists kneeling or lying on the ground, howls of sirens and noise of helicopters.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



German Cartoon Riots: Clubs, Bottles and Stones

by Soeren Kern

In an explosion of violence that reflects the growing assertiveness of Salafists in Germany, on May 5th more than 500 radical Muslims attacked German police with bottles clubs, stones and other weapons in the city of Bonn, to protest cartoons they said were “offensive.”

Rather than cracking down on the Muslim extremists, however, German authorities have sought to silence the peaceful critics of multicultural policies that allow the Salafists — who say they are committed to imposing Islamic Sharia law throughout Europe — openly to preach violence and hate.

The clashes erupted when around 30 supporters of a conservative political party, PRO NRW, which is opposed to the further spread of Islam in Germany, participated in a campaign rally ahead of regional elections in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Some of those participating in the rally, which was held near the Saudi-run King Fahd Academy in the Mehlem district of Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, had been waving banners depicting the Islamic Prophet Mohammad (see photo here), to protest the Islamization of Germany.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: Anti-Islam ‘Pro-NRW’ Provokes German Violence

The Interior Minister of Germany’s western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has blamed a far-right group that displayed lampooning cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessing be upon him) outside mosques for a recent cycle of violence in the European country. The actions of the extremist anti-Islam group, “Pro NRW”, in Bonn on Saturday had been a “deliberate provocation” that had triggered reprisals by Salafists, Ralf Jager, the NRW Interior Minister, was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle on Monday, May 7.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: Neonazi-Salafi Clashes in Bonn, 30 Police Hurt

(AGI) Bonn — One hundred people were arrested and 30 policemen injured in clashes in Bonn between neo-Nazis and Salafis. The Islamists were enraged by an exhibition of cartoons depicting Mohammed. The far-right PRO-NRW organisation last Tuesday set up a provocative exhibition of images deemed blasphemous to Islam, including some cartoons by the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, which had previously set off a wave of violent protests in Muslim countries. On Saturday night, about thirty Neo-Nazis were abused by 600 mainly Muslim demonstrators who objected to the exhibition, which had been authorised by a court against the advice of the local authorities. Some Salafis broke through a police security cordon and attacked the exhibition space with sticks and stones. The incident is part of the election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous German state, which goes to the polls on 13 May and where the PRO-NRW enjoys a small following…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn

It was clear from the start that the tiny, right-wing populist group Pro-NRW would stop at nothing to attract attention in the run-up to state elections in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia this Sunday. With Salafists in the state now reacting violently to Pro-NRW’s inflammatory parading of Muhammad caricatures in front of Muslim establishments, the splinter party appears to have gotten its wish. On Saturday, violence flared anew when Salafists attacked police protecting a Pro-NRW demonstration in front of a Saudi Arabian school in Bonn. Twenty-nine officers were wounded, two of them having been stabbed, and more than 100 people were arrested. On Monday, a 25-year-old man was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the knife attacks.

Ralf Jäger, interior minister for the state, promised that there would be “severe consequences,” adding that he would “join the federal government in exploring all legal possibilities for countering these extremists.” The police president in Bonn, Ursula Brohl-Sowa, spoke of an “explosion of violence like we haven’t seen for some time.” The Pro-NRW march in Bonn consisted of just over two dozen people, but some 500 to 600 counter-demonstrators also gathered, including, according to police estimates, some 200 Salafists who had travelled to Bonn from across the country. Several hundred police were also present to keep the two groups separated.

‘Deliberately Provoked’

Kolbe said the march was peaceful until right-wing populists began showing their anti-Islam caricatures, including one by Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who created one of the Muhammad drawings which set off global unrest in 2006. One pro-NRW member, Kolbe told SPIEGEL ONLINE, climbed onto the shoulders of a comrade in order to hold the placard above a police vehicle positioned so as to block the view. “The Pro-NRW people very deliberately provoked,” Kolbe said. Still, he said, it was clear that many of the counter-demonstrators had come prepared for violence. Several more knives were found among the 109 people arrested, along with pepper sprays. The vast majority of those taken into custody, said Kolbe, were not from Bonn but had travelled from elsewhere in the country to take part in the demonstration. Once the violence started, he added, several counter-demonstrators began tearing up the yards of nearby houses in the search for projectiles, even demolishing a decorative fountain in the process. “When it comes to the violence,” Kolbe said, “we believe that most of those involved were Salafists.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany Accuses Islamist of Attempted Murder After Stabbings

BERLIN — A 25-year-old Islamist was remanded in custody in Germany on Monday, accused of the attempted murder of three policemen as they were separating neo-Nazis from Islamic fundamentalist protesters. Two officers were stabbed in the thigh on Saturday and a third officer dodged an attack by the knife-wielding man during a melee outside a mosque in the western city of Bonn. Pro NRW (North Rhine Westphalia), a far-right party with neo-Nazi canvassers, had organized a protest event drawing nearly 30 rightists to the mosque, holding up cartoons ridiculing Islam and its founder Mohammed to publicize the group’s anti-immigrant views.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: Pescara Police Keep Order After Football Fan Murder

Ethnic tensions fueled by extremist ‘ultras’

(ANSA) — Pescara, May 7 — Authorities in the Adriatic town of Pescara said on Monday that local police will step up operations, but that national military forces will not be called in to deal with tensions and the threat of violent clashes between ‘ultra’ hardcore football fans and the local Roma community.

On Tuesday evening a Pescara football supporter, 24-year-old Domenico Rigante, was shot and later died in hospital after a group of six Roma, sometimes referred to as Gypsies, attacked him in his home.

The suspected killer, 29-year-old Massimo Ciarelli, had reportedly threatened to kill Rigante a week earlier.

Extremist Pescara supporters known as ultras, who are said to have links with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova political party, threw molotov cocktails at the Ciarelli household on Wednesday, said local police.

On Sunday, approximately 300 fans chanting anti-Roma slogans broke away from a march in Pescara and attempted to enter the predominantly Romani neighborhood of Rancitelli before reportedly being stopped by police and the ultras’ leader. Later on Sunday, protesters in front of city hall carried banners saying that Roma had “five days to leave the city or face the consequences”.

Local forces have been placed on maximum alert to prevent violent outbreaks, however police chief Paolo Passamonti confirmed that many Roma were evacuating the neighborhood, fearing attacks. Police said that they hoped Cirella’s arrest on Sunday in the nearby town of Chieti would help to calm tensions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Witness Tells of Berlusconi ‘Sex Parties’

Danese says that media dogging has ‘changed life’

(ANSA) — Milan, May 7 — Testimony by teen beauty contestant Chiara Danese on Monday at a trial of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi repeated detailed accounts leaked to the press in 2011 of parties after which Berlusconi allegedly paid for sex with an underage prostitute nicknamed ‘Ruby’.

In April 2011, two of Italy’s biggest dailies reported that two aspiring weather presenters, Ambra Battilana and Chiara Danese, were taken to a party at Berlusconi’s villa at Arcore following a screen test on the TV news show of Berlusconi’s close friend Emilio Fede.

Both of the girls were 18 at the time the event allegedly took place in August 2010.

Danese, repeating what was previously leaked to newspapers, testified that Berlusconi allegedly got girls at the party to kiss a statuette with a giant penis before they allegedly cavorted in skimpy nurses’ uniforms, stripped and engaged in mutual fondling with the premier.

In her testimony, Danese alleged that Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist Nicole Minetti, now a Lombardy regional councillor for his People of Freedom (PdL) party, stripped naked after Berlusconi told a string of “increasingly vulgar” jokes and was kissed on the breasts by him before the party moved into its final “bunga bunga” sex stage. She also claimed that the young women dancing half-naked allegedly called the premier “Daddy” and sang the popular refrain “Thank God We Have Silvio” while Berlusconi allegedly called them all “my babies”.

“We were embarassed and wanted to leave,” Danese told the court on Monday.

Danese testified that when they asked to go, Fede allegedly said “you can forget about being weather girls or Miss Italy”.

Breaking down in tears, Danese told the court that as a consequence of media attention she is hounded by rumours in the small town where she lives with her parents.

Proceedings against the ex-premier opened April 6 and are expected to run for years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Left-Wing, Grassroots Candidates Lead Local Italian Vote

‘We ran wrong candidates’ says PdL’s La Russa

(ANSA) — Rome, May 7 — Local Italian elections on Monday produced good results for left-wing and grassroots candidates and bad ones for former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party in battleground cities, while an incumbent mayor in Verona from the right-wing Northern League was the only candidate to win on the first ballot despite his party’s legal woes. “We chose the wrong candidates and I’m not afraid to admit it,” said former defense minister Ignazio La Russa, a PdL heavyweight. “There’s a mania to select (the candidates) with the best looks instead of knowing what their experience is, while the people want trustworthy candidates, and for those in Palermo Leoluca Orlando is more trustworthy”. Veteran anti-Mafia campaigner Orlando of the opposition Italy of Values party had 47% of the vote for mayor of Palermo, just shy of the majority needed to avoid a runoff on May 20-21.

The grassroots Five Star party, headed by Italian comic and activist Beppe Grillo who supports leaving the eurozone, won almost 19% in Parma, enough to go into the second round, and 15% in Genoa, where it placed third. Incumbent Flavio Tosi of the Northern League regained the mayor’s seat in Verona with a majority of votes, avoiding a runoff. That election was seen as a test of public approval for the League, which is currently in the grip of a major scandal involving Umberto Bossi who resigned as its leader in March when his family was linked to probes into the alleged fraudulent use of party money.

Marco Doria, supported by a leftist coalition including the Democratic Party (PD), was leading after the first round in Genoa with 46% of the vote. Voter-turnout levels were down in both days of voting, according to the interior ministry. On Monday the turnout at the end of the second day of voting, with around nine million Italians eligible to elect the councils of around 1,000 Italian towns and cities, was 66.9% compared to 73.7% at the last equivalent ballot.

Turnout on Sunday was down from 54.8% to 49%. Analysts said there was widespread skepticism about the effectiveness of a political class that needed to call in former European commissioner Monti last year to head a technocrat administration to stop Italy’s debt crisis spiralling out of control.

The votes are seen as a major barometer of public mood ahead of general elections next year.

Italy’s three big mainstream political groups — the PdL, the PD and a coalition of centrist parties called the Third Pole — all support Monti’s emergency government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy Backs Turkey’s EU Bid

Meeting in Rome between Monti and Turkish premier Erdogan

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 8 — Italian Premier Mario Monti reaffirmed Italy’s support for Turkey’s entrance into the European Union on Tuesday, adding that Europe had much to learn from the Mediterranean country. “Italy wholeheartedly supports Turkey’s full entrance into the EU,” said Monti after meeting with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Rome. “Our hope is that the negotiations over admission will go forth with renewed vigor”. Monti said that the country could set a good example for Europe, which “has reached a level of institutional perfection and strong integration” but at the same time is “demographically aging, tired and not full of energy and economic enthusiasm”. “Turkey can set an important example,” Monti said, adding that the addition of the country would have an “added economic, strategic and cultural value” for all of the EU.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Naples Businessman Shoots Himself in Head, Critical

(AGI) Naples — A small business owner from Naples attempted suicide and is in critical condition at Naple’s Loreto Mare Hospital. The incident occurred in Via Fedro, where the 72 year old man, the owner of a small workshop, gravely injured himself shooting himself in the head with a handgun. the man is a resident of Pozzuoli and, according to the information gathered by Carabinieri, had received a tax notice in recent months.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Netherlands:10 Years After Pim Fortuyn Was Murdered: What the Papers Say

Ten years ago on Sunday, Dutch populist politician Pim Fortuyn was murdered in Hilversum by animal rights activist Volkert van de Graaf, nine days before the general election. This weekend, the Dutch media devoted a large amount of space to assessing Fortuyn’s impact on the Netherlands.

Fortuyn is almost universally regarded as having changed the face of Dutch politics, partly for his outspoken views on Islam, which he regarded as a backward religion, and immigration — he wanted a stop.

His arrival on the political scene came at a time of growing unhappiness in some parts of the country with the perceived failure of multi-culturalism, poor public services and politicians who were distanced from society as a whole.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



New Rules for Italian Judges

(AGI) Rome — Italian judges will no longer be allowed to hold second jobs for indefinite periods and receive two salaries.

The amendment on new rules for magistrates who are MPs will now be sent to joint commissions and the government has been defeated. The joint Constitutional Affairs and Judicial Commission have approved an amendment by Democrat Roberto Giachetti on second jobs for magistrates in spite of the government opposing it, first by Nitto Palma and then by Justice Minister Paola Severino. The Giachetti amendment was voted on by all groups. According to reports, PD MPs abstained, with the exception of Paola Concia and Rita Bernardini.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Pragmatism Likely in Merkel-Hollande Relationship

With the election of François Hollande as French president, Nicolas Sarkozy is history — as is the Merkozy duo in Berlin and Paris. German-French relations will have to be realigned. Given that the election has come in the midst of the euro crisis, Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will need to learn to get along quickly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Radical Left and Neo-Nazis Score Well in Greek Elections

Greek voters on Sunday (6 May) punished the two ruling parties responsible for the last EU bail-out and its austerity measures by giving the radical left the second highest number of votes and allowing a neo-Nazi party into the legislature for the first time.

Early official results after 10 percent of the votes were count show that the centre-right New Democracy party has gained the most votes (19.2%) but it is not enough to re-make the current ruling coalition with the Social Democrats (Pasok).

Instead, Syriza, a coalition of radical left parties (16.3%) opposing the austerity rules of the €130 billion bail-out, but in favour for Greece to stay in the eurozone, pushed Pasok into third place. The right-wing Independent Greeks, a splinter party from New Democracy also openly against the bail-out, scored over ten percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Resisting Threat of Fanatical Islam: West Must Not Surrender Permanent Liberty for Temporary Tolerance

By Geert Wilders

The above essay contains direct quotes from Geert Wilders’ latest book Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me:

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Bill for Abu Qatada Saga Hits £3m … and Guess Who’s Paying?

FAILING to kick radical cleric Abu Qatada out of the country has cost taxpayers at least £3million, figures have revealed. The huge bill, which has been run up over more than a decade since he was first arrested, is more than twice earlier estimates. The revelation comes ahead of tomorrow’s ruling by European judges on whether Qatada’s appeal against deportation should be allowed to go ahead.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Grooming Gang Found Guilty: Nine Men Shared Girls Aged 13 to 15 for Sex and Raped One Up to Twenty Times a Day

Nine men were today found guilty of grooming and passing round vulnerable white schoolgirls aged between 13 and 15 for sex after plying them with alcohol and drugs.

Five girls were ‘shared’ by Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The ten-week trial was told that the men — who are all from Pakistan, some from the same village, apart from Safi who is from Afghanistan — groomed the teenage girls because they were vulnerable and from broken homes,

The jury of three men and nine women heard that the defendants plied the girls, some as young as 13, with fast food, drink and drugs so they could ‘pass them around’ and use them for sex.

The victims were picked up from ‘honeypot locations’ where teenagers congregate, such as outside takeaway restaurants, and were then taken to ‘chill houses’ around the north of England for sex.

One 13-year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted.

Another gave evidence of being raped by two men while she was ‘so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed’.

The court heard that some of the girls were raped and physically assaulted and some were forced to have sex with ‘several men in a day, several times a week’.

Police said one victim was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night when she was drunk.

Detectives said she could ‘barely recount the events’ but her friend was downstairs and remembers ‘innumerable men’ going upstairs.

The gang used a 15-year-old white girl they nicknamed ‘The Honey Monster’ as their recruiter.

           — Hat tip: watling [Return to headlines]



UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11

A suspected sex trafficking ring in which girls as young as 11 were allegedly targeted was far larger than previously feared, according to police.

As many as 50 young girls have come forward claiming to have been sold for sex in Oxford, U.K., detective confirmed today.

It was originally thought that 24 girls, aged between 11 and 16 years, were the only victims but more youngsters have since contacted the police alleging they were also victims.

Oxford police commander, Acting Superintendent Chris Sharp, said more ‘potential victims’ had come forward as a result of the publicity the case had received.

A total of 13 men were arrested when more than 100 police swooped in the raids across Oxford, codenamed Operation Bullfinch.

A group of six Asian men — including two sets of brothers — have been charged by police in connection with allegedly running the sex trafficking ring in the university city known for its dreaming spires.

Since the initial dawn raids last month, officers had made a further two arrests as part of the probe, a police spokesman said.

A 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman were detained on suspicion of ‘grooming’ this week.

Ready to move in: Police vans lined up ahead of Operation Bullfinch, which investigated the alleged sexual exploitation of girls.

The man has been freed on police bail to return to a police station in May, pending further inquiries and the woman was released without charge.

Police arrested 13 men in raids across Oxford on Thursday, March 22, after investigating the suspected ring since May last year.

Six men were charged and appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court, sitting at Amersham on Friday, March 30, for a preliminary hearing and were all remanded in custody.

Father of two Kamar Jamil, aged 26 years, of Summertown, Oxford, who is charged with four counts of rape, two counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of possession with intent to supply class A drugs, has since been granted conditional bail by the court.

Seven men returned to a police station to answer bail on Thursday and had their bail extended for a further eight weeks.

High Wycombe Magistrates Court heard during the first hearing last month how the accused men are believed to have groomed 24 girls for sex between May 2004 and March, this year.

Four girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were allegedly given alcohol and drugs, and forced to have sex with some of the men.

Clare Tucker, prosecuting, said during that hearing: ‘These charges relate to the sexual exploitation of girls between 11 and 16 across the Oxford area over a period of several years.’

Zeshan Ahmed, 26, is charged with ten counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Anjum Dogar, 30, is charged with one count of conspiring to rape a child, one count of arranging prostitution of a child and one count of trafficking.

His brother, Akhtar, 31, is charged with three counts of rape, one count of conspiring to rape a child, three counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of trafficking.

Mohammed Karrar, 37, has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to rape a child and one count of supplying a Class A controlled drug to a child.

His brother Bassan, a 32-year-old father of two, is charged with one count of raping a child in 2006.

Detective Inspector Simon Morton, of Thames Valley Police, said at the time of the arrests: ‘We are working closely with social services to make sure the young girls involved are safe.’

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]



UK: The Unspeakable v the Uneatable

by Melanie Phillips

People seem surprised that the idea of elected mayors has received such a thumbs-down from yesterday’s UK local elections and referenda on the proposed post for individual cities. Personally, I’m not surprised at all. Elected mayors were always a pretty useless idea — a gimmick dreamed up by political anoraks looking desperately for a Big Idea — any Big Idea that happened to be passing — and who accordingly seized upon the perception that there’s a ‘democratic deficit’ without facing up properly to its cause. People don’t want elected mayors because they can’t see the point of them. They think all politicians are rubbish. They are disillusioned with the whole rotten, cynical, opportunistic, unprincipled, out-to-ideological-lunch lot of them. That’s what ‘democratic deficit ‘means, duh! It does not mean that voters think there’s a deficit in the number of politicians representing them. Voters think there’s a deficit in what all politicians have between their ears (and in their souls). It’s not that Britain’s constitution is structurally unable to deliver what the country wants and needs. It’s that the mainstream political class has become constitutionally incapable of delivering what the country wants and needs.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Ukraine Paper Sorry for Saying ‘Germany Like Third Reich’

(KIEV) — A Ukrainian newspaper owned by an oligarch close to President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday apologised for printing an editorial that said Germany had not changed since the Third Reich.

The article printed last week in the top-selling Segodnya newspaper said the Germany of Chancellor Angela Merkel was no different from the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, further stoking an intensifying crisis in Berlin-Kiev ties.

Germany has led European criticism of Ukraine’s treatment of jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and has not ruled out boycotting the matches taking place in Ukraine for the Euro 2012 football tournament.

“The comparison between modern Germany and Nazi Germany made by the author was neither suitable nor justified,” the paper’s acting editor-in-chief Olga Guk wrote in a statement on Segodnya’s website.

“I am very sorry that this happened. It’s wrong even in the heat of the debate to make insulting comparisons and claims.

“Sport must unite and not divide people. On behalf of the whole publication and from myself personally I declare our sincere apologies,” she said in the editorial which has yet to be published in its printed version.

The editorial caused a huge stir given it was printed in a newspaper owned by Ukrainian billionaire tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, a key patron of Yanukovych from his home region of Donetsk.

The article — entitled “Under the Heel of Merkel” — said that “Germany has not changed in the past 70 years” and claimed that “1945 taught them nothing.”

“They have taken off their masks and it really is the case that the Berlin of 2012 is in no way different from the Berlin of the 1940s,” it said.

Ukraine had hoped that Euro 2012 — which it is co-hosting with Poland — would be a showpiece for the country but analysts have said the event risks becoming a fiasco as the government’s image goes from bad to worse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Ukrainian President Can’t Win Struggle With Tymoshenko

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych wanted to take revenge on his arch-rival Yulia Tymoshenko. But locking up the former prime minister was the worst mistake of his presidency, say analysts. Tymoshenko has the upper hand in the battle for public opinion, while Yanukovych is ruining his presidency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa


62.5% of Tunisians Are Practicing Muslims

Only 0.2% are Shi’ites

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 7 — Some 62.5% of Tunisians are practicing Muslims who pray five times a day, as prescribed by Islam, according to an opinion poll carried out for the Arab-language newspaper Al-Maghrib.

A total of 39.8% of those who pray five times a day do so at home rather than at the mosque.

Another significant element to emerge from the poll is that only 0.2% of Tunisian Muslims are Shi’ites, while Sunnis make up close to 70%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Algeria: Bomb Discovered Outside School

After residents reported suspicious car

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 8 — An hand-made explosive device has been discovered and neutralized close to a school in the centre of the Algerian town of Issers, east of Boumerde’s. The news has been reported by the website of the TSA agency, which says that the device was discovered after local residents reported the presence of a suspicious car to security forces. Agents began to comb the streets in an effort to intercept the vehicle, which was found parked a short distance away from the school. After further checks, the device was found. The bomb is said to be similar to those used by Islamic terrorists, and which in recent months have killed a number of soldiers, policemen and civilians, as when detonated from distance, they often explode after a delay. The province of Boumerde’s has been the hardest hit by terrorism, especially in the weeks leading up to parliamentary elections in the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Egypt: Jihadists Behind the Attack Against the Defence Ministry in Cairo

An extremist Jihadist fringe is behind yesterday’s incidents in which three people were killed and more than 300 wounded. The brother of al Qaeda’s leader was present at the protest, the spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church said. Weapons and ammunitions are found at a Salafist mosque. “People are against fundamentalism,” Fr Greiche said.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Protests in Cairo yesterday afternoon and the attempt to storm the Defence Ministry were the work of a “jihadist fringe” that wants to seize power. Ordinary people backed the army because it “is against” fundamentalists taking over demonstrations or “extremists taking over power,” said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church. “The situation in the capital is currently calm”, he told AsiaNews, but warned that we have to wait for this afternoon because it “is too early to know whether more will happen”.

Three weeks from the first presidential elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the situation remains tense as people expect more street demonstrations. Egypt’s ruling military council imposed a 11 pm-7am curfew in the area around the Defence Ministry in Cairo after one soldier and two civilians were reported killed and more than 300 wounded (with more than 100 hospitalised) yesterday afternoon.

During the demonstrations, participants reached an area where supporters of ultra-rightwing Islamist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail were holding a sit-in in protest against his exclusion from the presidential election because his mother has dual US and Egyptian citizenship, which under Egyptian law bars him from running.

State television blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the unrest and clashes that ended with demonstrators throwing stones and police moving in.

“The presence at the protests yesterday and the days before of the elder brother of al Qaeda’s current leader Ayman al Zawahiri is cause of concern,” Fr Rafik Greiche told AsiaNews.

Equally worrisome is the appearance among the protesters of “people who clearly do not look Egyptian, from foreign countries,” especially since “they were shouting their defiance at Barack Obama and chanting that Osama bin Laden was not dead.”

For the spokesman of the Church in Egypt, “it is clear that Jihadists are trying to carve a place for themselves in the current situation.”

What is more, “well-hidden ammunitions and weapons were found in a mosque not far from the area where demonstrations were held yesterday,” Fr Rafik said. It is well known, he added, that “The mosque belongs to the Salafist movement.”

Soldiers “had to intervene,” he explained, in doing so they found support among ordinary people who do not want “Jihadists to take power”. (DS)

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Libya Funded Sarkozy’s Campaign, Belarusian Leader Says

The leader of Belarus has entered the controversy over claims that Libya under Muammar Qaddafi funded French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign. President Alexander Lukashenko says the late Libyan leader told him when he visited Belarus in 2008 that he had funded Sarkozy’s campaign.

Sarkozy, who lost his fight for re-election on Sunday, has strongly denied the claims.

The claims were made by a Tunisian lawyer for former Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, who said that according to his client, $65 million was given to Sarkozy’s campaign.

Lukashenko, speaking Tuesday in an annual address to the Belarusian parliament, said that Qaddafi told him the amount was more than 100 million. Lukashenko did not specify the currency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Hamas Urges French President-Elect Hollande to Visit Gaza

Hamas has urged france’s president-elect, Francois Hollande, to visit the Gaza Strip and “correct” French policy towards the Palestinians.

“We urge French President-elect Francois Hollande to put the Palestinian issue on its agenda and to correct the French approach to the Palestinian issue,” Hamas said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Israel’s Peace Disease

For the last twenty years Israel has been swept into an obsession with few parallels except to the Dutch Tulip economy. Except instead of tulips, its commodity of choice is an even more insubstantial thing, the faint promise of peace.

Peace fever is the disease consuming Israel as surely as the Black Death took Europe. If the Dutch traded fortunes for flowers, the Israelis have traded away most of their territory for worthless pieces of paper that last about as long as tulips do. Mostly, like Madoff’s investments, after they wither and die it turns out that they were never worth anything to begin with.

Take the Camp David Accords, greeted with insane romantic fervor in Jerusalem and European capitals, but resented and despised by Egyptians because they were a reminder of how their army had failed to destroy Israel. It was a worthless accord that gave Egypt a vast amount of territory in exchange for maintaining a status quo that it had no choice but to maintain after losing multiple wars. With the fall of Mubarak, it was revealed that the Accords were never more than moonbeams and fairy dust. A puff of Arab Spring and they are gone.

[…]

Delusional does not mean stupid. Highly intelligent people are more likely to be deluded because they have a greater capacity for imagining and then rationalizing the delusion. A stupid person would assume that being shot at marks the end of peace negotiations. It takes a highly intelligent person to rationalize the shots as not an attack on him, but on the negotiations, which are the only way to stop the cycle of violence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Surprise Joint Netanyahu — Kadima Government

Objectives include “responsible” restart of peace process

Israeli Prime Minisrer Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz in Jerusalem on forming a coalition government

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM — “It is my hope that the Palestinians decide to pursue the peace process. I hope that now they will reconsider their position and come to the negotiation table in a responsible way,” To these words of Israel’s Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina replied by calling for an immediate stop to all settlement building: “I appeal to the Israeli government to make use of this opportunity to hurry and reach a peace accord with the Palestinian people and its leadership: a just and general accord that may guarantee the security of the peoples of the region and dispel the winds of war”.

Thus has begun the exchange with the new Netanyahu government, set up by surprise overnight following a deal with the centrist opposition Kadima party. The deal saves the country from an early election, which would otherwise have taken place in September. This is an “extended government of national unity” that should carry the country through to the end of its legislation in November 2013.

Among the items in its programme is that of restarting the peace process in a “responsible” way. For the leader of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, there is a need to aim for an “historic compromise” with the Palestinians, which will guarantee the “Jewish and democratic” character of Israel. Also planned is a new law on conscripting young people that re-examines the nature of the exception made for ultra-orthodox Jews. But beyond internal matters, analysts are already questioning whether the surprise move by Netanyahu and his former chief in command Mofaz may be linked to an Israeli strike at Iran’s developed nuclear capability. The expanded government is based across seven parties, claiming 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset: the Likud of Mr Netanyahu (27); Israel Beitenu (far right, 15); Atzamaut (list of Defence Minister Ehud Barak), 5; Shas (Sephardic Orthodox, 11); Hebrew Hearth (religious nationalist, 3); Torah Front (Ashkenazi Orthodox), 5. Thanks to the deal with Shaul Mofaz , now added to this list are the centrist Kadima party with 28 seats. From today, the parliamentary opposition will be led by the Labour Party of Shelly Yehimovic, which has just eight seats in Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Bomber in Plot on U.S. Airliner Said to be a Double Agent

WASHINGTON — The would-be suicide bomber dispatched by the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen last month to blow up a United States-bound airliner was actually a double agent who infiltrated the terrorist group and volunteered for the suicide mission, American and foreign officials said on Tuesday.

In an extraordinary intelligence coup, the agent left Yemen, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and critical information on the group’s leaders to the C.I.A., Saudi and other foreign intelligence agencies.

After spending weeks at the center of the terrorist network’s most dangerous affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the agent provided critical information that permitted the C.I.A. to direct the drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the group’s external operations director and a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000.

[Return to headlines]



Konya, Turkey: The Dance of the Devout

Konya, the birthplace of the Whirling Dervishes, is a city still rooted in its Muslim heritage, finds Sara Evans.

Even in the shadows of the stage their white robes appear luminous. Now moving into the light, they twinkle like stars. Synchronising perfectly, they spin and turn, forming a glittering constellation. Human gyroscopes, the dancers are the famous Whirling Dervishes of Turkey. They perform here in Konya every Saturday night. In the world’s grandest Whirling Dervish hall, a devout and rapturous audience savours every step the Dervishes make. For Konya — just an hour’s flight southeast from Istanbul — is Turkey’s most Islamic city, with over a million people living and worshipping here.

I see evidence of this on the city’s streets as I walk around Konya. Women cover their heads in tightly drawn scarves, or wear burkas. Men sport beards. Throughout the day, I hear the Muslim call to prayer from the shining minarets of Konya’s ancient Seljuk mosques.

Then, from dusty carpet shops in the medieval bazaars, from cafe’s selling succulent kebabs and salty flatbreads, and from rose and tulip stalls in the markets, the city’s men — young and old — head to the mosques. Once inside, they turn to Mecca, kneel and start the rituals of prayer practised here for centuries.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Turkey Launches New Crackdown on Ex-Officers

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest of at least five active duty and five retired generals along with other suspects over their alleged role in the 1990s ousting of an Islamist prime minister. The police on Tuesday searched the homes of 16 suspects, including some colonels, noncommissioned officers and one civilian who served in the military.

Police have previously arrested more than 30 officers, including some powerful generals, in the probe over their role in forcing the resignation in 1997 of an Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. The officers are accused of pressuring Erbakan to resign over his alleged attempts to increase the profile of Islam in this predominantly Muslim but secular country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Work With Yemen Led to Bomb Discovery, Says Obama Adviser

US bomb experts are picking apart a sophisticated new al-Qa’ida improvised explosive device, a top Obama administration ounterterrorism official said today, to determine if it could have slipped past airport security and taken down a commercial airplane.

Officials told The Associated Press a day earlier that the discovery of the unexploded bomb represented an intelligence prize resulting from a covert CIA operation in Yemen, saying the intercept thwarted a suicide mission around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. US officials declined to say where the CIA seized the bomb. The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or purchased plane tickets when the CIA seized the bomb, officials said. It was not immediately clear what happened to the would-be bomber.

The device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it. The device is an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. Officials said the new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qa’ida developed a more refined detonation system.

John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said today the discovery shows al-Qa’ida remains a threat to US security a year after bin Laden’s assassination. And he attributed the breakthrough to “very close cooperation with our international partners.” “We’re continuing to investigate who might have been associated with the construction of it as well as plans to carry out an attack,” Brennan said. “And so we’re confident that this device and any individual that might have been designed to use it are no longer a threat to the American people.” On the question of whether the device could have been gone undetected through airport security, Brennan said, “It was a threat from a standpoint of the design.” He also said there was no intelligence indicating it was going to be used in an attack to coincide with the May 2 anniversary of bin Laden’s death.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Yemen: US Thwarts Al Qaeda Airliner Bomb Plot, Officials Say

US officials have said they foiled a plot by al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to blow up an airliner in April. US officials have said the recovered devise was a sophisticated version of the 2009 Christmas day “underwear bomb.”

A US counterterrorism official said on Monday that the CIA foiled a plot by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen to blow up an airliner in April.

US officials have stressed that the plot, reportedly hatched by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was uncovered at an early stage, meaning that “at no point were any airliners at risk.”

“The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the US government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device,” the FBI said in a statement.

Reports suggest that no target for the attack had yet been chosen and no plane tickets had been bought. The status of the alleged suicide bomber appears to be unknown.

The FBI is conducting technical and forensic analysis on the recovered device, which they described as a sophisticated upgrade of the so-called “underwear bomb” that failed to detonate aboard an airliner over Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009.

“Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia


Anti-Putin Demonstrators Cleared From Moscow Streets

Russian riot police in Moscow detained and beat some 400 anti-Putin demonstrators on Sunday and another one hundred on Monday. The crackdown came amid the inauguration of President-elect Vladimir Putin who was sworn in on Monday for his third term in office.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Putin Returns to the Kremlin

Mass arrests of protesters over the weekend signal tough times ahead for Russia. Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for his third term as president on Monday heralds the rollback of meager reforms made by his predecessor Dmitry Medvedev. Instead of expanding freedoms in the country, Putin has been vaguely refining his Potemkin democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Armenia: May 9: Day of Victory for Shoushi, 20 Years Ago

On May 9 Nagorno Karabakh will celebrate with grandeur the 20th anniversary of Shoushi’s liberation, due to which Nagorno Karabakh stopped being an enclave in 1992. Immediately after Armenia gained control over Shoushi, the Armenian self-defense forces entered Lachin, May 12-18 of 1992, and solved a strategic task, which was to secure a direct land communication between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Prior to the festivities certain details are recalled that have rarely been voiced before. “Twenty years ago things might have turned out differently and we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Armenian expert Garegin Gabrieyelyan, leader of Keni Research Center. He says in early May of 1992, then Iranian president Hashemi-Rafsanjani invited acting head of the Azeri state Yakub Mamedov and Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan to visit Teheran for bilateral negotiations. They met on May 7, and the following day a Joint Statement was adopted. The sides agreed that “within a week’s time as soon as a representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran arrives and with the assistance of Azeri and Armenian leaders ceasefire is established and simultaneously all communication roads open to satisfy economic needs.” Despite the attractive appearance of it, this statement made no sense.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Azerbaijan Sends Letter to UN Secretary General Over So-Called “Presidential Elections” In Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 8 /Trend M. Tsurkov/

Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the UN Agshin Mehdiyev sent a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over so-called “presidential elections” in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, permanent mission told Trend. The letter notes that according to media reports the Republic of Armenia is planning to hold so-called “presidential elections” on July 2012 in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan Republic.

“At the international level, including the General Assembly and the Security Council, it was recognized that the Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan are under Armenian military occupation. Armenia used military force to occupy the Azerbaijani territory and create separatist puppet formation on the basis of ethnic, which, ultimately, is nothing but a product of aggression and racial discrimination, and it exist due to political, military, economic and other support from Armenia. Illegality of separatist formation and its structures has been repeatedly reaffirmed at the international level. This formation is not recognized by anyone — in fact, it is under the direction and control of the Republic of Armenia “, — the document says.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that, despite the political efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement, the policy and practical steps taken by Armenia, the occupying power, through, in particular, various illegal activities in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, clearly indicate its intention to secure the annexation of these territories, said Mehdiyev in a letter.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Azerbaijan: Islamism in Azerbaijan

Islamism is rising in Azerbaijan but remains a manageable threat which is unlikely to topple the country’s government or seriously affect the nearby 2014 Sochi Olympics, argues Stratfor.

Stratfor is an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence company providing geopolitical analysis and commentary.

“Several factors have led to the increased religiosity in Azerbaijan. Religion was suppressed at the public level under Soviet rule for 70 years. The proliferation of mosques in the 20 years since independence suggests that more Azerbaijanis are taking advantage of their religious freedom. In addition, high unemployment has led many uneducated and/or poor Azerbaijani youths to turn to religion to deal with their grievances and to benefit from its related social services. More important, external powers are using religious proxy groups to gain influence in Azerbaijan. These powers include Iran, which advocates Shi’ism; Turkey, where an influential Islamist organization, the Gulenist movement, has long been trying to establish a foothold in Azerbaijan; and Dagestan, a republic in the Caucasus that advocates Salafism. Collectively, these three groups constitute the most substantial Islamist threat to the Azerbaijani state.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Azerbaijani Leader Opens Baku Crystal Hall — Arena for Eurovision 2012 — Photos

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva inaugurated the main arena of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest — the newly constructed Baku Crystal Hall. The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing opening of the Hall, AzerTAj reports. The President and First Lady were informed on the construction of grandiose arena with 25.000 people capacity, its original architecture. As stated, the complex will be further used for other grand concerts, as well as for international events. This is also symbolic that the Crystal Hall is situated in the vicinity of the State Flag Square, which is a more important factor.

Azerbaijan won the right to host the prestigious European song contest after the victory of Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal (Ell / Nikki) at Eurovision 2011 in Dusseldorf, Germany last May among 43 world countries. The event is of great political and economic importance for Azerbaijan which is situated at the junction of the East and West. The other notable fact is that such prestigious music contest as Eurovision is for the first time conducted in the South Caucasus. And Azerbaijan succeeded such a triumph after it participated in this music festival for almost four times.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Hillary Clinton Issues Stern Message to Pakistan

The US secretary of state has said Pakistan was not cooperating as it should regarding issues of terrorism and stressed that all perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack should be brought to justice.

The setting of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s rant against Pakistan was at the La Martiniere School for girls in Kolkata where she stoutly maintained that necessary action had not been taken against Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, who is suspected of masterminding the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008.

No action against Hafiz Saeed

“We are well aware that no steps have been taken by the Pakistani government to do what both India and the US have repeatedly requested them they do,” said Clinton, who is on a three-day visit to India.

“And we are going to keep pushing that point. So it’s a way of raising the visibility and pointing out to those who are associated with him that there is a cost for that,” she added, mincing no words.

Just last month the US put a bounty on his head of 10 million US dollars for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed. A 2-million-dollars reward was placed on Hafiz Adbul Rahman Makki’s head.

The sticky issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors since the massacre in India’s financial capital, where 10 gunmen killed 166 people. Even during his whistle-stop visit to the Indian capital last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had raised the issue with Pakistani President Ali Asif Zardari.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Jakarta Tells Muslim Religious Leaders to Lower Volume of Minaret Loudspeakers

In a meeting with more than a thousand representatives of the Mosque Council (DMI), Vice President Boediono called for an unwavering fight against fundamentalism. Islam, he said, is a “religion of peace”. In his address, he also called for mosques to lower the volume of their loudspeakers, a request rejected by the Ulema Council.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Indonesian Vice President Boediono has appealed to the Indonesian Mosques’ Council (DMI) to the lower the volume of mosque loudspeakers when they call the faithful to prayer, a traditional ritual that is carried out five times a day by practicing Muslims. The vice president wants mosque to lower the volume, especially when the call is done at 3 am, which is way before the right time and disturbs most of the population. His request however was met by the steadfast opposition of the country’s Ulema Council (MUI), whose answer was an emphatic no to any “lower volume”.

The vice president made his appeal to more than a thousand people imams and religious leaders attending a DMI conference that was recently held in East Jakarta. During the event, DMI members elected Jusuf Kalla as their organisation’s new president. The latter is the vice president during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s first term in office.

In his address, Kalla’s successor Boediono also urged those present to cooperate with the government in the “fight against extremism” and for the eradication of fundamentalist ideologies.

“We don’t want to let our mosques into the wrong people who disseminate false Islamic beliefs, fundamentalism, sectarian ideas, hostile attitudes to others and provocative teachings. All this is irrelevant to the true Islam, which is widely known as a peace-loving religion that boosts the spirit of tolerance.”

In addition to a call to arms against radical ideologies that find fertile ground in some mosques and among some imams, the government wants mosques to adjust the volume of mosque loudspeakers during the call to prayer.

For Boediono, the practice known as ‘azan’ is better when the volume is lower compared to the loud fracas currently heard. With the backing of quotes from the Qur’an, the vice president noted that Muslims are expected to lower their voice and be humble when they are at prayer.

In responding to the vice president’s appeal, the Ulema Council (MUI) said it was willing to consider moving the first call to prayer from 3 am to 4.30 am, which is the expected time anyway.

However, the MUI is not prepared to adjust the volume. For the council, which is notorious for its radical positions against yoga, smoking and “immoral” international music stars like Lady Gaga, any lowering of the volume would be counterproductive because Muslims need to be “alerted” to their duties.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Central Java: Islamic Extremists Attack Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary, Repelled by Police

For safety reasons, authorities suspend a function in program for yesterday. However, the place of worship, highly popular among faithful and pilgrims, will remain open. Attackers claim building does not have proper permit. The Archbishop of Semarang calls for calm: do not respond to provocation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Tensions remain high in central Java, where a crowd of a thousand Islamic extremists have targeted a shrine to the Virgin Mary: For security reasons, yesterday the authorities suspended the programmed church service, while dozens of policemen and soldiers guarding the place of Christian worship, fearing further — possible — violence. According to the protesters, incited by Muslim extremists, the building has no building permit required by law (the infamous IMB) and, over time, from “simple house of prayer” it has become a real church. The faithful respond that “in more than 40 years” there has never been an incident of sectarian nature.

After the three Christian churches — two Catholic and one Protestant — were forcibly closed in Java in recent days (see AsiaNews 07/05/12 Extremist threats in Aceh: authorities close three churches), the attention of Indonesian Islamic extremists has now shifted to the shrine of Lady Mary in Sengon Kerep, Sampang sub-district in Gedangsari in Gunung Kidul regency in Yogyakarta (Central Java province). Sunday, May 6th a mob of a thousand fanatics tried to seal off the building, but the intervention of soldiers and police foiled the attack.

The full name of the shrine of the Virgin Mary (pictured) is Taman Maria Giri Wning Sengon Kerep and in local language, it means “The garden of the silence of Mary Sengon Kerep”. Over the past three years the place of worship has undergone a major restoration work, and has always attracted a huge crowd of believers with one purpose: prayer.

Among other things, the sanctuary belongs to the Wedi parish in the district of Klaten, which is famous for the contribution it has made over the years to the Indonesian church and, more particularly, the Archdiocese of Semarang. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of priests, nuns, men religious from the area, supported with passion and devotion by the faithful. Even two bishops were born in the parish of Wedi. This is why there is special devotion and attention to the Marian shrine and the Catholic community will continue to be vigilant to preserve its integrity. In a message to the faithful Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, called for calm and for faithful not to give in to provocation: “Do not show or respond with violence — said the prelate — even if the tension continues to grow.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Saints and Singers in Pakistan’s Punjab

A new tour of Pakistan’s Punjab province offers mystical culture, amazing food and friendly homestays

“Come to Islam,” says 16-year-old Mohammed Irfan, as I enter the courtyard of the exquisite blue-tiled Eidgah mosque in Multan, a hot, dusty town in Pakistan’s Punjab province, known — or rather, barely known — as the City of Saints. “I come here and pray for wealth, a long life, so that we’re able to eat, and for good results in school. I’ve been coming for a long time, and as a result, I’ve come first in my class in my exams,” he beams, his smile as dazzling as the mirror mosaics that adorn the shrine to Sufi saint Ahmad Saeed Kazmi, a scholar and spiritual teacher. Sufism is the mystical arm of Islam, and the Punjab is the Sufi heartland of Pakistan. The scene of centuries of cultural invasions, it’s also the country’s wealthiest and greenest province (despite the blistering expanses of the Cholistan desert, on its south-eastern edge), stretches from Sindh province in the south to the foothills of the Himalayas in the north, and is home to more than half of Pakistan’s population.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Punjab Govt Takes Note of Illegal Mosque Construction

MULTAN: Authorities in Punjab have issued a notification against the illegal construction of mosques and growing sectarianism in Bahawalpur district. According to the notification, 45 mosques are currently being built without prior official permission. Of these, 29 are in Bhawalpur district, 12 in Rahim Yar Khan and four in Bahawalnagar. Recent clashes between Shia and Sunni communities and Barelvi and Deobandi sects have prompted the provincial authorities to take steps to check the rising tide of sectarianism in the region.

The notification has been sent by the home department to the district administrations after a report compiled by a special branch of police in Bhawalpur. Around 697 religious extremists are also under the surveillance of the force. Out of the 697 persons, 211 are listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which means they are the most dangerous suspects. These suspects cannot leave the area without informing the police first. On the other hand, 177 mosques have been identified as being tainted by sectarian conflicts. Shia and Sunni communities are squabbling over the possession of some of these mosques, while Barelvis and Deobandis have their differences over the prayer leaders there.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Thai Man Jailed for Anti-Royalty Text Dies, Lawyer Says

A 62-year-old Thai man who became known as “Uncle SMS” after he was convicted of defaming Thailand’s royal family in text messages died Tuesday while serving his 20-year prison term.

The case of Amphon Tangnoppakul, a grandfather who had suffered from cancer, drew attention to Thailand’s severe lese majeste law last November when he received one of the heaviest-ever sentences for someone accused of insulting the monarchy.

As news of his death spread, about 40 demonstrators gathered outside Bangkok’s Central Criminal Court holding signs denouncing the defamation law and holding leaflets saying “Uncle is dead. Who killed him?”

His wife, Rosmalin Tangnoppakul, learned of his death while trying to visit him Tuesday at the Bangkok prison where he was being held. Friends later consoled her at a prison reception area while she burned and incense stick and prayed.

“Amphon Tangnoppakul, you can come home now,” she said. “You’re free now. Come home!”

The cause of Amphon’s death early Tuesday was not immediately known, but he had complained of stomach pains on Friday and was transferred to a correctional department hospital, his lawyer Anon Numpa said. Officials planned an autopsy on Wednesday, the lawyer said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



US Secretly Releasing Taliban Prisoners From Bagram Prison

Up to 20 prisoners have been released from Bagram prison in the past two years after giving assurances they would give up their struggle and reconcile with the government.

The clandestine “strategic release” programme at the prison north of Kabul has allowed America to use prisoners as bargaining chips when trying to reach local deals with insurgents.

Officials admitted the scheme was risky however and difficult to police. They would not say whether any of those released had resumed attacks on Nato or Afghan forces.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Far East


Al Jazeera Reporter Expelled From China

News broadcaster Al Jazeera has closed its English language bureau in Beijing after its correspondent was expelled from the country. It is the first time China has kicked out an accredited foreign journalist since 1998.

Al Jazeera said it was temporarily forced to close the Beijing bureau of its English service on Tuesday after its sole English language reporter in the country was expelled.

The Qatar-based news broadcaster said they had “no choice” after the Chinese government repeatedly refused its visa requests for reporter Mellissa Chan. It said its applications for additional visas for other correspondents had also gone unanswered.

It is the first time China has expelled a foreign journalist since a German and a Japanese reporter were force out in 1998. China’s foreign ministry, which oversees accreditation for international media, has not indicated the reason for her expulsion.

Chan is a US citizen who had worked as the bureau’s China correspondent since 2007. She had reported extensively on sensitive topics, including the illegal seizure of farmland and the imprisonment of petitioners from the countryside in unofficial “black jails.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Yuan Replacing More and More US Dollar as International Currency

Payments in yuans by European enterprises now account for 47 per cent of global market. Europe has become the second-biggest area using the yuan for cross-border transaction settlements. Within 10 to 20 years, the yuan will replace the US dollar as the main currency to settle trade transactions. The collapse of the US dollar could however lead to economic, political and even military confrontations.

Milan (AsiaNews) — More and more countries are accepting yuans to settle accounts with China, marking the end of the US dollar domination as a reserve currency. For economist Maurizio d’Orlando, “this development represents a strategic threat to the US-led economic system,” and could lead to political or even military confrontations.

China has kept its currency under tight control, holding its value deliberately low in order to promote its exports. In the past few years, Beijing has allowed some fluctuation. The issue of its revaluation has been a major issue in US-Chinese relations, including in the most recent talks.

In order to get out from under the dollar’s shadow and avoid the impact of its debacle, China has signed deals with other countries to use the yuan, first with Hong Kong, then Argentina, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, the United Arab Emirates and Iceland.

Now China’s central bank wants to strike a similar arrangement with the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank.

European companies however have already been using the yuan for some time. The latest report from the Society Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIT) shows that yuan-clearing transactions in Europe are trailing behind only Hong Kong, the primary pilot offshore yuan settlement district designated by Beijing.

Excluding the Hong Kong market, payments made in the yuan by European enterprises accounted for 47 per cent of the global market, more than the market share of 41 per cent held by the Asia-Pacific region.

As a sign of what is happening, the total global transaction amounts settled in March increased by 8.6 per cent% compared to February, but those settled in the Chinese currency registered a much higher growth rate of 13.2 per cent.

Similarly, at the end of March, Australia signed a currency swap deal with China’s central bank worth A$ 30 billion. This deal could help the yuan become China’s primary trade currency in the next two years, Australian experts said.

The yuan will be used widely as a key currency to settle international commodity transactions in 10 to 20 years, said Jean-Francois Lambert, managing director and global chief of commodity and structured trade finance at HSBC.

However, some experts are concerned. For economist Maurizio d’Orlando, “The growing use of the yuan in international trade transactions will lead sooner or later to the collapse of the existing financial system based on the US dollar as reserve currency. This development could be accelerated by political events and eventual conflicts. In case of conflict, the collapse of the system could be hastened until a sudden crash.”

In any case, the current trend represents a threat to the existing US-dominated economic system.

For d’Orlando, “The decision to go along this path could inexorably lead to economic, political or even military conflict.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


$1.5 Million to Recognise Islamic Culture and Heritage

Joint media release with the Hon Simon Crean MP — Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government Minister for the Arts and Senator the Hon Kate Lundy — Minister for Sport, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation.

Arts Minister Simon Crean and Multicultural Affairs Minister Senator Kate Lundy today announced $1.5 million in Australian Government funding to support capital works for the creation of the Islamic Museum of Australia in Melbourne.

Speaking at the launch of a new documentary Boundless Plains — the Australian Muslim Connection, Senator Lundy said the Australian Government was proud to support such a significant project that recognised the invaluable contribution of Islamic culture and heritage.

‘The Islamic Museum of Australia will help to foster understanding and promote community harmony and social inclusion,’ Senator Lundy said.

‘It will serve to educate the wider Australian community of the rich and longstanding history that Islam has had in our nation.

‘Here in Melbourne, the Museum will join a rich tapestry of cultural institutions celebrating the contribution of Greek, Italian, Jewish and Chinese communities.’

Mr Crean said the Islamic Museum of Australia would make a significant contribution to the cultural life of our nation.

‘Culture is incredibly important to understanding ourselves better, not just as individuals, but as a nation,’ Mr Crean said.

‘Australia is uniquely placed. We have one of the oldest living cultures on earth and we continue to attract the greatest diversity of cultures on earth.

‘That is why we are proud to be involved in this partnership for community cultural development.’

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Are Aussies Too Biased to Try This Muslim Man?

ISMAIL Belghar is believed to be the first Muslim in Australia to be granted a judge-only trial on the grounds that a jury may be biased because of his religious beliefs.

The decision in the NSW District Court can be revealed after Belghar, 36, yesterday pleaded guilty to detaining and assaulting his sister-in-law after she “dared” to take his wife to the beach without his permission. The court heard, because of his religious beliefs and because he thought he had absolute authority over her, Belghar felt it “abhorrent” that his wife, Hanife Kokden, had been to the beach where she “displayed her body”.

In March, Judge Ronald Solomon had granted Belghar a trial before a judge sitting alone after agreeing he may not receive a fair trial with a jury.

“The attitude of (Belghar) … is based on a religious or cultural basis. In light of the fact there has been adverse publicity regarding people who hold extreme Muslim faith beliefs in the community, I am of the view that the apprehension by (Belghar) that he may not receive a fair trial is a reasonable apprehension,” Judge Solomon said.

The Moroccan immigrant had originally been charged with the attempted murder of his wife’s younger sister, Canan Kokden, 25.

The Crown appealed against Judge Solomon’s ruling arguing that, if the judge was correct, every Muslim would be entitled to a judge-only trial.

Last week the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned the ruling and ordered Belghar be tried by a jury.

The trial was due to start yesterday when instead Belghar pleaded guilty to detaining Ms Kokden for advantage to intimidate and assault. He denied attempted murder and that charge was dropped.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the court the Crown would be seeking a jail term.

The court had heard Belghar, who has been married to his wife for 11 years, became aware she had been to the beach in late 2009 because her shoulders were slightly sunburned.

He rang his sister-in-law and said: “You slut, how dare you take my wife to the beach.”

Just before Christmas, 2009, Ms Kokden came face to face with Belghar while out shopping with her brother at the Broadway Shopping Centre.

Belghar slapped her across the face then carried her to the railing around the car park where he held her out over it.

She was freed when her brother tackled Belghar.

Belghar will be sentenced at a later date.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigeria: Attack Foiled in Kano, Boko Haram Suspected

(AGI) Abuja — A new murderous attack on the University of Kano, the northern Nigerian city with the country’s second highest population, has been foiled. The company in charge of security at the university this morning discovered three bombs, each placed in a different area of the campus. The devices were found in the Law Faculty, the Science Faculty and in a gymnasium. Police told local media that the devices were ready to explode and could have caused major loss of life. On April 29, Kano’s Bayero University, one of the most important in the country, was the setting for an attack on the Christian community, whose members were praying in a room dedicated to religious services, in which 19 people (including two university professors) were killed. At the end of January, also in Kano, the Islamic terror group Boko Haram staged their deadliest ever attack. Nigerian police say that 185 people were killed, though independent sources put the figure at at least 250. .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Keep Children Out of School

More than ten thousand children in northeast Nigeria are unable to attend school, following attacks by Islamist sect Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is forbidden”.

In a message posted on the Internet, a Boko Haram spokesman who gave his name as Abu Qaqa said the group is attacking schools in northern Nigeria in retaliation for an attack on a Koran school by soldiers. He said soldiers had beaten pupils with canes, adding “When you attack Koran schools, we will totally destroy western schools.”

There is no independent confirmation that the military did in fact attack a Koran school. However the Islamist sect has so far burnt down more than a dozen primary schools.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Latin America


Trade Chief Warns of Imminent Action Against Argentina

(BRUSSELS) — European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht said Monday the bloc will shortly take action against Argentina’s government, after its decision to seize control of oil giant Repsol’s YPF subsidiary.

“We will soon be moving forward with a response to Argentina’s action in the Repsol case, in particular,” De Gucht said in a speech during which he complained of a “growing tendency towards protectionism across Latin America.”

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Friday signed a bill expropriating 51 percent of YPF’s stock from Repsol, its majority shareholder, sealing a measure that has roiled the country’s trade ties with Europe.

“Argentina has also continued other trade restrictive policies, like its import-licensing regime,” De Gucht added. “And just last week we saw Bolivia take another step towards nationalising utility companies at the expense of a Spanish firm. “These types of moves are of course a problem for Argentina and Bolivia — which will find it harder to secure the international investment they need,” he underlined.

EU officials have already complained about the “overly broad use” of red tape, notably in the “pre-registration and pre-approval of all imports into Argentina.” Individual states may also suspend WTO-compliant preferential trade status accorded to Buenos Aires.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday that the seizure will trigger a “tremendous” loss in investor confidence in the country, while other international organisations have also criticised the measure.

Kirchner has argued that the move was justified because Argentina faces sharp rises in its bill for imported oil, and Repsol has failed to make agreed investments needed to expand domestic production.

YPF accounts for 34 percent of Argentina’s domestic oil production, 25 percent of domestic gas production and 54 percent of domestic refining, according to the Argentine Oil Institute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Austria: Kurz Tackles Immigration at School Level

Integration Secretary Sebastian Kurz, 26, was at the ministry of interior affairs this week discussing with educationalists whether schools were failing in their mission of integration.

Kurz was preparing for today’s launch of Vienna’s second annual Integration week, which he described as ‘an integration offensive necessary in order to build consciousnesses.’

The youngest minister in Austria’s cabinet cut a dashing figure and spoke fluently without notes on how schools are tackling integration issues such as bilingualism, religion and diversity.

According to recent Eurostat figures, Austria is one of a few European countries alongside Luxembourg and Switzerland that has a double digit migrant population.

Kurz confirmed that ‘1.5 million immigrants live in Austria, a 10.4% migrant population.’ Going further, he stated how: ‘In the capital, the percentage of people of migrant stock rises to 39%. Vienna like many other European capitals has 150 languages spoken in its schools. At primary school level, one in two pupils is of a migration background, mostly from the Balkans and Turkey.

Under the motto, ‘Integration through achievement’, the question of language was a major theme as schools are frequently the last bastions of community in urban settings. Some Viennese schools in districts like Brigitenau and Ottakring have a migrant intake that is over 80%.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Belgium’s Integration Problem

New Europe reported a recent incident that occurred on the streets of Brussels which raised questions as to the true integration of the Muslim population in an already divded country.

Crime in EU’s capital has been growing as well as minority popoulation. Integration of Muslims into Belgium culture has been extremely difficult. With a rapidly growing population, the capital of Belgium — and of the EU — is already one of the most multicultural in Europe. Muslims are already a majority in some neighborhoods.

After reaching an historic high of 1.1 million residents in early 2010, the Brussels Region will, according to the planning bureau, gain another 250,000 people in the next 20 years. According to the Brussels Institute of Statistics and Analysis, by 2018 it might have 1.2m.

Although Brussels still has one of the lowest homicide rates among European cities, it is of little consolation to a country shaken by shootings, riots and prison breaks. Dirk Jacobs, a sociology professor at Brussels Free University said: “It is clear that the city — and the country at large — is confronted with unprecedented social problems, and policymakers seem to be spending their energy on other topics.” It is also a matter of diplomatic concern because Brussels serves not only as the capital of the nation but as the home of most of the European Union’s institutions. In March 2010, the president of the European Parliament demanded that Belgium provide special security around the E.U. institutions after a series of mugging incidents involving MPs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Immigrant Kids Need More Schooling’: Sweden

The Swedish government has revealed a new directive aimed at improving immigrant students’ education and integration into Sweden, revolving around longer compulsory schooling and a shift in lesson priorities.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the Government Offices of Sweden (Regeringkansliet), Jan Björklund, the Minister for Education and Erik Ullenhag, the Minister for Integration, revealed plans to attack issues facing the 70,000 foreign-born students in Swedish schools.

Björklund pointed out that it is “unfair” that students who have recently arrived to Sweden are being compared and rated against Swedish students. “If you write a national exam after just a few years in a Swedish school, it’s obvious that you won’t pass,” Björklund told the TT news agency. The government also intends to remove the students who have lived in Sweden for four years or less from the grading statistics.

“It’s not reasonable to evaluate the performance of a school based on how many of the foreign-born students have reached the objectives in Swedish. After a few years, it’s reasonable that they pass, but not from the beginning,” Björklund told TT.

Key issues regarding these foreign students, who make up nine percent of Sweden’s primary school student population, revolved around how to integrate the children and raise the quality of their education by considering lesson priorities and additional compulsory schooling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: Get Rid of That ‘Allochtoon’ Word, Advisory Group Tells Government

The government should stop categorising the population of the Netherlands according to ethnicity and parental birth places, according to the government’s advisory group on social development RMO, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

Concepts such as niet-westerse allochtoon (literally non-western non-native) should be scrapped. Instead local councils should only record the birth place of the person concerned, rather than that of their parents, the RMO says. The organisation, which advises the government and parliament on social themes, was not asked to make recommendations on registering ethnicity, the paper says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Second Arson Attack at Swiss Asylum Centre

For the second time in a week, arsonists set fire to a house occupied by asylum seekers on Saturday night. “The perpetrators set fire to the front doors using firelighters,” an Iraqi tenant known only as Samiri F told online news site 20 Minuten. The attacks took place at an asylum centre in the town of Affoltern am Albis, near Zurich.

“I’ve lived here for seven years, but such a thing has never happened before,” said Daniel L from Ethiopia. A security guard has been posted at the premises but it is uncertain how long he will stay for. “We are all very scared. Women and children also live here, “ said Samiri F.

The arson attacks of the past week were the first to target asylum seekers in ten years. According to extremist expert, Samuel Althof, the attacks reflect the “heated, xenophobic sentiment” currently alive in the country.

“Federal Councillor Sommaruga is partly responsible,” Liberal councillor Peter Malama told the website. “She must take this signal seriously and ensure that asylum applications are processed as quickly as possible.”

National Councillor Andreas Gross also thinks the attacks reflect the fact that people do not feel understood. Althof believes that such discontentment leads violent and unhappy men to turn to criminal activity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UNHCR: 81 Have Died in the Mediterranean in 2012

Victims of latest tragedy near Malta also fleeing from Libya

(ANSAmed) — GENEVA, MAY 8 — Since the start of the year, 81 “boat people” fleeing from Libya have died in the Mediterranean Sea according to the most recent figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After the most recent tragedy at sea, which saw seven Somali refugees lose their lives before their boat reached the coast of Malta on Saturday, the number of people who have died or who are listed as missing at sea during the exodus from Libya to Europe has risen this year to 81, “equivalent to 2 people every three days on average”, said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards today in Geneva. The spokesman reported the accounts of the 90 survivors of the journey who arrived on Malta in a fatigued state on Saturday.

According to survivor accounts, five men and two women died during the trip, said Edwards. This is the fourth immigrant boat to land on Malta since the start of the year, bringing the total number of people who have arrived on the island to 210. During the same period, 45 boats arrived on Italian shores. Around 2,200 people have arrived in total. The UNHCR estimates that about 1,500 people died during their attempt to arrive to Europe by sea from North Africa last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Fox News Won’t Fire Black Racist Commentator

Fox News contributor Jehmu Greene, a black feminist, says on her Twitter page that “love can build a bridge.” But racism, not love, was on display last Thursday when she called conservative Tucker Carlson a “bow-tying white boy.”

Greene, a Democratic Party operative who was the national director of Project Vote, a group with close ties to the corrupt ACORN organization, has not offered a public apology. There is no indication that her financial relationship with Fox News has suffered as a result of the racial outburst.

“Jehmu apologized to Tucker by phone after the segment,” Irena Briganti, Group Senior Vice President at FOX News Channel & FOX Business Network, tells Accuracy in Media.

This is apparently the end of the matter for Fox News.

Robert Lifson of American Thinker pointed out that if Tucker Carlson had ever called Louis Farrakhan “a bow-tying black boy,” he would be out of a job.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Criminalization of America’s Schoolchildren

By John W. Whitehead

“[P]ublic school reform is now justified in the dehumanizing language of national security, which increasingly legitimates the transformation of schools into adjuncts of the surveillance and police state. students are increasingly subjected to disciplinary apparatuses which limit their capacity for critical thinking, mold them into consumers, test them into submission, strip them of any sense of social responsibility and convince large numbers of poor minority students that they are better off under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system than by being valued members of the public schools.” -Professor Henry Giroux

[Return to headlines]



The Psychology of Racism, Part 2

The thought of anger and frustration spreading like a disease may have a familiar ring to it—it underlies many emotional illnesses. But whereas most emotionally disturbed people have a smorgasbord of judgments, the racist fixates on a non-changeable mark of distinction. For those who find variety “the spice of life,” self-righteous judgment can be sparked by anything— animate or inanimate—that crosses their path and annoys, intrudes, or simply exists.

A person who is extremely hostile can find innumerable reasons to look down on people: the financial status of an acquaintance, a neighbor’s wardrobe, a friend’s choice of husband or wife, the boss’s looks, burnt toast, cold weather, delays in plans, the tone of someone’s voice, loud laughter, sad faces. This need for constant irritation can result in severe, chronic emotional problems.

Although this does not describe racism per se, it follows a similar mental process. When it is not restricted to hatred of a particular racial color, it becomes a smorgasbord of petty grievances against everyone and everything. And the more the person puts himself in the role of “supreme judge,” the more guilty he becomes. The growing guilt intensifies the need to find fault until everyone and everything is on the hit list. His secret contempt towards those around him turns otherwise neutral encounters into moments of unhealthy intrigue. This constant emotional turmoil can ultimately lead to a nervous breakdown.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General


Scientists Should ‘Cool it’ On Alien Life Claims, Biologist Says

Scientists and the media need to stop “crying wolf” about new life forms, says a prominent molecular biologist. Writing in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, Scripps Research Institute scientist Gerald Joyce said that frenzies such as the one over alleged arsenic-eating bacteria in 2010 could ultimately lead to lack of interest in the kind of science it would take to discover new life forms, should they exist.

“I just worry that we cry wolf too many times, and people are going to start tuning it out,” Joyce told LiveScience. “Let’s just cool it on these false alarms,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120507

Financial Crisis
» Low Interest Rates and Redistribution of Wealth
 
USA
» America Catering to Mexicans for Votes in Presidential Race
» AT&T to Pay Muslim Woman $5m in Harassment Case
» Christians ‘Most Persecuted’ Religious Group in the World, Says Expert
» Facebook, America’s Favorite Social Network is Child-Predator Playground
» FBI: We Need Wiretap-Ready Web Sites — Now
» Feds Seeking to Abolish Elected Sheriff Office
» George Clooney to Host $12m Fundraiser for Barack Obama
» Gitmo Defense Lawyer Calls for Coverup
» How Chemicals Affect Us
» Inside the Ring: Brotherhood Threat
» Is Fast and Furious the Next Watergate?
» Leaked U.S. Army Document Outlines Plan for Re-Education Camps in America — Political Activists Would be Pacified to Sympathize With the Government
» Mechanism in Place to Fix 2012 Election for Obama/Soetoro
» Money as a Driving Force in Choosing a President
» Obama: “We’ve Begun to See What Change Looks Like”
» Paul Ryan: Obama’s ‘Julia’ Website ‘Creepy’ And ‘Demeaning’
» Soviets Were Funding Black “Freedom” Journal
» Space Weather Expert Has Ominous Forecast
» The Planned Re-Election of Obama, Revolutionary Style
» U.S. Military Developing Spychips for Soldiers
» Ultimate Appeal: Blacks, Stop Voting Democrat
» UN’s International Baccalaureate Program Under Attack in NH
» Vaccine Bombshell: Baby Monkeys Given Standard Doses of Popular Vaccines Develop Autism Symptoms
 
Europe and the EU
» ‘Brilliant’ Nuclear Scientist Who Worked at CERN Laboratory Jailed for Plotting Attacks for Al-Qaeda
» Europe Steps to the Precipice
» France’s Electorate Has Voted for Years of Decline Under a Socialist Leader
» François Hollande Beats President Nicolas Sarkozy in French Election
» Hollande’s Election Doesn’t Bode Well for Europe
» Italy: Widows Honor Crisis Suicides in Bologna
» University of Akron Engineering Professor Raises Doubts About Jet Crash That Killed Poland’s President
 
Middle East
» Syrian Opposition Studies Terror Tactics in Kosovo
 
South Asia
» Growing Mistrust of India’s Biometric ID Scheme
» USA Released 20 Taliban to Encourage Peace Negotiations
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Model Axed From South African Fhm After Sparking Outrage With Racist Tweet About ‘Disrespectful Kaffir’
 
Latin America
» The Global Warming/Globalist Crowd is on the March Again
 
Culture Wars
» Maggots Feeding on the Body of Art
» The Internet Has Peeled Back Our Culture and Shown How Cruel and Selfish We Really Are
 
General
» Our Amazing World: Incredible Beauty and the Darkness That Threatens it

Financial Crisis


Low Interest Rates and Redistribution of Wealth

“The Fed doesn’t expand the money supply by uniformly dropping cash from helicopters over the hapless masses. Rather, it directs capital transfers to the largest banks, minimizes their borrowing costs, and lowers their reserve requirements. All of these actions result in immediate handouts to the financial elite first,” adds Spitznagel. “The Fed is transferring immense wealth from the middle-class to the most affluent, from the least privileged to the most privileged.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA


America Catering to Mexicans for Votes in Presidential Race

Do you notice how Romney and Obama hired special election gurus to garner the Mexican vote in the upcoming presidential election? They don’t address the black vote, the white vote or the American Hispanic vote. They connive for the Mexican vote.

A billboard exploded on the Los Angeles skyline two years ago by a local TV station: “Los Angeles, Mexico: Your Town, Your Community.”

It was spelled out in Spanish. CA was crossed out with a red X and replaced by the word “Mexico.” Two smiling Latinos representing over two million illegal aliens in the City of Angels smiled from their anchor desks. Behind them stood the LA skyline replete with skyscrapers. Most disconcerting was a statue, also in the billboard picture, that stands in the middle of Mexico City.

The Mexicanization of America, races, with total support from Barack Obama and his Congress, full speed across our country. La Raza, the most racist organization in the world, licks its chops as sheer numbers of illegal aliens have taken over Los Angeles. They’ve run Americans out of countless cities and communities. They’ve trashed school systems and bankrupted 86 hospitals. They’ve thrown trash throughout the park systems. They defy laws by not carrying car insurance, driver’s licenses, work off the books paying no taxes, brutalize our schools with their language, spread drugs, and more terrifying are the thousands of cases of TB and hepatitis they spread into Los Angeles. In other words, they’re bringing their Third World into our world.

La Raza’s motto is, “For the Latino race, everything; for anyone outside the race, nothing!”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



AT&T to Pay Muslim Woman $5m in Harassment Case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City woman who converted to Islam in 2005 said she was harassed for years at AT&T, and that the abuse boiled over in 2008 when her boss snatched her head scarf and exposed her hair.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday awarded Susann Bashir $5 million in punitive damages in her discrimination lawsuit, along with $120,000 in lost wages and other actual damages.

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/JKWbqR) reported Saturday the award appears to be the largest jury verdict for a workplace discrimination case in Missouri history.

Bashir said in court documents that her work environment became hostile immediately after she converted, with her co-workers making harassing comments about her religion and referring to her hijab as “that thing on her head.”

“I was shocked. I thought, ‘What is going on?’“ she told the newspaper. “Nobody ever cared what I wore before. Nobody ever cared what religion I was before.”

Bashir worked at AT&T’s office in Kansas City for 10 years as a fiber optics network builder before being fired from her $70,000-a-year job. She claimed she endured religious discrimination nearly every day of the final three years she worked there, including being asked if she was going to blow up the building and being called a “towelhead” and a terrorist.

AT&T said Friday it disagrees with the verdict and plans to appeal.

Despite the jury’s award, Bashir stands to receive much less than $5 million because Missouri law caps such awards at five times the actual damage amount, plus attorney fees.

Amy Coopman, Bashir’s lawyer, said attorney fees will be determined later by the judge.

The previous largest such verdict came in 2009, when Mohamed Alhalabi, an Arab-American Muslim, was awarded $811,949 in St. Louis County Circuit Court in a case against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

That same year, a Jonesboro, Ark., jury ordered AT&T to pay $1.3 million to two former employees fired for attending a Jehovah’s Witnesses convention.

Bashir said she called an employee help line in March 2005 and asked the company to provide sensitivity training for her co-workers.

“It was a worthless call,” she said. “Nothing ever changed.”

The harassment continued and in March 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an investigation after she filed a complaint.

She said that made some workers angry and led to the final encounter with her boss.

Bashir said she became so stressed out that she couldn’t return to work. She asked that her boss be removed or that she be transferred, but neither happened.

She was fired after not returning to work for nine months.

“By firing me, they stole my ability to work at a job I liked,” Bashir said.

She said the incident was hard on her mentally and physically and tore her family apart. She is going through a divorce, and in October she and her daughter moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she works as an apartment manager.

“I have mixed feelings,” Bashir said. “I’m happy not to be reporting to that management structure. But it’s hard in this economy to find a job with that level of compensation. I didn’t want to lose my job, because I felt I was doing good work.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]



Christians ‘Most Persecuted’ Religious Group in the World, Says Expert

WASHINGTON — The head of a California-based evangelical religious liberty group stated Thursday that Christianity is presently the most persecuted religion on earth based on evidence gathered.

Dr. Carl Moeller told The Christian Post at an event on rising religious intolerance abroad that Christians are “the most persecuted in the world” when the nonprofit examined religious groups suffering from increased persecution.

“In terms of sheer numbers, the large size of the Christian populations around the world, where they’re repressed or restricted… Whether you count martyrs, those killed, or you count those living in regimes, sizable Christian populations live under extreme restrictions in places like China, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East,” said Moeller.

He noted that “the methodology for determining this was not from Open Doors necessarily. It was through organizations like Pew Research.”

Moeller cited in his remarks a 2011 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study that concluded that about 70 percent of the world’s population lives in a religiously intolerant environment and 32 percent of the world’s population experienced a rise in religious hostility either at the social or government level.

“Where we see it most notably is in Islamic societies where an intentional misrepresentation of other faiths is primary. It’s fueled by illiteracy and some cases poverty,” said Moeller…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Facebook, America’s Favorite Social Network is Child-Predator Playground

[WARNING: Extremely disturbing content.]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part series examining the dark side of Facebook. Part two comes tomorrow. Media wishing to interview WND’s Chelsea Schilling about this series, please contact us here.

(EXPLICIT CONTENT: This report contains graphic details of sexual abuse of children as it has appeared in numerous locations on Facebook. WND immediately reported images of child pornography and child sexual abuse to the FBI. Censored screenshots published are among the mildest of those found.)

Meet the dark underbelly of Facebook, an ubiquitous U.S.-based company making an initial public offering expected to value the company as high as $100 billion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



FBI: We Need Wiretap-Ready Web Sites — Now

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Feds Seeking to Abolish Elected Sheriff Office

[Comment from Devvy Kidd: Folks, This must be STOPPED in Kershaw County or it WILL infect the entire state. According to Mack vs US 1997 Supreme Court decision, the County Sheriff IS the Chief Law Enforcement officer in the County and NO Federal agent etc can take action in his county without the sheriffs consent. That is power!!!

Why the NWO wants to abolish the office of sheriff. NDAA, IRS, BATF, Dept of Ag, Food & Drug, and all offices of tyranny at the federal & state level.

THE SHERIFF IS OUR LINE OF DEFENSE. That makes the office of sheriff the thing to own or abolish. Leaving no chance to be owned by We The People, the NWO is working to abolish it. Some states no longer have sheriffs. SC cannot be one of those states. ]

[…]

It seems a strange turn of events has recently occurred in Kershaw County. Anyone paying attention knows we have issues with our Sheriff and the County Council may be using public sentiment to their advantage to strip the Sheriff of his Constitutional duties and replace him with a County Police Chief. This would become an appointed position, stripping the people of their right to choose a Sheriff, and give Council way too much power. We need to show support for the Constitutional office of Sheriff.

In an ordinance that is up before the Council they want to place a referendum on the ballot this fall to get the approval of the people of the county to take away yet another right. Do not be fooled. This is not about whether you do or do not like Jim Matthews but about your rights in the county.

ACTION REQUIRED:

There is a council meeting on this May 8 at 5:30. We need people to show up to support the office of Sheriff.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



George Clooney to Host $12m Fundraiser for Barack Obama

A dinner at George Clooney’s California mansion is expected to raise $12 million (£7 million) for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, making it the largest presidential fundraiser in American political history.

The attendance list is a closely-kept secret but top actors, studio executives and film moguls will be among the 150 guests.

Tickets sold for $40,000 each, raising $6 million, while an online sweepstake offered Mr Obama’s less-famous supporters a chance to win tickets to the May 10 dinner.

Through a series of teasing emails with subjects like “An evening with Clooney”, the Obama campaign wrung a further $6 million from hopeful Democrats, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Gitmo Defense Lawyer Calls for Coverup

This legal eagle has made herself over into the draped defender.

In a pandering fashion choice, Washington-based lawyer Cheryl Bormann showed up in the Guantanamo Bay terror courtroom yesterday in a traditional Muslim woman’s head garb.

Bormann, 52, who is representing Yemeni terror suspect Walid bin Attash, appeared before a judge clad in a black hijab, or traditional head covering, and long black robe.

She also suggested other women in the courtroom should follow her fashion example, so bin Attash and the other male defendants can look at them without “fear of committing a sin under their faith.”

Bin Attash allegedly ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and engineered the 2000 bombing of USS Cole.

Bormann, who once ran the Illinois agency that represented death-penalty defendants — said her client’s treatment at Gitmo has interfered with his ability to participate in the proceedings.

“These men have been mistreated,” she charged.

A woman who identified herself as Bormann’s former sister-in-law told The Post newspaper yesterday that, to her knowledge, the defense lawyer is not Muslim but is simply trying to be sensitive to her client’s needs.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]



How Chemicals Affect Us

Scientists are observing with increasing alarm that some very common hormone-mimicking chemicals can have grotesque effects.

A widely used herbicide acts as a female hormone and feminizes male animals in the wild. Thus male frogs can have female organs, and some male fish actually produce eggs. In a Florida lake contaminated by these chemicals, male alligators have tiny penises.

These days there is also growing evidence linking this class of chemicals to problems in humans. These include breast cancer, infertility, low sperm counts, genital deformities, early menstruation and even diabetes and obesity.

Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that a congenital defect called hypospadias — a misplacement of the urethra — is now twice as common among newborn boys as it used to be. He suspects endocrine disruptors, so called because they can wreak havoc with the endocrine system that governs hormones.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Inside the Ring: Brotherhood Threat

Islamists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups are working to undermine the U.S. government through “civilization jihad” aimed at imposing Islamic law rule in the United States.

That is the conclusion of a new 10-part online video course produced by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a Washington think tank, that was made public Tuesday.

The briefing-style educational video, “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” features lectures by CSP chief Frank Gaffney.

The video includes a detailed section on “Team Obama” that identifies six people working close to or inside the Obama administration that the course says are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or similar Islamist groups through numerous front organizations.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Is Fast and Furious the Next Watergate?

When suspects in a crime are interrogated, they often develop memory loss. When the crime is running guns to drug cartels on both sides of the border, the crime involves the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol officer, Brian Terry, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime Zapata, and countless Mexican citizens.

Katie Pavlich has written an extraordinary expose, “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and its Shameless Cover-Up” (Regnery Publishing). Pavlich, a reporter with extensive contacts within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) she has meticulously documented a story that should result in contempt of Congress action against Attorney General Eric Holder and possibly Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano as well.

It is an appalling story of arrogance, stupidity, and the intimidation of ATF agents who dared to question and expose the operation. It is a story of deception at the highest levels of our government.

[…]

As Pavlich details it, “Operation Fast and Furious wasn’t a ‘botched’ program. It was a calculated and lethal decision to purposely place thousands of guns in the hands of ruthless criminals.

The operation was designed to attack the Second Amendment right of Americans to purchase and bear arms, a right considered so essential to the nation that it followed directly after the First Amendment rights of free speech, freedom of the press, the prohibition of the establishment of a nationally sanctioned religion, and the right of Americans to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Leaked U.S. Army Document Outlines Plan for Re-Education Camps in America — Political Activists Would be Pacified to Sympathize With the Government

Paul Joseph Watson

A leaked U.S. Army document prepared for the Department of Defense contains shocking plans for “political activists” to be pacified by “PSYOP officers” into developing an “appreciation of U.S. policies” while detained in prison camps inside the United States.

The document, entitled FM 3-39.40 Internment and Resettlement Operations (PDF) was originally released on a restricted basis to the DoD in February 2010, but has now been leaked online.

The manual outlines policies for processing detainees into internment camps both globally and inside the United States. International agencies like the UN and the Red Cross are named as partners in addition to domestic federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

The document makes it clear that the policies apply “within U.S. territory” and involve, “DOD support to U.S. civil authorities for domestic emergencies, and for designated law enforcement and other activities,” including “man-made disasters, accidents, terrorist attacks and incidents in the U.S. and its territories.”

The manual states, “These operations may be performed as domestic civil support operations,” and adds that “The authority to approve resettlement such operations within U.S. territories,” would require a “special exception” to The Posse Comitatus Act, which can be obtained via “the President invoking his executive authority.” The document also makes reference to identifying detainees using their “social security number.”

Aside from enemy combatants and other classifications of detainees, the manual includes the designation of “civilian internees,” in other words citizens who are detained for, “security reasons, for protection, or because he or she committed an offense against the detaining power.”

Once the detainees have been processed into the internment camp, the manual explains how they will be “indoctrinated,” with a particular focus on targeting political dissidents, into expressing support for U.S. policies…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Mechanism in Place to Fix 2012 Election for Obama/Soetoro

I have been writing about vote fraud since 1993. Few Americans became interested in the cold reality that since the mid-1960s our elections have been rigged until the 2000 presidential election and the farce known as ‘hanging chads’. As regular readers of my columns know I belong to no party; I left the Republican Party in 1996 over vote fraud and the putrid world of dirty politics where the truth didn’t matter. It still doesn’t to party hacks whose only goal is to climb the political ladder of power.

The Florida recount energized Democrats; the howling was heard from coast to coast. Laughable when you consider the Democratic Party machine is more famous for vote fraud than Republicans. Both sides engage in it and that’s a fact.

The 2004 presidential “election” was another farce. An illusion to keep the herds believing their vote actually counted. It only counts when those who count the ballots put it in the desired win column. In 2008, Richard Hayes Phillips book, Witness To A Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election, was published. That book is an absolute condemnation of vote fraud in the State of Ohio. Phillips, who I interviewed when I had my radio show, examined 126,00 ballots, 127 poll books and 141 voter signature books from 18 counties: “Thousands of ballots in heavily Democratic precincts were pre-punched for third-party candidates. Voting machines were rigged, tabulators were rigged, ballot boxes were stuffed, ballots were altered, ballots were sorted according to candidate, and ballots were destroyed.”

Fair and impartial elections is our absolute right in this country regardless of what party you belong to or what candidate you support. For the destroyers and their minions, putting the same incumbents back into office to carry out the planned destruction of this republic is the only goal. The Department of InJustice under Eric Holder, a racist and as corrupt a political animal as they come, is going after many states in their attempt to stop voter registration fraud. The Democratic Party wants illegal aliens, felons and dead people voting. It’s the only way they can win. A dirty machine stealing our elections for their agenda.

“When the Spanish online voting company SCYTL bought the largest vote processing corporation in the United States, it also acquired the means of manufacturing the outcome of the 2012 election. For SOE, the Tampa based corporation purchased by SCYTL in January, supplies the election software which records, counts, and reports the votes of Americans in 26 states—900 total jurisdictions—across the nation.

“As the largest election results reporting company in the US, SOE provides reports right down to the precinct level. But before going anywhere else, those election returns are routed to individual, company servers where the people who run them “…get ‘first look’ at results and the ability to immediately and privately examine vote details throughout the USA.” In short, “this redirects results …to a centralized privately held server which is not just for Ohio, but national; not just USA-based, but global.”

“And although the votes will be cast in hometown, American precincts on Election Day, with the Barcelona-based SCYTL taking charge of the process, they will be routed and counted overseas…

[…]

“SCYTL is moving into or already running elections in: the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Australia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Money as a Driving Force in Choosing a President

Super PACs, indeed, polluted the Republican primary elections, and it will get worse during the general election campaign. The short-term cure for this situation is to require that any public announcement in support or opposition to a candidate be approved publicly by the candidate named, and the cost of the announcement be disclosed by the named candidate.

This will not stop the money flow, but it will slow it down. And, it will identify the individuals and corporations who are spending the money. The real solution is the plan originally provided by our Framers in the U.S. Constitution.

The Office of President of the United States should seek the man; the office should not be available for purchase, theft, fraud—or by popular election. Our Framers saw the potential for corruption in the process of choosing a president. The method they designed eliminates that corruption and should replace the current system.

Originally, the Constitution created what was to become known as the “Electoral College.” Each state was required to choose a group of individuals equal to the number of Senators and Representatives to which the state was entitled. None of these individuals could be an elected official or an employee of the federal government. These groups of chosen individuals were required to meet once, on the same day, to nominate two presidential candidates. Each member of the group had to nominate at least one person from a different state. This list of prospective nominees was then sent to the President of the Senate. The work of the Electoral College was done, and the group was dissolved.

Let this process sink in. The states could use any method they chose to select their participants in the Electoral College.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama: “We’ve Begun to See What Change Looks Like”

Now the question is, what does Barack’s “change” resemble? Candidly, Obama’s America has entered a retrograde orbit. For example, the most recent jobs figures looked superficially promising, with official “unemployment” down to 8.1%. This bettered the 10%joblessness of the past few years. Yet, when scratched just below the surface, the figure casts an ominous shadow of decline. For the reason unemployment is down results almost entirely from the 500,000 + Americans who stopped looking for work. And consider a further illustration of America’s pathetic economy—the USA workforce is the smallest since 1981.

What exactly is the change of which Obama presently boasts? Unfortunately, his “change” appears to look exactly like that which deformed and debilitated Europe over the last few decades, and now threatens the European Union with economic insolvency. Take, for example, Greece’s bankruptcy and Spain’s current 25% unemployment—matching USA’s rate during the Great Depression (One Spanish area suffering 32%). All resulting from socialist policies which, even conceptually, were doomed to fail. Consider the following statistics and trends revealing an American death-spiral:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Paul Ryan: Obama’s ‘Julia’ Website ‘Creepy’ And ‘Demeaning’

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday that the Obama campaign’s new website — which uses a fictionalized woman named Julia to illustrate how the president’s policies help female voters — is “creepy” and “demeaning.”

“It suggests that this woman can’t go anywhere in life without Barack Obama’s government-centered society. It’s kind of demeaning to her,” Ryan said during a constituent meeting in Wisconsin, the National Review reports. “She must have him and his big government to depend on to go anywhere in life. It doesn’t say much about his faith in Julia.”

Dubbed “The Life of Julia,” the website follows a hypothetical character from age 3 to 67 and provides examples of when she might benefit from policies backed by the president — while suggesting that presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney would support policies that might have the opposite effect.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Soviets Were Funding Black “Freedom” Journal

Newly declassified documents from Operation SOLO, an FBI program to infiltrate the Communist Party of the United States, reveal that a journal called Freedomways, which was influential in the black community for decades, was subsidized by the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties.

Freedomways has been called “one of the most influential African-American literary and political journals of the 1960s and 1970s.” It began in 1961 and ceased publication in 1986.

During the 25 years it served as a propaganda organ for the CPUSA and Soviet front organizations such as the World Peace Council, Freedomways published articles by such figures as:

  • Derrick Bell, one of Barack Obama’s academic mentors and a Harvard professor;
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., the slain civil rights leader who turned against the Vietnam War and has been honored with a national memorial in Washington, D.C.;
  • John Lewis, a Democratic member of Congress from Georgia and critic of the conservative Tea Party movement; and
  • Jesse Jackson, a former aide to King and Democratic candidate for president who has recently been stirring up racial resentment over the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Freedomways grew out of a Soviet campaign, launched after the Russian revolution, to exploit the “Negro question” in the U.S. and manipulate blacks and members of other minority groups for Communist purposes. The goal was a “Soviet America.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Space Weather Expert Has Ominous Forecast

Mike Hapgood, who studies solar events, says the world isn’t prepared for a truly damaging storm. And one could happen soon.

A stream of highly charged particles from the sun is headed straight toward Earth, threatening to plunge cities around the world into darkness and bring the global economy screeching to a halt.

This isn’t the premise of the latest doomsday thriller. Massive solar storms have happened before — and another one is likely to occur soon, according to Mike Hapgood, a space weather scientist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England.

Much of the planet’s electronic equipment, as well as orbiting satellites, have been built to withstand these periodic geomagnetic storms. But the world is still not prepared for a truly damaging solar storm, Hapgood argues in a recent commentary published in the journal Nature.

Hapgood talked with The Times about the potential effects of such a storm and how the world should prepare for it.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Planned Re-Election of Obama, Revolutionary Style

Obama administration, including his czars and his closest Progressive supporters, are planning a manufactured insurgency against America. Using the media to garner both sympathy and support for his unfinished goals.

Just a little bit here about my source and his “super-secret code name.” I’ve known this government insider since 1979, when he first became a municipal patrol officer. He took a job in a bigger city and had a very successful run as a cop. Before retirement and after the events of 9/11, he was tapped by the feds, where he worked in various capacities under the umbrella of DHS. He worked his way up, and suddenly found himself in what he terms the inner sanctum of the “TEC” building. TEC, he explains, is an acronym for what he calls “The Estrogen Challenged,” which houses the upper echelon of the Department of Homeland Security. I’ll leave it at that.

As far as his code name, it originates from an incident that occurred at the end of the disco era. It is something that we both privately laugh about, but rarely ever talk about. His “code name” is known to him, me, and at the time, a young woman who has since vanished amid the glitter of disco balls and constant replays of the Bee Gees in a dark nightclub some 32 years ago, and has no “cloak and dagger” origins.

But he is real, his position serious, and his knowledge vast. Unfortunately, that’s what makes the whole situation frightening and deadly serious.

[…]

According to my source, there is talk among the highest levels of the uppermost echelon of the Department of Homeland Security, which he describes as effectively under the control of Barack Hussein Obama. During this call, he said that the DHS is actively preparing for massive social unrest inside the United States. He then corrected himself, stating that “a civil war” is the more appropriate term. Certain elements of the government are not only expecting and preparing for it, they are actually facilitating it,” stated my source.

“The DHS takes their marching orders from the Obama administration, from Obama himself, but mostly from his un-appointed czars. And Jarrett, especially Valerie Jarrett. Don’t think for a minute that the administration is doing anything to stabilize events in the U.S. They are revolutionaries, and revolutionaries thrive on chaos,” he added.

My source stated that he has not seen things this bad since he began working within DHS. “It’s like they [DHS agency heads] don’t care about what the American people see or feel about what the DHS agencies are doing. They figure that if the average American will put up with being “sexually groped and nuked” just to fly, they’ll accept almost anything. “That’s why their actions are becoming more overt. “It’s in your face and the brass actually chuckle about it” said my source.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



U.S. Military Developing Spychips for Soldiers

The U.S. military wants to plant nanosensors in soldiers to monitor health on future battlefields and immediately respond to needs, but a privacy expert warns the step is just one more down the road to computer chips for all.

“It’s never going to happen that the government at gunpoint says, ‘You’re going to have a tracking chip,’“ said Katherine Albrecht, who with Liz McIntyre authored “Spychips,” a book that warns of the threat to privacy posed by Radio Frequency Identification.

“It’s always in incremental steps. If you can put a microchip in someone that doesn’t track them … everybody looks and says, ‘Come on,’“ she said. “It’ll be interesting seeing where we go.”

According to a report at Mobiledia, the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has confirmed plans to create nanosensors to monitor the health of soldiers on battlefields.

The devices also would report data to doctors. But privacy analysts have expressed concern that the implants could be used not just to monitor health but to keep track of and possibly control people.

DARPA describes the technology on which it is working as “a truly disruptive innovation,” which would diagnose, monitor vital states and “even deliver medicine into the bloodstream.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Ultimate Appeal: Blacks, Stop Voting Democrat

Candidly, I have struggled with this for years; how best to explain why I am a black conservative and why fellow black Americans should join me.

I served on a board with an extremely bright black mom. Both of her kids, a boy and a girl, are brilliant; her son received a full scholarship to Yale.

This black mom is well-read on “whiny” black liberal authors and philosophers. I am talking about the majority of black authors you see featured on mainstream TV. They sound extremely intellectual, explaining how white America is still systematically abusing blacks and why more heavily funded government programs are the answer. I feel like screaming at my TV, “Knock it off! Bottom line is you hate white people and are seeking more entitlement government freebies!” Such needy victim rhetoric has NOTHING to do with, nor does it achieve REAL, “black empowerment”. Frankly, these people turn my stomach.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UN’s International Baccalaureate Program Under Attack in NH

Imagine, if you will, there is an international club that exists for the sole purpose of imposing the Constitution and Bill of Rights on every country in the world that doesn’t already follow that form of government. Imagine that this club had a program that it sold to schools around the world. Imagine further that this program stipulated every subject taught must be framed within the club’s above-mentioned political philosophy. Wouldn’t you agree that allowing this club to invade and control public schools would be highly inappropriate? That’s exactly what’s happening with the International Baccalaureate program (www.ibo.org). We should instinctively understand the inappropriateness of allowing a club with a political agenda to control public schools. Yet, this United Nations-affiliated program is being invited in by some New Hampshire school boards and justified by some “conservative” New Hampshire legislators. — Nashua (NH) Telegraph

[…]

“This is an AskIt! website for your questions about all aspects of the UN’s ‘International Baccalaureate’ program as it is implemented in the Merrimack Valley School District, New Hampshire,” the site elaborates. The text then makes the following points, among others:

Fact: In order to spread the mission of IBO (which is the same as the mission and agenda of the UN), teachers are required to FRAME ALL subjects with a connection to globalism/internationalism, which often entails asking children to ‘take action’ on political issues. This could mean writing to the government to ask them to send money for more foreign aid, or for a cause, or taking up a collection, or even traveling to a foreign country to help them in some way.

Fact: Children are asked to question their values, and their parents’ values. In the lower grades, students are checked often to make sure they follow and demonstrate ‘international’ values on a chart displayed in the classroom. A program called Theory of Knowledge is used at the high school level.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Vaccine Bombshell: Baby Monkeys Given Standard Doses of Popular Vaccines Develop Autism Symptoms

(NaturalNews) If vaccines play absolutely no role in the development of childhood autism, a claim made by many medical authorities today, then why are some of the most popular vaccines commonly administered to children demonstrably causing autism in animal primates? This is the question many people are now asking after a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh (UP) in Pennsylvania revealed that many of the infant monkeys given standard doses of childhood vaccines as part of the new research developed autism symptoms.

For their analysis, Laura Hewitson and her colleagues at UP conducted the type of proper safety research on typical childhood vaccination schedules that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should have conducted — but never has — for such regimens. And what this brave team discovered was groundbreaking, as it completely deconstructs the mainstream myth that vaccines are safe and pose no risk of autism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


‘Brilliant’ Nuclear Scientist Who Worked at CERN Laboratory Jailed for Plotting Attacks for Al-Qaeda

A brilliant nuclear scientist working at the Cern nuclear laboratory was today sentenced to five in prison for plotting attacks on behalf of Al-Qaeda

Adlene Hicheur, who is French and from an Algerian background and who studied in England, was arrested in 2009 after police intercepted emails he sent to the Islamic terrorist organization.

Judges sitting at Paris Correctional Court said the 35-year-old should serve five years, with one suspended.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Europe Steps to the Precipice

The defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in France’s presidential election and the victory of a socialist president could be the straw that broke Europe’s back and by association, that of the global economy. Over the past two years there has been a struggle among Euro-types over what to do about the Eurozone’s many flagging economies. It started with several bailouts of Greece, whose citizens somehow feel that if their government can’t give them cradle-to-grave “care,” then the job should fall to the more industrious and harder working members of the European Union.

Those in the Eurozone capable of alleviating Greece’s financial woes were certainly prepared to bail the hapless Hellenes out of their predicament, provided they were prepared to do something for themselves that would assure no recurrent future problems. But many Greeks didn’t think that northern Europeans should have the right to tell them how to run their economy. Just give us the money and sod off, was the message many protesters and rioters sent to the countries that put up the money to save Greece from financial collapse.

In conjunction to Sarkozy’s loss at the polls, Greek parliamentary elections also saw the ouster of the politicians who agreed to German-imposed austerity, meaning the Eurozone is back to square one, or as rational people call it, the edge of the cliff.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



France’s Electorate Has Voted for Years of Decline Under a Socialist Leader

Flags of the French Communist Party were visible in numbers at Place de la Bastille on Sunday night, the symbolically-charged location of Socialist François Hollande’s victory rally.

Mr Hollande is not a communist, but his election nonetheless foretells a sharp shift to the left in France and the deepening of Europe’s crisis of social democracy.

There is a certain fashionable cynicism which holds that Mr Hollande will soon tack towards the comfort of the centre-ground and govern without undue reliance on campaign pledges that were both extreme and alarming.

Those promises include a litany of unreconstructed old-left nostrums, ranging from new punitive taxes on individuals, banks, and businesses, to a further expansion of France’s vast public sector.

The warrant for such optimistic cynicism is scant. There is the all too apparent sincerity of Mr Hollande’s ideological convictions. He is a man who felt the need while campaigning to insist, ‘I am not dangerous’. His freely volunteered loathing of the rich is spoken with the asperity of true disgust. His capitulation to France’s unreconstructed trade unions was early and pre-emptive — being made as long ago as the early stages of the primary election through which he became the Socialist Party’s candidate.

François Hollande is a man who means what he says and his rise to the French presidency comes at a moment when there are exceptionally few restraints on how far the French Socialist Party may now push its agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



François Hollande Beats President Nicolas Sarkozy in French Election

François Hollande swept to victory on Sunday, becoming the first Socialist to become president of France since François Mitterrand left office in 1995.

Mr. Hollande campaigned on a kinder, gentler, more inclusive France, but his victory over Nicolas Sarkozy will also be seen as a challenge to the German-dominated policy of economic austerity in the euro zone, which is suffering from recession and record unemployment.

With about half the vote counted, preliminary results released by the Interior Ministry shortly after the last polling stations closed at 8 p.m. showed Mr. Hollande had secured about 51 percent of the vote while Mr. Sarkozy, of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, won about 49 percent.

[Return to headlines]



Hollande’s Election Doesn’t Bode Well for Europe

Giscard later claimed that he had lost his presidency eight months earlier, with the bombing of the Paris Copernic Synagogue. Giscard had arrogantly refused to cut short a hunting weekend to show sympathy with the casualties, leaving his prime minister, Raymond Barre, to describe the attack as “a bomb set for Jews that killed innocent Frenchmen.”

A few weeks before the election, 43,000 French Jews attended the “24 Hours for Israel” rally of a community ginger group, Renouveau Juif (Jewish Renewal), in a huge warehouse. At the gate, people were handed ballots on Giscard’s Middle East record. At that mock election, over 90% voted against the incumbent.

The then-opposition Socialist candidate, Mitterand, addressed the crowd to tumultuous applause. Upon being elected, his first act as president was to visit the grave of his closest friend, in a Jewish cemetery. His first two years in power were marked by a wave of 29 terrorist attacks against Jewish targets in France, mostly in Paris. Mitterand cracked down on the terrorists and even led a march of 250,000 protesting the disinterment of a Jewish corpse at the Carpentras cemetery.

Thirty-one years later, the Socialists have once again returned to power. Why is there no such adulation among French Jews this time around?…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Italy: Widows Honor Crisis Suicides in Bologna

‘Govt must check its conscience’

(ANSA) — Bologna, May 4 — A gathering of widows marched in Bologna Friday to honor the numerous deaths of Italians who have killed themselves out of despair from Italy’s economic crisis. Roughly 100 people carried white banners in a procession from the hospital to the tax agency where 58-year-old craftsman Giuseppe Campaniello, exasperated by a fiscal dispute, set himself on fire and died from burns on 100% of his body in March.

“The (tax collectors) won’t show themselves,” said Tiziana Marrone, Campanniello’s widow, who helped organize the event.

“You don’t see anyone. Well done. Bravo. Perhaps silence is louder than words”. Joblessness is driving nearly one person every day to commit suicide in Italy, the majority of whom are men, according to the Eures think tank.

Small-business owners and artisans are also succumbing to suicide amid the weakened economy and austerity measures.

According to CGIA, an association of artisans and small businessmen, 32 entrepreneurs have taken their own lives since the beginning of 2012, mostly due to the economic crisis.

At one point in the march, demonstrators stopped to applaud in front of Campaniello’s home.

“Italy doesn’t want to end up like Greece,” said Marrone.

“There have been too many suicides since the beginning of the year”. Organizers said that a book on suicides amid the crisis was in the works and that proceeds would go to victims’ families.

Demonstrators were vocally critical of the austerity measures in Premier Mario Monti’s so-called ‘Save Italy’ package, passed when the country was at the centre of the euro crisis in November.

Elisabetta Bianchi, who co-organized the event, said the measures have so far disproportionately burdened the working class. “We are asking the government to change the laws, to check its conscience,” she said. “People have a right to be treated like human beings, which doesn’t happen anymore”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



University of Akron Engineering Professor Raises Doubts About Jet Crash That Killed Poland’s President

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

The 2010 jet crash that killed Poland’s president, first lady and dozens of dignitaries during a politically sensitive visit to Russia couldn’t have happened the way official investigations say, a University of Akron engineering professor’s analysis shows.

Wieslaw Binienda’s findings, based on computer modeling software that NASA used to analyze the space shuttle Columbia’s destruction, are causing ripples in his native Poland, where there is simmering distrust of the formal rulings that the crash was accidental.

Russian and Polish government teams determined that errors by the jet’s Polish military flight crew caused the aircraft to clip a tree, lose part of its left wing, flip over and crash short of a runway at fog-bound Smolensk Airdrome two years ago. The April 10 incident killed all 96 aboard.

But the tree impact that supposedly precipitated the crash wouldn’t have caused enough wing damage to down the plane, said Binienda, a well-regarded expert in fracture mechanics who heads the university’s civil engineering department.

Binienda has testified about his findings before the Polish and European parliaments, where politicians skeptical of the government probes are conducting their own inquiries. His analysis, coupled with the work of two other scientists who contend there is evidence of explosions aboard the jet just before the crash, has fueled speculation of a conspiracy and cover-up.

[…]

Kazimierz Nowaczyk, a University of Maryland physicist, and Gregory Szuladzinski, a mechanical engineer and expert in blast effects, base their theory on several pieces of evidence:

*Two sudden, sharp changes in the jet’s altitude, as recorded by its ground-collision warning equipment. The violent jolts, according to Nowaczyk’s analysis of the ground-collision readouts, took place when the plane was 226 feet past the birch tree. That position coincides with where Binienda, working independently, calculated that the wing tip must have come off. An explosion could explain the wing separation, Nowaczyk has testified.

*The contrasting positions of the jet’s fuselage pieces. The front portion landed upright while the rear was upside-down, suggesting an internal explosion that separated the pieces in mid-air.

*The large amount of debris and dismemberment of passengers’ bodies. “Shrapnel equals explosion, and there was plenty of it,” Szuladzinski said in an email, declining to comment further until his report to the parliament committee chair is released in May.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Syrian Opposition Studies Terror Tactics in Kosovo

Marauder and Ethnic-Cleansing Tactics

(Watch full video on the Syrian Rebels and the KLA)

Wiping out local minorities after an extensive NATO air-strike were the only combat tactics the KLA had mastered and the only thing the Syrian opposition can really learn from them, foreign affairs editor for the US-based Chronicles magazine, Srdja Trifkovich, told RT.

RT: Just what might the Syrian opposition learn at these camps?

Srdja Trifkovich: Well, first of all I don’t think they can learn much from the KLA veterans in terms of combat efficiency because the KLA was singularly unsuccessful in its rebellion against the Serbian security forces until the NATO bombing. They started their terrorist ambushes in 1997. They intensified their activities in 1998. But all along it was atrocity management that they wanted, for instance, the famous case of Racak where the combat victims were presented as innocent civilian dead slaughtered by the Serbs.

But even during the bombing the Serbian forces maintained full control of all of the key population centers and they even kept the roads open. It’s only that the KLA came in after the Serbs started withdrawing under the terms of the ceasefire with NATO. And even then they were not engaging in combat, they were acting as marauders ethnically cleansing non-Albanians. So the first point is that there is nothing to learn in terms of combat efficiency and in terms of actually organizing a successful guerilla force.

RT: Words that have been associated with the KLA — assassination, terror, bombings — is that really the kind of thing that the Syrian opposition wants to be associated with?…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Growing Mistrust of India’s Biometric ID Scheme

In India, a massive effort is underway to collect biometric identity information for each of the country’s 1.2 billion people. The incredible plan, dubbed the “mother of all e-governance projects” by the Economic Times, has stirred controversy in India and beyond, raising serious concerns about the privacy and security of individuals’ personal data.

The plan is moving ahead at a clip under the auspices of the National Population Register (NPR) and the Unique ID (UID) programs, separately governed initiatives that have an agreement to integrate the data they collect to build the world’s largest biometric database. Upon enrollment, individuals are issued 12-digit unique ID numbers on chip-based identity cards. For residents who lack the necessary paperwork to obtain certain kinds of employment or government services, there’s strong incentive to get a unique ID. While the UID program is voluntary, enrollment in the NPR program is mandatory for all citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



USA Released 20 Taliban to Encourage Peace Negotiations

(AGI) Kabul — The Washington Post has reported that over the past 2 years the U.S. has released about 20 dangerous Taliban militants in Afghanistan, within the framework of efforts to encourage peace negotiations. The newspaper emphasized that this exchange clearly involved the risk that those released might return to fight. The so-called “strategic release” programme kept open diplomatic channels in the most unstable provinces, but was rarely used, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul has reiterated that the fact that those released could pose a risk was taken into account.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Model Axed From South African Fhm After Sparking Outrage With Racist Tweet About ‘Disrespectful Kaffir’

A popular model was today axed from the South African edition of lads’ mag FHM after she was accused of making racist comments on Twitter.

The publication confirmed Jessica Leandra Dos Santos, 20, would no longer appear in its photoshoots after she caused outrage by using a taboo term for black people in a tweet.

The attractive model, known as Jessica Leandra, was widely condemned after she yesterday tweeted details of a confrontation with a black man in her local supermarket.

Leandra today apologised for her outburst and claimed she had posted her tweet only after being sexually harassed.

The model, who describes herself on her website as ‘a woman of clear visions’, admitted her comment had been irresponsible.

She wrote: ‘I tweeted rather irresponsibly about an incident I encountered last night, using a harsh and unkind word about the gentleman who had confronted me with sexual remarks and sounds.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Latin America


The Global Warming/Globalist Crowd is on the March Again

The globalists are on the march and quite busy in the month of June 2012. The Rio +20 is meeting in Brazil to check on the progress of United Nations Agenda 21 twenty years later. G-20 is meeting in Mexico to discuss sustainability and the threat to globalism by the Euro zone crisis.

The Bildeberg Group (unofficial, invitation-only, annual international forum of 120-140 globalists, one-third from government, two-thirds from finance, industry, labor, education, communication; meetings are closed to the public) are said to meet in Chantilly, Virginia, to share “ideas” on the upcoming presidential election and a possible rescue for EU. We are not exactly sure of the locale of the latter since they have been known to book more than one hotel in order to throw the few real reporters left off track.

Americans are beginning to wake up but it is a bit too late. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to implement UN Agenda 21 concept of Sustainability in all of its activities.

All government branches have a sustainability plan now. Private businesses are on the bandwagon too — everything is green growth, smart growth, and sustainability. Over 1,600 towns and counties in the U.S. are members of ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives). They have now changed their name to Local Governments for Sustainability; it takes the “international” out of the equation and thus the illegality of meddling in our sovereign local zoning affairs.

ICLEI has been quietly changing our zoning laws with taxpayer dollar grants.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Maggots Feeding on the Body of Art

Reflections on modern art, morality and the state of contemporary culture

[WARNING: Disturbing Content]

The Chapman brothers are conceptual artists who work together. They were part of the Young British Artists movement that was promoted by Charles Saatchi who also sponsored Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Jake Chapman has published a number of catalogue essays and pieces of art criticism in his own right, as well as a book, Meatphysics in 2003. The brothers have also designed a label for Beck’s beer as part of a series of limited edition labels produced by contemporary artists.

The Chapman brothers were nominated for the Turner Prize in 2003, and their work also centred on themes of sex and death. Their piece ‘Sex’ referred to their previous work ‘Great Deeds against the Dead’. The original work shows three dismembered corpses hanging from a tree; ‘Sex’ shows the same scenario, but in a further state of decay. Clowns’ noses have been added to the skulls of the corpses, while snakes, rats and insects, similar to ones in joke shops, cover the piece. ‘Death’ is two sex dolls, placed on top of each other, head-to-toe in the 69 sex position.

But one could get still more pretentious than this. In May 2008 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave a performance of composer John Cage’s 4’33”, which does not have a single note. Radio 3 broadcast it live and switched off its emergency system that cuts in when there is silence. The performance took place at London’s concrete block the Barbican Centre. TV viewers were also able to watch the event when BBC Four broadcast the concert. Cage’s justification for 4’33” was to demonstrate that ‘wherever we are what we hear mostly is noise’. General manager Paul Hughes told BBC Radio 5 Live the orchestra had rehearsed to ‘get in the right frame of mind’. Even though they had no notes to play, the musicians tuned up and then turned pages of the score after each of the three ‘movements’ specified by the composer. The audience applauded enthusiastically.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Internet Has Peeled Back Our Culture and Shown How Cruel and Selfish We Really Are

Are girls getting meaner? The headmistress of an independent school certainly thinks so, and she claims that the cause lies in Facebook and celebrity culture.

The head of St Mary’s Calne in Wiltshire, Dr Helen Wright, has said that sites such as Facebook encourage teenagers to believe ‘bitching is good’ because they are desensitising girls to the effects on others of what they might say or do.

Girls are being led to believe that making or breaking friendships is like making ‘friends’ on Facebook, where they are made or dropped at the click of a button.

Her warnings were echoed at the weekend by others voicing concern that the compulsion to post up intimate information online is not only encouraging voyeurism but is also causing more and more people to mistake electronic reactions for human emotions.

Social encounters are being reduced to texting or tweeting, which have as much resemblance to genuine relationships as a cartoon does to real life.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General


Our Amazing World: Incredible Beauty and the Darkness That Threatens it

There exists a number sequence known under such names as Phi, the Golden Ratio, the Divine Proportion, etc., and is found throughout nature and the universe. Leonardo of Pisa (known as Fibonacci) discovered it in 1202 when studying the breeding pattern of rabbits. The number of pairs of rabbits increased from 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and so on. Each new number in the series is the sum of the two before it. The ratio of each pair equals Phi (1.618…)

Here is where we make the connection: Our perception of beauty is directly related to the golden ratio. It is something that is in all of us — integrated with our physiology — just as natural law exists in the heart of humanity. Artists have used the “Divine Proportion” for centuries to portray beauty and works that are pleasing to behold. The human body itself is proportioned according to the golden ratio. The heavens above also display this sequence.

Marketers know that the golden ratio provides a very useful tool in presenting visually pleasing products to potential buyers. A study from one business journalreported that “…research showed that there is the golden ratio effect existing on stimulus preference which is in favor of the golden ratio…” Web designers also utilize this principle.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120504

USA
» New York Times Bows to Terrorism
» Obama Embraces Islam
» Occupy Movement Members Arrested in Conspiracy to Bomb Ohio Bridge
» The False Worldview of Liberal Progressives
 
Europe and the EU
» France2012: If Elected Hollande to Go to Informal EU Summit
» Frenchman Bruno Finds Dinosaur Bone in Flowerbed
» French CERN Nuke Expert Jailed for Terror Plot
» Holocaust Victims’ Families Sue Swiss Banks
» Into the Deep: New Iceland Tours Allow Brave Tourists to Venture Inside a Dormant Volcano
» Italian Rose’ Creates New Taste in Wine Market
» Italy: Fiat and Tata Revise Joint Venture
» Norway: Tears in Court at Autopsy Details From Utøya
» Sweden: Left Party Helped Kids ‘Hit Politicians in the Face’
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Homes Will be Built for Impoverished Journalists
 
Middle East
» Erdogan Lashes Out at S&P Over Rating on Turkey
» Kuwait Parliament Approves Death Penalty for Insulting God
» MENA: Wealth Beats Democracy, Changing Priorities
» Syria: Student Massacre Due to Libyan and Turkish Infiltrators, Says Apostolic Vicar in Alep
 
Culture Wars
» First Activist Convicted Under Russian ‘Anti Gay’ Law

USA


New York Times Bows to Terrorism

Speaking at the April 25 New York Times annual meeting, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, tried to justify the rejection of an ad calling attention to the alleged oppressive nature of the Islamic religion and the “vengeful, hateful and violent teachings” of Islam’s prophet. He said the ad might incite violence in the Middle East.

At the same time, he justified the placement of an anti-Catholic ad in The New York Times by saying, “We take political ads that we do not agree with. That is the nature of advocacy advertising.”

Representing Accuracy in Media, a shareholder in the company for the purpose of getting access to the annual meetings, I told Sulzberger, his executives and other Times shareholders, “You’re willing to offend the Catholics because they’re not going to come and kill you.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama Embraces Islam

If Islamism is OK for Egypt, why not America?

The Obama administration is doing its utmost to promote the fortunes of the Islamist parties in Egypt. A State Department official declared that with the rise of these radical groups after the Arab Spring, “people who once might have gone into al Qaeda see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism.” They see this as a victory. The problem is, so do the terrorists.

Last year, the White House began peddling the line that the uprisings in the Middle East were a repudiation of the al Qaeda model of seeking change through terrorism. The argument was that while America opposed violent extremism, the rise of nonviolent radical movements was just fine, and even commendable. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri quickly dismissed this claim, saying that from the terrorists’ point of view, it didn’t matter whether an Islamist victory came through violence or not. The means were unimportant except as they related to the end state: the imposition of hard-line Shariah-based laws and policies.

From Zawahri’s point of view, it makes no difference whether the caliphate is born of the ballot, bomb or bullet. The important thing is the victory of Islamism, which the White House also seems to endorse.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Occupy Movement Members Arrested in Conspiracy to Bomb Ohio Bridge

In a case that was overshadowed by Tuesday’s conviction of al-Qaeda member Adis Medunjanin who plotted with others to bomb the New York City subway system and other targets, five men were arrested and accused of conspiring to use explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland, according to a federal law enforcement official.

Anthony Hayne, 35, Douglas L. Wright, 26; and Brandon L. Baxter, 20, were secretly arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on Monday evening (April 30, 2012), on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to adversely effect interstate commerce.

In addition on Monday, JTTF members arrested Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23, and criminal charges are pending against them. All five suspects are alleged members of the so-called Occupy Movement that began last year in New York City under the name Occupy Wall Street.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The False Worldview of Liberal Progressives

Originally published July 8, 2004

This essay begins with a recap and commentary on Thomas Sowell’s brilliant critique of the old liberal obsession with “change” and with seeking socioeconomic “root-causes” for all social problems. The bulk of the essay will deal with the historical roots of the false liberal worldview and its belief that all our problems can be traced to “root causes” that can be blamed upon American society, and its irrational preference for “change.”

The fallacy of root causes and change ideology

Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell’s critique of the liberal bias towards “change,” and the predilection for “root causes” was a barn-burner. Sowell compared the prosperity, freedom, and stability of America with the rest of the world. The blessings we enjoy are exceptional. They are not the natural order of things. It would make more sense to explore the root causes of our blessings than to explore the root causes of our problems. Our social problems are much like the misery suffered by a majority of humanity. The question that should be posed is, why are our blessings so special and so widely shared among the populace — and why are the common social problems of mankind not more widespread in America? Liberals are not capable of framing the problem this way because of their topsy-turvy worldview and their knee-jerk bias against America.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


France2012: If Elected Hollande to Go to Informal EU Summit

(AGI) Paris — If elected president, Francois Hollande will participate in the informal European summit in Brussels. Pierre Moscovici, the head of the socialist campaign confirmed the candidate’s attendance at the meeting in late May or early June. Hollande has several times expressed his dissatisfaction with the economic policies of the European Union, including the Fiscal Compact, the budget deal signed in early March by twenty-five EU countries and strongly backed by Germany. The Socialist candidate said he wants to renegotiate the agreement.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Frenchman Bruno Finds Dinosaur Bone in Flowerbed

While tending to his flowerbeds in Louplande, west France, one Frenchman made a very rare discovery — a 100 million-year-old dinosaur bone. Bruno Lebié was digging his garden when he found the bone, which comes from the foot of an ornithopod dinosaur — a two-legged herbivore.

Lebié told the local paper Ouest-France: “The bone could have stayed in there, it really wasn’t bothering me. But I said to myself, ‘could that be a dinosaur bone?’ It’s not really my niche.” Lebié’s neighbour, who was just the other side of the fence when he found the bone, showed it to an archaeological friend who confirmed it was indeed a rare find.

It wasn’t until the head of the Green Museum in Le Mans, Nicolas Morel, sent a photo to palaeontologist Eric Buffetaut, that the 10cm-long bone was fully identified. But the bone was an isolated find -the rest of the skeleton is not in Lebié’s garden. This is one of five other dinosaur bones found in the area in the past 200 years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



French CERN Nuke Expert Jailed for Terror Plot

A Franco-Algerian nuclear physicist was sentenced Friday to five years in jail — with one year suspended — for plotting terror attacks in France. Police arrested Adlene Hicheur, a 35-year-old researcher studying the universe’s birth — the Big Bang — at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October 2009 after intercepting his emails.

His father embraced him in the Paris court room before he was taken away to serve his term in prison. Hicheur has already spent two and a half years in jail while awaiting trial. Hicheur admitted at the start of his trial in late March that he was going through a “turbulent” time when he wrote the mails but denied he intended to carry out attacks.

The trial of Hicheur, who was charged with criminal association as part of a terrorist enterprise, began a week after police shot dead Franco-Algerian Mohamed Merah for killing seven people in and around the city of Toulouse.

Prosecutors focused on emails between Hicheur and an alleged Al-Qaeda contact. Hicheur told the court the emails were written while his “physical and psychological state” was impaired while he was on sick leave for a slipped disc.

Following Hicheur’s arrest at his parents’ home near CERN, the research institute which lies on the Franco-Swiss border northwest of Geneva, police discovered a trove of Al-Qaeda and Islamist militant literature.

France’s DCRI domestic intelligence agency’s suspicions were raised after a statement from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was sent to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Elysee Palace in early 2008.

Following the message police carried out surveillance on several email accounts including Hicheur’s and his exchanges with Mustapha Debchi, an alleged AQIM representative living in Algeria.

In the emails Hicheur suggested “possible objectives in Europe and particularly in France”, mentioning for example a French military base at Cran-Gevrier, close to CERN. Asked by Debchi if he was “prepared to work in a unit becoming active in France,” Hicheur replied: “The answer is of course YES”.

Magistrates investigating the case said the exchanges “crossed the line of simple debate of political or religious ideas to enter the sphere of terrorist violence.” They say the accused “knowingly agreed with Mustapha Debchi to set up an operational cell ready to carry out terrorist acts in Europe and in France.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Holocaust Victims’ Families Sue Swiss Banks

Descendants of two Jewish families have filed a new lawsuit against Switzerland’s largest banks to recover millions of dollars they say relatives deposited before the Holocaust, their lawyers said on Thursday.

The suit, filed in a United States district court, seeks $315 million in deposits, compensation for artwork and gold held in a safe deposit box and unspecified damages from UBS and Credit Suisse.

The plaintiffs accuse the banks of refusing them access to records relating to accounts and a safe deposit box they say their relatives opened in the late 1930s, as conditions for European Jews grew increasingly perilous.

The defendants have “continued to interfere with and conspire against depositors’ rights by refusing access to all available records and databases and by refusing to use recommended state-of-the-art technology that would provide greater accuracy in matching names and account numbers,” said a statement distributed by the lawyers outside UBS’ annual shareholders’ meeting

Thursday in Zurich.

Swiss banks paid out $1.25 billion in 1998 to settle claims by Holocaust survivors and the descendants of Holocaust victims whose families held Swiss accounts before and during World War II.

But the two families in the lawsuit — which also names as defendants the Swiss Bankers Association, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission and Switzerland as a whole — had their cases rejected by the claims resolution tribunal established to oversee the funds, which said they had insufficient evidence.

Both families base their claims on handwritten records handed down across generations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Into the Deep: New Iceland Tours Allow Brave Tourists to Venture Inside a Dormant Volcano

It is one of those holiday experiences that should probably be filed under ‘intrepid’. As of next month, visitors to Iceland with a taste for adventure will be able to sign up for a tour that takes them inside the crater of a colossal volcano.

This might seem an unwise prospect in a country where, infamously, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted with great force in March 2010, spewing out a vast cloud of ash and debris that caused myriad complications for the airline industry in Europe. But 3H Travel, the Icelandic travel company behind the tours into the maw of the Thrihnukagigur volcano, insists that its out-on-a-limb expedition is entirely safe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italian Rose’ Creates New Taste in Wine Market

Delicate, pink wine starting to get attention it deserves

(ANSA) — Monigo del Garda, May 2 — Italy may be one of the world’s largest wine producers but rose’ is a variety often overlooked by those in search of a rich red Barolo or Venetian pinot grigio. Now wine producers in the Lake Garda region between Verona and Brescia are leading a push to give this delicate, pink-coloured wine the attention they think it deserves in Italy and abroad. Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the north of the country. Formed by ancient glaciers, it is close to the Brenner Pass on the borders of Switzerland, Austria and Germany. There are around 100 winemakers linked to the Garda Classico consortium in this picturesque region and 60 of them produce a rose’ known as Chiaretto. Fabio Finazzi, a wine expert with the Garda consortium, said more consumers were becoming interested in rose’ and producers had seen growing demand in the past four years from both Italian and German wine lovers. “In the past there was limited awareness but more consumers are discovering rose’,” Finazzi told ANSA. “It has a very delicate structure, it is an elegant wine with floral and fruity characteristics”. Finazzi said Chiaretto was at its best from the end of February through the summer and should be served at a low temperature. “Those who love it can drink it throughout the year but it is well-suited to lighter spring and summer food,” he said. “It works well as an aperitif or with pastas, salads, risotto and fish rather than heavy winter foods and red meat”.

The Garda region boasts 550 hectares of vines with an annual yield of around 3,500 tonnes of grapes which produce more than 2.5 million bottles of wine — not just rose’. “In our view rose’ is becoming more appreciated and those who try it are attracted to its elegant, fruity and floral taste,” Finazzi said. In 1967 the Garda region became one of the first wine regions in Italy to receive the highly regarded recognition of DOC Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Controlled Denomination of Origin) which means the winemaking process is subjected to rigorous scrutiny and control. Every year there is a wine festival on the shores of Lake Garda to promote the local Chiaretto but the popularity of rose’ is also spreading to other parts of Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Fiat and Tata Revise Joint Venture

New company to handle Fiat commercial and distribution activity

(ANSA) — Turin, May 2 — Fiat and Indian partner Tata Motors have revised their joint venture to allow a new company not owned by the Italian automaker to take over the Italian marque’s commercial, distribution and service activities in India, Fiat announced here on Wednesday.

Since 2006 these activities were handled by Fiat India, a joint venture set up between Fiat and Tata that utilized the Indian automaker’s sales and service network in India.

The move will allow the Italian-Indian venture to focus its attention on the production of small cars, engines and transmissions for the Indian and surrounding markets. Fiat and Tata will also continue to jointly run their modern plant in Ranjangaon, in the state of Maharashra, that can produce over 100,000 cars a year and up to 150,000 engines and transmissions.

In its first five years, the Fiat India has produced some 190,000 vehicles and 337,000 engines for both Fiat and Tata cars.

The new company in India will gradually take over Fiat’s commercial, sales and service activities from 178 Tata dealerships, located in 129 cities, and is expected to expand its network.

Last year Fiat and Tata announced they would develop a new small car for the Indian market, the third-biggest in Asia. The car, set to be presented this year, is a smaller version of the mid-sized Fiat Palio model.

This new car is part of Fiat India’s strategy to take a tenth of the expanding Indian market by 2015 and will be exported to other markets in the region.

Fiat India recently announced that it had won a contract to supply local rival Maruti Suzuki with its diesel engines.

When Fiat and Tata joined joined forces in 2006, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne hailed the agreement, saying that “this is a strategic alliance, the start of a wide-reaching, long-term relationship… Fiat and Tata have complementary strengths, converging goals and shared values. Together we can work well on the Indian market and elsewhere, combining technologies, products and human resources”.

In other developments, Marchionne and Fiat Chairman John Elkann were in Rome on Wednesday to present Italian President Giorgio Napolitano with the first Lancia Thema limousine, a gift from the Italian automaker to mark the 150th anniversary of the Italian Republic.

The Lancia Thema, which will be used for institutional purposes, is an Italian version of the 300C model produced by Fiat’s US partner Chrysler.

Fiat took control of Chrysler in 2009 and since then has upped its stake in the Detroit Number Three from 20% to 58.5%. photo: Marchionne

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Norway: Tears in Court at Autopsy Details From Utøya

Muffled sobs filled an Oslo courtroom on Friday as the first autopsy reports were presented for the 69 people massacred on Utøya island last July, but confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik displayed no sign of emotion.

On the 12th day of the right-wing extremist’s trial, the Oslo district court heard a coroner’s clinical explanation of how the first nine victims died before being given more intimate descriptions, illustrated with photographs, of the same people.

Of the 69 people who died on the small, heart-shaped island last July 22nd, 67 were shot to death, while the remaining two died from a fall and drowning, Torleiv Ole Rognum of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health told the court.

Most were hit by two or three bullets, and up to eight bullets had been pulled from one body. A full 56 of the victims had been shot in the head, Rognum said, revealing how Breivik had systematically executed his victims, most of whom were teens attending a summer camp on the island hosted by the ruling Labour Party.

The lawyers representing survivors and victims’ family members were visibly fighting back tears as they described the people who had died; one was “the best dad in the world,” another, a bubbly young girl, who “spread laughter and joy.”

Many family members of people who died that day were in the courtroom and many broke down in tears upon hearing the descriptions of their loved ones, while some embraced and others left the room.

Breivik himself however showed no emotion upon hearing details about his victims, as has been the case throughout his trial.

The 33-year-old confessed killer remained stony-faced and aloof as he looked through a folder in front of him with pictures of the dead as they were found on Utøya, and again as he watched the coroner show on a life-size doll how bullets penetrated each body.

The list of Breivik’s victims on Utøya is so long that it is expected to take all of next week to go through all the post-mortem reports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Left Party Helped Kids ‘Hit Politicians in the Face’

Sweden’s Left Party has come in for criticism for allowing young children to take whacks at the faces of centre-right government ministers which were plastered on a piñata at the party’s recent May 1st festivities.

The piñata was included among the children’s games featured at the Left Party’s May Day celebrations in Slottsparken in central Malmö and featured the faces of prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and finance minister Anders Borg of the Moderate Party, as well as a smiling portrait of Centre Party leader and enterprise minister Annie Lööf.

The children were then rewarded for repeatedly hitting the politicians in the face by a sizeable supply of candy which came then came spilling out of the political piñata.

“It was something fun that the kids enjoyed,” arranger Patrik Strand told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. “I don’t think children will grow up and hit Annie Lööf in the head. It would be a shame if they did.”

However, Lööf and a number of other centre-right politicians didn’t share Strand’s light-hearted attitude toward the child-sized episode of political violence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Homes Will be Built for Impoverished Journalists

Work to begin soon on 350 homes

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 3 — The Algerian government will build homes for those journalists who are in need of one and have economic difficulties. The Minister of Communication Nacer Nehal announced this in occasion of the International day for the Freedom of Press, Le Temps D’Algerie reported.

The first project is to start very soon and will see the building of the first group of 350 homes “for the benefit of journalists who live in precarious and dishonourable conditions.” The agreement is part of a plan between the Ministry of Communication and of the Habitat and Urban Ministry in favour of journalists. The plan also received support from the General Union of Algerian workers, the most important trade union in the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Erdogan Lashes Out at S&P Over Rating on Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, MAY 3 — Turkish prime minister on Thursday rubbished Standard & Poor’s over its revision of outlook on Turkey from positive to stable, as Anatolia news agency reported. “This is totally an ideological decision. No one would buy that. And we shall declare that we do not recognize you any more as a credit rating agency,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in an Istanbul fashion conference. S&P said Tuesday it cut outlook on Turkey’s long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings to stable from positive due to “less-buoyant external demand and worsening terms of trade (which) could inhibit Turkey’s economic rebalancing.” “This is absolute nonsense even as you upgrade (ratings on) Greece which still teeters on the edge of bankruptcy,” Erdogan said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Kuwait Parliament Approves Death Penalty for Insulting God

Kuwait’s parliament approved a law imposing the death penalty on any Muslim who insults God, his prophets, messengers, Prophet Mohammad’s wives or the Koran, in any form of expression, if they don’t repent.

The bill, which adds articles to Kuwait’s penal code, was passed today by 40 lawmakers, including all Cabinet ministers present, and rejected by five Shiite Muslims as well as one liberal lawmaker.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



MENA: Wealth Beats Democracy, Changing Priorities

Youth Survey shows new expectations 1 year after Arab Spring

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — Less politics and more career: one year after the Arab Spring lturned on a spotlight on the social and political situation in the Middle East, the priorities of young people in the Arab world have shifted from a desire for democracy to a focus on personal wealth and wellbeing, supported by an unchanged optimism for a better future. This picture is sketched in the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2012, which surveys the situation in 12 Arab countries in the Gulf region, the East and North Africa. Seventy-two of the interviewees agree that, following the events of the Arab Spring, the region is better off today and that expectations for the future are positive, although the figure is the average of a range from 81% in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to 46% in Lebanon. A fair wage (82%) and home ownership (65%) have become more important than living in a democratic country, which 58% see as “very important”, ten points less than one year ago. Also in this case there are great differences between the countries: just 46% of respondents in Iraq see democracy as an important value (last year 91%), while the percentages in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are respectively 75, 68 and 67%.

Last year’s political events have changed most governments in the region, and 72% of young people find their governments more credible now despite the fact that 54% say that corruption is still one of the most serious challenges. But the young Arabs do not expect further great changes after the revolution: 59% believe that the popular uprising has come to an end, though 41% are still concerned about “social unrest”. The significant and sudden changes of the past months have also struck another chord: traditional values. Sixty-five percent of young Arabs in fact see these values as an important heritage that must be protected (over 80% in the previous survey), while supporters of ‘modern’ values have doubled from 17% in 2011 to 35% this year. Views on foreign countries have also changed. America, currently the ideal country for 31% of young people, loses points, while France rises with 46%. The highest valued country for its quality of life in the Middle East is the UAE (40%), followed by Turkey (28%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Syria: Student Massacre Due to Libyan and Turkish Infiltrators, Says Apostolic Vicar in Alep

Mgr Giuseppe Nazaro provides background details to the army assault against the university, which left four people dead. For months, foreign militants have been trying to influence students at Alep university in order to bring violence to the city; the only one spared so far from the fight between rebels and the regime. In his view, the media are manipulated.

Alep (AsiaNews) — “Alep University is full of Libyan and Turkish infiltrators who have been trying to sway young Syrians to their cause. These people are armed and they provoked the army, which responded with force,” said Mgr Giuseppe Nazaro, apostolic vicar in Alep, who spoke to AsiaNews about the assault by security forces against the university residences that claimed the lives of four students.

The Franciscan prelate lives only 150 metres from the university and saw Wednesday’s assault with his own eyes after more than 1,500 students demonstrated against the regime. According to eyewitness accounts, soldiers chased the students into the university residences and arrested more than 200 people. To avoid further incidents, the authorities shut down the university until the end of the academic year.

“Alep is the only city that did not rise against Assad,” the bishop said. “There have been some demonstrations in the past few months, but people do not want violence.”

“Islamic militants have tried to push young people to engage in inconsiderate and dangerous behaviour in order to create a climate of violence and chaos in our city. This threatens everyone,” Mgr Nazaro explained.

Since the clashes two days ago, Alep has lived in an atmosphere of tension and violence.

More than 40,000 students from around the country attend the city’s university. Many of them cannot go home because of the war.

Convents and parish churches have opened their doors to hundreds of them. “Our residence has given shelter to 20 women, both Christian and Muslim, who fled the university residences after the army’s raid. They joined another 40 female students who live in our dormitory.”

Sadly, the situation is getting out of hand, according to the apostolic vicar. Turkey, Libya and other Muslim countries are sending militants and weapons to sustain the war against Assad. This has created an impossible situation for a ceasefire and reconciliation.

“Ordinary people are paying the price. Sooner or later, they will not be able to stand this climate of violence and the economic crisis,” the prelate added.

Most reports on Western media are false or fabricated, he contends. “Newspapers and news agencies rely only on reports from al Jazeera and other Arab media funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are the main backers of Syrian rebels. Their only interest is to create chaos until the Assad regime falls.”

After a year of fighting, the death toll from the war between the Syrian regime and the Free Syrian Army now stands at 9,000 with tens of thousands of people displaced, UN sources report.

Instead, Syrian authorities say that 3,838 people are dead as a result of the violence, 2,493 civilians and 1,345 soldiers and security forces personnel.

Meanwhile, the UN observer mission in Syria continues its work after a ceasefire between the regime and the rebels came into effect on 12 April.

Yesterday, as violence continues across the country despite the truce, Gen Mood Robert, head of the UN mission, called on Syrian forces to be the first to cease their fire.

Still, the presence of observers is having a positive effect, this according to Neeraj Singh, UN mission spokesman in Damascus. The government, he said, is in fact giving the 50 UN monitors a certain leeway to move around.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


First Activist Convicted Under Russian ‘Anti Gay’ Law

A Saint Petersburg court on Friday fined a prominent gay rights activist for “propaganda of homosexuality” to minors, in its first conviction under a controversial new city law.

Nikolai Alexeyev, the organiser of numerous unsanctioned gay pride marches in Moscow, was fined 5,000 rubles ($169) under a new city law that bans propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia to minors, he told AFP.

The judge “opened a Pandora’s box” by issuing the first such ruling, he said, adding that he will appeal and plans to contest the law at the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

“I think it will be viewed very negatively and it will show the absurdity of what’s going on in 21st-century Saint Petersburg,” he said, calling the law “absolutely arbitrary.” Alexeyev, 34, a lawyer, was detained for holding up a banner outside the city hall that read “Homosexuality is not perverted. What’s perverted is hockey on grass and ballet on ice,” a quote from a Soviet film star.

He said that he was charged with propaganda to minors even though there were no children around him, with police gathering witness statements from people sitting in a nearby park who had not even seen his poster.

Several other activists have also been charged in the city under the law, but Alexeyev was the first to be sentenced, with the judge asked to rule solely on that charge in an apparent test case.

The law equates “propaganda” of homosexuality and paedophilia, although homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, while paedophilia is a crime.

Similar local laws outlawing gay propaganda among minors have already been approved and put into force in the regions of Ryazan and Kostroma outside Moscow and Arkhangelsk in the Far North.

Regional deputies have also submitted a draft law to the federal State Duma parliament that if voted in, would make the offence punishable nationwide.

The law was signed into law in March in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city of 4.8 million people, after it was proposed by a legislator from the ruling United Russia party. It has been widely criticised because its vague wording allows police to crack down on almost any gay rights event and has drawn ire from gay rights supporters internationally.

The controversy has also caused diplomatic tensions: the US State Department in February said it was deeply concerned the bill would restrict freedom of assembly for gays. American pop singer Madonna, who has a huge gay following, promised to raise the issue at her concert in the city in August.

“I will speak during my show about this ridiculous atrocity,” she wrote on her Facebook page in March, while vowing not to cancel the date, despite pressure from some activists…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120503

Financial Crisis
» EU Austerity is Feeding Racism, Report Says
» FAO Sees World Food Prices ‘Stabilizing at High Level’
» Italy: CGIA Reports Suicide of 32 Entrepreneurs This Year
» Italy: Monti Facing Pushback to House Tax
 
USA
» Brookfield Residents Consider Mosque Proposal
» Cass Sunstein Advances One World Government & North American Union
» DOJ Refuses to Prosecute Palestinian Terrorists
» Facebook Sets I.P.O. Price Range
» Munch’s ‘Scream’ Fetches World Record Price
» No Jab, No Education
» One Gene Helped Human Brains Become Complex
» Red Dawn and the Chicago Spring
» Report: Public School Textbooks Whitewashing Islam
» Residents Worry About Traffic New Mosque Will Bring
 
Europe and the EU
» Al-Qaeda Rejects Anders Behring Breivik Comparison
» Asinine Proposal: Free College for All
» Baltic Sea Algae Could Help Fight Cancer
» Bats Carry More Viruses Than Thought
» Bronze Age Espionage: Did Ancient Germans Steal the Pharaoh’s Chair Design?
» EU Seeks US Help to Fight Cyber Criminals
» Europe to Explore Jupiter’s Icy Moons With JUICE Spacecraft
» European Intellectuals Warn of EU’s Demise
» France’s Hollande: No Laws to Satisfy Muslims
» France: Sarkozy Calls Hollande ‘Liar’ In Bitter TV Debate
» Germany: Saxon Scientists Make ‘Printable Speaker’
» Germany: 4 Men Charged Over Al Qaeda Terror Plot
» Greece: Elections: The Black Shadow of ‘Golden Dawn’
» Italy: Pedophilia: 9 Yrs and 6 Mths to Father Riccardo Seppia
» Italy: Arrest Sought for Senator Luigi Lusi
» Italy: Grappa Wins New Fans at Home and Abroad
» Jewish and Israeli Students Attacked at Toulouse University Event
» Mission to Mars: Austrian Cave Sets Stage for Red Planet Voyage
» Norway: Witness Tells of Breivik’s Island Arrival
» Swiss Must Stop Helping Tax Cheats: Top Banker
» The Unrivalled Power of the French President
» UK: Former MG Rover Workers to Receive Payout of Just £3 Each After Seven-Year Battle — Despite Its Former Owners Taking £42m
» UK: Londoners Choose Between Ken and Boris in Mayoral Election
» UK: Minicab Driver Raped Drunk Passengers and His Wife Even Tried to Bribe Victim to Keep Quiet
» UK: The Middle-Class Medievalism of the Murdoch-Bashing Set
» UK: Thief Who Wept at the Prospect of Prison Because He’s a ‘Fussy Eater’ Has Sentence Reduced
 
Balkans
» Macedonia: Five Ethnic Albanians Charged With Terrorism
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Islamist MP Backs Bill Allowing Girls to Marry at 14
» Egypt: Bloody Protests 20 Days Ahead of Cairo Elections
» Libya: Life in Prison for Glorifying Gaddafi or Insulting Islam
» Tunisian TV Mogul Fined Over ‘Blasphemous’ Film
 
Middle East
» Bin Laden Files Reveal Al-Qaeda Leader Plotting New 9/11
» Dubai’s Next Big Thing: The Underwater ‘Discus’ Hotel
» Osama Bin Laden ‘Plotting to Relaunch Al-Qaeda With New 9/11-Style Spectacular’
» Syrian SSNP Leader’s Son Assassinated by Armed Hit Squad
» Yemeni Soldiers Repell Attack in South, 8 Al Qaeda Dead
 
South Asia
» ‘Intolerant’ Indian State Mulls Ways to Curb Free Speech
» Taliban Attack Hotel in Kabul
 
Far East
» Japan: Video: Lost Budgie Reunited With Owner After Reciting Address
» US-Chinese Talks Open Under Shadow of a Dissident’s Fate
 
Australia — Pacific
» Blond Hair Evolved Independently in Pacific Islands
» Hunt for Aboriginal Men Who ‘Raped Two European Women Tourists at Gunpoint After Breaking Into Their Car’
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria Market Bombing Kills at Least 34
 
Latin America
» G-20 Summit is Not Just a Mexican Vacation
» Guns in Murder of Mexican Lawyer Traced Back to Operation Fast & Furious
» Luis Fleischmann: The Future of Venezuela: “Chavismo Without Chavez”
 
Immigration
» Anti-Racists Criticise Norwegian Musician
» Deport the GOP Establishment
» UK: GPS ‘Threatened With Legal Action’ For Taking Failed Asylum Seekers Off Surgery Lists
 
General
» Al Qaeda Wants You to Know It’s Nothing Like Anders Breivik
» New ‘Unknowns’ Hacking Group Hits NASA, Air Force, European Space Agency

Financial Crisis


EU Austerity is Feeding Racism, Report Says

EU austerity measures are helping to feed racism and intolerance, according to a report by the Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

In its annual survey out on Thursday (3 May), the council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), said welfare cuts and shrinking job opportunities are factors behind the recent rise in intolerance and violence directed at immigrants and other vulnerable minorities.

“Immigration is (being) equated with insecurity, (that) irregular migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees either steal jobs or risk capsizing our welfare system, while Muslims are not able to integrate in Western societies,” the survey says.

It adds that talk by mainstream politicians of reintroducing border controls in the passport-free Schengen area is beginning to give xenophobia and far-right extremism a respectable face. “Political leaders must at all costs resist pandering to prejudice and misplaced fears about the loss of ‘European values,’ terrorism and common criminality,” it says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



FAO Sees World Food Prices ‘Stabilizing at High Level’

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has registered the first drop in global food prices in April after months of increases. Record crops this year are expected to meet rising global food demand.

World food prices were stabilizing at a “relatively high level” in April, after they had been steadily rising in the first three months of the year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Thursday.

FAO’s Food Outlook — a twice-yearly global market analysis — said food prices fell by 1.4 percent from March to April this year, driving down the organization’s Food Price Index to 214 points from 217 points registered in the previous month.

The FAO index measures monthly price changes for a food basket containing cereals, oilseeds, dairy products sugar and meat.

“Although the index is significantly down from its record level of 235 points in April 2011, it is still well above the figures of under 200 which preceded the 2008 food crisis,” FAO said in a statement.

In its forecast for the coming 12 month, FAO predicts generally higher food supplies, but also rising demand for various agricultural produce.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: CGIA Reports Suicide of 32 Entrepreneurs This Year

(AGI) Rome — The CGIA has reported the suicide of 32 entrepreneurs since the beginning of this year due to the economic crisis . Data was provided by the Mestre based CGIA.

The Region most affected by this tragedy has been the Veneto, where in the first 4 months of 2012, ten small entrepreneurs decided to end their lives following economic problems caused in recent years by the serious financial crisis. The CGIA, however, reported that it is difficult to identify the reasons for these tragedies, but that a lack of liquidity is the common denominator found in almost every case. Many entrepreneurs, fell into a profound crisis without managing to get back onto their feet following missed payments for goods or services provided. As already proposed a few weeks ago by the Veneto Region, the CGIA has asked for the creation of a national solidarity fund to issue loans to the entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized companies experiencing serious economic and financial problems and without access to bank credit, or to those whose loans have been called in. In the Veneto there have been ten suicides, with four in Apulia and four in Sicily. In Tuscany 3, 2 in Sardinia and 2 in Lazio, with 1 in Campania, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo and Liguria respectively.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Monti Facing Pushback to House Tax

‘IMU is deadly’ says Bersani

(ANSA) — Rome, May 3 — Italian Premier Mario Monti is finding himself up against opposition from mayors and party leaders to a newly reinstated tax on first homes. “The weight of the IMU tax is truly deadly,” Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), said Wednesday.

Arguing that the measure unfairly hits the working class, Bersani called for a partial cut and to make up the difference with a new wealth tax on large estates “to redistribute the burden”. The house tax, which Monti reintroduced after his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi abolished it, has come under fire from all sides of the political spectrum. Graziano Delrio, president of the National Association of Cities (ANCI), has lashed out at the tax, accusing the government of a “shakedown”.

The rightwing regionalist Northern League party has recently launched a campaign against it, saying it was part of an effort to “send Monti home before the summer,” according to League No.2 and ex-interior minister Roberto Maroni. “The protest against IMU isn’t incitement to tax revolt, it’s a political initiative,” he added.

Monti fired back Wednesday, saying that the State would “rigorously” crack down on anyone who evaded the tax, as a growing number of citizens have openly promised. Mayors are expected to discuss the IMU tax at a conference in Venice on May 24. photo: Pier Luigi Bersani

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

USA


Brookfield Residents Consider Mosque Proposal

BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Brookfield residents gathered Wednesday night to discuss a proposed plan to build a local mosque. Brookfield officials and mosque representatives answered residents’ questions Wednesday. Some residents said the proposal made them feel uncomfortable. Most residents said they supported the mosque. “I’m hoping that we can move forward with it so that our community can learn more about the Muslim faith and the Muslim people,” Brookfield resident Diane Errath said. The plan commission is expected to make a recommendation on the proposal on May 7.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Cass Sunstein Advances One World Government & North American Union

The evil inside the White House operative, Cass Sunstein, is out this morning with a short essay in WSJ.

Under the guise of filling us all in on what his White House department is doing to “clear away red tape”, the evil bastard is really informing his followers about the advancements in one world government and a North American union:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



DOJ Refuses to Prosecute Palestinian Terrorists

by Adam Turner

In a prior column, I introduced you to Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi is a Palestinian terrorist, responsible for the 2001 suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem that killed 15 people and injured another 132. Among the American victims of this terrorist act: Judith Greenbaum and Malka Roth, who were both killed; and David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg, and Sara Nachenberg, all of whom were injured. Malka Roth was only fifteen years old at the time of her death, and was one of eight children killed in the bombing. In late 2011, Tamimi was released by Israel as part of the trade of over one thousand Palestinian terrorists for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was being held by Hamas. Tamimi is now hosting her own television show for Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV station from her new home in Jordan. Tamimi was released even though she has admitted — on television — that she participated in the Sbarro terrorist bombing. In the interview, she even expressed her delight at the number of children among the dead.

On March 1, 2012, 52 U.S. Congressmen, acting on a bipartisan basis, sent a letter to the Attorney General, and the Department of Justice (DOJ), calling upon the DOJ to “(1) investigate those cases (in Israel or the Palestinian Territories) involving the murder of or infliction of serious bodily injury on American citizens ; (2) where evidence supports, indict those individuals complicit in the deaths of or infliction of serious bodily injury on Americans, (3) seek the extradition of, (4) try in American federal courts, and (5) punish these individuals.” (Full disclosure — the organization I work for, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, initiated this letter at the behest of many American victims, and their families.) This letter referenced the 1991 Anti-Terror Act, which allows the United States to prosecute those who commit acts of terror overseas against Americans, and the large number of American victims of attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories, which stands at (at least) 54 killed and 83 wounded. It also castigated the Department for its non-existent record of indictment and prosecution of these terrorists, in both successive Republican and Democratic administrations. The letter made note that this poor record “is particularly disappointing given that, in 2005, Congress specifically created a unit within the DOJ, called the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), whose entire purpose “is to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against American citizens overseas remain a high priority within the Department of Justice.” Finally, the letter’s appendix listed several Palestinian terrorists who deserved prosecution, including Ahlam Tamimi.

On April 5, 2012, the DOJ sent its response. This letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, claimed that “there are significant impediments to bringing prosecutions in the United States for attacks that occur overseas.” The main impediment mentioned was “(t)he crime scenes are located in places that are not under the United States’ control and, therefore, the United States is entirely dependent on the sovereign country where the attack occurred for assistance and cooperation in these investigations.” Therefore, the DOJ could not guarantee that everything would be done by the letter of U.S. criminal law, and that there would be no resulting problems with the chain of custody of the evidence and the admissibility of confessions.

This DOJ letter echoed a statement that was sent in an email last month to the Parents Forum for Justice, a group of American citizens and parents whose children were killed or wounded by Palestinian terrorists in Israel. It also echoed what the DOJ and OJVOT have been saying — both on and off the record — to the American victim’s families since 2005, when the OJVOT came into existence. And it even mirrored the complaints of the DOJ prior to the creation of the OJVOT. Since the DOJ letter never mentioned nor referenced any of the specific terrorist cases that the earlier letter had listed, we have to assume that the DOJ believes it is unable to prosecute all of the Palestinian terrorist cases, including Tamimi’s, for the reasons stated in their response letter.

Now, I don’t normally give out free legal advice on legal matters. After all, it isn’t considered proper to do so, and, besides which, I am not a practicing attorney. But this Justice Department argument, in reference to the Tamimi case, is patently ridiculous. It is certainly true that Tamimi’s terror attack occurred in Israel, and that the Israelis may not have been as careful with the crime scene, for evidentiary purposes, as the American police would have been. However, remember this video. Tamimi has actually admitted to her crime! And under U.S. law, this taped admission is not banned “hearsay” by Tamimi and may be used in court to convict her. This is because Tamimi, as the defendant in a U.S. criminal prosecution, would meet the definition of a “party opponent,” and thus, under the federal rules of evidence, anything she says would be admissible in court. See FRE 801(d)(2)(A):…

[Return to headlines]



Facebook Sets I.P.O. Price Range

Facebook on Thursday set the estimated price for its initial public offering at $28 to $35 a share, according to a revised prospectus. At the midpoint of the range, the social networking company is on track to raise $10.6 billion, in a debut that could value the company at $86 billion.

[Return to headlines]



Munch’s ‘Scream’ Fetches World Record Price

The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — one of the most recognizable paintings in history — set a world record Wednesday when it sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York. Heated competition between seven bidders took the price to the highest for a work of art at a public auction in just 12 minutes, sparking applause.

“World record,” announced auctioneer Tobias Meyer after bringing down the hammer. The previous record was held by Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” which sold in 2010 for $106.5 million.

“The Scream” is one of four versions of a work whose nightmarish central figure and lurid, swirling colors symbolized the existential angst and despair of the modern age. It was sold by Norwegian Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and supporter of the artist. He plans to establish a new museum in Norway.

On two occasions, other versions of the painting have been stolen from museums, although both were recovered. Copies have adorned everything from student dorms to tea mugs and the work has the rare quality of being known to art experts and the general public alike.

“We’re delighted to say that this magnificent picture, which is not only one of the seminal images of our history, but also one of the visual keys for modern consciousness, achieved a world record,” Simon Shaw, head of the Impressionist and modern department at Sotheby’s, said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



No Jab, No Education

A new amendment to California’s Health and Safety Code as it relates to vaccinations will take effect this fall for the 2012-2013 school year, and will require all incoming seventh graders, as well as eighth and twelfth graders for the first year, to get a Tdap booster vaccination for pertussis (whooping cough) before being admitted to school. The website of the Marin County School District, which includes the city of San Francisco, literally states “No shot, No School!” in an apparent attempt to strong-arm parents into complying with the new provision.

Even though students in California can be exempted from any and all vaccinations for medical or personal reasons, most parents are largely unaware of this fact. And because of the 2010 whooping cough outbreak in California, many parents will likely just comply with the new Tdap requirement simply out of fear that their child could be the next victim of the disease, even though the Tdap vaccine itself has been shown to be ineffective at protecting against whooping cough

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



One Gene Helped Human Brains Become Complex

When it comes to brain development, slow and steady wins the race. A single ancestral human gene that made two copies of itself may have helped the evolution of our large brains 2.5 million years ago, as our ancestors were diverging from australopithecines.

Paradoxically, it seems the effect of the extra copies was to slow down individual brain development. This allowed time for neurons to develop more and better connections with one another.

Gene duplications are rare in human history: only about 30 genes have copied themselves since we split from chimps 6 million years ago. Few have been studied, but those that have encode genes that are very exciting, says human geneticist Evan Eichler of the University of Washington in Seattle. Many are involved in brain development.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Red Dawn and the Chicago Spring

Is the US military and the Bankster controlled federal government on a collision course? When one begins to connect the dots, with each dot representing a critical intersect point between the two entities, it strongly appears that an irrevocable bifurcation between the two is underway and the point of no return may have already been reached. Why else would we be witnessing the training of Russian troops to carry out policing activities in and around the Colorado Springs area later this month?

A report from the Daily Caller noted that the Labor Department has withdrawn a highly controversial Obama administration order which would’ve outlawed any form of child labor on family farms. This regulation would have dealt a death blow to the economic viability of America’s small farmers. As a result, food prices would have astronomically skyrocketed because all food production would have subsequently emanated from the large corporate owned farms. As an aside, the large corporate owned farms were exempt from this Labor Department restriction and of course, illegal migrant labor would be permitted on the corporate farms as well. To many, the defeat of this illegal and unconstitutional child labor regulation marked a victory for the average American. However, there may be a more ominous message behind the rescinding of this policy as it becoming clear that the Obama administration is seeking to conceal the rift between its bankster benefactors and the US military as it is becoming clear that Obama suddenly backed away from a policy that the military refused to support.

[…]

Curiously, the enforcement mechanism for this insane policy would’ve fallen to Homeland Security and amazingly, to the military. This means that forces of our military would have faced off against American farmers. There can be no doubt that many farmers would have defended to the death their historical right to property and parenting rights. The real reason for the withdrawal of the child farm labor policy has to do with the fact that the US military was not willing to murder American farmers on behalf of the Wall Street bankers and their large agricultural partners. The Obama administration is concealing this serious rift from the American people!

[…]

It is also no secret that in recent months, America has positioned its military in the Gulf region to launch military strikes upon Syria and Iran. It is also no secret that the Russians have threatened our government with war if America attacks its two aforementioned allies. This clearly casts Russia into the role of being a military enemy of the US. Why then, would the federal government mandate that enemy Russian paratroopers be trained at Fort Carson Army base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in late May and early June of this year? Yet, this is an undeniable fact as Defense Department spokesperson, Commander W. L. Snyder, told the New American, that Russian troops would be training in southern Colorado for three weeks in which they would be allowed to provide security at local baseball games and to participate in roadside checkpoints as well as to conduct war game military raids on local terrorist base camps. The unmistakable conclusion is that our enemies are being trained to interact with the American public and to participate in policing activities on American soil. Are you baffled? Well, so was I, until I realized that the Russian troops are only the enemy of our military and US citizens, not the enemy of the banksters who run the government!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Report: Public School Textbooks Whitewashing Islam

Through the years, American public schools have taught students that Nazism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies should be opposed.

But when it comes to the current war with Islamic jihadists, public schools are taking a much different course.

According to a new report, students are getting a white-washed version of what our enemies believe, and it could have dangerous implications for America’s future.

For students in America’s middle and high schools, 9/11 is a distant memory. Some were still toddlers when the World Trade Center towers fell.

But if they’re looking for answers in their history textbooks about who attacked the United States and why, they may be disappointed.

One 2003 world geography textbook widely used in public schools gives the following explanation for the 9/11 attacks:

[…]

Yet another text taught that Muslims were “extremely tolerant of those they conquered” and “allowed Christians and Jews to keep their churches and synagogues and promised them security.”

Rodgers says such teachings are factually and historically incorrect.

“There’s nothing in Sharia law that requires Muslim leaders to extend tolerance to Christians and Jews,” Rodgers said.

“And this idea that there was full religious freedom granted? Well, let me refer to one Muslim historian — he estimated that some 30,000 Christian churches were destroyed during the first two centuries of jihad after (the Islamic prophet) Mohammed died,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Residents Worry About Traffic New Mosque Will Bring

Henrico County, Va. (WTVR) — There’s a debate over plans to build a new mosque in the 81-hundred block of Hungary Road in Henrico County. The Islamic Center of Richmond has been given green light to build a two story 30,299 square-foot place of worship, with a daycare and school. The center’s volunteer Salman Lateef says they are filling a need in the west end of town. For one year, they’ve been worshiping in a small building, and there’s never been enough room for members. “People standing outside and praying, sometimes in the sun, some times in the snow, sometimes in the rain,” said Lateef. He says the project is in the planning stages right now, and nothing is concrete.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Al-Qaeda Rejects Anders Behring Breivik Comparison

al-Qaeda has rejected the claim by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik that he was following a model set by the Islamic terror network, claiming the difference between the two groups “is like day and night”.

An article in this month’s Inspire Magazine, reportedly published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, argues that a true Islamic ‘mujahideen’ would never target a youth camp, as Breivik did.

“The [difference in the] moral code of war between the two groups is vast,” the article argues. “In our eyes going after women and children is not only forbidden in the Shari’ah, but also a useless form of slaughter.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Asinine Proposal: Free College for All

I call your attention to a scientific paper by a British researcher, Bruce Charlton. Charlton observed in 2007 that “adults in modernizing liberal democracies increasingly retain many of the attitudes and behaviors traditionally associated with youth.” In other words, they don’t grow up. He theorized “that the major cause of PN [Psychological Neoteny—a slowing of maturity] in modernizing societies is the prolonged duration of formal education.”

Charlton thought this might not be so terrible, “because people need to be somewhat child-like in their psychology in order to keep learning, developing and adapting to the rapid and accelerating pace of change.” Meanwhile, they don’t work, marry, or raise children.

As we cannot help seeing from the escapades of the Occupy This-or-That movement, prolonged formal education also lumbers its recipients with some other “youthful” traits that are not so desirable—petulance, wishful thinking, excessive credulity, self-absorption, an inability to distinguish wisdom from sophomoric jaw-flapping, creative thought from pretentious twaddle, or coherent ideas from neo-marxist drivel; and, above all, a monumental sense of entitlement.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Baltic Sea Algae Could Help Fight Cancer

In addition to being nutritious and tasty, algae are increasingly used in cosmetics and may even help fight cancer. Biologists from northern Germany use the domestic brown algae for their research. Biologists from the northern German city of Kiel get their research material from the Baltic Sea. With a special boat designed for harvesting aquacultures, they set out on a regular basis to collect brown algae — Saccharina latissima by its Latin name.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Bats Carry More Viruses Than Thought

Bats play a key role in ecosystems and are threatened worldwide. But, new findings by German scientists indicate that bats also host a broad range of viruses — important for epidemiology and bat conservation.

A research team led by scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany has found that bats host a surprising range of viruses. Although most of the viruses are probably not communicable to us, some — such as mumps — are similar enough to be passed directly to humans.

Published last week in the journal “Nature Communications,” the findings point to new research directions for virology, while including significance for how to fight the spread of disease. But bat conservationists are concerned about the effects of the study on protection for these flying mammals, which are in trouble around the world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Bronze Age Espionage: Did Ancient Germans Steal the Pharaoh’s Chair Design?

Roughly 3,500 years ago, folding chairs remarkably similar to ones found in Egypt suddenly became must-have items in parts of northern Europe. Scholars are now looking into this potential case of ancient industrial espionage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Seeks US Help to Fight Cyber Criminals

The EU wants to work closer with the United States’ department of Homeland Security and the FBI to help plug gaps on protection against cyber crime — a sector worth €388 billion a year in illegal revenue worldwide.

“To overcome this growing global threat, EU-US cooperation is not a choice, but a necessity,” EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told US officials and policy experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Wednesday (2 May).

“I am convinced that in the coming months and years we will be able to report back to our citizens on many more successful joint operations between FBI and Europol,” she added, citing an EU-US working group, launched in November 2010, on cyber-security and cyber crime as an example.

The working group is headed by Malmstrom and includes the US secretary of homeland security Janet Napolitano. Both intend to launch an EU-US cyber exercise in 2014.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Europe to Explore Jupiter’s Icy Moons With JUICE Spacecraft

The European Space Agency will launch a deep-space mission to explore the icy moons of Jupiter in 2022, agency officials announced Tuesday (May 2). The ambitious space mission, called the Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE), is expected to reach Jupiter in 2030 and spend at least three years studying the gas giant’s major moons, ESA officials said.

The JUICE mission to Jupiter is the first major mission selected by ESA under the agency’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 program. It beat out two other proposed missions; a space observatory to hunt gravity waves and an advanced high-energy astrophysics telescope.

“Jupiter is the archetype for the giant planets of the Solar System and for many giant planets being found around other stars,” said Alvaro Giménez Cañete, ESA’s director of Science and Robotic Exploration, in statement. “JUICE will give us better insight into how gas giants and their orbiting worlds form, and their potential for hosting life.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



European Intellectuals Warn of EU’s Demise

Around 90 intellectuals have warned of Europe’s demise and appealed to European governments to create a volunteer service that all Europeans could take part in — regardless of age or experience.

The signatories to the appeal, which was published on Thursday in numerous European newspapers, blames European elites for a political system that they describe as rescuing indebted banks and squandering young people’s future in the process.

“(The) top-down Europe, the Europe of elites and technocrats that has prevailed up to now …considers itself responsible for forging the destiny of the citizenry of Europe — if need be, against its will,” the manifesto says. “(It) is this unspoken maxim of European politics that is threatening to destroy the entire European project.”

The declaration, entitled “We are Europe! Manifesto for rebuilding Europe from the bottom up,” proposes expanding the European Voluntary Service, which pays for 16-to-30-year olds to spend up to a year doing non-profit work abroad. It calls for people of all ages to be eligible to take part. The idea is that this will help “democratize the national democracies in order to rebuild Europe.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France’s Hollande: No Laws to Satisfy Muslims

PARIS, France (AP) — French presidential front-runner Francois Hollande says he would not allow separate menus in public cafeterias or separate hours in swimming pools for men and women to satisfy demands of the Muslim community. Hollande, the Socialist facing off against conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s presidential election runoff, also said he would firmly support France’s ban on the face-covering Islamic veils. Hollande’s positions are unusually firm for a leftist in France. He spoke during a televised debate with Sarkozy. Hollande said if he is elected president, “I will apply the law” on the face veils. He said different swimming pool hours “will not be tolerated.” Sarkozy also has criticised demands for special treatment from France’s large Muslim community.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



France: Sarkozy Calls Hollande ‘Liar’ In Bitter TV Debate

Nicolas Sarkozy made a last-ditch effort to revive his struggling re-election bid Wednesday, branding Socialist frontrunner Francois Hollande a “liar” in the campaign’s only live television

debate.

Both men came out in determined mood as the debate kicked off, with Hollande accusing Sarkozy of dividing the French and vowing that if he wins on Sunday he would be a “president who brings people together”.

“I will be a president of justice because we are going through a difficult crisis, a serious crisis that hits the most humble among us, so I want justice to be at the heart of the republic,” Hollande said.

Sarkozy said voters were facing a “historic choice” and: “France cannot make a mistake — we are not in a crisis, we are in many crises.”

Polls show Hollande, 57, is the favourite to win in Sunday’s run-off vote after he came out ahead of Sarkozy in an April 22 first round that left eight

other candidates behind.

The debate turned quickly to the economy, with tensions rising as the two candidates sought to speak over each other.

“Our unemployment has risen, our competitiveness has worsened and Germany is doing better than we are,” Hollande said, slamming Sarkozy’s economic record.

“Why is Germany doing better than us? Because Germany has done the opposite of the policies you are proposing to the French people,” Sarkozy hit back.

“With you it’s very simple. Nothing is ever your fault. Whatever happens you’re happy.” Hollande said, as the debate became heated and Sarkozy accused Hollande repeatedly of “lying” and “slander”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Saxon Scientists Make ‘Printable Speaker’

Chunky, space-stealing speakers could become a thing of the past, thanks to scientists in eastern Germany who have made the world’s first printable speaker. Paper-thin, they promise to make noise in the tech world and beyond.

A team from the Institute for Print and Media Technology at Chemnitz University of Technology, Saxony, had been working on the project for just two and a half years when they managed to make a successful prototype. It involves printing layers of polymers and conductive chemicals onto a single piece of paper to create a speaker.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: 4 Men Charged Over Al Qaeda Terror Plot

Prosecutors have formally charged four men with membership in a terrorist organization after allegations they planned to carry out an Al Qaeda attack in Germany.

Federal prosecutors said Thursday the group’s leader — 30-year-old Moroccan national Abdeladim El-Kebir — is also accused of undergoing training at a terror camp in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

They say he recruited and indoctrinated the group’s other members, whose last names were not provided in line with German privacy laws.

The 32-year-old German-Moroccan Jamil S. was accused of being responsible for helping produce explosives, while 20-year-old German-Iranian national Amid C. and 27-year-old German citizen Halil S. are alleged to have had mostly logistical tasks. The men were arrested last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Elections: The Black Shadow of ‘Golden Dawn’

Far-right party soars in the polls driven by fear and crisis

(ANSAmed) — ROME — A black shadow is rising over the Greek elections: the extreme-right party of Chrysi Avgi, literally “Golden Dawn”, a name which bears a luminous symbol but whose ideas originate instead from a rather dark past. This is a faction which goes proud of presenting itself with thinly-veiled neo-nazi symbols and whose programme, due to the growing crisis, immigration and general fear, many Greeks seem to find attractive: that is, the hard-line against crime, expulsion of illegal immigrants, all in the name of a “clean” Greece.

Militants of Chrysi Avgi are dressed in black, have their heads shaven and boast an all too familiar logo (the Greek “meander” of which Chrysi Avgi’s version resembles a swastika) and are tireless in bringing forth their message of a secure and clean society with thousands of flyers sent round those areas of Athens where crime is on the rise and residents are exasperated.

They distribute food, clothes and shoes to the poor. Their proposals are very precise, such as putting landmines on Greece’s borders in order to stop immigrants from entering (90% of illegal immigration towards the EU passes through Greece).

They oppose themselves to traditional parties and believe that “the people responsible for the crisis must remain in jail”. The result is that polls appear to favour them: Chrysi Avgi , after 20 years at the margins of Greek politics, should probably gain 5% of the votes in the May 6 elections, compared to the 0.23% of 2009. In order to enter parliament all a party needs is 3%.

Golden Dawn are presenting 220 candidates in these elections.

The groups for the defence of migrants are accusing the members of Chrysi Avgi to have beat up several foreigners, also UNHCR in Greece reports an increase in racist aggressions, although every question on the use of violence is handily avoided: “ We do nothing more than protect Greeks” said one of the party’s candidates Epaminondas Anyfantis in a recent interview. “Now, if in protecting Greeks a foreigner gets a slap or a kick, I believe it’s all part of the plan for protection… simply because Greeks by now have to turn to Golden Dawn for protection. We’re not politicians, we’re soldiers who are fighting for a cause.” If accused of simply being masqueraded neo-nazis, the militants of Chrysi Avgi reply saying that they are simply “nationalist Greeks” and that many of their fathers took part in the resistance against the Nazis. Their leader Nikolas Mihaloliakos, who in 2010 won a seat in the Athens council, shocked the public by making a fascist salute at his first appearance in the committee. Later, he was quoted with statements such as “Hitler is one of the great personalities of history”, whereas in a video in support of his electoral campaign, he affirmed his intention to reintroduce the death penalty for drug dealers and to ban trade unions. Extremist messages which, in this extreme situation for many Greeks, could gather an unexpected popular support.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Pedophilia: 9 Yrs and 6 Mths to Father Riccardo Seppia

(AGI) Genoa — The preliminary hearings magistrate Roberta Bossi of the Court of Genoa has sentenced this morning Father Riccardo Seppia, former parish priest of the Spirito Santo parish of Sestri Ponente to 9 years and 6 mths in prison.

Father Riccardo Seppia will be prosecuted. He is sentenced for attempted sexual violence on minor, attempted prostitution of minors, attempted cession of drugs to minors and the detention of pedophile pornographic material. The preliminary hearings magistrate has almost entirely met the demand of public prosecutor Stefano Puppo for 11 years and 8 months in prison.

Father Riccardo Seppia has been acquitted for only one offence, the detention of pedophile pornographic material. The preliminary hearings magistrate has considered the attempted sexual violence as an offence that has been committed. Father Riccardo Seppia’s lawyer, Paolo Bonanni had asked for the acquittal of all charges except for the cession of drugs.

Father Riccardo Seppia is also accused of having touched an alter boy and of having offered drugs to a minor in exchange of sexual intercourse and of giving drugs to his friend Emanuele Alfano. The former parish priest has been in jail since May 2010. Starting from today he will have to stay in prison for 8 years and 6 months.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Arrest Sought for Senator Luigi Lusi

Wife, two associates under house arrest

(ANSA) — Rome, May 3 — Rome prosecutors on Thursday requested that the Senate authorize the arrest of Senator Luigi Lusi for alleged fraud after placing his wife and two of his associates under house arrest. Lusi, of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), is suspected of embezzling millions of euros out of the coffers of La Margherita, a party that merged with the reformed rump of Italy’s old Communist party in 2007 to form the PD, when he was its treasurer.

His wife Giovanna Petricone and two accountants were charged with conspiracy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Grappa Wins New Fans at Home and Abroad

Spirit increasingly being used in cocktails

(ANSA) — Pavia, May 3 — Gently press a dozen mint leaves, a spoonful of lime juice, and a healthy dose of sugar together at the bottom of a glass, and you are on your way to a refreshing summer cocktail. “Just add soda, ice and grappa,” says Cesare Mazzetti, president of Italy’s National Grappa Institute. “Not rum. That would be a mojito. This is a moschito,” he tells ANSA in an interview. The drink is among the many new cocktails popping up in Italy that are made with grappa, the traditional grape-based brandy made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over from wine-making after pressing the grapes. Enjoyed straight, grappa packs a potent punch with an alcohol content of 35%-60% alcohol by volume, or 70 to 120 proof, prompting most consumers to drink it after a hefty meal.

Like wine, quality and price can vary, with finer varieties fetching over 100 euros, while most bottles cost less than 15 euros. Long a household item in Italy, a surge in international popularity — and overseas imitation — is bringing grappa into the mainstream. “Probably 10% of grappa on the market is not really grappa, but counterfeit,” says Mazzetti. He says there are myriad producers spanning from the US to South Africa who are cashing in on the grappa name. According to the European Union and the Italian government, only grappa made in Italy can rightfully be called grappa. The trademark is protected by the EU’s prestigious PGI certification, short for Protected Geographical Indication, which guarantees the unique qualities of foodstuffs and specialities which are made or grown according to traditional methods in specific areas. “Foreign producers might call it grappa, and it might even resemble grappa,” says Mazzetti, “but if it’s made outside of Italy it is by definition not grappa”. The distinction is one that most wine enthusiasts recognize when it comes to more famous examples. Champagne, for instance, is not really champagne unless it is produced in the northeast French region by the same name, according to the Franco-Italian agreement of 1948. The same agreement applies to cognac, which only really comes from the French town of Cognac. Yet countries outside the EU do not always abide by the distinctions. To raise awareness and to protect the 136 grappa distilleries in Italy, Mazzetti’s National Grappa Institute recently relaunched the website grappait.it where visitors can read, in both English and Italian, about the history, laws and upcoming events regarding the iconic Italian spirit.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Jewish and Israeli Students Attacked at Toulouse University Event

Toulouse — The president of the French Jewish student organisation has called on the University of Toulouse to combat antisemitism after a talk by Israeli students last week was disrupted by protesters shouting abuse, making threats and singing antisemitic chants.

The incident, which happened on April 25, occurred just over a month after three Jewish students and a rabbi were shot by an Islamist gunman in Toulouse.

The delegation of Israeli students from a non-political organisation were midway through a tour of French universities and had held successful events in Lille and Lyon before visiting Le Mirail campus, in the area where the Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah grew up.

They were at a stall on the campus and were handing out leaflets and chatting to students when a group of protesters arrived and began shouting at them through a megaphone.

“They began shouting anti-Israel slogans and saying that Israel was a criminal state,” said Sacha Reingewitz, vice president of the UEJF. “They said Jews should be exterminated and that Israel commits genocide.”

The protesters demanded that the Israeli group remove the Israeli flag from their stall and when the group refused, they took it down by force.

“Security had to intervene — it was very upsetting,” said Mr Reingewitz. “The protesters were saying ‘get out of here’ and they sang an antisemitic slogan in Arabic: Khaybar Khaybar is Yahud, Jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya’ud” (Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return).”

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Mission to Mars: Austrian Cave Sets Stage for Red Planet Voyage

Volunteers and professionals at the Austrian Space Forum are testing a prototype Mars space suit in a series of ice caves that provide conditions similar to those on the Red Planet. Humanity is still far away from a manned mission to the planet, but the enthusiasts here believe it will actually happen one day.

Schildhammer, who at 178 centimeters (5 foot 10 inches) tall and with a shoe size of 43 (US size 9) has the perfect dimensions for wearing a space suit, isn’t a real astronaut. In this case, he is able to get help from someone else, because he’s on Earth and not on the Red Planet. He is actually shuffling through a cave in Austria’s Salzkammergut region. Two assistants are able to easily remove his protective headgear and fix the problem.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Witness Tells of Breivik’s Island Arrival

Oslo — A witness in the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who is charged with the attacks in Norway that left 77 people dead, on Thursday testified how he had allowed him to board a ferry to the island where 69 of the victims were gunned down.

The 33-year-old Breivik has admitted to carrying out the bomb attack in Oslo and the shooting on the island of Utoya on 22 July but pleaded not guilty.

Simen Braenden Mortensen was serving as a security guard, stationed on the quay that links the mainland to the island of Utoya at the time.

“I remember I reacted when he arrived in a little van,” Mortensen said. “He was very calm and I noticed he had pistol strapped to his thigh.”

He said Breivik, who was wearing a fake police identification tag, told him he had been assigned to secure the island in the aftermath of the bombing that targeted government offices in Oslo.

Mortensen said he heard gunshots shortly after the ferry carrying Breivik arrived at the island about 650m from the mainland.

The court has earlier heard testimony that the manager of the island and an off-duty police officer acting as a security guard at a summer camp for Labour Party youth were the first victims.

The captain of the ferry, police crime scene technicians and survivors are among those called to the witness stand in the trial, which opened on 16 April.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



Swiss Must Stop Helping Tax Cheats: Top Banker

Switzerland must shed its role as a bank haven for tax cheats and end disputes with foreign tax authorities, the chairman of the country’s biggest bank UBS said on Thursday. “Switzerland ought not to be a financial centre for tax evaders. The financial sector cannot become involved in tax crimes,” said Kaspar Villiger, chairman of the board at UBS, in prepared remarks for the bank’s annual general meeting.

“For years, banking confidentiality was a key part of the Swiss financial centre’s appeal,” he added. “Other states are no longer prepared to accept their citizens evading tax in this way. This paradigm shift occurred unexpectedly quickly and with enormous force. Switzerland was forced on the defensive and has had to ward off attacks from all sides. “Banking confidentiality is increasingly losing its legitimacy.”

Switzerland has come under attack in recent years for the secrecy of its banking sector and charges it helped foreign clients evade taxes at home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Unrivalled Power of the French President

The French president enjoys powers unequalled in the democratic world, a situation strengthened by a decade-old reform that reduced the chances of “cohabitation” with a government of a different political hue.

France’s Fifth Republic in 1958 replaced a parliamentary system, which had suffered from a weak executive and governments falling in quick succession, with a system of strong presidents elected for seven-year mandates.

The president was initially chosen by an electoral college but, after a 1962 referendum, this was changed to direct election. The president of the republic is the head of the armed forces and has control of France’s nuclear deterrent. He or she negotiates with foreign powers and ratifies treaties.

The president can organise referendums on laws or on constitutional changes. He can dissolve parliament, and nominate the prime minister, ministers and other senior figures in the administration.

He also names three of the nine members of the Constitutional Council, including its president, which he can call upon to decide on the constitutionality of a law.

When the majority at the National Assembly is of the same political persuasion, the president is the effective head of the executive and can impose his views on the prime minister.

But during periods of “cohabitation”, as happened in 1986-1988, 1993-1995 and 1997-2002 when the president was from a different political party than the majority of deputies, it is the prime minister who has this role. Even then the president still controls foreign and defence policy.

The presidential term was reduced in 2002 from seven to five years to match that of the parliamentary mandate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Former MG Rover Workers to Receive Payout of Just £3 Each After Seven-Year Battle — Despite Its Former Owners Taking £42m

Former workers at MG Rover are to receive compensation of just £3 each after fighting a seven-year battle for redundancy payments.

Campaigners fighting for more money for the 6,500 employees who lost their jobs following the collapse of Britain’s last major car maker were told of the tiny payout this week.

When the firm collapsed in 2005, workers were told by the company’s owners that millions of pounds would be available for them in a compensation fund.

But, as reported by The Guardian, the fund has instead just £22,000 which needs to be shared among the thousands of workers whose jobs were lost.

Following news of the payouts on Monday, campaigners are now calling for personal donations to the workers’ fund from the ‘Phoenix Four’ — made up of John Towers, Nick Stephenson, John Edwards and Peter Beale.

The businessmen bought the company for just £10 in 2000 and then paid themselves and Kevin Howe, the managing director, a total of £42m.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Londoners Choose Between Ken and Boris in Mayoral Election

Londoners are going to the polls to decide who should run the British capital just months ahead of the 2012 Olympics there. Two of the country’s most colorful politicians have gone head-to-head for a second time.

Around 5.8 million voters have the choice of seven candidates, though the real race is between Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson, and veteran Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, among the few politicians known across the country simply by their first names. Some call the race the Ken and Boris show.

Local elections are underway in 180 municipalities nationwide, in which Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives are expected to lose hundreds of seats. But the scenario appears to be different in London, where most polls put Johnson ahead of Livingstone by 12 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Minicab Driver Raped Drunk Passengers and His Wife Even Tried to Bribe Victim to Keep Quiet

A married taxi driver who raped two drunken passengers has been jailed for 12 years.

Asif Iqbal, from Newport, South Wales, was convicted of raping the passengers — but police fear many more women may have been attacked on late-night rides home.

And his wife was also jailed for six months after admitting to perverting the course of justice by offering one of the victim’s money to withdraw her complaint.

Iqbal targeted women outside pubs and nightclubs, because he knew they would be drunk.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: The Middle-Class Medievalism of the Murdoch-Bashing Set

by Brendan O’Neill

The best way to understand the Culture Committee’s ferociously worded report on News Corp is to see it as modern-day dunking of a witch. This “nakedly ideological” document (as The Daily Mail describes it this morning) is the culmination of two years’ worth of Murdoch-mauling among the political elite and chattering classes. They have turned Murdoch into the cause of every ill in modern Britain, treating him as the corruptor of our body politic and the defiler of our public life. And now they have seen their favourite bogeyman finally humiliated, in unprecedented fashion, by a committee of MPs. The committee could have saved a lot of paper by just publishing the words: “Ding dong, the witch is dead!”

There is a medievalism to the fashion for bashing Murdoch. The way in which he is treated as the cause of political and social disarray, as the architect of modern Britain’s “heartlessness, coarseness and spite”, echoes the way “witches” were once held responsible for everything from crop failure to the waning of moral values. Reading the commentary of the anti-Murdoch set, it seems there’s nothing bad he isn’t responsible for. We are told that he has had a “malign influence on our politics for the past 30 years”; that he destroyed poor Neil Kinnock and with him the old Labour Party; that he has enslaved and brainwashed politicians, corrupted the cops, dumbed down British culture; that he has, in the somewhat barmy words of Tom Watson MP, created a “shadow state” which “intimidates parliament”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Thief Who Wept at the Prospect of Prison Because He’s a ‘Fussy Eater’ Has Sentence Reduced

A young thief who whinged that he could not go to prison because he is a ‘fussy eater’ today had his sentence slashed by appeal judges.

Unemployed dad-of-one Patrick Fairley, 20, burst into tears when told he might be jailed, saying it was impossible because he would not like the food.

But Fairley, from North Shields, was locked up for six months at Newcastle Crown Court in March after pleading guilty to theft.

Today, he appealed and had the sentence cut to 16 weeks by top judges, Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Treacy and Judge Peter Collier QC.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Macedonia: Five Ethnic Albanians Charged With Terrorism

Skopje, 3 May (AKI) — Macedonian police have charged five ethnic Albanians over a recent multiple murder and arrested 20 others in a series of raids, MIA news agency reported on Thursday.

The arrests were made in several villages around the capital, Skopje, police said.

Police found weapons, explosive devices, radio transmitters and uniforms of the ethnic Albanian guerrilla group the Kosovo Liberation Army which rebelled against Serb rule in 1998-1999.

The charging of the five suspects, the police raids and arrests were carried out in connection with the killing on 12 April of four Macedonian youths, aged between 18 and 22 and a middle aged man who were fishing at a lake near Skopje.

Of the five suspects charged with terrorism, three were ordered to be detained for 30 days while two others were still on the run, police said.

Macedonia’s state prosecutor Ljupco Svrgovski told media he would demand a maximum life imprisonment term for the five suspects if they are convicted.

Police minister Gordana Jankulovska told media the April murders were carried out in an effort to destabilize the small multi-ethnic Balkan country.

Ethnic Albanians make about 25 per cent of Macedonia’s two million population and mostly inhabit the western part of the country and the area around Skopje.

Ethnic Albanians rebelled in 2001, demanding more rights and regional autonomy, but the conflict was resolved through international mediation with the Skopje government agreeing to most of the ethnic Albanian demands.

Ethnic Albanian extremists in Macedonia have stepped up their activities in recent years, encouraged by Kosovo Albanians’ secession from from Serbia in 2008.

Serbia opposes Kosovo independence, but it has been recognized by over eighty countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 members of the European Union.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egypt: Islamist MP Backs Bill Allowing Girls to Marry at 14

Cairo, 3 May (AKI) — A bill to allow girls as young as 14 to marry should not be rejected out of hand, as girls in some areas of the country mature earlier, according to a Salafite member of Egypt’s parliament

“The bill to lower to 14 the minimum age at which girls can marry is plausible and is linked to traditions and the natural environment,” Abdel Hakim Masoud told Adnkronos International.

“There are areas of the country where girls reach physical maturity earlier,” Masoud said.

The bill was tabled by several lawmakers from the parliament’s religious affairs commission. Under current Egyptian law, girls may not marry before the age of 18.

“The idea of lowering the marriageable age is one to be explored, but the current climate in Egypt is not the the most favourable one for such projects,” said Masoud.

Tensions persist between the Islamist-dominated parliament elected in staggered polls last November and the ruling military council.

Two leading Islamist candidates suspended their campaigns on Wednesday ahead of this month’s presidential election after at least eleven people were killed and more than 160 wounded near Egypt’s defence ministry in central Cairo after armed men assaulted protesters demanding an end to army rule.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Egypt: Bloody Protests 20 Days Ahead of Cairo Elections

Armed group attacks Salafists outside ministry, dozens dead

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — There have been fresh protests and further bloodshed during another day of violence in Cairo.

Between 20 and 30 people are reported to have died — the official count stands at just 12 — while between 50 and 100 were injured in the clashes, which have come around 20 days before the election on May 23 and 24 of Egypt’s first President since the end of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The bloodiest episode involved a medical student, who had his throat slit by a large group of “baltageya”, hired small-time criminals, who attacked protesters staging a sit-in at the top of the main road leading to the Ministry of Defence. The same attackers also laid waste to the waiting room and the emergency unit of a hospital in the area where some of those seriously injured were being treated. Clashes also occurred in the city of Alexandria.

Hundreds of demonstrators, who had been protesting since Friday evening in Cairo’s central Abbasseya Square, were attacked at dawn by “unknown” assailants, as the official Egyptian media has described them, armed with sticks, knives, Molotov cocktails and rocks. The protesters, many of them Salafist supporters of Hazem Abu Ismail, the fundamentalist candidate excluded from the presidential race, others young revolutionaries from Tahrir Square, responded with rocks and Molotov cocktails of their own.

Many were seriously injured and some later died.

Only halfway through yesterday did soldiers and security forces intervene to break up the clashes, though rocks continued to be thrown beyond security lines, after news arrived from medical sources at field hospitals set up in the area that the number of dead and injured was growing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Libya: Life in Prison for Glorifying Gaddafi or Insulting Islam

The National Transitional Council adopts new laws. Assets belonging to the Gaddafi family and officials in his regime are seized. The Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic extremists determine the country’s political line.

Tripoli (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The Islamisation of Libya puts national reconciliation in jeopardy. Yesterday, the National Transitional Council (NTC) adopted a number of laws that include life in prison for glorifying Moammar Gaddafi, insulting Islam or denigrating the 17 February Revolution. For the Libya’s rulers, the country is still at war and such restrictions are needed to prevent it from beings destabilised ahead of next June’s parliamentary elections.

According to one law, disseminating information that harms state-building is an insult to the people that deserves incarceration. Another law seizes the assets of the late dictator’s relatives and those of former regime officials.

Experts note that since Gaddafi’s death and the capture of his son Saif al-Islam, Libya has fallen to Islamist extremists inside the NTC who want to impose Sharia on the country.

At the same time, Libyan villages and towns are flooded with weapons, local sources say.

As insecurity persists, people take the law into their own hands.

In the prevailing legal and law enforcement vacuum, organised criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation to traffic in food, weapons and money, as well as control aqueducts.

In order to stop extremism and tribal revenge, NTC leaders issued a law last week that bans political parties based on religion, tribe or ethnicity. Groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood have come out against it and tried to get the NTC to change the law.

Like in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are imposing their line.

Outlawed under the old regime, they quickly took over oil installations, presenting themselves as strategic partners to foreign companies brought to Libya by Gaddafi.

Backed and funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Brotherhood will run in the June election. Given its organisational strengths, it is likely to win.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Tunisian TV Mogul Fined Over ‘Blasphemous’ Film

A Tunisian court on Thursday fined a television mogul for airing an animated film construed as blasphemous by hardline Islamists, denting the country’s religiously tolerant image.

Nabil Karoui was found guilty of “disturbing public order” and “violating sacred values” after his television station Nessma aired the Iranian coming-of-age film Persepolis, which includes a brief scene depicting God.

The controversial case has polarised Tunisia, exposing a deep rift between the country’s secular and religious populations, and ripples from the verdict are likely to be felt across the region.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Bin Laden Files Reveal Al-Qaeda Leader Plotting New 9/11

Osama bin Laden planned to start a “new phase” for al-Qaeda a year before he was killed and wanted to launch another attack similar to 9/11, newly released documents from his hide-out show.

In a 48-page memo to Atiyah al-Rahman, one of the organisation’s senior commanders who was killed last year, bin Laden told him it would be “nice” if he could nominate “one of the qualified brothers to be responsible for a large operation in the US.”

The document was written in late May 2010 and was among a number published by the US Government’s Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Dubai’s Next Big Thing: The Underwater ‘Discus’ Hotel

The indebted shipbuilding arm of Dubai World, the conglomerate that triggered Dubai’s debt crisis four years ago, signed a deal to develop undersea hotels with a Swiss firm yesterday. Only a month after it sought insolvency protection in Dubai and Singapore to push through a $US2.2 billion ($A2.13 billion) debt restructuring, Drydocks World unveiled an agreement with BIG InvestConsult, which holds the technology rights, to build the World Discus Hotel.

The hotel, featuring a discus-shaped residential underwater building connected to another discus above water, will be funded by BIG, which is in talks with other investors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Osama Bin Laden ‘Plotting to Relaunch Al-Qaeda With New 9/11-Style Spectacular’

Frustrated by a series of setbacks and a western world distracted by the economic crisis, the al-Qaeda chief wanted a sharply honed comeback, which is detailed across 175 pages of plans and memos sent between the top echelons of his terrorist network and released by the US yesterday.

To bring down the infidel “tree”, bin Laden wanted disciples to “focus our saw on its American root”, ignoring even its “British branch” to avoid wasting limited resources. He also called on lieutenants to abandon plans for moves into Iran and possibly scale back operations in Pakistan and Yemen.

“I plan to release a statement that we are starting a new phase to correct the mistakes we made,” he said in a 2010 memo. “We shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis.” He lamented the PR disaster of killing Muslim civilians.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Syrian SSNP Leader’s Son Assassinated by Armed Hit Squad

(AGI) Damascus — Pro-Assad daily al-Baath reports the killing of SSNP Syrian Social Nationalist Party leader Ali Haidar’s son. Ismail and a friend were attacked by an armed commando at the al-Mahnaya junction along the road connecting Homs and Masyaf. Interviewed by press agency Sana the Ali Haidar dismissed condolences, arguing that “my son’s blood in worth just as much as that of any other Syrian citizen.” The SSNP leader also said “those who challenge us with weapons cannot scare or silence us, and will not put an end to our night and day work to restore peace and stability in Syria.” Haidar and three other leading anti-Assad figures signed a joint manifesto for “national dialogue, without foreign interference.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Yemeni Soldiers Repell Attack in South, 8 Al Qaeda Dead

(AGI) Sanaa — Yemeni soldiers have killed 8 Al Qaela of the Arab Peninsola militants who attacked their positions. The attack took place in the southern province of Abyan. The report came from sources inside the Defense Ministry, who clarified that the soldiers responded to fire from an encampment near Bajday, near Zanjibar, the provincial capital. The fighting between the army and the integralist militants Monday left 21 dead, of which 18 were Al Qaeda militants, in the area of the city of Abyan which the terrorist were attempting to seize.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Asia


‘Intolerant’ Indian State Mulls Ways to Curb Free Speech

Media activists in India say the Indian state is increasingly becoming ‘intolerant’ as the government finds ways to regulate media, in particular the social networking websites.

Last year, a Delhi court instructed social networking sites to remove derogatory content for allegedly webcasting objectionable material. India’s telecom minister Kapil Sibal faced a deluge of protests in the online world after he threatened that the government would be forced to take remedial steps if social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google failed to screen offensive material from their sites.

After a series of protests, the Indian government had to clarify its position by saying it was not planning to introduce a “Chinese-style” web censorship in the country.

Regulation of online content has been a hot topic in India for a while. In contrast to China, internet users in India enjoy largely unhindered access to the internet.

But in May last year, the Department of Information Technology brought in new rules placing the onus on social networking sites, such as Facebook, to “act within 36 hours” of receiving information about offensive content.

“The Indian state is becoming increasingly intolerant of criticism,” Sevanti Ninan, editor of the media watchdog The Hoot, told DW. “Last year, Google reported that it received requests from the Indian government to take down material related to criticism of certain politicians,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Taliban Attack Hotel in Kabul

Bombers target guesthouse after Obama visit

Taliban bombers killed seven people after a suicide car bomb exploded outside a heavily fortified guesthouse used by Westerners in Afghanistan’s capital yesterday.

Attackers in burqas also clashed with guards at Kabul’s Green Village complex used by the European Union, the United Nations and aid groups, officials said.

The terrorists announced the start of their annual “spring offensive” despite US President Barack Obama’s claims that the 10-year war was ending.

It raises fresh concern about insurgents’ resilience on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, as Nato winds down its combat presence in the next two years and hands responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

The Taliban said the assault was a riposte to Mr Obama, who hours earlier signed a new partnership pact in Kabul to govern Afghan-US relations after 2014 — a deal the insurgents dismissed as “illegitimate”.

Mr Obama said: “This time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end,” after bin Laden plotted the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Mr Obama flew into Kabul in secret on Tuesday night and signed the deal with President Hamid Karzai, cementing 10 years of US aid for Afghanistan after Nato combat troops leave in 2014. Most Afghans were asleep during the visit and he left after about six hours.

The Taliban said Mr Karzai had no right to sign the deal and accused him of selling Afghan sovereignty to the Americans. They vowed to continue their armed struggle “against all the contents of this illegitimate document until the full withdrawal of all invading forces and their puppets” — referring to the Karzai government.

The Green Village assault began some two hours after Obama left. Police said three attackers wearing burqas struck at 6.15 a.m. (01.45a.m. GMT), detonating a car bomb before clashing with guards. The interior ministry said seven people died, including at least six Afghans.

Mangled bodies were seen in the road, two vehicles were destroyed and nearby windows were blown out.

Health ministry spokesman Kargar Noorughli said 18 people were wounded and eight admitted to hospital.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said it was a message to Mr Obama that militants would continue to fight until all foreign forces had left the country.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Far East


Japan: Video: Lost Budgie Reunited With Owner After Reciting Address

The two-year-old budgie escaped from his cage in Sagamihara city, Kanagawa prefecture in Japan on Sunday when his owner accidentally left his cage door open.

Landing in the room of a nearby hotel, the bird was turned into the authorities before suddenly beginning to recite his precise address.

Brought along to a press conference by relieved 64-year-old owner of Fumie Takahashi, Piko-chan was asked by reporters, “What’s your address?”.

The budgie replied “Sagamihara-shi, Hashimoto” with no hesitation.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



US-Chinese Talks Open Under Shadow of a Dissident’s Fate

Senior officials from the US and China opened two days of strategic and economic talks on Thursday. But nobody wanted to mention what must have really been on their minds — the fate of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, along with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, is representing the US at the conference, raised the issue of human rights in her opening speech but did not refer to dissident Chen Guangcheng by name.

The US believes that “all governments have to answer our citizens’ aspirations for dignity and the rule of law and that no nation can or should deny those rights,” Clinton said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s tone was considerably more conciliatory than that of a Foreign Ministry spokesman who on Wednesday had demanded an apology from the US for allowing Chen to shelter at the country’s embassy in Beijing. President Hu said that given the two countries’ different perspectives, it was impossible for them to agree on all issues.

“We should properly manage the differences by improving mutual understanding so the differences will not undermine the larger interests of China-US relations,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Blond Hair Evolved Independently in Pacific Islands

Science can’t yet tell us whether they have more fun — but it has uncovered a new genetic change that makes people blond. And contrary to long held belief, it seems golden hair hasn’t simply been introduced across the globe by travelling tow heads, but instead evolved separately in different human populations.

Indigenous people of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific have some of the darkest skin pigmentation outside of Africa. But unlike most other tropical populations, they also have a high prevalence of blond hair. Up to 10 per cent of the population is fair haired, the highest proportion outside of Europe. Until now, this odd trait had generally been attributed to the introduction of blond genes by European explorers and traders in preceding centuries. “We originally thought, well that must be a Captain Cook allele,” says Carlos Bustamante at Stanford University.

Yet a closer look revealed that the genetics behind blond hair in Brussels are distinct from those leading to flaxen locks in the South Pacific.

Bustamante, Sean Myles and colleagues at Stanford discovered this after analysing saliva samples from 43 blondes and 42 dark-haired Solomon Islanders. A genome-wide scan pointed to a single strong difference between the groups at a gene called TYRP1. Further analysis revealed that a single-letter change in the gene accounted for 46 per cent of the population’s hair colour variation, with the blond allele being recessive to the dark hair allele. The blond mutation wasn’t found in any of the 900 other individuals sampled from outside the South Pacific (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1217849).

TYRP1 is known to be involved in skin and hair pigmentation in several species. In normally black mice, for example, a mutation in the gene produces light brown coats. A rare kind of human albinism is also caused by mutations in TYRP1, which produces reddish skin colour and ginger hair. TYRP1 isn’t, however, one of the genes that produces blond hair in Europeans. The novel blond mutation in Solomon Islanders is likely to have cropped up around 10,000 years ago, and it appears to be the same one behind blondness in Fiji and other regions of the South Pacific.

“Before this, everybody would have thought, blond hair evolved once in humans,” says Bustamante. “This tells us we can’t really assume that even these common mutations are common across different human populations. Non-European populations are critical to study to find mutations that may be underlying the vast phenotypic variation of humans.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Hunt for Aboriginal Men Who ‘Raped Two European Women Tourists at Gunpoint After Breaking Into Their Car’

A huge manhunt has been launched for three Aboriginal men who allegedly raped two European women tourists at gunpoint in central Australia.

The women, aged 21 and 28, were sleeping in their car near Alice Springs when the attackers broke into their car in the dead of night and sexually assaulted them.

Police declined to say which European country the women were from, but outback Australia is popular with young Britons seeking adventure in the dusty heart of the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigeria Market Bombing Kills at Least 34

An attack on a cattle market in northeastern Nigeria by gunmen armed with explosives has left at least 34 dead and the toll is likely to climb, an emergency source said.

“Thirty-four bodies were deposited at the hospital,” the official said on condition of anonymity of the attack late Wednesday in Potiskum because he was not authorised to speak publicly. He said the toll was likely to be more than 50 dead because families were also burying relatives’ bodies without bringing them to the hospital.

The attack Wednesday night in the city of Potiskum was said to be in reprisal for an incident earlier in the day, when a gang sought to rob the market but was fought off by traders who caught one of the attackers, police said.

The man who was caught was doused in petrol and a tyre was placed around his neck before he was burnt to death, according to police and residents.

“A group of gunmen armed with around 20 explosives and assault rifles attacked the Potiskum cattle market,” police spokesman Toyin Gbadegesin.

“They threw explosives and shot indiscriminately, setting fire to the market, killing lots of livestock and wounding many people, mostly cattle dealers.”

Police have not provided a death toll, but an emergency official said on condition of anonymity that 34 bodies were brought to a local hospital and some 22 other people were being treated for injuries.

He added that the toll was likely to be more than 50 because families were also burying relatives’ bodies without bringing them to the hospital.

Residents described a terrifying scene at the market usually crowded with traders, with scores of cattle burnt, the market razed and dozens of people killed.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Latin America


G-20 Summit is Not Just a Mexican Vacation

Although Los Cabos, Mexico is a fabulous vacation destination, Americans will pay no attention to the activities of the G-20 Summit there because they do not understand what G-20 members do or care, but they should. Even Congress pays scant attention to this group that was established in 1999.

Rebecca M. Nelson, an analyst in International Trade and Finance, made a wise suggestion in her report, “The G-20 and International Economic Cooperation: Background and Implications for Congress.” (Congressional Research Service, April 12, 2012)

“Congress may want to exercise oversight over the Administration’s participation in the G-20 including the policy commitments that the Administration is making in the G-20 and the policies it is encouraging other G-20 countries to pursue.”

Keeping in line with the idea of legislating retroactively, ex-post facto, the author suggests, “legislative action may be required to implement certain commitments made by the Administration in the G-20 process, and commitments made at the G-20 may shape the congressional legislative agenda.” In other words, unelected bureaucrats with agendas determined by lobbying groups have made promises at previous G-20 meetings. Said bureaucrats may now force legislators to implement their promises into law.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Guns in Murder of Mexican Lawyer Traced Back to Operation Fast & Furious

After a thorough investigation, Mexican officials have determined that the firearms used in the 2010 killing of lawyer, were connected to U.S. Operation Fast and Furious.

On October 21, 2010, drug cartel members kidnapped lawyer, Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez from his office. Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez, sister of the victim, was attorney general of the state of Chihuahua at the time of the kidnapping.

[…]

So far, weapons traced back to Fast and Furious have been recovered in eight Mexican states, many of which included the territory of the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Luis Fleischmann: The Future of Venezuela: “Chavismo Without Chavez”

Ever since announcing that he has cancer, the status of Hugo Chavez’s health and longevity has been an issue of great interest for those concerned about the future of Venezuela.

Understandably, it is logical to hope that Chavez’s death will lead to a better future as he is considered to be a man who carries a very dictatorial and inflexible ideology. Such ideology guides Venezuela’s domestic and foreign policy. Therefore, it is hoped that the death of the Bolivarian leader may lead to a more pragmatic approach with more democracy and less anti-Americanism as well as a more positive foreign policy.

This type of argument has no sufficient foundation on which to be sustained. Looking at history, we see that, in those countries where the death of a leader led to radical change was, in fact, an exception…

[Return to headlines]

Immigration


Anti-Racists Criticise Norwegian Musician

Norwegian NGOs are censuring singer-songwriter Hans Rotmo for being immigrant and Muslim-hostile following release of his new composition.

Mr Rotmo’s song, ‘Vi fra andre’, is allegedly a pastiche on a poem by Norwegian writer Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845) from 1841 called ‘Vi ere en Nation, vi med’, which advocates 17th May — Norway’s National Day — should also be for children.

However, the connections with Wergeland’s work become more clouded in the singer-songwriter’s version. Norwegian Centre Against Racism director Kari Helene Partapuoli thinks the text is mostly in “extremely bad taste” and “malicious at times.”

“The entire text is based on quite a few simplistic prejudices against immigrants and Muslims in Norway,” she tells Adresseavisen, “it is a cheerful mixture of misguided xenophobia and incorrect assumptions about the Muslim revolution.”

Mr Rotmo’s text reads, “We are from other states, we rejoice in our new country and will never leave it. We are from distant skies but are not visiting, even if we smell of marijuana and onion and speak strangely when we talk.”

Still intending to be satiric, it also mentions Norway having the bluest sky and most peaceful life, the good welfare state through NAV, and that Norway is a country where one can keep religion, tradition get a free phone, and housing.

“We cut and slice in mushrooms and vaginas, on girls and boys, and new converts. Circumcision is our culture, and we have more in store. We are a nation with the nation within the nation.”

“In a few years, you will see that we will start the revolution that many have talked about, yes talked about but that never arrived. Bash the bankers — to jest moy dom insch Allah — come on, then. We work hard and p**s and s**t, more than both the Norwegians and Brits. Every Turk, Mexican, and Pole is always broke,” the song concludes.

In an email to The Foreigner, Kari Helene Partapuoli writes, “Ridiculing immigration and criticism of Islam’s role in society is fine, of course, but I think Mr Rotmo is wide of the mark here. Although ridicule should have some basis in reality, Norwegian Muslims are also used to both hearing and enduring a lot.”

“I also think it is appropriate to remind Mr Rotmo that the vast majority of immigrants to Norway are immigrants from Poland and the Baltic countries. They come to work, and not to go to the NAV offices as he writes. Some are also badly exploited by the Norwegian employment market. Moreover, the trade union movement, which Mr Rotmo has sung so positively about before, has also involved itself in Eastern European workers’ rights.”…

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



Deport the GOP Establishment

Nearly three times as many Americans support reducing immigration as want it to stay the same, according to Gallup polls. A grand total of 5 percent of the population want to increase legal immigration — 10 times less than want to decrease it. I myself would like to deport the people responsible for our current immigration policies.

Our official policy is to turn away scientists in order to make room for illiterate Pakistani peasants who will drop out of high school to man coffee carts until deciding to plot a terrorist attack against the United States. That’s this week’s immigration poster boy, Najibullah Zazi.

Zazi’s own step-uncle said of him: “He was a dumb kid, believe me.” Our immigration officials said, WELCOME, ZAZI!… Oops, sorry Swedish scientists and nuclear engineers — no room for you.

In February, Zazi pleaded guilty in a plot to bomb the New York City subway.

One of his co-conspirators, Zarein Ahmedzay, was welcomed from Afghanistan to America because he was willing to do a job no American would: drive a cab. Where are you going to find an American with a driver’s license?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: GPS ‘Threatened With Legal Action’ For Taking Failed Asylum Seekers Off Surgery Lists

GPs have been threatened with legal action after removing failed asylum seekers from their surgery lists, research has revealed.

It emerged in an investigation which revealed that more than £40 million is owed to NHS hospitals by foreign patients who were not eligible for free care, research indicates.

The report by Pulse, a magazine for doctors, found that one surgery in Essex had been threatened with legal action after removing a Nigerian couple from their list after their asylum application had been turned down.

After receiving a letter from a firm of solicitors the doctors backed down and reinstated them. The manager of the surgery said they had been urged to do so by their local primary care trust.

The unnamed staff member said: “Someone at the PCT read the letter and panicked. Do we just register everyone who is illegal?”

Another practice in Leeds was also told not to remove illegal immigrants from its list when faced with a similar threats.

Freedom of Information requests by Pulse revealed the average unpaid debt for the provision of care to foreign nationals was £230,000 in the 35 trusts which responded.

If this figure was the same across all 168 English acute trusts, the total debt would be almost £40 million, the magazine claimed.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

General


Al Qaeda Wants You to Know It’s Nothing Like Anders Breivik

Infamous terrorist network Al Qaeda may be many terrible things but it’s no Anders Breivik.

That’s the message, at least, in the latest issue of Inspire, the English-language magazine published by the terror group and delivered to The Atlantic Wire by the Middle East Media Research Institute this afternoon. In the new issue, Al Qaeda editors devote an entire article to contrasting its brand of terrorism with the Norwegian mass killer in a piece titled “Do the mujahideen and Christian terrorists have similar goals?”

It’s pretty morbid stuff, but it’s hard not to chuckle at the straightforward way in which the Islamic terrorists try to calmly distinguish their killing of innocent civilians with Breivik’s killing of innocent civilians. Apples and oranges, they insist!

The argument consists of three points: First among them being the targeting of women and children. “It’s not like we target daycare centers and children schools or gatherings known to hold only women and children!” reads the article. Sensing a counter-argument, the writer prefaces that, “If someone says that our bombings in London and Madrid for example is proof that we target women and children then we say that we purposely target specialized institutions to not only send political messages, but to damage their economies.” It’s sort of pointless to debate the finer points of this but interesting, nevertheless, to see how delusional the Al Qaeda propagandists are.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



New ‘Unknowns’ Hacking Group Hits NASA, Air Force, European Space Agency

A new hacking group calling itself “The Unknowns” has published a list of passwords and documents reportedly belonging to NASA, the European Space Agency and the U.S. Air Force, among other high-profile government targets.

The group’s Pastebin post, released yesterday (May 1), includes names and passwords reportedly belonging to NASA’s Glenn Research Center as well as the U.S. Military’s Joint Pathology Center, the Thai Royal Navy, Harvard University, Renault, the Jordanian Yellow Pages and the Ministries of Defense of France and Bahrain.

Softpedia reports that the hackers also posted screenshots of some of the sites they breached, and that although the post was made public yesterday, some of the hacks date back to March.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120502

Financial Crisis
» Anti-Austerity Anger Sweeps Europe on May Day
» China Signs Deal to Increase Investments in Europe
» EU: Record Unemployment in Eurozone, 10.9%, Spain’s Top
» Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record
» Greece: Tourism May Shave 2-3% Off GDP
» Greece: Privatizations, Big-Money Sell-Offs Are Stalling
» Greece: Elections: A “Forced” Coalition Government
» Italy Must Thank Germany for Austerity Push, Monti Says
» Italy: Monti Attacks Objections to New Property Tax
» Tunisia: Public Enterprises Suffer 1 Bln Euros in Losses
 
USA
» Hidden Time Bomb in Genetically Engineered Foods
» Human Genes Engineered Into Experimental GMO Rice Being Grown in Kansas
» Maligned Fossil Fuels Engine of Economy
» Many Blacks Beat White Couple, Media Bury Attack
» Muslims Grow, Baptists Decline in Metro Orlando, Religion Census Says
» Muslims Bypass Mormons as Fastest-Growing Religion in Illinois
» Numbers of Muslims, Mormons Rising Sharply: Report
» Obama and His Serfs Wish to Keep America Impotent Until Socialism Rules
» Prom Night Without Boys in Hamtramck, Michigan
» Report: US Muslim Population Nearly Triples in Decade
» Stakelbeck on Terror: Public Schools Whitewashing Islam?
» The Forwardism Disease
» What Clause in the Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force US Into Obamacare?
 
Canada
» Maurice Strong Shills for Rio+20 From Canadian Newspaper Boardrooms
 
Europe and the EU
» Al Qaeda Planned to Hijack Cruise Ships and Execute Passengers, Reveals ‘Treasure Trove of Intelligence’ Embedded in Porn Video
» Archaeology: Ancient Necropolis Found in Path of Bulgaria’s Struma Motorway
» Austrian Govt to Boycott Euro 2012 Matches in Ukraine
» Austrian Ice Mummy’s Blood is World’s Oldest
» Belgium: University of Ghent Sets Sight on Space Gardening
» Bulgaria: ‘Landmark’ Roma Eviction Ruling Sets Precedent, Rights Group Says
» Close Orban Ally is Hungary’s New President
» Dutch Scientists Closer to Asthma Vaccine
» France: Sarkozy Prepares for Make-or-Break TV Debate
» France: Toulouse Tornadoes a Hit on YouTube
» Germany: Far-Right Provocation: Berlin Worried About ‘Muhammad Cartoon Contest’
» Germany: Salafist Muslims Arrested as Protest Turns Ugly
» Germany: Biker Sues BMW for 20-Month Erection
» Germany: Ikea Open to Compensate Talks With GDR Forced Laborers
» Greenpeace in Nuclear Smoke Bomb Attack
» ‘Inhabitants of Madrid’ Ate Elephants’ Meat and Bone Marrow 80,000 Years Ago
» Italians Arms Exports Up
» Italy: Florence Shops Busted for Tax Dodging
» Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers’ Secrets
» Muhammad Cartoons Shown in Germany
» Netherlands: Scrap Burqa, Dual Nationality Bans, Labour MPs Tell Minister
» Netherlands: Wilders Calls on Muslims to Leave Islam
» Norwegian Swimming Champ Dies in Shower
» OIC Deplores Wilders’ Book
» Romania’s New PM Strives for Political Stability
» Sardinia: Dog Visits Owner’s Tomb Daily
» Swiss Fear of Flying Boosts Therapists
» Swiss Solar Boat Finishes Historic World Tour
» Switzerland: Zurich May Day Rally Turns Violent
» The Good Göring: How a Top Nazi’s Brother Saved Lives
» The Stones Speak: Stonehenge Had Lecture Hall Acoustics
» Top Castle Getaways in Italy
» UK: London 2012: A Passport to Mayhem
» UK: Profiling Travellers Will Speed Up the Queues at Heathrow
» UK: Vote 2012: ‘Alienated’ Muslims Urged to Use Right to Vote
» Ukraine Boycott Calls Meet With Skepticism
» Violent Tradition: Mini-Riots in Berlin Mar May 1 Demonstrations
» Wilders Wants Netherlands Out of EU
 
Balkans
» Germany to Extend Troops’ Kosovo Mission
» Macedonia: Radical Muslim Group Involved in Macedonia Murders Arrested
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Salafis Sit-in Attacked, Deaths and Over 100 Injured
» Egypt: At Least 20 Died in Clashes, Hospital Sources
» Egypt:11 Killed in Attack on Cairo Anti-Junta Protesters
» Islamists Demand 45 Mln Euros for Hostages
» Kidnapped Italian and Spanish Aid Workers, Ransom Demand
» Tunisia: Solidarity With Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, Terzi
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» 6 Reserve Army Battalions to Egypt, Syria Borders
» Dexia Israel Offered to Discount Bank
» Israel Police: Unemployed African Refugees Turning Tel Aviv Beaches Into High Crime Spots
» May 1: Israel Military Radio Holds ‘Party’ For Trotsky
 
Middle East
» Jordan Weighs Two Offers to Build Nuclear Plant
» Syria: ‘Hit by Extremists’, Pro-Regime Victims Talking
» Turkey: Ankara Preparing New Constitution With Less Power in the Hands of the Military
» Turkey: Turkish Beauty Mag Ties Muslim Veil to Glamour
» UAE: Jail Term for Mosque Slur Engineer Replaced by Fine
 
Caucasus
» Chechen Women in Mortal Fear as President Backs Islamic Honor Killings
 
South Asia
» A Year After Bin Laden’s Death, US-Pakistani Ties Still Difficult
» Afghanistan: Obama Vows to ‘Finish the Job’ In Afghanistan
» Afghanistan: Obama’s Midnight Dash to Kabul Shows That He Dare Not Visit the Place in Daylight
» Indonesia: Photo Exhibition Displays the Integration of Islam in Germany
» Myanmar Democracy Advocates Enter Parliament
» Pakistan: Lahore Fort: Restricted Access the Price of Public Vandalism
» President Obama Promises End to Afghanistan War
» Srdja Trifkovic: Obama in Afghanistan
» US Drone Strikes Are Likely to Increase Post 2014, Say Experts
 
Far East
» A Glimpse of North Korea: Travels in the Empire of Kim Jong Un
» China Seeks High-Tech Weapons, ‘Respect’ On EU Visit
» North Korea’s ‘Jamming’ Capability Poses Fresh Threat to Seoul’s Security
 
Australia — Pacific
» Senator Caught in Muslim Slur Row
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Motives Varied in Flare-Up of African Terrorism
» South Africa, Saudi Arabia Deepen Ties
 
Latin America
» EU Urges Bolivia to Compensate Spain Over Electricity Grab
» Spanish Press Sees Dangers in Latin American Expropriations
 
Immigration
» Aussies Asked to Take in Asylum Seekers and be Paid for it
» Greece: UNHCR Has Reservations on New Center
 
Culture Wars
» Dalton McGuinty’s Anti-Bullying Partner Calls the “Bible Bull S—t”
 
General
» Monster Black Hole Caught Swallowing Unlucky Star

Financial Crisis


Anti-Austerity Anger Sweeps Europe on May Day

May Day protesters poured into streets across Europe on Tuesday, swept up in a wave of anti-austerity anger that threatens to topple leaders in Paris and Athens.

From the eye of the eurozone debt storm in Madrid to the streets of Paris and Athens, where tottering governments face elections within days, marchers spoke of job losses, spending cuts and hard times.

More than two years after the eurozone sovereign debt crisis erupted, frustration with austerity is boiling over across the continent as voters wait in vain for signs of the economic pay-off.

In Spain, suffering the industrialised world’s highest jobless rate of 24.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, the major unions called protests in about 80 cities.

Tens of thousands massed in central Madrid’s Neptuno square, decrying the jobless queue, new labour reforms that make it easier and cheaper to fire workers, and a budget squeeze in health care and education.

“Total Violence, You Are Robbing Us of Home and Bread!” read a banner brandished by 51-year-old Josefa Martinez Fernandez, who said her two daughters in their 20s were out of work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



China Signs Deal to Increase Investments in Europe

China and Belgium set up an investment fund to pump more Chinese money into leading European firms Wednesday during a visit by premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang.

The fund, with capital of 17 million euros, will “invest along with Chinese companies in European groups,” said a statement by China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s sovereign fund, Belgium’s federal investment and participation group (SFPI/FPIM) and A Capital, the a fund manager specialising in investments between China and Europe.

“SFPI’s 8.5 million euros will be destined for projects in Belgium, the remainder possibly invested elsewhere in Europe,” a Belgian government source told AFP.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU: Record Unemployment in Eurozone, 10.9%, Spain’s Top

People under 25 the most affected, half of them in Greece

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Another unemployment record in the Eurozone, totalling 10.9% in March. According to the data published by Eurostat in the 17 member EU 17.36 mln people are unemployed, that is, 169,000 unemployed more than in the previous month. The country most affected by unemployment increase is Greece (unemployment was at 14.2% in January 2011 and at 21.7% in January 2012) followed by Spain, currently the EU’s negative unemployment record (unemployment was at 20.8% in March 2011 and at 24.1% in March 2012) and Cyprus (unemployment was at 6.9% in March 2011 and at 10% in March 2012). In the 27-member EU the unemployment rate in March remained unaltered over February, totalling 10.2%; however, unemployment is higher over March 2011, when it was at 9.4%. Europeans under the age of 25 were the most affected, with a 22.6% share of unemployed in the Eurozone and 22.1% in the 27-member EU. Greece and Spain have the absolute negative record; in these countries, half of the population under the age of 25 is unemployed (51.2% in January 2012 and 51.1% in March 2012 respectively). Also Portugal and Italy have among the highest unemployment rate, with 36.1% and 35.9% of unemployed young people respectively.

The gap with EU countries where the unemployment rate is lower such as Germany (7.9%), Austria (8.6%) and Holland (9.3%).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Eurozone Unemployment Hits New Record

There was more grim news for the 17-nation eurozone on Wednesday (2 May) as new figures showed that the unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent in March with a further 169,000 people losing their jobs compared to February.

The figure — translating into 17.4 million looking for work in the eurozone and the highest rate since the euro’s introduction in 1999 — is up from 10.8 percent in February of this year and 9.9 percent in March 2011.

The highest jobless rate was recorded in Spain — currently battling for a sharp reduction in its budget deficit — at 24.1 percent, followed by bailout counties Greece (21.7 percent in January) and Portugal (15.3%). Meanwhile, the third largest euro economy Italy, also in the throes of budget cuts, recorded a 12-year unemployment high of 9.8 percent.

The figures are likely to fuel the current debate in the EU about whether policies to date have exacerbated the crisis by focussing too much on debt reduction through austerity measures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Tourism May Shave 2-3% Off GDP

Drop in revenues to cause loss of up to 100,000 jobs in 2012

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) could go down two to three percentage points (or 4-6 billion euros) by the end of the year, and up to 100,000 jobs will be lost if tourism revenues drop by 10 to 15% this year compared to last year, according to the head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Giorgos Tsakiris. Similarly — as daily Kathimerini reports -, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) estimates that the targets of 16 million arrivals and 10 billion euros of revenues set for the industry for 2012 are impossible, especially when one considers that the figures of the first couple of months compiled by the Bank of Greece have shown a drop in both. “Sector professionals are trying by themselves, without any state support mechanism or reaction strategy, to tackle an emerging trend of decline in tourism revenues that could reach up to 10-15%,” the head of the hoteliers’ chamber told Kathimerini. He stressed that the considerable downturn in bookings so far this year illustrates the haphazard response to tourism issues that the state has shown time and again. SETE added that the 44.7% drop in revenues in January and February 2012 year-on-year and the 11.1% slump in arrivals are estimated to have continued at roughly the same rate for March and April, given that the necessary measures and structural changes have to a great extent not been applied in practice, while the economic crisis in Europe has deteriorated. “A country like Greece that lives on tourism should maintain its value-added tax on this product at the same level as its direct competitors, i.e. at 5 to 8%,” said SETE president Andreas Andreadis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Privatizations, Big-Money Sell-Offs Are Stalling

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — The quarterly report compiled by the state privatization fund (TAIPED) for the January-March period expresses optimism about the progress of its work, but also features a list of sell-off projects that will have to be postponed. The survey — as daily Kathimerini reports — announces the start of the process for the sale or utilization of nine state properties in the second quarter of the year, including the utilization of ports and marinas that had originally been planed for the third quarter. On the other hand those companies burdened with state subsidies, such as gaming company OPAP and Public Power Corporation (PPC), will face delays, even though they were expected to fetch considerable amounts of much-needed cash. However, the process of privatizing Hellenic Post (ELTA) has been brought forward, as the European Commission has deemed that the state subsidies it has received are compatible with European Law. Similarly the utilization of the Egnatia Odos highway across northern Greece is approaching as it is not bound by concession contracts, unlike other highways.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Elections: A “Forced” Coalition Government

Only solution to keep the country from default

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — Greece’s new government that will be elected in the ballot of May 6 will almost certainly be a “forced” coalition government formed by the two largest parties, Nea Democratia (centre-right ) and the socialist Pasok party, because this appears to be the only solution able to keep the country from a default and allowing it to stay in the EU. In fact, according to the six most recent polls — the figures of which cannot be published by law less than 15 days before the vote — the upcoming elections will radically change Greece’s political stage, reaching a goal that has never been reached before due to the absence of a more just electoral law (never supported by the two largest parties): the end of the two-party system and the formation of a new political culture on the way a modern country should be ruled. In the past one of the country’s two largest parties always won the elections: Pasok, created by Andreas Papandreou, or Nea Dimocratia, founded by Constantinos Karamanlis. The two political parties alternated power in Greece for nearly four decades with results everyone can see: a destroyed Greek economy, as well as other problems. All six surveys confirm that probably ten parties will be represented in the new parliament instead of five, which shows that the only option to rule Greece will be to form a coalition government. But the polls have also found a clear contradiction in the electorate: despite the fact that most voters (around 75%) say that they want a Pasok-Nea Dimocratia coalition — which would guarantee that the austerity measures will continue to be implemented, allowing Greece to stay in the eurozone — at the same time a majority of people state they will not to vote for either of these, but for one of the parties that have spoken out against the Memorandum. Meanwhile the debate between the leaders of the two majority parties, Pasok’s Evangelos Venizelos and Antonis Samaras of Nea Dimocratia is becoming more and more heated. But both leaders know very well that the result of the election will force them to work together.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy Must Thank Germany for Austerity Push, Monti Says

Economy ‘would be drifting into space’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 2 — Italian Premier Mario Monti said Wednesday that while he would urge Germany to adopt its positions on the euro crisis, Italy owed the country a debt of gratitude for its austerity drive. “We must persuade Germany, but we must also thank it,” he said. “Without the current (budget) constraints, the Italy of today would be a country drifting off into space, which is still possible”. The German government said last week it was trying to find common ground with Italy on a plan to stimulate growth in Europe, which most economists and heads of government now agree is necessary after having first implemented austerity packages.

Last week European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi, who is Italian, called on Europe to agree on a pact for growth and on individual member states to be more ambitious in introducing structural economic reforms to promote it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she agreed with Draghi’s appeal.

The Italian premier’s emergency government of non-political technocrats has made fixing the economy its top priority in the wake of the euro crisis which led to ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation last November.

The Milan bourse dropped 2.6% to 14,213 points on Wednesday as the spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds was 394 at the close of trading. The yield, another important indicator of investor confidence in Italy’s ability to pull out of the crisis, was 5.55%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Monti Attacks Objections to New Property Tax

(AGI) Rome — Prime Minister Mario Monti has ejected all requests involving all conscientious objections to the new property tax (IMU). “This is a country that doesn’t like taxes very much, but as a representative of the government there are some statements that is my duty to declare unacceptable, such as the invitation not to pay the IMU tax,” said Monti at the Italianieuropei Conference. “We will apply increasing pressure against tax evasion,” he promised, “and those who do not pay tax deserve to be treated far more rigorously by the community.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Public Enterprises Suffer 1 Bln Euros in Losses

Finance Ministry report paints alarming picture

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 2 — The winds of economic crisis are hitting Tunisian state-owned enterprises as well, which continue to rack up heavy losses. This was seen in the data provided by Tunisian Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi, who said that at the end of 2010 (the most recent figures currently available), public enterprises had accumulated losses of over two billion dinars (about a billion euros). The communication was made during the question time held in the Constituent Assembly. The public sector which had seen the largest losses was connected with regional public transport services. Heavy losses were also felt by the Al Fouledh company (specialised in the metallurgical industries) and the structures involved in cereal trade and production.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

USA


Hidden Time Bomb in Genetically Engineered Foods

One of the two traits that accounts for practically all of the genetically modified (GM) crops grown in the world today gives plants resistance to glyphosate (a chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, among others).

Dr. Don Huber, a plant pathologist of 50 years standing has determined that extensive use of these toxic herbicides has caused a novel organism to appear.

Last year he wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, in which he explained that this new infectious agent had been discovered — one that is “widespread, very serious, and in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn.” He made an appeal for funds to continue the research, and asked that the approval of genetically engineered alfalfa be delayed until more research could be completed.

His appeal fell on deaf ears and GE alfalfa was subsequently approved, despite vigorous opposition by the organic community.

[…]

“When they use the glyphosate-tolerant technology, they insert another gene that keeps that plant’s defense mechanism going somewhat so you can put the glyphosate directly on the crop plant without having it killed.

But the technology doesn’t do anything to the glyphosate, which is still tying up mineral nutrients,” Dr. Huber explains in the featured articleii.”Anytime you put the gene in, you reduce the nutrient efficiency of the plant, though not to the point that it destroys the ability of the plant to survive. [But] it does leave it physiologically impaired… It’s not quite analogous, but you could say that what you’re doing with glyphosate is you’re giving the plant a bad case of AIDS. You’ve shut down the immune system, or the defense system.”

“Any time you have a single gene in so many different crops, especially a gene that impacts the normal resistance and defense mechanism in the plant, and you spread that same vulnerability across so many plants, you should anticipate a high level of vulnerability. I think that’s what we’re seeing.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Human Genes Engineered Into Experimental GMO Rice Being Grown in Kansas

(NaturalNews) Unless the rice you buy is certified organic, or comes specifically from a farm that tests its rice crops for genetically modified (GM) traits, you could be eating rice tainted with actual human genes. The only known GMO with inbred human traits in cultivation today, a GM rice product made by biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience is currently being grown on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas — and possibly elsewhere — and most people have no idea about it.

Since about 2006, Ventria has been quietly cultivating rice that has been genetically modified (GM) with genes from the human liver for the purpose of taking the artificial proteins produced by this “Frankenrice” and using them in pharmaceuticals. With approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ventria has taken one of the most widely cultivated grain crops in the world today, and essentially turned it into a catalyst for producing new drugs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Maligned Fossil Fuels Engine of Economy

According to the Congressional Research Service, overall energy consumption has tripled in the U.S. since 1950, per capita consumption increased 50 percent, and electricity consumption increased even more rapidly. The heaviest energy user, the industrial sector, grew the slowest. From 1973 to 2010, “the consumption of electricity remained close to 0.4 kwh per constant dollar of GDP.” Annual power generation now is ten times larger than in 1950.

“Renewable sources (except hydropower) continue to offer more potential than actual energy production, although fuel ethanol has become a significant factor in transportation fuel. Wind power has also grown rapidly, although it still contributes only a small share of total electricity generation.” (Carl E. Behrens and Carol Glover)

The reality is simple: renewable energy is not sufficient to power the largest economy any time soon. I am yet to drive a wind or solar powered car. Electric cars, if they do not “brick” themselves (the engine dies and must be factory rebuilt for $40,000), do not go very far between charges. Hybrids do not get the mileage per gallon claimed and their batteries are toxic to the environment.

[…]

According to Joe Miller, “Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. The seven endangered islands in the Arctic Ocean and Baring Sea include one large island the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.” The Russians are going to get Wrangel, Bennett, Jeannette, Henrietta, Copper Island, Sea Lion Rock, and Sea Otter Rock and “tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich sea beds surrounding the islands.” Estimates by The Department of Interior include billions of barrels of oil.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Many Blacks Beat White Couple, Media Bury Attack

‘That is sad and disgusting. Someone should be fired or resign’

There’s outrage in Norfolk, Va., today after a white couple was attacked by dozens of black teenagers, and the local newspaper did not report on the incident for two weeks, despite the victims being reporters for the paper. Even today, the Virginian-Pilot did not cover the crime as news, but rather as an opinion piece by columnist Michelle Washington.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Muslims Grow, Baptists Decline in Metro Orlando, Religion Census Says

Metropolitan Orlando’s Muslim population grew dramatically in the past decade, gaining more than 25,000 worshippers since 2000, according to a new census of religions released Tuesday. Muslims were second only to Roman Catholics, whose numbers increased by nearly 64,000, the census found. Muslims now outnumber Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians in the Orlando area of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Imam Tariq Rasheed, director of the Islamic Center of Orlando, said the growth comes from Muslims moving to Central Florida from other American cities and from abroad.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Muslims Bypass Mormons as Fastest-Growing Religion in Illinois

Muslims have become the third-largest religious group in the state after Roman Catholics and independent evangelicals. Not to mention, the fastest-growing one. That’s according to a census of American religious congregations unveiled Tuesday in Chicago. This year, for the first time, the nationwide aggregation of religious traditions, dubbed the “Religion Census,” counted nondenominational evangelical congregations, ranging from storefront sanctuaries to megachurches with multiple sites such as Willow Creek Community Church. That calculation revealed that evangelicals affiliated with independent churches make up the second-largest religious group in Illinois. In fact, in 48 of the 50 states, independent evangelicals occupy a top-five spot. In the Chicago area, Illinois and nationwide, Roman Catholics rank as the largest religious group. With 176 religious traditions, Illinois slipped from its top spot as the most religiously diverse state in 2000, falling to Pennsylvania with 184. Religious leaders and sociologists welcomed the bird’s-eye view of America’s religious landscape as a helpful tool for determining where to evangelize and understanding where certain religious traditions thrive. But some caution that the numbers and rankings shouldn’t be taken as gospel because religious groups apply different standards for counting adherents.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Numbers of Muslims, Mormons Rising Sharply: Report

(Reuters) — American Muslims grew in number over the past decade, outnumbering Jews for the first time in most of the Midwest and part of the South, while most mainline churches lost adherents, according to a census of American religions released on Tuesday. The number of Muslim adherents rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions, said Dale Jones, a researcher who worked on the study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama and His Serfs Wish to Keep America Impotent Until Socialism Rules

The Washington Times published an Editorial on April 20, 2012 titled, “Where’s the recovery?” It mirrored all the bad news on our supposed “getting healthy” economy along with the discouraging views of the economic fundamentals and new jobless claims creating long faces and nervous hair pulling, while smiles abound in our anti-American White House and among its inhabitants.

Believe it or not, all this bad news about the country that less than four years ago was considered the greatest nation in the world, is pleasing to our White House staff and all of its minions, czars and secretaries. Obama’s mission is to totally destroy America as the world has known it for the past two hundred and thirty plus years and see poverty and hardships abound where once the fruits of our forebears’ diligence and INTELLIGENCE (a commodity that is sorely lacking today) created prosperity and leadership for the entire world to follow.

People SHOULD be asking, where the recovery is; it is certainly costing the taxpayers huge sums of money to keep this charlatan in the Oval Office in spending money for his communist, socialist and Islamist buddies in the depths and pestholes of the world.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Prom Night Without Boys in Hamtramck, Michigan

Here’s a gushing look at the sharia-compliant prom in Hamtramck, Michigan.

With an interesting demographic note:

“Diversity was hard-won: The mosque, one of five in the city, was the subject of controversy in 2004, when some people strenuously objected to the city’s decision to allow it to broadcast prayers five times a day; the city ultimately prevailed, regulating the hours when the call may be sounded.”

“In sharp contrast to earlier immigrants, drawn by the once-thriving auto industry, a quarter of the residents now live below the federal poverty level.

No sense if these two items might be related. Interesting.

“At Hamtramck High, which has 900 students, many non-Muslims respectfully tuck away their food and water bottles during Ramadan. The prom reflects a broad cultural shift. “

Not capitulation, but a respectful cultural “shift”.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy [Return to headlines]



Report: US Muslim Population Nearly Triples in Decade

A 2010 survey shows the Muslim population in the US has risen from 1 million to 2.6 million in 10 years

A census of American religions released Tuesday showed the Muslim community in the United States has grown in the past decade.

According to a study carried out by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the number of Muslims in America rose to 2.6 million in 2010 from 1 million in 2000, fueled by immigration and conversions.

Muslims now outnumber Jews in many parts of the American South and Midwest, but Christians remain the largest group in every state.

The number of Mormons with the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grew by 45 percent to 6.1 million in 2010.

Among the other major US faiths, the Southern Baptist Convention held steady at 19.9 million over the decade, the United Methodist Church lost 4 percent down to 9.9 million adherents, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lost 18 percent to 4.2 million, and the Episcopal Church lost 15 percent of its adherents to 1.95 million.

Among major religions, the census found the number of Catholics, the largest single faith, declined 5 percent to 58.9 million during the decade. In the New England region, Catholic funerals outnumber baptisms.

However, the overall number of evangelical Protestant congregations continued to grow, albeit slowly, to 50 million adherents. Most of the growth was in urban areas and the vast majority of expanding congregations have fewer than 100 members.

Elsewhere, Buddhists made strong gains in the Rocky Mountain States

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Stakelbeck on Terror: Public Schools Whitewashing Islam?

In former years, American public schools taught students that Nazism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies should be opposed.

But when it comes to the current war with Islamic jihadists, public schools are taking a much different course.

According to a shocking new report by ACT for America Education, textbooks used by American students in grades 6 thru 12 are teaching a white-washed version of jihad, Islamic sharia law, Muhammad, Israel, 9/11 and much more.

Click the link above to watch the new episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, in which I interview ACT for America Education Exec. Director Guy Rodgers about the textbooks report.

And for my shorter version on the subject from today’s 700 Club, click here.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]



The Forwardism Disease

Forwardistan is not some enigmatic place, it’s Lenin’s Russia, Mao’s China, O’Malley’s Maryland and Obama’s America.

The Obama slogan for 2012 is in and it’s “Forward”, which is a compact version of that old classic, “Don’t change horses in the middle of a stream” that every incumbent is forced to run on sooner or later. Forward implies that there’s no alternative but to go backward, which is a place that no right-thinking person wants to go.

The left has always been enamored of “Forwardism” or “Progressivism” which mean much the same thing. Before MSNBC had Lean Forward, Mao had the Great Leap Forward which killed some 40 million people, far more people than MSNBC can ever dream of tuning in to their programs.

When Lenin wanted to launch his own newspaper, he called it, “Vperod” or Forward. The name still lingers on among the left and appears on the mastheads of newspapers across the world. It’s Vorwarts in Germany, Voorwarts in the Netherlands and Ila al-Amam in the Arab world. Back in New York it’s The Forward, the venerable blotting paper of the Jewish left.

[…]

Picking “Forward” as his campaign slogan puts Obama in good company with the likes of Lenin and Mao, and it sounds positive until you stop and realize that it’s meant more as an order than a suggestion. There’s a reason most leftist newspapers with that name add an exclamation mark at the end of it. It’s not a proposal, it’s a command. Lean forward, march forward, live forward and then die forward. We’ve burned the bridges, run up the deficit and trashed the economy so there’s no going back.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



What Clause in the Constitution Authorizes Congress to Force US Into Obamacare?

Harvard Law School was embarrassed recently when one of its graduates, the putative President of the United States, demonstrated that he was unaware that the supreme Court has constitutional authority to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.[1]

And after reading a recent paper by Harvard law professor Einer Elhauge, one wonders whether the academic standards (or is it the moral standards?) of that once great school have collapsed.

[…]

Nothing! Over the Country at large (as opposed to the federal enclaves), Congress has only enumerated powers. These enumerated powers are listed in Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16 and in the Amendments addressing civil and voting rights. No enumerated power authorizes the federal government to force us into obamacare.

So, Professor Elhauge introduces a nasty bit of poison. He says:

“Nevermind that nothing in the text or history of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause indicates that Congress cannot mandate commercial purchases.”

Do you see what he is doing? Surely he knows that obamacare is not authorized by any enumerated power. So! He asserts that nothing in the commerce clause says Congress can’t force us into obamacare. He thus seeks to pervert Our Constitution from one of enumerated powers only, to an abomination which says the federal government can do whatever it pleases as long as the commerce clause doesn’t forbid it.

Furthermore, what he says is demonstrably false. The Federalist Papers & Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention show that the purpose of the interstate commerce clause is to prevent the States from imposing tolls & tariffs on articles of merchandize as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling. For actual quotes from Our Framers and irrefutable Proof that this is the purpose of the interstate commerce clause, see: “Does the Interstate Commerce Clause Authorize Congress to Force Us to Buy Health Insurance?” [url]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canada


Maurice Strong Shills for Rio+20 From Canadian Newspaper Boardrooms

One rarely heard from Strong after he hightailed it to China in the aftermath of the United Nations Oil for Food scandal. A country, according to Strong’s own words, graced by his presence at least 50 percent of the time.

When Strong resurfaced in the Land of the Maple Leaf this week, it was to attend editorial board conferences of the Ottawa Citizen and The Globe and Mail, shilling for next month’s Rio de Janeiro global summit known as Rio +20. It was the first Rio Earth Summit led by Strong that cast a no-going-back spell on society with the soon to be forced advent of ‘sustainability’.

Following the Strong editorial board meeting,The Globe and Mail, Canada’s business newspaper of record, blared out headlines that “China bests Canada in tackling climate change”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Al Qaeda Planned to Hijack Cruise Ships and Execute Passengers, Reveals ‘Treasure Trove of Intelligence’ Embedded in Porn Video

Al Qaeda planned to hijack cruise ships and post footage of passengers being executed online to pressurise governments to release particular prisoners, it has been revealed.

Documents embedded inside a pornographic movie, on a memory disc, show how the terror network wanted to dress tourists up in Guantanamo Bay-style orange jumpsuits before murdering them.

The audacious plan is just one of several plots discovered by investigators who decrypted the hardware found in the underpants of a suspected terrorist arrested in Berlin last year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Archaeology: Ancient Necropolis Found in Path of Bulgaria’s Struma Motorway

A large, 2,800-year-old necropolis has been found in the path of a highway that will connect Sofia, Bulgaria, to the Greek border. A silver earring, a pendant, and glass beads have been unearthed in the cemetery, which probably held cremated human remains in clay urns. Stone mounds built of imported rocks were also uncovered. The size of the necropolis may be explained by the two ancient settlements in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Austrian Govt to Boycott Euro 2012 Matches in Ukraine

Austria’s government said Wednesday it will boycott all Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine to protest at the treatment of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike. “No member of the Austrian government will attend these games, that is our mark of solidarity,” Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said after a cabinet meeting. Vienna wanted to send Kiev a political signal, he added.

The move follows reports that the German government was considering boycotting the Ukrainian matches over concerns for Tymoshenko’s well-being. The 51-year-old former Ukrainian premier was controversially jailed for seven years in October on disputed charges and has complained of beatings by prison guards.

Earlier this week, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann already announced he would not attend any Euro 2012 games in Ukraine, which is co-hosting the tournament with Poland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Austrian Ice Mummy’s Blood is World’s Oldest

Researchers studying Oetzi, a 5,300-year-old caveman found frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991, have found red blood cells around his wounds.

The body of the iceman was found frozen under the ice on the mountainous border between Austria and Italy by a hiker, sparking a bitter row between the two countries over which could claim ownership. In the end it was settled that Austria would get the body for the first five years — and would then hand it to Italy for the rest of the time.

Blood cells tend to degrade quickly, and earlier scans for blood within Oetzi’s body turned up nothing. Now a study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface shows that Oetzi’s remarkable preservation extends even to the blood he shed shortly before dying. The find represents by far the oldest red blood cells ever observed.

It is just the latest chapter in what could be described as the world’s oldest murder mystery. Since Oetzi was first found by hikers with an arrow buried in his back, experts have determined that he died from his wounds and what his last meal was. There has been extensive debate as to whether he fell where he died or was buried there by others.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Belgium: University of Ghent Sets Sight on Space Gardening

Researchers from the University of Ghent plan to explore ways in which astronauts can plant crops that will serve to provide food, oxygen and drinking water during extended space flights. This partnership with the European Aeronautical Organisation Esa is inspired by earthly ecosystems and will attempt to cultivate crops such as rice, wheat, potatoes, salad and tomatoes.

The project has been planned in various stages, starting with the cultivation on earth of seedlings in a closed system, followed by the same process on the moon and finally in space craft destined for Mars, and eventually on the planet itself. “These new technologies could also be applied on earth in view of environmental problems due to continuous climate change,” explains Benedikt Sas, professor at the expertise centre Food2Know at the university.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Bulgaria: ‘Landmark’ Roma Eviction Ruling Sets Precedent, Rights Group Says

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that evicting Roma from an established community outside of Sofia, Bulgaria, would violate the right to life. Amnesty International called it a “landmark judgment.” The Strasbourg-based rights court issued the ruling last week in favor of 23 Bulgarian nationals living in a settlement with about 250 other Roma.

The Roma had settled in Batalova Vodenitsa, on the outskirts of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, in the 1960s and 70s. The 1990s saw growing hostility against Roma in Sofia, including some politicians calling for the emptying of “Roma ghettos.”

Citing tensions with neighbors over the makeshift homes, which lacked building permits and didn’t fulfill safety regulations, a local court in 2006 upheld an eviction order by Sofia authorities after the land was privatized. The Roma, also known as gypsies, have been pushed to the margins of European society and have even become targets of persecution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Close Orban Ally is Hungary’s New President

Hungarian lawmakers Wednesday confirmed the appointment of European Parliament deputy, Janos Ader, a career politician and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as the country’s new president.

For more than 10 years, Ader was Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right- hand man — his lawyer and election strategist, a speaker of parliament and leader of the parliamentary group of the governing Fidesz party. But then, Janos Ader fell out of favor with Orban. In a move regarded as political exile, Ader spent the past three years in Brussels and Strasbourg as a member of the European Parliament.

Now, Viktor Orban has recalled the 52-year-old to Hungary and given him a special, though largely ceremonial, post as the next Hungarian president.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Dutch Scientists Closer to Asthma Vaccine

Dutch scientists have taken a major step towards developing a vaccine for asthma. Asthma occurs when cells in the lung react violently to what are actually harmless stimuli. The Dutch Asthma Fund announced today that researchers in Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam have discovered that certain chemicals can be used to manipulate the cells so they do not react to those stimuli.

Hermelijn Smits of the Leiden University Medical Center: Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Attacks of wheezing and coughing can be set off by stimuli including pets, pollen or another illness. Around 115,000 Dutch children suffer from asthma, making it the leading chronic illness among children.

Michael Rutgers, head of the Dutch Asthma Fund, is optimistic about the potential of an asthma vaccine but emphasizes that it could be another 10 or 20 years before it can be made available.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Sarkozy Prepares for Make-or-Break TV Debate

Nicolas Sarkozy will make a last-ditch bid on Wednesday to turn the tide against Socialist Francois Hollande when they go head to head in the French presidential election’s one and only television debate.

The duel comes a day after Sarkozy staged a huge rally to rival France’s traditional May Day show of force by the left and after National Front leader Marine Le Pen scornfully rejected his bid to woo her far-right supporters.

The president is expected to use the debate to portray his front-running rival as a dangerous left-winger whose tax-and-spend policies signal a return to 1970s socialism that will doom the already struggling French economy.

Sarkozy is generally seen as a better debater than Hollande but few expect him to be able to reverse the opinion polls that forecast the Socialist will clinch Sunday’s second round vote by around 54 percent to his 46.

Hollande will speak first in the debate to be broadcast live by several channels at 1900 GMT and which has been meticulously prepared — even down to the temperature of the studio — by media advisors of both candidates.

Hollande on Wednesday received advice from his former partner and mother of his four children, Ségolène Royal, who took on Sarkozy in 2007 when she was the Socialist candidate, in an election her right-wing opponent went on to win.

“The issue is not to let him (Sarkozy) escape his track record, because democracy is about knowing if one sticks to one’s commitments. He must not be able to sidestep his track record,” she told RTL radio. Hollande must “above all remain himself” and must “keep this debate on an elevated plane even if (Sarkozy) tries to drag him down,” she said.

Sarkozy’s UMP party was meanwhile engaged in debate about how far it should engage with Le Pen, who got the support of 6.4 million voters in the April 22 first round of the election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Toulouse Tornadoes a Hit on YouTube

Unusual spring weather in southern France has become an internet sensation — Toulouse tornadoes have taken YouTube by storm. The tornado was filmed by several inhabitants of the Muret and Seysses regions of south-west Toulouse Sunday night. Yellow in colour, it formed in the sky and came down to the ground in about five minutes, causing some damage to a nearby farm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Far-Right Provocation: Berlin Worried About ‘Muhammad Cartoon Contest’

A far-right group in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is running a ‘Muslim cartoon contest’ and plans to display the works outside mosques. The move has alarmed authorities which fear it could incite violence and hurt German interests abroad, similar to the backlash that followed the 2005 publication of cartoons in Danish newspapers.

The German government has voiced concern that far-right activists in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia may incite violence with plans to hold a so-called “Muhammad cartoon contest” and to stage demonstrations outside mosques in the run-up to a regional election there on May 13. SPIEGEL has learned that Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned of a confrontation between Salafists and right-wing extremists which he said could have unforeseeable consequences for public safety. Pro-NRW, which has been categorized as an extremist right-wing group by the domestic intelligence agency, has said it plans to display the cartoons outside 25 mosques in the state. Friedrich told lawmakers that this deliberate provocation would inflame tensions and lead to violent clashes, and that German embassies and companies operating abroad may also be affected, similar to the protests in Muslim countries following the publication in 2005 of Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany: Salafist Muslims Arrested as Protest Turns Ugly

Police arrested 81 people on Tuesday after a Salafist Muslim protest in western Germany against a far-right group displaying cartoons of Mohammed outside mosques turned violent, with rocks thrown at police who responded with tear gas.

Around 70 Safalist Muslims showed up outside a mosque in Solingen, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where the anti-Islam grouping “Pro NRW” had set up a stand showing cartoons of Mohammed. Some were copies of the Danish cartoons which sparked global outrage in 2005.

Police made 44 arrests and confiscated a bag of rocks from a protester at the apparently unplanned protest, local paper the Rheinische Post reported on Wednesday. Prosecutors have since opened a probe on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and disturbing the peace, a police spokesperson said.

On Monday a state court lifted a previous ban on the “Pro NRW” group using Mohammed caricatures in their election campaign in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) — despite criticism that the idea was pure provocation, and amid fears of violence.

And while there were protests in a few of NRW towns, the city of Solingen was the most eventful, with Salafists draped in flags bearing Arabic script and chanting pro-Islam messages.

Police said the demonstrators were peaceful until some tried to break through the chain of officers encircling the group, outside of the town hall. Things escalated and stones were thrown at police, injuring three officers and one passerby.

A further 37 people were arrested after police searched the city’s main Salafist mosque shortly after the incident, bringing the total to 81. All have since been released.

The “Pro NRW” party had displayed anti-Islamic caricatures of Mohammed by Danish artist Knut Westergaard in Essen and Gelsenkirchen before the ban, though the police prevented demonstrations taking place directly outside mosques.

The party intends to send activists to 25 mosques throughout the state in the run-up to the North Rhine-Westphalia election on May 13, staging protests in Cologne, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Wuppertal and Solingen.

Interior Minister for the state Ralf Jäger spoke out about Tuesday’s unrest, calling for vigilance towards extremism of any sort, whether Salafist or right-wing.

Meanwhile, the creator of the cartoons Westergaard has tried to distance himself from “Pro NRW”, saying he supports freedom of speech and is in no way politically affiliated with the group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Biker Sues BMW for 20-Month Erection

Top German automobile maker BMW is facing a stiff legal challenge from an American man who claims a four-hour ride on one of their motorbikes left him with a permanent erection. BMW markets its cars and motorbikes under the slogan “Sheer Driving Pleasure”, and also boasts “Less emissions. More driving pleasure”, but Californian Henry Wolf says his life has been devastated by the after-effects of his BMW bike experience.

Wolf is suing BMW and saddle-manufacturer Corbin-Pacific for medical costs, emotional stress and loss of income after a fateful road trip on his 1993 motorbike. Wolf says he has had a constant erection for 20 months.

Wolf’s lawsuit says he is “now is unable to engage in sexual activity, which is causing him substantial emotional and mental anguish.” According to a report by US broadcaster CBS, Wolf bought a special ridge-like seat, meant to enhance comfort, for around $200 (€150).

But urologists dispute Wolf’s claim that his beamer is due to his Beamer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Ikea Open to Compensate Talks With GDR Forced Laborers

Ikea has said it will start talks with victims over compensation, if allegations are proven that forced laborers in communist East Germany made products for the Swedish furniture giant. Ikea said it was investigating claims that forced laborers in East Germany (GDR) made furniture for the company and that it was open to talks about compensation, if they were proven to be true.

“We would be happy to have a dialog with those affected and also with organizations,” Ikea Sweden spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson told the DPA news agency on Wednesday.

A Swedish documentary due to be broadcast on SVT public television on Wednesday evening alleges that political prisoners in communist East Germany were forced to work for Ikea. The Stasi archives, where the files of the East German secret police are collected, hold more than 800 documents from the years 1976 and 1989 — when the Berlin Wall fell — that refer to Ikea, SVT said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greenpeace in Nuclear Smoke Bomb Attack

A Greenpeace activist flew into a nuclear power plant near Lyon on Wednesday morning, depositing a red smoke canister on the roof of a reactor, in a bid to demonstrate French nuclear sites’ vulnerability.

The activist flew over the Bugey power station at about 7.40 this morning on a paraglider with motorised propeller, and put the smoke canister on the roof of one of the four central reactors in the compound. He then took off his yellow paraglider inside the station, where he was reportedly met by security guards.

Greenpeace France’s nuclear specialist, Yannick Rousselet, told Le Parisien: “We did this to demonstrate how vulnerable French nuclear stations are to air attacks, which no one has really considered. “Just a few days before the second round of elections, we want politicians to take into account this vulnerability and realise the enormous risk nuclear power poses in France.”

Sophia Majnoni, Greenpeace nuclear expert, explained to 24 hour news chanel iTélé: “This is a double risk — an aeroplane could crash or there could be a terrorist attack.”

Last December 11 Greenpeace activists managed to penetrate two other nuclear sites in France. Following the incident, interior minister Claude Guéant announced nuclear station security would be improved.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Inhabitants of Madrid’ Ate Elephants’ Meat and Bone Marrow 80,000 Years Ago

Elephant bones unearthed at the site of Preresa in Spain show that people ate elephant meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago. “There are many sites, but few with fossil remains with marks that demonstrate humans’ purpose,” said Jose Yravedra of Complutense University of Madrid. The researchers are not sure if the humans killed the elephant during a hunt, or if they scavenged its remains.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italians Arms Exports Up

5.28% rise in 2011

(ANSA) — Rome, April 24 — Italian arms exports rose 5.28% to 3.059 billion euros in 2011, the premier’s office said Tuesday.

Arms imports almost doubled to 760 million euros, it said.

The top receiver of arms was Algeria, with 477 million euros, followed by Singapore (395 million), Turkey (170 million), Saudi Arabia (166 million), France (160 million), Mexico (135 million), the United States (134 million) and Germany (133 million).

The United States was the top supplier, followed by France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Florence Shops Busted for Tax Dodging

Third of all stores caught without receipts

(ANSA) — Florence, May 2 — Law enforcement cracked down on Florentine shops for dodging sales tax on Wednesday, citing a third of all shops investigated. Tax police said 173 of 527 businesses were caught failing to issue a receipt over the course of a 10-day probe. Police also said they uncovered multiple other violations ranging from paying workers under the table, to counterfeit merchandise and unauthorized vending. With cash needed to balance the budget by 2013 and emerge from the debt crisis, Premier Mario Monti has launched a drive against tax cheats, who he says “are giving poisoned bread to their children”.

A campaign has featured a number of headline-grabbing operations among rich tourists in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Ligurian Riviera, shoppers at exclusive stores in Rome and Naples and nightclub owners in Milan.

Italy’s internal revenue agency has said that it will ramp up the pressure further by introducing a new system to find evaders by cross-checking incomes and spending by the end of June.

The tax agency last year estimated that around 120 billion euros’ worth of undeclared business was done on the Italian underground economy each year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Mass Grave Begins Revealing Soldiers’ Secrets

The bones of 20 men who were killed in battle during the Thirty Years War have been carefully extracted from a mass grave that was removed from the ground in two large blocks and transported to a laboratory for excavation and study. The grave was found outside the city of Lützen, where the battle was fought on November 16, 1632. Thousands were killed, including Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf. The bones show signs of wounds, including a blow to the head, and a lead bullet in a pelvis. Strontium isotope analysis of the bones will determine the soldiers’ home countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Muhammad Cartoons Shown in Germany

Salafists Attack Police at Far-Right Rally

A group of radical Muslims attacked police in the German city of Solingen on Tuesday during a far-right demonstration, injuring four. They were provoked by the anti-Islamic Pro NRW party, which displayed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Officials had warned that the publicity stunt could spark violence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: Scrap Burqa, Dual Nationality Bans, Labour MPs Tell Minister

Labour MPs on Wednesday urged home affairs ministry Liesbeth Spies to act according to her convictions and formally scrap draft legislation to ban the burqa and eradicate dual nationality.

Spies said in an interview with the Volkskrant newspaper earlier both issues are no longer priorities but plans to leave it up to parliament to decide what to do.

Spies, who is campaigning for the Christian Democratic party leadership, said: ‘Parliament wants to bin the dual nationality plans. And I would not shed a tear if that happened to the burqa ban either’.

The coalition alliance collapsed last month when Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-Islam PVV, pulled out after disagreeing with austerity measures. The dual nationality and burqa bans were PVV policies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: Wilders Calls on Muslims to Leave Islam

NEW YORK, 02/05/12 — PVV leader Geert Wilders has called on Muslims throughout the world to leave Islam. He made his call in a speech in New York, to promote his English-language book Marked for Death.

Wilders claims that his book explains that Islam is a “totalitarian ideology” and is an encouragement to freedom-loving Muslims to turn their back on Islam. “I support those who fight for freedom in the Islamic world completely. The Arab, Turkish, Iranian, Pakistani and Indonesian peoples have enormous potential. If they could free themselves of the yoke of Islam, if they could stop seeing Mohamed as their role model and if they could break away from the rancorous Koran, then they could achieve amazing things,” Wilders said in his speech.

With reporters, Wilders went into the political situation in the Netherlands last week when he caused the collapse of government by pulling out of the budget negotiations with the conservatives (VVD) and Christian democrats (CDA). Wilders calls this a difficult decision, but says he had no other choice.

“We are now concentrating on elections on 12 September. Our campaign will be on the need to revive our national sovereignty, as without this we cannot defend our identity and fight against Islamisation.”

Wilders said he was not planning to move to the United States. “I am really staying in the Netherlands and will campaign for the elections with very much enthusiasm and very much good sense,” he said yesterday on Radio 1.

A number of media suggested last week that Wilders might be considering an international career because his role in the Loer Hose appears to have been played out for the coming period. Former VVD MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali, also a fighter against Islam, moved to the US in 2005 and was subsequently named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential persons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norwegian Swimming Champ Dies in Shower

Norwegian world swimming champion Alexander Dale Oen has died aged 26 at a training camp in the United States, Norway’s swim federation announced on Tuesday. Dale Oen, who won the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke in the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, was found dead on Monday in a shower at a swimming pool in Flagstaff, Arizona, where Norway’s national swim team was training for the London Olympics. The cause of death was not immediately known.

The swim federation said his teammates thought he was taking an unusually long time in the shower, and there was no reply when they knocked on the door. When they entered, Dale Oen was found lying on the floor.

The team doctor tried to resuscitate him, as did ambulance paramedics who arrived within minutes to take him to hospital. “After more than an hour’s attempts to get his heart going, Alexander Dale Oen was declared dead at 9:00 pm local time,” the federation said. “We’re all in shock, this is like an out-of-body experience for the whole team here,” Norway team coach Petter Loevberg said.

According to Norwegian daily Aftenposten online, Dale Oen had spoken to his family on Skype earlier in the evening “and there was no indication then that he was sick.” Dale Oen became Norway’s first swimmer to win an Olympic medal when he won the silver in the 100m breaststroke in the 2008 Games in Beijing. He had been tipped as one of Norway’s best chances at a medal at the London Olympics in July.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



OIC Deplores Wilders’ Book

JEDDAH, 11 Jumada Al-Thani/2 May (IINA)-A Spokesman of the Islamophobia Observatory of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed dismay on the recent publication of a book titled “Marked for Death, War against the West and Me” by his author Mr. Geert Wilders, a Dutch Parliamentarian and a self-proclaimed activist against Islam.

The Spokesman reiterated that the new book is nothing but a repetition of Mr. Wilder’s campaign of hate mongering against Islam in abusing of his right of freedom of expression. Suffice it to say that his activities have been denounced and disavowed by the Dutch Government, Dutch Parliament, the European Parliament as well as the Council of Europe.

[Return to headlines]



Romania’s New PM Strives for Political Stability

After a vote of no confidence toppled the center-right coalition government in Bucharest, President Basescu has designated Victor Ponta as his new prime minister. He leads the new left-led Social Liberal Union.

The decision fell just hours after the vote of no confidence submitted by the opposition.

Six months before regular parliamentary elections scheduled for November, Prime Minister-designate Victor Ponta lost no time, announcing plans to unveil his government line-up on Tuesday.

“There’s no reason to panic,” President Traian Basescu said after the collapse of Mihai Razvan Ungureanu’s center-right government. “This is all happening in a democratic framework and is under control, as far as the security of our state is concerned.” He also said Romania’s finance ministry has “substantial reserves that can cope with any event.”

Basescu’s decision took his supporters by surprise: just last year, the president declared he would never name the head of the Social Democrats Prime Minister. But Romania’s president defended his choice as “completely legitimate” because Ponta is the candidate favored by a new parliamentary majority.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sardinia: Dog Visits Owner’s Tomb Daily

Fed by locals, chooses to live near graveyard

(ANSA) — Cagliari, April 26 — A dog in a small town near Cagliari in Sardinia has made visiting the graveyard part of his daily ritual after his owner suddenly died of a heart attack in February, says the newspaper L’Unione Sarda. As in the film Hachi starring Richard Gere in which a dog returned daily for 10 years to the train station where his owner habitually arrived, the honey-colored mixed breed slips in behind the security guard’s mother each day when she opens the gate and sits by his dead owner’s tomb.

The dog, called Nameless since no one knows what he was called by his former owner, is fed and taken care of by locals, but has chosen to make his home in a field close to the cemetary.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Swiss Fear of Flying Boosts Therapists

The number of Swiss people who are scared of flying is so high that coaching sessions are booked out and new clinics are opening has opened to meet the need for therapy. Approximately 20 percent of the Swiss population are afraid of flying, newspaper 20 Minuten reported. “Sometimes passengers get so panicky that they cannot go through with it,” emotion coach Diederika Tasma told 20 Minuten.

Swiss were already offer weekend seminars in German at Zurich (Kloten) Airport, in conjunction with Edelweiss Air and Swiss Aviation Training, as well as courses in French and English at Geneva airport.

Tasma soon realised that nothing was on offer for the people of Bern. So in conjunction with Helvetic Airways, she decided to set up a new coaching practice at Belp airport as well as seminars that specifically targets this group from.

The courses, run by Tasma Life Balance, start with participants being sat on grounded planes. Next, participants are taken up in a Fokker 100, and finally, the course recommends participants to take part in a supervised flight to a European destination.

The correct term for fear of flying is pteromerhanophobia. It is unclear whether it is itself a distinct phobia or one made up from several phobias such as claustrophobia (fear of being in small spaces), acrophobia (a fear of heights) and agoraphobia (fear of open spaces).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swiss Solar Boat Finishes Historic World Tour

Super-yacht PlanetSolar, brainchild of a Swiss eco-adventurer, has completed the first ever round-the-world trip to be powered entirely by the sun’s rays. The boat returned to the port of Monaco on Friday to much fanfare and a new world record, 586 days and 60,000 kilometres after it set off. The project had been dreamed up by former ambulance driver, Raphael Domjan, from Yverdon-les-Bains, and took nine years to come to fruition.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Switzerland: Zurich May Day Rally Turns Violent

A May Day rally in Zurich turned violent on Tuesday as a group of youths set fire to rubbish bins and pelted police with bottles and stones, drawing teargas and water-cannon fire in response. The Swiss city’s official May 1 celebrations unfolded peacefully, but some 20 people, mostly youths clad in hoods, clashed with police later in the day.

Some 100 riot police blocked off part of the city centre and arrested several people as hundreds of onlookers took to balconies overlooking the streets to watch, an AFP correspondent said. The clashes went on throughout the afternoon. Zurich police told AFP they did not yet have an estimate on damages.

The annual May Day rally drew some 12,000 people, police said. May Day often turns violent in Zurich. Last year, police arrested more than 500 people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Good Göring: How a Top Nazi’s Brother Saved Lives

Hermann Göring was one of the Nazi party’s most powerful figures and an adamant anti-Semite. But his younger brother Albert worked to save the lives of dozens of Jews. Despite his efforts to do good, Albert’s family name would ultimately prove to be a curse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Stones Speak: Stonehenge Had Lecture Hall Acoustics

The stone slabs of England’s Stonehenge may have been more than just a spectacular sight to the ancient people who built the structure; they likely created an acoustic environment unlike anything they normally experienced, new research hints.

“As they walk inside they would have perceived the sound environment around them had changed in some way,”said researcher Bruno Fazenda, a professor at the University of Salford in the United Kingdom. “They would have been stricken by it, they would say, ‘This is different.’“

These Neolithic people might have felt as modern people do upon entering a cathedral, Fazenda told LiveScience.

Fazenda and colleagues have been studying the roughly 5,000-year-old-structure’s acoustic properties. Their work at the Stonehenge site in Wiltshire, England, and at a concrete replica built as a memorial to soldiers in World War I in Maryhill, Wash., indicates Stonehenge had the sort of acoustics desirable in a lecture hall.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Top Castle Getaways in Italy

Many medieval fortresses have been turned in hotels

(ANSA) — Rome — Italy is replete with fabulous, medieval castles turned hotels.

A top 10 has been compiled to give holidaymakers some pointers on which they might want to head for first. Five of the monuments in the ranking, produced by tripadvisor.it on the basis of customer ratings, are in Tuscany with the gold medal going to Castelletto di Montebenichi, in the heart of the Chianti wine region. Built on a hilltop overlooking the hamlet of Montebenichi, halfway between Arezzo and Siena, it is an excellent starting point for discovering the area’s art, nature and gastronomy. From Montebenichi, the Chianti road winds through woods, apple orchards and olive groves, vineyards, medieval villages and more imposing forts. Southwest lies Montalcino, birthplace of the world-famous Brunello wines, and southeast is Montepulciano, renowned for its Vino Nobile. Also near Montebenichi are the so-called Crete Senesi territories, whose distinctive clay soil creates extraordinary landscapes often described as lunar. Here lies the tiny spa town of Rapolano, whose sulphur-calcium hot springs come out of the ground at 38°C. Florence, Perugia, Orvieto and Assisi are an hour’s drive away, while Siena and Arezzo can be reached in under 30 minutes.

Other towns rich with jewels of Renaissance and medieval art and architecture such as Cortona, Pienza and San Gimignano are all within easy reach too. The hotel itself, which dates back to the 12th century, is a treasure trove of art, including historic paintings, drawings and frescoes, as well as Greek, Roman and Etruscan terracotta sculptures, bronzes and ceramics.

The castle’s large private park, which merges with the gently sloping Tuscan hills, contains a panoramic swimming pool with a small sauna, as well as a gym with a jacuzzi mini-pool.

The Castello di Spaltenna, located in the village of Gaiole in Chianti, is ranked second. A fortified monastery with a cloister and a bell tower dating from around 1000 AD, it is a splendid example of medieval architecture. Surrounded by vineyards and woods, its grassy terraces overlook an idyllic valley in the heart of Chianti. Its restaurant offers tradition cuisine and a large selection of local and national wines. Facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool for winter and an outdoor one with a waterfall, both with views of the surrounding countryside. There is also a Turkish bath, sauna, gym, spa and tennis courts, while horseback riding and golf facilities are available nearby. Just 20 minutes away from Siena, less than an hour from Florence and a few minutes away from small towns such as Radda, Panzano and Greve, the Castello di Spaltenna is ideally located for wine-tasting excursions as well as exploring nearby churches and abbeys. The hotel offers a variety of special packages, focusing on passions such as health and fitness, wine and food, biking, trekking and horseback riding. Also in Tuscany are the Castello di Tornano, which is situated in an 11th-century hamlet, and the Castello di Gargonza, which is part of a 13th-century fortified village in the lovely Val di Chiana, and where the poet Dante Alighieri once stayed in 1303. Palazzo Guadagni, in the heart of Florence, is a Renaissance manor with views over the city and the surrounding hills. The Abruzzo region is represented in the ranking with the Castello Chiaiola. Also ranked are the Castello dell’Oscano in Umbria, Liguria’s Grand Hotel dei Castelli, Lombardy’s 18th-century Castello del Belvedere, which overlooks Lake Garda, and Castello Orsini near Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UK: London 2012: A Passport to Mayhem

by Philip Johnston

The unacceptable queues in our arrivals halls at Heathrow Airport are symptomatic of a chaotic security policy.

There can be few things more irritating than arriving home after a 12-hour flight, laden with children and luggage, only to find the immigration hall at the airport heaving with passengers waiting to get through passport control. When it becomes clear that there are too few border staff manning the desks, irritation can turn to anger. And if it is bad for UK arrivals, imagine the teeth-gnashing frustration felt by non-EU travellers, who are subject to much more rigorous scrutiny. What a great way to start a holiday. At Heathrow’s Terminal 5 last week, thousands of travellers waited for two hours or more for clearance, and extra police were drafted in after a group of Americans started shouting at staff. One frustrated Spanish passenger barged through passport control, only to be intercepted by counter-terrorism officers. Nor is the problem confined to Heathrow. At Birmingham airport last month, about 20 passengers stormed border control after a two-hour wait. One witness described how holidaymakers made “a dash for it, pushing Border Force staff aside… There were scuffles, people being knocked to the ground, and then resignation from the powers that be, who stepped aside to let the crowd through.”

Stephen Barnett from Kent, a regular airline traveller, told the BBC he often queued for two hours to get back into the country. “This issue has been worsening for months,” he said. “Last week it was utter bedlam… Three positions were manned on the EU section, out of 15. It is a national disgrace.” Understandably, the airlines and British Airports Authority, which runs Heathrow, have been anxious to dump the blame on the Border Force. BAA staff handed out leaflets to people in the queues last weekend urging them to complain — thereby inviting the wrath of officials who accused the operator of inflaming the situation. The Home Office thinks that these scenes are a sign of vigilance; as Damian Green, the immigration minister, told MPs on Monday, “security of our borders is the first priority”. By yesterday morning, however, with Willie Walsh of BA, among others, accusing ministers of complacency, the penny finally dropped at No 10. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was summoned to Downing Street to explain herself, and Damian Green headed to Heathrow to see for himself what was going on. In the meantime, more Border Force staff were dispatched from around the country to help out, and greater flexibility is being introduced into the rosters to ensure peak times are properly covered.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Profiling Travellers Will Speed Up the Queues at Heathrow

by Ed West

So the Government has finally come up with an answer to Britain’s immigration problem: they’ve made it impossible to get through Heathrow. With any luck the teaming masses will give up or starve to death in passport control. But however absurd the Government’s excuse of blaming the rain might appear, it’s scarcely more farcical than the air of unreality that hangs around airport security and passport control generally. For part of the reason for the chaos is that the Home Office has stopped border staff from using “their initiative about who and who not to check and to what level” so that “border officers would not carry out detailed checks on obviously non-threatening groups, such as school parties”. Sheer idiocy, or terrified of being accused of “profiling”? If it’s the latter, it shows to what extents people will travel (or in this case, queue) to maintain politically correct fictions. Sam Harris had a piece over the weekend on a similar subject in which he wrote:

Much has been written about how insulting and depressing it is, more than a decade after the events of 9/11, to be met by “security theater” at our nation’s airports. The current system appears so inane that one hopes it really is a sham, concealing more-ingenious intrusions into our privacy. The spirit of political correctness hangs over the whole enterprise like the Angel of Death—indeed, more closely than death, or than the actual fear of terrorism. And political correctness requires that TSA employees direct the spotlight of their attention at random—or appear to do so—while making rote use of irrational procedures and dubious technology.

Harris links to some appalling videos on YouTube, and the site has certainly helped to stoke public indignity about airline security in the States.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Vote 2012: ‘Alienated’ Muslims Urged to Use Right to Vote

A lot of Muslims “feel alienated from the political process”, according to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). That has led some to opt not to vote in past elections. But now the MCB, which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations in Britain, has been encouraging Muslims to vote ahead of the local elections on Thursday. Talha Ahmad, chair of its membership committee, said: “Political awareness is very low.” He wants Muslims in England to use their right to vote, but feels that political parties in the past have not helped themselves either.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Ukraine Boycott Calls Meet With Skepticism

Should politicians boycott European Football Championship games to be held in Ukraine? Should those games be moved to another country? German politicians are up in arms about the treatment of imprisoned former opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. But their calls to action, say German commentators, are not always helpful.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Violent Tradition: Mini-Riots in Berlin Mar May 1 Demonstrations

May 1 celebrations in Berlin were once again marred by violence, as protesters lobbed rocks, bottles and fireworks at police on Tuesday evening. The mini-riots, however, were small compared to previous years and marked the continuation of a recent peaceful trend.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Wilders Wants Netherlands Out of EU

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders thinks the Netherlands should leave the European Union. He has advocated leaving the eurozone before, which comes down to the same thing as countries that drop the euro cannot remain a member of the European Union.

Speaking in New York where he is promoting his book “Marked for Death”, he said: “We can become a member of the European Economic Area EEA like Norway or of the European Trade Association ETA like Switzerland so that keep the economic advantage. By no longer being a member of the EU and the eurozone, we determine our own rules, like who comes into the country, immigration and have our own currency.”

His words come as the Netherlands prepares for a parliamentary election on 12 September, after he withdrew his party’s parliamentary support for the minority VVD-Christian Democrat government just over a week ago. This led to the fall of the Dutch government after seven weeks of negotiations in which the three parties failed to agree on new austerity measures.

National sovereignty is set to be the main theme of his campaign. “Without it we cannot defend our identity and fight against Islamisation,” he said.

In the Freedom Party’s last election manifesto in 2010, Mr Wilders did not call for the Netherlands to leave the EU, but he did want to get rid of the European Parliament. In spite of this the party fielded candidates in the European Parliament elections.

Earlier today, Mr Wilders dismissed rumours he is planning to leave the Netherlands to live in the United States.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Germany to Extend Troops’ Kosovo Mission

German government has approved an extension of the Bundeswehr’s mandate in Kosovo for a further year. Germany has had peacekeepers in the former Serbian province for the past 13 years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Macedonia: Radical Muslim Group Involved in Macedonia Murders Arrested

SKOPJE — Macedonian police announced Tuesday that they arrested 20 radical Muslims, suspected to be members of a terrorist group which has been linked to the murder of five Macedonians in early April. “The ministry of the interior found the perpetrators of the horrific killings at Smilkovsko lake” near Skopje, Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska told a press conference. Twenty radical Muslims, mostly Macedonian citizens, some of whom had been “fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan against NATO soldiers”, were arrested. They were nabbed on Monday after a massive security operation involving some 800 police officers and other interior ministry officials. The minister described the suspects as “Skopje followers of radical Islam” but did not reveal their names or ethnicity. “Among those 20 people a few are directly involved in the horrific killings and for some we do not have details,” Jankulovska said. On April 12 five men, one 45 years old and the others aged between 18 and 22, were found dead from gunshot wounds at a popular fishing pond near Skopje.

“The interior ministry will file terrorism charges against them,” she added, explaining that their motive was “to incite fear and insecurity”. The authorities said they seized weapons and radical Islamic literature.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egypt: Salafis Sit-in Attacked, Deaths and Over 100 Injured

At least 7 killed; armed groups attack at dawn

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — At least 7 protestors were killed and over 100 injured in the clashes this morning in Cairo, when armed groups attacked a sit-in of Salafis near the Defence Ministry, according to the BBC. The state-run TV reported that the clashes occurred between demonstrators who had been taking part in a sit-in since Friday in front of the Defence Ministry and unidentified attackers. In reality, other clashes had previously occurred over the past few days, sparked by the ‘baltageya’, petty criminals almost always paid by private individuals or even the police to spark public disorder.

Salafis (ultra-conservative Islamists) are demanding above all that the military council step down, which has been in power since Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11 2011, and that its members be put on trial for the “crimes committed” since it took the reins the country. A similar demand has been made as concerns the members of the election commission, as well as the resignation of the government under Kamal El Ganzouri.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Egypt: At Least 20 Died in Clashes, Hospital Sources

Armed groups attack Salafite sit-in, 11 official casualties

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — At least 20 people died during the clashes having occurred earlier this morning in front of the Defence Ministry in Cairo, according to reports by hospital sources. Also Dubai’s TV Al Arabiya reported that 20 people died, although figures were not confirmed by any non-official sources.

According to official figures provided by sources related to the Ministries of Healthcare and Defence, there were 11 casualties in total. However, the number of victims will probably increase: over 100 people were injured and many people were taken to the city’s hospitals in serious conditions.

The clashes took place this morning, when armed groups attacked a sit-in by Salafis near the Defence Ministry which had begun last Friday. According to Egypt’s state TV, after several hours some army and police troops succeeded in putting an end to the clashes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Egypt:11 Killed in Attack on Cairo Anti-Junta Protesters

At least 11 people have been killed in an attack in Cairo on people protesting against Egyptian military rule. Dozens of demonstrators were injured. The unidentified attackers wielded clubs, rocks and firebombs, beating some of the hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Egypt’s defense ministry in a dawn assault, officials said. Reports said at least 11 people had been killed and 50 injured.

The demonstrators were part of an open-ended protest that started last week against military rule. Many of them were supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultra-conservative Islamist who was barred from running in upcoming presidential elections because his mother has dual US-Egyptian citizenship.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Islamists Demand 45 Mln Euros for Hostages

An Al-Qaeda splinter group wants a total of 45 million euros in ransoms for two European women aid workers and seven Algerian diplomats taken hostage, the group’s spokesman said Wednesday.

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui gave the figures in reply to a written question submitted by AFP.

He said MUJAO was demanding 30 million euros ($40 million) for the two women, an Italian and a Spaniard, kidnapped in October along with a Spanish man while working in a camp for Western Sahara refugees in Tindouf in western Algeria.

The Algerians were abducted on April 5 in Gao, northeast Mali, as Islamist and Tuareg separatist groups overran the north of the country in the wake of a military coup in the capital Bamako.

Sahraoui said his group demanded 15 million euros for the diplomats, who included the Algerian consul in Gao, and the release of prisoners held by Algeria, threatening an attack otherwise. MUJAO warned on Sunday that the Algerians’ lives were in danger, saying negotiations with Algiers had broken down.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Kidnapped Italian and Spanish Aid Workers, Ransom Demand

MUJAO wants 30 mln euros for them and 15 for Algerian diplomats

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 2 — Thirty million euros is the price being asked for the release of Rossella Urru and her Spanish colleague Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon.

On the same day that some Algerian dailies have remonstrated with surprising timing at the decision by militants of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in Western Africa (MUJAO) to kidnap seven diplomats from Algiers, a MUJAO spokesperson has dictated to France Presse the conditions for the release not only of the Algerian hostages, but of the Italian and Spanish aid workers who were kidnapped on October 23 from a Saharawi camp. The conditions are tough ones: over thirty million euros to free Rossella and Ainhoa and a further fifteen for the Algerian Consulate General di Gao and his seven officials. In the case of the Italian and Spanish aid workers, who were working for two separate NGOs in the Western Sahara, the request reverses recent optimism that progress was being made in secret negotiations under cover of a total news blackout. The huge ransom demanded will come as a reverse to negotiations and lengthen the process. There is no mention of a third hostage, Spanish aid worker Enric Gonyacons, adding a further element of uncertainty.

Nothing is known of where the hostages are being held. The motives behind MUJAO’s demands for the release of the seven Algerian diplomats are evident: as well as the money, the freeing of many Islamic militants held in Algeria and in Mauritania is also being demanded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Solidarity With Blogger Lina Ben Mhenni, Terzi

After attack by three policemen in Tunis

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 2 MAY — “My solidarity goes to Lina Ben Mhenni. Yopung and active peace and tolerance promoters are essential for the positive outcome of Tunisia’s transition process”. This is the solidarity message in English twitted by the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi with regard to the attack against the Tunisian blogger which took place some days ago. Mhenni reported to L’Espresso that she was brutally beaten by three policemen in a bar in central Tunis; the three policemen also allegedly tried to rape her.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


6 Reserve Army Battalions to Egypt, Syria Borders

(AGI) Jerusalem — The Israeli government has called up six reserve army battalions under emergency orders to meet growing threat on the Egyptian and Syrian borders. the news was reported by the Times of Israel website adding that the Knesset authorized the army to call up, in case they are needed, another 16 battalions for a total of 22 battalions.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Dexia Israel Offered to Discount Bank

Discount Bank has yet to respond to the offer but market sources believe that it will not make an offer to purchase.

Troubled European bank Dexia Group continues to look for a buyer for its Israeli subsidiary Dexia Israel (Public Finance) Ltd. (TASE:DXIL). Sources inform “Globes” that various bodies have recently contacted senior Discount Bank executives and offered for them to buy Dexia Israel. They describe the offer as a “window of opportunity,” after talks between Dexia and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (TASE:MZTF) were broken off, and after Dexia rejected an offer from Bank of Jerusalem (TASE: JBNK).

In the past, Discount Bank has shown interest in buying Dexia Israel and at the end of 2010 even issued a letter of intent on the matter. Dexia declined to comment on this latest report.

Discount Bank has yet to respond to the offer but market sources believe that it will not make an offer to purchase. The problem is not the price, which is expected to be around Dexia’s market cap, but rather the management effort that will be required for the acquisition and to merge and integrate Dexia’s activities into Discount’s activities. There is also a doubt as to whether buying Dexia’s is in line Discount Bank’s new strategy, while management is dealing with a major early retirement program, and merging the activities of Discount Mortgage Bank with the main bank.

Theoretically, Dexia has a major advantage in that it only handles municipal credit and has an exceptional concentration of credit, and it will be required to hold particularly high capital adequacy of 18%, giving it a significant capital surplus. Thus the bank buying it will receive a capital surplus for its use.

However, a check carried out by Discount Bank found that the capital surplus will not be expressed until a full merger between Discount and Dexia is completed — a process that would take several years.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



Israel Police: Unemployed African Refugees Turning Tel Aviv Beaches Into High Crime Spots

Authorities attribute thefts to increase in number of refugees who have come to the city this year, and lack of employment opportunities.

Youth gangs from the community of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees have in recent weeks been swamping Tel Aviv beaches and stealing bathers’ belongings, according to police. Most of the thefts have occurred on Tel Aviv’s major beaches. Authorities attribute the thefts to the increase in the number of refugees who have come to the city this year, and the lack of employment opportunities for them. Police say the stolen goods and money are sufficient for a day’s existence; they expect more such incidents to occur.

Eritrean and Sudanese refugees start arriving at the beach at noon, say police, especially to the strip between Jerusalem Beach and Mezizim/Peepers’ Beach. Some try to find day-labor jobs in the morning, but some who fail allegedly try to earn their daily keep by preying on beach-goers instead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



May 1: Israel Military Radio Holds ‘Party’ For Trotsky

Blues, beer, ‘Bella Ciao’ and smattering of Bolshevism

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — In honour of May 1, hundreds of Israelis crowded into a Tel Aviv club where, on the initiative of the Israeli military radio, an evening was held in honour of the Russian philosopher and revolutionary Leon Trotsky. While blues alternated with Russian revolutionary songs from loudspeakers and waiters poured up mugs of beer, screens showed archival images of the theoretician of permanent revolution: from the political rise of Russia at the beginning of the past century to his exile in Russia and assassination by a Stalinist hit man in 1940. Made up of professional journalists and conscripts, the Israeli military radio answers to the Defence Ministry but often allows for expressions of anti-conformism. Yesterday, at the entrance to the locale, soldiers in uniform were seen with red, revolutionary-style pins in front of posters with Trotsky’s face printed expressly for this occasion by the Israeli Armed Forces magazine Bamahane. For two hours (broadcast live across the country), university professors, folk singers and actors took turns recalling the revolutionary born into a middle-class Jewish family as Aryeh Ben-David Bronstein.

The myth was reconstructed step by step: from the exhausting escape from a Siberian detention camp (1907) to his becoming commander of the Red Army. And then, after exile, his courageous speaking out against Stalinism. And so it was learned that during his time in Mexico Trotsky received Labour representative Bebe Edelson who advised him in vain to move to Tel Aviv, then under the British Mandate. In reality, Trotskyism never actually got to Israel, except for at the beginning of the 1970s when (in the wake of student uprisings in Europe) the small revolutionary group Mazpen was formed, which seems to have since been definitively dissolved.

And so it is therefore highly unlikely that the evening organised by the inventive journalist-popularizer Eran Sabag will have any direct impact on Israel’s political sphere. The commander of the military radio, political journalist Yaron Dekel, told ANSAmed that no one had objected in even the slightest way to the evening in Trotsky’s honour. He went on to quote Plato, adding “there is only one negative things, and that is ignorance. And there is only one positive things: knowledge.” His broadcaster will therefore be holding other similar events in the event, he said, while the radio ended the evening on the notes of the “Red Flag” and “Bella Ciao”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Jordan Weighs Two Offers to Build Nuclear Plant

Energy-poor Jordan said on Sunday a Russian firm and a French-Japanese consortium are to compete to build the kingdom’s first nuclear plant.

“Following a thorough examination, the offers provided by Russia’s Atomstroyexport and a consortium by France’s Areva and Japan’s Mitsubishi were the best proposals that meet Jordan’s requirements,” Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement.

“Talks with these companies will continue to address some technical issues, including the exact location of the plant,” it added, according to state-run Petra news agency.

“The evaluation took into account the highest safety requirements, including lessons from the Fukushima event,” it said.

The Fukushima plant, 220 kilometres (135 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was crippled by meltdowns and explosions caused by Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Concerns in Jordan have grown since the Japanese disaster, but the kingdom says it needs nuclear technology to meet growing energy demands and to desalinate water.

Jordan, which imports 95 percent of its energy needs, is one of the five driest countries in the world.

It has expressed concerns that cut-offs in unstable Egyptian gas supplies, which normally covers 80 percent of Jordan electricity production, could cost Amman more than $2 billion this year.

Since 2011, the pipeline supplying gas from Egypt to both Israel and the kingdom has been attacked 14 times.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Syria: ‘Hit by Extremists’, Pro-Regime Victims Talking

Military and civilians in hospital, ‘foreign conspiracy’

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS — “We were attacked by groups of extremists who want to destroy Syria, only because we were wearing this uniform.” All Syrian troops in the Tishrin (October) Hospital in Damascus repeat the same protest.

Not only the military, nearly everybody in the hospital, from directors to doctors and injured civilians, is convinced that the situation in the country is the result of “a conspiracy hatched” by foreign countries rather than a spontaneous uprising against President Bashar al Assad.

Around 800 people are currently patient in Tishrin, one of the largest military hospitals in the Middle East with 1200 beds, of whom “just over one hundred are soldiers,” a department head who prefers to remain anonymous for safety reasons explains. The source points out that — despite the UN-imposed cease-fire that came into force on April 12 — “15 injured people arrive in Tishrin each day” due to the ongoing clashes. According to the director, also serviceman, there is only one reason for this: “Terrorism has infiltrated Syria.

Extremists are controlling us, they find us and then attack us.

How do they do that? Clearly they have the right instruments.” This point of view is exactly the view that has been expressed by the Syrian authorities for months. Everyone in the hospital, military and civilian, has a story to tell. Soldier Walid was “attacked and thrown into a ditch” on the outskirts of Damascus while he was on patrol a few days ago. Colonel Hasan Jafar, whose right arm had to be amputated, says that he was “attacked by a group of 300 people” in Deraa, in the south of the country, during the clashes of “April 25” in which “six” military causalities were counted. And the manager of a telephony store in Damascus tells that he was “attacked by a group” of demonstrators “only because I refused to join the march, while I’m not part of the regime”, the young Syrian man says. In some cases the situation is described by patients in Tishrin without words. One of them was seriously wounded and was given morphine, no longer able to talk. One deceased person arrives at the hospital in a coffin with the Syrian flag draped on top of it. The victim is the 22-year-old Mohamed Al Falad, one of the people who were killed in the attack of April 30 in Idlib in which 9 military died. At his arrival, a wreath of flowers was placed at the entrance of the mortuary while relatives and friends, heartbroken, rush to the coffin, barely restrained by the present nurses.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Ankara Preparing New Constitution With Less Power in the Hands of the Military

A multiparty parliamentary committee is set to draft a constitutional proposal with input from civil society groups. Erdogan threatens a referendum if the new charter is not adopted by parliament before the end of the year.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A parliamentary committee in Turkey is due to start work on the country’s first fully civilian constitution. The new, more democratic charter will replace the existing one, which was drawn up 30 years ago.

The old constitution gave great powers to the military, curbed individual rights and largely ignored the country’s minorities, including the Kurds.

The multi-party committee is expected to complete its draft proposal by the end of the year. To that end, there have been meetings across Turkey with civil society groups encouraged to contribute their views.

The new constitution should also open the way to the legal recognition of non-Muslim minorities like the Catholic Church.

Before taking this step, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) changed the top leaders of the armed forces and has had charges brought against military leaders accused of preparing a coup.

If a consensus on the constitution proves impossible in parliament, Mr Erdogan has threatened to push the issue through by means of a referendum.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Turkish Beauty Mag Ties Muslim Veil to Glamour

ISTANBUL — Can the Muslim headscarf be synonymous with glamour? Turkey’s first fashion magazine for conservative Islamic women looks set to win the challenge. In less than a year since it was launched last June, the monthly Ala — meaning “beauty” — has become a mainstream glossy. With a circulation of 20,000, it is only slightly behind the Turkish versions of Cosmopolitan, Vogue and Elle magazines. Ala’s pages are splashed with models reflecting a conservative Islamic style, all wearing headscarves and long dresses, with their arms and necks covered. Ala’s editor, 24-year-old Hulya Aslan, has first-hand experience with Turkey’s headscarf troubles. Because she insisted on wearing one, she had to give up a university education, instead finding work at a bank. “Now there is normalisation, an improvement. Now our veiled comrades can enter university and have more professional opportunities,” she told AFP. “For the last five or six years we can say we have turned the corner.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UAE: Jail Term for Mosque Slur Engineer Replaced by Fine

ABU DHABI // The punishment for an engineer who insulted Islam by saying “damn mosques” during a work meeting was today downgraded from a one-month suspended jail term to a Dh5,000 fine. The Appeals Court was considering the case of the Briton JM for the second time after the Court of Cassation ruled its first hearing was invalid due to the lack of a translator. JM, who worked in the parks and recreation section at Abu Dhabi Municipality, was in charge of project to build gardens around mosques. A colleague reported him after a meeting in which he asked: “When will we be finished with the damn mosques?” He was sentenced to a month in jail by the Misdemeanour Court. During his first trial at the Appeals Court he said he had not meant the words as an insult. “I said it out of concern for the project because I wanted to be ready as soon as possible,” he said. When he returned to the Appeals Court for a second trial, his lawyer asked the court translator to look up the word ‘damn’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. “The first meaning for the word damned says: ‘according to Christianity a damned (person) is someone who God is angered with forever,” read out the translator. “The second meaning says damn can be used for strong criticism in an unofficial way and is a way of expressing anger.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Chechen Women in Mortal Fear as President Backs Islamic Honor Killings

Chechnya’s government is openly approving of families that kill female relatives who violate their sense of honor, as this Russian republic embraces a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam after decades of religious suppression under Soviet rule.

In the past five years, the bodies of dozens of young Chechen women have been found dumped in woods, abandoned in alleys and left along roads in the capital, Grozny, and neighboring villages.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov publicly announced that the dead women had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives. He went on to describe women as the property of their husbands, and said their main role is to bear children.

“If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them should be killed,” said Mr. Kadyrov, who often has stated his goal of making Chechnya “more Islamic than the Islamists.” In today’s Chechnya, alcohol is all but banned, Islamic dress codes are enforced and polygamous marriages are supported by the government.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia


A Year After Bin Laden’s Death, US-Pakistani Ties Still Difficult

The killing of bin Laden triggered a serious, albeit temporary, crisis in US-Pakistani relations. But more importantly, it redefined the relationship between the Pakistani civilian government and the military.

The killing of Osama bin Laden caused the greatest crisis in US-Pakistan relations in memory. It is possible that the US special operation had an even worse effect on Pakistan’s domestic politics because it made clear that despite the denial of the military’s powerful spy agency, ISI, the al Qaeda chief had been hiding in Pakistan for years.

The attack was a humiliation for Pakistani politicians who had been swearing to Washington for years that bin Laden was definitely not in Pakistan. Beyond that, it made the country’s civilian government realize that the all-mighty ISI, or at least part of its leadership, knew that bin Laden had been hiding out in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Iqbal Haider, former law minister under Benazir Bhutto, told DW that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan because there was no doubt that “the Pakistani establishment, if not the whole of it, are totally devoted to (protecting) extremists. The very fact that few days ago the Taliban attacked the Banu jail, would not be possible without the support and patronage of influential forces in Pakistan.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Afghanistan: Obama Vows to ‘Finish the Job’ In Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of the death of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden with an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he reiterated that U.S. troops will not remain in the country “a single day longer” than necessary. Obama said he remains committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by the end of summer and sticking to the 2014 deadline to turn security fully over to the Afghan government. He said that NATO will set a goal this month for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations next year. “We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling its cities and mountains,” the president said during a speech at Bagram Air Base early Wednesday. “That will be the job of the Afghan people.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Afghanistan: Obama’s Midnight Dash to Kabul Shows That He Dare Not Visit the Place in Daylight

If ever there was an image to convey the limits of the UK-US success in Afghanistan, it was the way that Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of the liberating, Taliban-scattering forces was forced to skulk into Kabul last night under the cover of darkness. Not for Mr Obama a ticker-tape parade as he entered the Afghan capital for the ceremonial signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement that will underpin Coalition support to Afghanistan for a decade after 2014. Instead, after landing at Bagram Airbase just after 10pm local time, there was a low-level, cover-of-darkness of helicopter insertion to the Presidential Palace where the ten-page deal (which contains no specifics on funding or troop levels) was signed around midnight.

So secret was the visit that the White House spent the day frantically — and somewhat comically — trying to plug leaks of Obama’s imminent arrival emanating from Kabul; yet another example of seamless co-operation between Afghan and Coalition security forces. After the signing, there was just time for Mr Obama to duck into hangar and make a rousing address to the poor troops who must daily wonder which direction enemy fire is coming from, before making an address to the nation. This was, of course, another perfect excuse for the President to remind everyone of his heroic decisions in the Situation Room a year ago. Mr Obama tried to make a virtue out of absurdity, referring to a “new light” breaking on the horizon for Afghanistan, even as he gestured to the “pre-dawn darkness” in which he was speaking, but even Mr Obama oratorical skills couldn’t disguise the tail-between-the-legs ‘optics’ of the event. It was terrible.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Photo Exhibition Displays the Integration of Islam in Germany

An exhibition of photographs of mosques and Muslims in Germany was held at the Grand City Surabaya from the 28th of April until the 13th of May.

Description:

Indonesia and Germany is different from 180 degrees. In Indonesia, Muslims are the majority. While in Germany, Islam is a minority religion. There were only 4 percent, the third religious community held in Germany after the Catholic and Christian. Even so, there are already three thousand mosques and mosque stands in Germany. A number of major cities such as Stuttgart in Germany are still resistant to the Muslims. However, some areas or small towns in Germany have been very open to Muslims. Muslims are a minority and the majority of people can communicate and work well together. Portrait that is what Goethe Institute distributed to the people of Indonesia especially in Surabaya. Supported by the German Pensions and Yayasan Mitra Indonesia-Germany, an exhibition of photographs of mosques and Muslims in Germany was held at the Grand City Surabaya from 28 April until May 13, 2011. According to Birgit Steffan, this exhibition is aimed to introduce German culture. Also shows that the majority of the people of Indonesia to the Muslims that Islam is quite acceptable in Germany. “I think this exhibition is very interesting to Indonesia. As in Indonesia, Muslims are the majority. While in Germany, Muslims were a minority,” says Birgit. The idea of ​​this photo exhibition has actually been sparked in 2008. After a conference of the building architecture in Germany, the Goethe Institute sent a photographer to photograph a number of mosque architecture in Germany. There are eight mosques in various atmosphere portrayed in 8 weeks.

[…]

[JP note: Allah ueber Alles, Jawohl!]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Myanmar Democracy Advocates Enter Parliament

Thirty-seven members of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy have been sworn in as members of parliament after they dropped a dispute over the wording of their oath of office. Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to office at Myanmar’s parliament on Wednesday along with more than three dozen of her party colleagues, after backing down on a request that the oath of office be modified.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Lahore Fort: Restricted Access the Price of Public Vandalism

Due to almost daily incidents of graffiti, officials from Pakistan’s Archaeology Department have decided to restrict the access of visitors to Lahore Fort. There are 20 guards on duty at a time and closed-circuit television cameras, but the fort receives some 6,000 visitors a day, and up to 100,000 on holidays. Laws are in place that make writing, scribbling, or engraving on a historical building an offense punishable with jail time and fines, but they have not been enforced by the police, and children are not taught the significance of the buildings in school.

“When we catch someone scribbling or scratching, we give him a wet cloth to undo the damage… Unfortunately, permanent ink permeates into white marble and cannot be erased easily. And scratching cannot be undone,” said Afzal Khan, deputy director of the Archaeology Department.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



President Obama Promises End to Afghanistan War

US President Barack Obama has made a surprise visit to Afghanistan’s capital, one year after Osama bin Laden was killed. In a televised address, he said the US could see “the light of a new day on the horizon.”

President Barack Obama’s seven-hour visit to Afghanistan was intended for the signing of a strategic partnership on future US-Afghan ties beyond 2014, White House officials said.

Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the long-term agreement, which reportedly outlines American military and financial support for Afghanistan beyond 2014, when NATO forces are due to end their combat mission. Full details of the deal have not yet emerged.

Shortly afterwards Obama delivered a televised speech from the Bagram airbase to Americans during their evening prime time, saying that they could see “the light of a new day on the horizon.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Srdja Trifkovic: Obama in Afghanistan

Addressing the nation on Tuesday from Bagram Air Base, President Barack Obama declared the advent of a new, post-war era in the relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. During his six-hour unannounced visit Obama signed an agreement with President Hamid Karzai that is supposed to define the role of the U.S. after the scheduled departure of American troops in 2014. The TV address—filled with contradictions, omissions, and half-truths—indicates that Obama is prepared to misrepresent the failed U.S. mission in Afghanistan as a success in order to help his reelection. An ad-hoc analysis follows, with the President’s words in italics.

“Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries—a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.”

Hundreds of agreements signed by U.S. presidents over the decades have been called “historic,” including several high-profile ones from the Cold War era—agreements involving serious partners in charge of serious countries—yet they are mostly long forgotten.

A generation from now the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” (SPA) signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai on May 1, 2012, will be forgotten, too. It may be vaguely remembered by a few historians specializing in the U.S. foreign policy in the early 21st century, and even then only for its sheer frivolity. The sole detail that matters is negative: the SPA does not commit the U.S. to the maintenance of any troop levels or funding after 2014; the pending exit will be conclusive. The rest is wishful thinking bordering on the surreal, including:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]



US Drone Strikes Are Likely to Increase Post 2014, Say Experts

In its first ever detailed account of the use of drone attacks to target militants, the US government has justified them as ‘legal’ and ‘ethical,’ something which is likely to get strong reactions from Islamabad.

On Monday, John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, defended the use of drone strikes by the US administration, and said the strikes were “in full accordance with the law.”

This is the first time a top US official has spoken about controversial drone strikes at length. Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama said the US was “judicious” in its use of the technology, however, he did not provide much detail about the strikes.

The use of unmanned aircraft to kill terrorists and militants in foreign countries has been a subject of legal debate in the US. In countries like Pakistan, where the United States frequently uses drones to target al Qaeda and Taliban militants, drone strikes are seen as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and security. The Pakistani government officially condemns drone strikes; however, many in Pakistan believe that Islamabad has covertly allowed Washington to carry out the strikes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East


A Glimpse of North Korea: Travels in the Empire of Kim Jong Un

North Korea may have a new leader, but it still has many of the same old problems. Despite efforts to modernize the capital Pyongyang ahead of 100th birthday celebrations for Kim Il Sung, the country still suffers from shortages of food, electricity, heat and hope.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



China Seeks High-Tech Weapons, ‘Respect’ On EU Visit

BRUSSELS — China has highlighted access to arms technology and less criticism on human rights as two priorities on a visit to the EU capital by its new-leader-in-waiting, Li Keqiang.

The country’s ambassador to the EU, Wu Hailong, in a statement circulated to press ahead of Li’s arrival on Tuesday (2 May), said the two sides “must respect each other” and “properly handle and manage (their) differences” in order for relations to “prosper.”

For his part, Li in an op-ed in the Financial Times on 1 May noted they should “strive to build an equal partnership of mutual respect and trust.” He added that “relaxing control over high-tech exports is … conducive to strengthening China-EU economic ties.”

Human rights “differences” between China and the EU came to the foreground in recent days over the case of Chen Guangcheng. The blind activist last week fled house arrest and took shelter in the US embassy in China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



North Korea’s ‘Jamming’ Capability Poses Fresh Threat to Seoul’s Security

In what appears to be a fresh row between the South and North Korea, Seoul has said electronic jamming signals from Pyongyang have affected more than 250 of its civilian flights. On Wednesdy, a South Korean official has accused North Korea of disrupting 252 civilian flights since Saturday by transmitting jamming signals. “We have confirmed the GPS (global positioning system) jamming signals have been stemming from the North,” said Lee Kyung-Woo, a deputy director at the state Korea Communications Commission.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Senator Caught in Muslim Slur Row

A MALAYSIAN newspaper has quoted independent senator Nick Xenophon as declaring Islam is a “criminal organisation”, after it misreported excerpts of a parliamentary speech in which the South Australian MP attacked the Church of Scientology.

The New Straits Times article quotes from Senator Xenophon’s 2009 speech — but substituted the word “Scientology” with “Islam”. As a result, it quoted Senator Xenophon as saying: “Islam is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.”

The Hansard transcript of Senator Xenophon’s speech shows he in fact said: “Scientology is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.”

The New Straits Times story — headed “Observer under scrutiny”, written by Roy See Wei Zhi and published on page six of yesterday’s newspaper and on the newspaper’s website — appeared three days after Senator Xenophon was teargassed during a demonstration for electoral reforms in central Kuala Lumpur…

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Motives Varied in Flare-Up of African Terrorism

Recent attacks in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria suggest a rise in Islamic terrorism across Africa. But motivations behind the attacks are varied. Long-term problems, and not religion, could explain some of the attacks.

Terrorism was a grimly recurrent theme throughout Africa over the weekend and through Monday. Five people were shot dead at a farm in Ethiopia, a grenade attack killed one person and injured 15 others in a church in Kenya, and gunmen killed up to 20 Christian worshippers during a church service in Nigeria.

Ethiopia has seen conflicts between Christians and Muslims before. Authorities have arrested suspects in the farm shooting, but it remains unclear whether they were acting alone or on behalf of a political group.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Nigerian attack. However, radical Islamist sect Boko Haram is a leading suspect. The group has been linked to al-Qaeda and held responsible for similar attacks. Meanwhile in Kenya, authorities have blamed Somalia-based al Shebab Islamist militants for the church bombing. The group has a publicly claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



South Africa, Saudi Arabia Deepen Ties

There is great potential for increased trade and investment between South Africa and Saudi Arabia, International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said during a meeting with his counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah, in Riyadh on the weekend.

Ebrahim, who is on a two-nation tour of the Middle East and Asia, said South Africa had significant investment interests in Saudi Arabia, through various companies in the engineering, hospitality, retail and health care industries.

Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s exports, and the kingdom is presently the largest supplier of crude oil to South Africa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Latin America


EU Urges Bolivia to Compensate Spain Over Electricity Grab

The European Union condemned Bolivia’s decision to take control of a subsidiary of Spanish firm Red Electrica on Wednesday and urged for quick and adequate compensation for the move. “The European Commission is concerned by the Bolivian government’s decision to nationalise the Empresa Transportadora de Electricidad (TdE), owned by Red Electrica Internacional,” said the EU executive arm’s trade spokesman John Clancy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish Press Sees Dangers in Latin American Expropriations

The Spanish press nervously swallowed news of Bolivia’s takeover of electrical grid Red Electrica’s local assets, warning on Wednesday it could herald a dangerous trend in Latin America.

Although the takeover in Bolivia is far smaller than Argentina’s expropriation of the YPF subsidiary owned by Spanish oil giant Repsol, announced just 15 days earlier, newspapers demanded a strong reaction from Madrid and fair compensation.

They warned, too, that Bolivian President Evo Morales’s decision, coming so soon after Argentina snatched Repsol’s offshoot, could pose a threat to future investments in the region.

“The economic damage caused to the Spanish core company is far from comparable to that caused by Argentina to Repsol,” said the conservative daily ABC.

But “if Morales does not want to seriously damage his country’s reputation with possible investors it is essential that he fufills his word by taking into account the investments made by Red Electrica de Espana through its subsidary in the country and pays proper compensation,” it said.

Spain’s leading daily, the centre-left El Pais, said Morales’ decision was based on “untenable rhetoric” in terms of rational business or international law.

“Unfortunately, the idea is spreading in Latin America of financing charismatic regimes at the cost of expropriating property that is private or held by other countries,” El Pais said in an editorial.

The paper chastised Madrid’s reaction to Argentine President Cristina Kirchner’s earlier decision to take over the YPF assets belonging to Repsol in Argentina.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Aussies Asked to Take in Asylum Seekers and be Paid for it

THE federal government will pay families up to $300 a week to temporarily house asylum seekers in their homes to help deal with the increasing flood of arrivals.

With the Immigration Department now facing a potential shortage of community housing to accommodate detainees who are being released into the community, the government has turned to householders for help.

Under a plan slated to start next month, the government will seek to access the 5000 homes registered under the privately run Australian Homestay Network (AHN) to host asylum seekers released from detention on bridging visas.

AHN was originally established to provide short-term private home accommodation and board for international students.

The organisation, which first approached the federal government with the plan last year, began writing to its national client base three weeks ago seeking applications from home owners to house asylum seekers.

The Immigration Department confirmed it would pay for security vetting and training for families which want to take up the offer.

It will also pay a weekly stipend of between $220 and $300 to families to cover food and board for detainees. Almost 1000 detainees have been released into the community over the past two months, since the government’s change of policy last year to ease pressure on detention centres.

The high cost of the Community Placement Network plan is expected to be allocated from the existing detention centre funding, which will be revealed in next week’s budget.

The AHN, which was set up to accommodate international students for short periods in family homes, claimed the initial period of housing for asylum seekers would be for six weeks, but could be extended.

“The Community Placement Network is an initiative designed to provide short-term accommodation (for) eligible asylum seekers while they independently source longer term sustainable accommodation in the community,” AHN executive chairman David Bycroft said.

“The CPN is for people interested in assisting asylum seekers to live in the community on a bridging visa while awaiting the resolution of their immigration status. It is not for people interested in international student hosting.”

The Refugee Council of Australia has backed the plan, claiming it would allow more people to be released from detention and live in the community while their applications were processed…

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Greece: UNHCR Has Reservations on New Center

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 2 — The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Athens said on Tuesday that conditions at a new detention center for undocumented migrants that began operating in Amygdaleza, northwest of Greek capital, on Sunday, were better than those at similar facilities. Following a visit to the Amygdaleza site by a UNHCR delegation, the office issued a statement expressing its reservations about “the operation and effectiveness” of a total of 30 such centers authorities have pledged to build, noting that people entitled to asylum could end up detained. “What remains critical for UNHCR is the procedure, criteria and conditions of police operations leading to mass arrests of undocumented aliens,” the statement said, adding that migrants had limited access to asylum procedures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Dalton McGuinty’s Anti-Bullying Partner Calls the “Bible Bull S—t”

Many people have asked the question, why is Dalton McGuinty attacking the Church and advocating a radical sex agenda with Bill 13? He comes from a large Catholic family of ten children and has four children of his own. The answer is complex; however one major force is his partner in the campaign, American gay activist Dan Savage, who is the creator of the “It Gets Better” project. After introducing Bill 13, the Premier released his promotional video “It Gets Better” in cooperation with Dan Savage.

Mr. Savage is at war against the Bible. He calls it “Bulls—t” and blames the Bible for causing homosexual suicide. He says in an interview on the CBC that “when mom and dad drag their kids to church, and what they hear from the pulpit is God hates fags… but their children listen to that and then go to school and there’s a gay kid in their school, …They’re going to bash him in the locker room, in the hallways, in the classroom.” Savage goes on to appeal to political leaders to stop the Church from causing the deaths of innocent young people.

Mr. Savage was the keynote speaker at the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle April 13th. As students listened he said “We can learn to ignore the bulls—t in the Bible about gay people,” He pronounced, “the same way we have learned to ignore the bulls—t in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bulls—t in the Bible about all sorts of things.” A flood of students walked out in protest during Savage’s rant against the Bible; He called them “pansy a—es.” (See the video here)

[Return to headlines]

General


Monster Black Hole Caught Swallowing Unlucky Star

Call it a Cosmic Scene Investigation: For the first time, scientists have identified a stellar victim of a giant black hole — an unlucky star whose death may ultimately provide more clues on the inner workings of the enigmatic gravitational monster that devoured it.

Supermassive black holes are objects millions to billions times the sun’s mass that lurk in the hearts of most galaxies. They lay quietly until victims, such as stars, wander close enough to get shredded apart by their extraordinarily powerful gravitational pull.

Scientists first caught a black hole red-handed in a stellar murder last year. Now researchers have determined not only the culprit in a similar cosmic homicide but the casualty as well: a star rich in helium gas. “This is the first time we’ve actually been able to pinpoint what kind of star was disrupted,” study lead author Suvi Gezari, an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, told SPACE.com.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120501

Financial Crisis
» Spain: Austerity Measures Do Not Create Jobs, ILO
» You Can’t Buy Your Way to Growth
 
USA
» “Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War With Islam by Any Crooked Means
» 5 Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Blow Up Ohio Bridge
» Arab American Institute Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative
» Big Brother, The Internet, And Your Right of Privacy
» California Meteorite is Rare Rock Laden With Organics
» Christian Group Sues Allegan, Muslims Over Event
» Chris Christie’s Islam Problem
» Delta Air Lines Buys a Refinery, Estimates it Can Cut Fuel Bill by $300 Million a Year
» Fiat-Chrysler Have Best April for Four Years in U.S.
» May Day for Communists or Mayhem Day for OWS
» Memo Reveals the ‘Gutsy’ Bin Laden Call That Wasn’t
» Muslim-Americans: On Road to Americanization
» Muslims Aim to Connect at Mankato Open House
» The Subversive Network Taking Over America
» Week Ahead: Mosque Open House, Shredding Day, Farmers Market, Civil War Days [Brookfield, Wisconsin]
 
Europe and the EU
» Denmark: Noma Still the Best
» EC Says Italy OK on Chocolate Labels
» EU Chides Italy on Fluorocarbon Regulation
» German Police Arrest 30 Salafists After Clashes
» Italy: Mafia Accountant’s Pen Drive Led to Massive Sweep
» Italy: Government Cleared to Spend Billions on Environment, Roads
» Italy: Plans Revealed for Theme Park to Recreate Glories of Ancient Rome
» Maroni: Lega Nord Mayors to Take Anti-Tax Initiatives in May
» Reusable Space Plane Idea Intrigues Europeans
» UK: ‘Wrong Perception of Islam in UK Big Challenge for Muslims’
» UK: Israeli Expert Barred From NHS-Sponsored Event After Unison Pressure
» UK: King’s Lynn Islamic Centre: Queen’s Arms Plans Approved
» UK: Police Called to Project Change Event in Croydon
» UK: Police to Guard Voting Booths at Tower Hamlets
» UK: Train Racist Faces Jail for Foul-Mouthed Tirade Captured on YouTube
» Weather Service Warns Avalanche Risk Increased
» Workers Take to the Streets of Europe for May Day Rallies
 
Balkans
» Donors Pledge 300 Mln Euros for Refugee Homes
 
North Africa
» Egyptian Race Narrows Down to Two Candidates
» Tunisia: After Price Increase Gov’t Adopts Decree
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Grand Mufti’s Jerusalem Trip Re-Engages Palestinian Rights
» Kadima’s Tzipi Livni Resigns From Israel’s Knesset
 
Middle East
» Iran’s ‘Morality Police’ Tighten Control on Women With the Rising Heat
» Our Double Standards
» Yemen: Al-Qaeda Targets Yemeni Women for Not Wearing Face Veils
» Yemen: Al-Qaida’s Wretched Utopia and the Battle for Hearts and Minds
 
South Asia
» Afghanistan: Amateur Astronomers Take Stargazing to Kabul
» India: Hindu Nationalist Governments Do Not Protect Christians
» Indian Court Challenges Dead Fishermen Compensation
» On Surprise Visit to Kabul, Obama to Sign Partnership Agreement With Karzai
 
Far East
» Chinese Islam Expert Offers Insight
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ghana: Muslim Youth Chase MCE
» Ride Along With Tuareg Rebels, As Al Qaeda Undermines West African ‘Spring’
» Uganda: Muslim Faction Give Museveni Last Chance
 
Immigration
» 79 Migrants, 15 Traffickers Stopped Off Sicily
» Finland.: MTV3: Majority Wants Roma Beggars Deported
» Greece Opens Immigrant Detention Center
» Ireland: Asylum Seeker Can Challenge Deportation Ruling
 
Culture Wars
» Soros Group: Calling People “Illegal” Is “Hate Crime”
» The Psychology of Racism, Part 1
 
General
» Dialogue With Muslims Won’t Quell Islamic Jew Hatred
» Mars Volcanic Glass May be Hotspot for Life

Financial Crisis


Spain: Austerity Measures Do Not Create Jobs, ILO

Measures slow growth and do not reduce deficit, report

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 30 — The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned that the austerity measures taken by the previous Spanish socialist government and the current government led by the People’s Party have “had a negative impact on growth and employment on the short run and have not lowered the tax deficit substantially”, which was the goal of these measures.

In its World of Work Report 2012, published today and quoted by the EFE agency, ILO writes that the prospect for employment in Asia and South America is positive, while the organisation is very pessimistic about the European labour market. Europe is responsible for two third of the 2010 rise in unemployment.

In the case of Spain, the organisation rejects the austerity measures as an instrument to boost employment and urges the government to support investments in production by reactivating credit to the real activity and, more importantly, credit to small and medium-size enterprise. Unemployment in Spain has reached 24.4%, the highest level since 1994, according to the most recent survey carried out by the national statistical institute.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



You Can’t Buy Your Way to Growth

Dagens Nyheter Stockholm

European leaders are seeking growth as a way to attenuate the social consequences of austerity measures. But simply giving money to the countries of Southern Europe, which do not have the adequate economic foundations, is a pipe dream, warns a Swedish commentator.

Richard Swartz

If the picture painted by politicians is to be believed, the new aid package which will replace the old aid package will ensure conditions favourable to economic growth in the countries of Southern Europe. Yet this vision of the future resembles the missed opportunities of yesteryear. Does anyone really believe that the European debt crisis is behind us?

Until now, we’ve settled for pushing down hard on the brake and for treating the symptoms of the crisis. Everybody must belt tighten, willingly or unwillingly.

Once again, European leaders did what they do best: stalled for time. They intend to use it to favour economic growth, the only means to get out of the crisis. Growth that can be achieved only if everybody pulls their weight. This congenial and certainly true creed is repeated like a mantra by the major European leaders.

But is it also realistic? One sometimes has the impression that the political class only has a very vague idea of how the economy really works in some countries of Eastern or Southern Europe. There, slogans such as “reforms” or “growth” evoke nothing more than false hopes and pure fantasy.

The dilemma is particularly flagrant in Eastern Europe. When the communist regimes fell, the former economies were scrapped. The factories were closed or they went bankrupt. From one day to the next, or just about, every consumer good was replaced, from toothpaste to margarine including panty-liners, refrigerators, sofas and automobiles.

For consumers in the Eastern countries, this was a true blessing. In the blink of an eye, they went from dearth to abundance. The only problem was the Eastern countries did not have the money to buy all of these Western products. The populations of those countries were thus offered generous loans by the newly established commercial banks, they too of Western origin. The result is that these are now economies that generally produce little and rest only on the precarious perch of indebtedness.

A good part of Southern Europe finds itself in a comparable situation — with shrunken production, insignificant exports, and high debt. In Southern Europe, the introduction of the euro, paradoxically, had effects similar to that of the fall of the Wall. For the first time these countries had access to “real” — and cheap — financial loans, as if the Peloponnese or Estremadura were in the Rhineland or neighbouring on Bavaria.

Such an opportunity undoubtedly comes along only once in a lifetime. For nearly ten years, a deluge of loans flooded into Southern Europe. This money could have been used to build the foundations of self-sustaining economic growth — if investments had been made in infrastructure, in the overhaul of the State, in consolidating entire segments of industry or in education. Instead, it was thrown out the window.

Today, as new aid replaces the old, we are told it will allow the creation of conditions necessary for the expected change in the countries of Southern Europe and for their economic growth. Yet, we have already let this opportunity slip away; it is already behind us. The vision of the future sketched by European leaders resembles yesterday’s lost opportunities.

Humans create more problems than solutions. [The late Swedish Prime Minister] Olof Palme used to say that the resolution of a problem — and thus of politics — is a question of will. For Karl Marx, the solution consists of becoming aware of what is indispensible. So be it. Neither of these two approaches can do any harm.

But it is undoubtedly Bismarck who was the shrewdest by declaring that politics is “the art of the possible” and that, therefore, solutions must be sought in what is concretely achievable…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

USA


“Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War With Islam by Any Crooked Means

When Malcolm X uttered the famous words, “by any means necessary,” it was in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He was making it known that Blacks were not going to take the systematic violence and oppression directed against them in a subservient manner. On the other side was Bull Connor, George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan and organized racism which sought to uphold Jim Crow “by any crooked means.” In the “fine” tradition of the Jim Crow-era racists, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other leading anti-Muslim activists have declared war on Muslims by any and all crooked means. In doing so they project their own inadequacies and stealth motives onto Muslims and Islam. They create new definitions of theological concepts such as taqiya (dissimulation to protect oneself from violence and coercion), defining it as lying for the advancement of Islam. In fact, it is Spencer and Geller who are lying to aide their own cause and to line their own pocket books. They put on the mask of defenders of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, when it is they who are a part of the leading regressive force in the US undermining and challenging our liberties and freedoms.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



5 Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Blow Up Ohio Bridge

Five people described as anarchists were arrested Monday in a Cleveland-area park for allegedly trying to blow up a bridge, sources tell Fox News.

The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were inoperable and controlled by an undercover FBI employee, according to sources close to the investigation.

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Court documents say three of the suspects are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed a small group and considered a series of plots over several months.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steven M. Dettelbach, said Tuesday that the defendants “took numerous and repeated acts that demonstrated a commitment to violent, terrorist acts.”

According to the complaint, the suspects initially planned to use smoke grenades to distract law enforcement so that they could topple financial institution signs atop high-rise buildings in Cleveland. However, the plot later called for C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to be placed and remotely detonated, according to authorities.

The final plan allegedly named the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills, as the designated target. The IED drop location was reportedly under the bridge on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brecksville Station.

The suspects were identified Tuesday as Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Joshua Stafford, 23; Connor Stevens, 20; and Douglas Wright, 26, Fox affiliate WJW-TV reported.

Baxter, Hayne and Wright were arrested Monday night by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, according to the station.

[Return to headlines]



Arab American Institute Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

Yesterday, more than a hundred people gathered at a town hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan to stand in solidarity with the Arab American and American Muslim communities against Islamophobia. The town hall, organized by AAI and local community groups, was held in response to an anti-Muslim conference at the Hyatt in Dearborn, organized by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and other leading Islamophobes. Islamophobes try to portray themselves as “the real Americans” defending America from the allegedly foreign presence of Muslims, but it was our community town hall that was attended by many elected officials, including Michigan Congressmen John Conyers, Jr. and Hansen Clarke. Elected officials’ presence at our event reiterated the integrality of the American Muslim community in the U.S. and the fringe nature of those who are pushing America to become otherwise.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Big Brother, The Internet, And Your Right of Privacy

H.R. 1981, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, Internet Privacy, Internet Taxes.

Most Americans assume that they have a right of privacy guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and, while several of the Bill of Rights imply this right, it is not specifically expressed.

However, it is understood. In a Supreme Court case, Meyer v Nebraska, 1923, Justice McReynolds perhaps said it best:

“While this court has not attempted to define with exactness the liberty thus guaranteed, the term has received much consideration and some of the included things have been definitely stated. Without doubt, it denotes not merely freedom from bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

So, yes, a right of privacy does exist, but it may not exist for long.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



California Meteorite is Rare Rock Laden With Organics

A meteorite that landed in northern California last week is much more valuable than scientists first thought.

After the meteor was sighted streaking through the sky on 22 April, meteorite hunters found fragments of the rock, identified by the “fusion crust” that forms when it burns in the atmosphere. NASA and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, also mobilised a search team of about 30 scientists, last weekend, to look for the fragile black rocks.

The meteorite turns out to be a very rare type of rock called CM chondrite, which makes up less than 1 per cent of the meteorites that fall to Earth. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says it is not clear whether it is rare because it easily burns up in the atmosphere or there are just fewer of these rocks in space.

The Murchison meteorite, a large CM chondrite that made landfall in Australia in 1969, is now one of the most studied rocks in the world.

Besides being rare, CM chondrites contain a lot of carbon and organic materials such as amino acids. Some believe this type of meteorite may have brought the first building blocks of life to Earth. As CM chondrite is one of the oldest types of rock in the universe, Cooke says that dating the newly discovered fragments will be a priority.

By coincidence, the meteorite fell in the same area that prospectors flocked to more than 150 years ago during California’s gold rush — and it has attracted prospectors of its own. Franck Marchis of the SETI Institute says the public’s response has been overwhelming. More than 1000 people showed up at the crash site, with rocks they’d found, to ask the scientists if they were meteorites. Due to its rarity, Cooke reckons 30 grams of CM chondrite is worth about $6000.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Christian Group Sues Allegan, Muslims Over Event

DETROIT (WTW) — A Christian legal advocacy group has claimed in a federal lawsuit that officials in a western Michigan city violated the rights of a self-proclaimed former terrorist by interrupting him during an event on free speech at a local high school. The civil suit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids by the Thomas More Law Center. Besides Allegan officials, the defendants include leaders of a Muslim civil rights organization that asked the city to cancel the event. According to the suit, a speech given Jan. 28 by Kamal Saleem at Allegan High School was stopped by police acting on a letter opposing Saleem’s visit. The letter was sent several days earlier by Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Chris Christie’s Islam Problem

by Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson

A Quinnipiac poll in April showed Chris Christie as the most popular potential Republican vice-presidential candidate, thanks to his budget cuts and standing up to government employees’ unions. But the governor of New Jersey has a problem, specifically an Islam problem, that can and should get in the way of his possible ascent to higher office. Time and again he has sided with Islamist forces against those who worry about safeguarding American security and civilization.

Some examples:

2008: When serving as U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Christie embraced and kissed Mohammed Qatanani, imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, and praised him as “a man of great goodwill.” He did this after Qatanani had publicly ranted against Jews and in support of funding Hamas, a U.S. government-designated terror organization, and on the eve of his deportation hearing for not hiding an Israeli conviction for membership in Hamas. In addition, Christie designated a top aide, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna, to testify as a character witness for Qatanani.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Delta Air Lines Buys a Refinery, Estimates it Can Cut Fuel Bill by $300 Million a Year

Delta Air Lines is buying a refinery in a novel — and some say risky — attempt to slice $300 million a year from its escalating jet fuel bill. The Atlanta airline said Monday that is buying the Trainer, Pennsylvania refinery near Philadelphia for $150 million from Phillips 66, a refining company being spun off from ConocoPhillips. The refinery has struggled to make money, and ConocoPhillips planned to shut it down if it couldn’t find a buyer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Fiat-Chrysler Have Best April for Four Years in U.S.

Fiat sales up record 336%

(ANSA) — Washington, May 1 — Fiat-Chrysler registered their best sales in the United Sates in four years in April, a company statement said.

The Italian-US car giant took 20% of the American market in its 25th straight month of growth.

All marques from Chrysler to Jeep, Dodge and Ram Truck, as well as Fiat, notched sales rises over April 2011.

Fiat’s sales were up a record 336%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



May Day for Communists or Mayhem Day for OWS

May Day is the day set aside as a celebration day for the communists of the world. OWS’s agenda is anchored deeply in socialism and communism so it is only right and proper that they celebrate something/protest this May Day.

This is the day when socialists, communists, labor unions, and that motley pain in the butt, OWS will link arms and demand redistribution of the wealth of the nation’s taxpayers. In other words: “Take from the Makers and give to the Takers.”

Oh, you say, ALL these organizations aren’t socialist and communists! Well, if it walks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, quacks like a duck, has webbed feet like a duck, and carries signs with communist and socialist slogans on them, it takes no stretch of the imagination, at all, to see them for what they really are.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Memo Reveals the ‘Gutsy’ Bin Laden Call That Wasn’t

Killing Bin Laden: Like so many others, the final decision to pull the trigger on the world’s most-wanted man was delegated to an admiral who undoubtedly would have been thrown under the bus had the mission failed.

It’s been almost a year since President Obama’s leadership and foreign policy bona fides were allegedly established by the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A campaign film narrated by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks tells of the president’s alleged solitary, agonizing decision.

With apologies to Vice President Biden, maybe President Obama doesn’t carry quite as big a stick as Joe would lead us to believe.

As reported by Big Peace, Time magazine has obtained a memo written by Leon Panetta, then-director of the Central Intelligence Agency and now-Secretary of Defense, that says “operational decision-making and control” was really in the hands of William McRaven, a three-star admiral and former Navy SEAL.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Muslim-Americans: On Road to Americanization

by Turan Kayaoglu

(MENAFN — Arab News) America has come a long way throughout the past decade. Post-9/11, anti-Islamic groups like Stop the Islamization of America, which was designated as hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, have attempted to victimize Muslims or numerous anti-mosque groups have campaigned to deny Muslim religious freedom. Yet America’s legal system has upheld its commitment to religious freedom protected Muslims from these attempts. On their part, Muslim-Americans have resisted Al-Qaeda-like violent extremists’ calls spread through Internet to turn them against their fellow Americans. In this decade, Muslims in America have actually prospered, established religious and civic institutions, and adopted increasingly American lifestyles.

The American media, however, being largely devoid of discussion of mainstream Islam, has missed this trend. According to a study conducted by Pew, while 6 out of 10 stories in the media about religion in 2011 were on Islam, they focused overwhelmingly on either the radicalization or victimization of Muslims. The media has covered stories ranging from debates on these issues by the House Homeland Security Committee’s hearings, to the Lowe’s controversy, which saw a giant home retail store caving in to demands from a fringe Evangelical group to pull its advertisements for TLC channel’s reality series “All-American Muslim.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Muslims Aim to Connect at Mankato Open House

MANKATO (Minnesota, USA), 8 Jumada Al-Thani/29 April (IINA)-With the smell of sambusa and other tasty food filling every room, local Muslim leaders made it clear Saturday their new Mankato Islamic Center is going to be a place where barriers are brought down, not built. City leaders, educators, bankers, a few police officers and even an FBI agent were among those invited to an open house at the Broad Street building, which is both a mosque and a community center. They removed their shoes at the door, took tours of the building, then gathered in a large room usually used as a prayer room for women.

It didn’t take long, after a few introductions, for the center’s members and the people they had invited there to break into a room full of animated conversations. And that’s what the open house was all about. “Our main focus is this is our culture and this is who we are,” said Akram Osman. “Come join us for our open house.” Osman is a member of the center. He’s also a Minnesota State University student, East High School girls head soccer coach and a home-school liaison for Mankato Area Public Schools. School Superintendent Sheri Allen, East Principal Shane Baier and East Junior High School Principal Rich Dahman were among the invited guests. Many of the center’s members are families with students at the east side schools.

Both the schools and Mankato’s Muslim community, which has a large population of Somali immigrants, are trying to find ways to make it easier for Somali students to be successful in school. That isn’t always easy when there are language and cultural barriers that can be a challenge for both students and their parents. Having some of the city’s top educators take the time to visit with parents and students on their own turf builds confidence, Osman said. Even if they can’t always verbally communicate, Somali parents know school employees are looking out for the best interests of their children.

“Education is a big thing in every family,” Osman said. “That’s the biggest thing every parent wants: The feeling that when your kids are going to school they have people who care about them there.” Abdi Sabrie, one of the center’s leaders, said there will be a variety of uses for the new building. It’s open to anyone who wants to enter, no matter what their religious background. There are rooms in the basement that include a computer lab and education room, which can also be used to serve senior lunches and host other events.

There also are plans to invite more people to future open houses, Sabrie said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



The Subversive Network Taking Over America

The time has long passed when we could afford to look the other way on the extent to which subversive influences — communist and jihad-oriented Islamists — have for years been worming their way into the high councils of our government.

So let’s say this again: When the Cold War ended, the enemies of America did not just go away. America is under attack from Communists (with both a large and small “c”) and Jihadists.

[…]

Earlier this month, as Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) was asked by a constituent, “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?” Congressman West answered that he believed “there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party.” When asked to name them, the freshman lawmaker replied, “It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Combination: Uproar and…silence

Because West used imprecise language with the term “members of the Communist party,” critics took the opportunity to nitpick.

[…]

Back to the question: Was Congressman Allen West off base when he called out the Congressional Progressive Caucus? Answer: No.

In the first place, the overwhelming majority of anti-American conspirators long ago stopped short of formal membership in the Communist Party. That doesn’t mean they’ve stopped working day and night to achieve their Hate-America agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Week Ahead: Mosque Open House, Shredding Day, Farmers Market, Civil War Days [Brookfield, Wisconsin]

The busy week ahead also includes the fundraiser Run for the Hills!, a presentation by the city fire chief on a service-swap agreement with New Berlin, and an appearance by Brenden McDaniel of the show ‘Hoarders.’

[…]

Mosque information session: The city will hold an open-house style public informational meeting on the Islamic Society of Milwaukee West’s plans to build a mosque. The meeting is open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Public Safety Building at 2100 N. Calhoun Rd. More on the mosque

[…]

[JP note: Brookfield’s motto: Minutes from Milwaukee, Miles from Expected. Islam’s motto might well be Minutes from Mayhem, Miles from Mecca.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Denmark: Noma Still the Best

The Copenhagen restaurant Noma has been voted the best restaurant in the world for the third consecutive year.

Restaurant Magazine, the British publication that has named the world’s fifty best restaurants since 2002, cited Danish chef René Redzepi’s “meticulous attention to detail and innovative approach”. Redzepi — who was named one of the top 100 influential people by Time magazine — developed Noma’s New Nordic Cuisine concept of using only fresh, organic ingredients that can be found in the Nordic region (the name Noma is a contraction of ‘Nordic’ and ‘mad’, the Danish word for food). Noma’s efforts are credited for moving Nordic cuisine to the forefront of world food culture. Michelin created a minor controversy earlier this year when it failed to give Noma a coveted third star.

“We think that food from our region deserves to have a voice in the choir of the worlds other great cuisines,” said Noma co-owner Claus Meyer in his New Nordic Cuisine manifesto.

That was a call that was clearly heeded by Restaurant Magazine, as another Danish restaurant made this year’s top 50. Copenhagen restaurant Geranium took the number 49 spot, another feather in the cap for chef Rasmus Kofoed, who won the prestigious Bocuse d’Or award in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EC Says Italy OK on Chocolate Labels

Won’t be fined, Commission says

(ANSA) — Luxembourg, April 27 — The European Commission on Friday said Italy was now in line with European Union norms on ‘pure chocolate’ labels and would avoid a fine.

Roger White, spokesman for Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, told ANSA that “Brussels has decided to shelve the infraction procedure, averting a fresh recourse to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as well as pecuniary sanctions”. In 2010 the ECJ condemned Italy for using ‘pure chocolate’ labels on products made solely from cocoa butter.

The court said the labels might mislead consumers.

Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti said the ruling was “contradictory”.

Italy has been fighting for years to preserve a distinction between its chocolate products and those from other European countries which use vegetable oils as well as cocoa butter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



EU Chides Italy on Fluorocarbon Regulation

Must limit greenhouse gas or face European Court of Justice

(ANSA) — Brussels, April 26 — Italy must comply with European Union standards on potent greenhouse gases known as fluorocarbons or face trial at the European Court of Justice, the European Commission said Thursday.

The warning came as Italy and Malta were given a two-month deadline to present its plan to formalize training and certification requirements for businesses using the agent. The countries must also notify the EU of the penalties they will put in place for those who break the rules. EU regulations call for firms to use environmentally friendly alternatives or to reduce losses from equipment containing fluorocarbons. Fluorocarbons, which are also referred to as perfluorocarbons or PFCs, are molecules constructed to act as refrigerants in items such as air conditioners, refrigerators and insulation bonding.

Fluorocarbons are often turned to as a substitute to chlorofluorocarbons, which are harmful to the ozone layer. But Fluorocarbons have been found to raise the threat of global warming, in some cases thousands of times more so than CO2 gases.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



German Police Arrest 30 Salafists After Clashes

BERLIN (AP) — German police say 30 protesters of an ultra-conservative Muslim group were arrested after clashing with security officials.

Police spokeswoman Anja Meis said a group of Salafists protesting against a far-right march threw stones and attacked officers separating the two rallies in the western German city of Solingen Tuesday. Three policemen and a passer-by were injured.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: Mafia Accountant’s Pen Drive Led to Massive Sweep

Belforte convicts better paid than Casalesis, police say

(SEE RELATED) (ANSA) — Naples, April 24 — A police round-up of 44 Camorra mafia suspects near Naples came thanks to accounting records recovered from a computer pen drive, police said Tuesday. Bruno Buttone, the alleged accountant of the Belforte family, had kept a payment ledger on the portable device that police seized in 2007. The ledger showed records of monthly payments for imprisoned clan members, who police say were better paid on average than convicts from the powerful Casalesi clan. Payment amounts varied according to prison terms: Antonio Rondione, sentenced to four years for extortion, was receiving 3,500 euros per month; and Giovanni Musone, serving a life sentence for murder, received monthly payments of 10,000 euros. The ledger also contained records of 350 businesses in the area who had paid a ‘pizzo’, or extortion money. In addition to the arrests, the sweep led to two businessmen being placed under investigation, including Angelo Grillo, the owner of Cesap, a company contracted to clean public offices throughout Italy. Police said investigations had uncovered a “leading role” played by the wives of Belforte clan chiefs jailed under special anti-mafia conditions.

More than 10 million euros of assets were seized in the operation and 250 bank accounts were frozen.

In a peculiar twist, suspect Francesco Ciano died of natural causes in the hospital just before police arrived to arrest him at his home. Ciano was the cousin of clan boss Domenico Belforte. The Belforte family is based in the town of Marcianise near the city of Caserta, 30.5 km (19 miles) north of the Campanian capital.

Police say the Belforte family made a deal with the Casalesi clan to split half of the mafia activity in Marcianise and the surrounding towns of Maddaloni, San Nicola la Strada, San Marco Evangelista, Caserta and nearby smaller towns. Death threats from the Casalesis have forced anti-mafia writer Roberto Saviano, whose expose’ Gomorrah was turned into a prizewinning film, into round-the-clock police protection.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Government Cleared to Spend Billions on Environment, Roads

1.7 billion towards eco-projects in South

(ANSA) — Rome, April 30 — The government got the go-ahead Monday to spend billions in stimulus money, the lion’s share going towards environmental projects in the South, infrastructure improvement in central and northern Italy and fixing schools. “The decision…allocates some 1.7 billion euros to environmental-protection projects in the South and approves 423 million euros for road and port construction in Veneto, Friuli Venezia-Giulia and Marche,” read a statement from CIPE, the country’s interministerial economic-planning committee.

The committee also approved 547 million euros — half of the original request — to fix and repair schools across the country.

Another 90 million euros was also released to modernize the Catania airport in Sicily.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Plans Revealed for Theme Park to Recreate Glories of Ancient Rome

There has been no end of movies and mini series’ that attempt to capture the guts and glory of Ancient Rome. But tourists could get a lot closer than they bargained for if plans go ahead to create what is being dubbed ‘Romaland’. According to The Times, mayor Gianni Alemanno is pushing for investment in a scheme to create a 240-hectare theme park on the edges of the Eternal City.

Visitors will be able to see the forum recreated anew, cheer on gladiator fights in the ‘Colosseum’ and take part in thrilling chariot races. They might also be able to visit recreations of Roman shops and sample the fare of the day, dodging the wagons in the streets. Tourists will also able to enjoy modern-day comforts in one of the five on-site hotels. ‘The idea is to give the visitor a sense of what the ancient life of Rome was. That’s the target,’ the newspaper quoted tourism official Antonio Gazzellone as saying.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Maroni: Lega Nord Mayors to Take Anti-Tax Initiatives in May

(AGI) Como — “By May, we will ask our mayors to take initiatives within the Municipal Council” against the IMU property tax. The announcement was made by Roberto Maroni while speaking in a press conference with the Lega Nord candidate for Mayor of Como, Alberto Mascetti. The member of the Lega Nord Triumvirate explained that, during the meeting of the Federal Council on schedule at 4:30 pm this afternoon in the Lega headquarters, the movement “will pass proposals against the IMU property tax, enabling Mayors and Municipal Councils, which are the fundamental cornerstones of democracy, to take initiatives”. “This will be the Lega’s new battle promoted by our Mayors and I hope that also the mayors belonging to other parties will take part in this sacrosanct war” he affirmed. In this connection, the Lombard Triumvirate defined the opening shown by Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia “a positive surprise”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Reusable Space Plane Idea Intrigues Europeans

A unique space plane concept has the potential to evolve into a vital space science laboratory for European Space Agency microgravity research at the edge of space, SPACE.com has learned.

The new Vinci space plane is detailed in an ESA report obtained exclusively by SPACE.com. The report, titled “A Cryogenic Sub-orbital Spacecraft,” says the plane would be a piloted vehicle with the appearance of a business jet and would be propelled by the Vinci rocket engine currently being developed for the upper stage of the European Ariane 5 rocket.

The spacecraft would be reusable, unlike the rockets currently used by the ESA for suborbital experiments. It would also be designed to carry eight people — six passengers and a two-person crew — into suborbital space and back.

According to its mission description, the Vinci space plane would take off horizontally from a runway to carry scientific payloads into suborbital space. The spacecraft would not reach all the way into orbit for complete trips around the Earth but would achieve an altitude above 62 miles (100 kilometers) and experience several minutes of weightlessness, during which the experiments would be carried out. Using cold gas thrusters to orientate itself for re-entry, the Vinci would then return to its takeoff runway, gliding down to land like a normal aircraft.

The proposal is part of a European Space Agency project aimed at supporting new commercial suborbital spaceflight efforts. Funding for new suborbital spaceflight technology projects could be approved in November at the next meeting of the ESA member states’ space ministers. The ministers meet every three years to decide the agency’s funding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Wrong Perception of Islam in UK Big Challenge for Muslims’

by Azad Farooq

UKIM chief says convincing non-Muslims Islam is religion of peace and harmony

KARACHI: The core challenge that Muslim community is facing at the United Kingdom was the wrong perception of the Islam prevalent among British and other communities,” said United Kingdom Islamic Mission (UKIM) chief Dr Zahid Pervez. Dr Pervez, who was recently on a visit to Pakistan, said this while exclusively talking to Daily Times, at a local hotel. He said, “To combat the issue, we availed all chances to interact other communities on various dialogue forums so as to convince them that the Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, and we got very positive impacts of measures in that direction. He said that Muslim community was playing a vital role in the UK. They were contributing in business, services sector and even armed and law enforcement agencies.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Israeli Expert Barred From NHS-Sponsored Event After Unison Pressure

The participation of an Israeli expert on conflict resolution at an NHS-sponsored event next week in Manchester was cancelled following pressure from local representatives of the UNISON trade union whose members were supposed to participate in the workshop. Moti Cristal, a veteran Israeli advisor and trainer on negotiating skills, was scheduled to present a “master-class” on the The Role of Negotiation in Dealing with Conflict at a seminar on conflict resolution for managers at NHS’ Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust and UNISON officials on May 8. On Friday, Mr Cristal received and email from the company organising the seminar, with which he has worked in the past, telling him that his lecture had been canceled “on the grounds that it is [the union’s] policy and also that of the Trades Union Council to support the Palestinian people.” Kevin Nelson, the regional secretary of UNISON North West Region confirmed that “UNISON’s local representatives at the Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust did request that the decision to invite Mr Moti Cristal to facilitate a Partnership Workshop on 8th May 2012 be reversed.” Explaining the decision, Nelson said, “It was considered that the decision to invite a prominent Israeli negotiator would be unacceptable given UNISON and TUC policy on the Middle East conflict, the irrelevance of the speaker to working relationships within a local NHS Trust and the inappropriateness of funding an international speaker at times of such austerity, when front line staff in the trust are at risk of redundancy.”

Mr Cristal has lectured to groups in Britain before on a number of occasions including a session with the Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB) and has advised also human-rights organisations and Palestinian groups. In response to the decision to cancel his lecture, he wrote to Chief Executive of the Manchester Mental Trust, Jackie Phillips, saying that “in terms of your future bargaining position with UNISON, I believe that the last minute cancelation is perceived more of an appeasement toward UNISON, rather than a leadership call.

“Values-wise, unlike you, I am confident that the only way to resolve conflicts, let alone the Israeli-Palestinian one, is through effective communication and constructive dialogue, rather than violence or boycotts.” He said that since the decision had been political, he was waiving his cancellation fee. Amir Ofek, the press attaché at the Israeli Embassy in London said that “the cancelation of a private expert simply due to his citizenship or ethnic identity is a racist policy in every way. What is even more shameful is the fact this was supposed to be an NHS-sponsored workshop dealing, ironically, with negotiating and conflict resolution. It seems that those who canceled it are in urgent need of such training.” The NHS did not respond to requests for comments.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: King’s Lynn Islamic Centre: Queen’s Arms Plans Approved

Controversial plans to convert a former pub in west Norfolk into an Islamic community centre have been approved by the council. The West Norfolk Islamic Association (WNIA) will convert the Queen’s Arms, London Road, King’s Lynn, into a centre for prayer, education and events. Assam Gabbair, WNIA chairman, said he was “overwhelmed” and the centre would “build bridges” in the community. More than 700 objections to the plans were posted on the council’s website. Campaigners against the centre claimed it would be “exclusive” and become a target for crime and vandalism. Some comments had to be removed for being racist and offensive. The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk planning committee approved the application by nine votes to eight. Mr Gabbair said: “We are grateful to all the officers and authorities who recommended approval for this. “In the wider context of the community, it will only help build bridges and any myths and perceptions out there we need to eradicate these. Hopefully we will focus on this.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Police Called to Project Change Event in Croydon

HELPING to improve the area around the Croydon General Hospital site was Project Change’s first activity day. While the event was overwhelmingly positive, it was soured when the police were called following an argument between members of a nearby mosque and a teacher in charge of some of the young volunteers. Jalil Shaikh, chairman of the Islamic Community Trust in London Road, claimed three youths racial racially abused and threatened to stab him. He told the Advertiser: “I turned up as a peacekeeper. I expected the teacher, as a responsible adult, to defuse diffuse? the situation but she wasn’t interested. She was very rude. This incited the children who were listening. They were jeering and making noises, swearing at me from behind. They threatened to attack me. One said, ‘If you don’t walk away I’m going to stab you’. I felt very threatened so I walked away. Of course I called the police. I felt scared. They had their hands in their pockets like they were about to get something out.” Police officers arrived and searched a number of the volunteers but found no weapons. As Mr Shaikh expressed his concerns to Mr Barwell, he claims the youths racially abused him, referring to him as a ‘man in a dress’.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Police to Guard Voting Booths at Tower Hamlets

48 hours before polls open, council’s Tory leader calls for urgent measures to protect voters

Police officers are to be stationed at every polling station in Tower Hamlets after the Met launched an official investigation into allegations of electoral fraud. Officers will man all 70 polling locations in the borough on Thursday alongside borough enforcement officers to prevent voter intimidation. The measures come as the Met launched an investigation into “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud in the key London borough less than 48 hours before the mayoral polls open. Police sources today admitted the measures were unusual.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Train Racist Faces Jail for Foul-Mouthed Tirade Captured on YouTube

A DRUNKEN secretary whose racist rant at commuters was posted on YouTube has been warned she faces jail.

Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, launched into an expletive-laden outburst, telling horrified Tube passengers: “I used to live in England, now I live in the United Nations.”

Prosecutor Claire Campbell said Woodhouse screamed: “I’d like to know if you’re f**king illegals” on the Central line between Mile End and St Paul’s station at around 11pm on January 23.

She also shouted “Pakistani f**king losers”, “This country is a joke” and then threatened to punch an Asian man in the face.

“She questioned Mr Juttla about where he was from and when he said he was British, she said: ‘I used to live in England, now I live in the United Nations’,” Ms Campbell said.

On the YouTube clip played in court she is seen screaming hysterically: “As long as you’re f****** working and not claiming benefits.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]



Weather Service Warns Avalanche Risk Increased

Late-season snowstorms could cause landslides

(ANSA) — Bormio, April 30 — Rain and snowfall expected at high altitudes in the western Italian Alps have caused an increased risk of landslides, Lombardy’s environmental monitoring agency Arpa said on Monday.

Arpa warned winter sports fans that late season storms throughout Europe have deposited snow as spring temperatures begin to rise and advise caution for those taking part in mountain-bound activities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Workers Take to the Streets of Europe for May Day Rallies

Workers across Europe and beyond gathered for May Day rallies on the international labor day. Among the issues to be highlighted were concerns about the effect the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis is having on workers.

Trade unions organized demonstrations across Europe and much of the rest of the world on Tuesday to mark the May 1 holiday.

In many countries the unions were expected to use the international workers’ holiday to protest against government austerity programs introduced over the past couple of years in an effort to get to grips with spiralling public debt.

Among the countries expected to see the biggest demonstrations were Greece, Spain and Portugal, all of which have been hit hard by the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. In the past, May Day protests in Athens in particular have been known to turn violent. The holiday comes less than a week before Greeks are to go to the polls in a general election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Donors Pledge 300 Mln Euros for Refugee Homes

Sarajevo, 24 April (AKI) — Donors at an international conference held in Sarajevo on Tuesday pledged to provide 300 million euros to solve refugee housing problems in Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, dating from 1991-1995 Balkan wars that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

The amount pledged represented about sixty per cent of the money needed to provide housing for 74,000 most endangered refugees in west Balkan countries, who seventeen years after the war still live in collective shelters, organizers said.

The bulk of the money, 230 million euros, was pledged by the European Union, but the United States, which pledged ten million dollars on Tuesday, promised to provide another 200 million euros in the next five years.

The countries of the region should provide 83 million euros, while Italy, Norway, Germany and Switzerland each pledged five million, Denmark one million etc.

Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremic told the conference there were 600,000 refugees in Serbia alone and solving their problems was an important step towards “overall reconciliation and end of enmities in the region”. He said Serbia was among five leading countries in the world with prolonged refugee problems.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, called on the international community to lend stronger support in solving refugee problems. “This is a day for celebration,” Guterres said. “Until now there was a lack of political will to close this chapter, but I hope that is now behind us,” he added.

EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fuele said the donors’ conference was a “good example of solving other international crises in the world, especially those related to refugee problems”.

“I believe that we will succeed in the next five years to secure the other funds needed,” Fuele said.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egyptian Race Narrows Down to Two Candidates

Egypt’s presidential election has entered its official three-week campaign phase, with a survey pointing to a two-way race between veteran Arab diplomat Amr Moussa and Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh.

Egypt’s state-run newspaper al-Ahram published a survey on Monday showing former foreign minister Amr Moussa and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh clearly ahead of 11 other candidates.

Egypt’s first round of voting is due on May 23-24. It’s likely to be followed by a run-off in June. The poll conducted by the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies put Moussa with 41 percent, comfortably ahead of Abol Fotouh with 27 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: After Price Increase Gov’t Adopts Decree

Potato prices under control, sanctions expected

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 30 — The Tunisian government offensive against price hikes in food products — at the basis of most domestic consumption and which over the past few weeks have seen sharp increases held to be (due to product availability and the harvest period) absolutely unjustified. The latest chapter in the war on speculation is a decree issued by the Trade and Crafts Ministry which beginning yesterday set (production, wholesale and retail) sales prices of potatoes. Production prices per kilogram was set at 550 millimes (about 270 euro cents), wholesale prices at 650 millimes (330 euro cents) and retail ones at 750 millimes (375 euro cents). Heavy sanctions are foreseen for those violating the decree, with mixed teams of ministry and police officials keeping watch over the enforcement, who have for quite some time been stepping up checks on retail outlets across the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Grand Mufti’s Jerusalem Trip Re-Engages Palestinian Rights

RAMALLAH (Palestine), 9 Jumada Al-Thani/30 April (IINA)- it has long been a recognised principle among Muslim scholars that the beauty of the Islamic tradition lies in its flexibility and responsiveness, its ability to adapt to new circumstances and situations. This is in accordance with the paramount values of Islam. Centuries of writing and guidance testify to the fundamental notion that the jurist who is the most truthful to the spirit of Sharia is the one who is intimately familiar with, and so remains responsive to, the reality of historical evolution and geographical diversity, as well as the particularities of people’s situations, customs and expectations.

It is in light of this well-established principle that we feel it is now time that the Muslim umma take seriously the need to revisit the long-standing boycott on visiting Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation, most prominently the sacred city of Jerusalem. For decades now, the issue of Jerusalem has been one of the most important problems confronting the umma, given both its sanctity to Muslims, as well as its symbolism of an ongoing and illegal occupation, which has imposed severe difficulties on its Arab population — both Muslim and Christian.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Kadima’s Tzipi Livni Resigns From Israel’s Knesset

Tzipi Livni is to step down from the political frontline, she announced today. The former Kadima leader handed in her resignation from the Knesset to Speaker Reuven Rivlin, following speculation in the Israeli media. It is thought that Ms Livni will maintain a central role in Israeli politics, but do so from outside Israel’s parliament. A month ago she was defeated in the Kadima Party primary race by the former defence minister, Shaul Mofaz. She was a star of the party, founded by Ariel Sharon in 2005, in its early years but Mr Mofaz secured nearly two thirds of the vote in the internal leadership election. Her exit from the Knesset comes amid expectation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to call early elections, to take place as soon as this September.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Iran’s ‘Morality Police’ Tighten Control on Women With the Rising Heat

Some 70,000 female police officers will be on the lookout for women dressed inappropriately on the streets of Iran in the rising summer heat, daily Vatan reported.

Female police officers will be responsible for detecting and warning women who fail to dress in line with the moral code of the Iranian authorities. Officers too will be dressed in black burqas, and will be instructing Iranian women on how to cover themselves the right way. Routine hand checks will also be conducted to prevent any use of nail polish.

The entire police force on dress code duty will be working overtime to cover every street in Iran, daily Vatan reported.

Similar regulations have been applied in previous years as well, under which women could be released from custody upon signing a paper agreeing to dress “properly.” Several incidents of violent confrontations have taken place during patrols, according to media reports, including incidents where officers used force against women who objected to their claims.

A woman can even face a prison sentence for refusing to change her dress following an official warning.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Our Double Standards

A preacher published a statement on his website saying “an Afghani teacher was giving a lecture at a police headquarters talking about forgiving when suddenly an American soldier stood up and shot the lecturer, killing him on the spot saying “this is how we practice forgiving in the American way.” The minute the preacher put his news on his website, several of his followers responded and expressed their anger at America.

The preacher did not stop, but he recommended several books that attack America and named America with all bad names in the world. He gave a list of massacres and crimes carried out by America in the whole world, and through modern political history. After one hour, the news agency corrected the news which the preacher wrote on his page, saying that the Afghani teacher was the one who opened fire and shot two American soldiers who were listening to the lecture.

When the preacher received the correction of the news, he did not apologize for what he wrote about the incorrect news but he wrote “the Afghani teacher must have killed the American soldiers for some reason.”

The preacher talked very bad about America when he thought the teacher was the victim, and retrieved from history its worst crimes and described America and the Americans with all evil names.

But when he found that the Afghani teacher the killer, he tried to find an excuse for him.

There is no excuse for killing, whether the victim is American or Afghani, and also there is no reason for double standards which the preacher promoted when he wrote that the killing of the Afghani teacher is an evil thing and the killing of the American has a point of view. The lack of fixed principles for giving judgments in the same case means that there is something wrong in our thinking. Even general defects in dealing with the same case. It is as if he was saying, if the victim is Muslim it is not allowed but if the victim is an American then we take sides with the one who killed him, and forgot the soul which was lost without a real reason. It was possible to take the side of this “criminal” when we knew all the details of the case, but the news came in correctly as the preacher put it on his page and then came back to correct it, neither him nor anyone has the right to comment or say it is right to kill or not kill.

The preacher, whom I respect, is one of the preachers whom I mostly listen to and I know that he is logical. But this strongly made me understand an important matter. The Americans are not the only ones who have double standards, but we as Muslims also have this double standard. Why not, while this preacher gave two different judgments for the same case in less ran an hour?! — Al-Anbaa

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]



Yemen: Al-Qaeda Targets Yemeni Women for Not Wearing Face Veils

Al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen have begun to harass women who do not wear the veil with Bikya Masr reporting on one instance of physical abuse as militants forced a woman to don the full face veil in Aden. The group, known as Ansar al-Sharia, believes a woman should follow the example of the Prophet’s wives and be fully covered, including her face. Women in Aden, however, have expressed outrage at the recent form of harassment against them, according to a report on Sunday. “How can they dare attack girls and women who do not wear the veil? It is a personal choice, which should not be imposed on anyone,” school teacher Anessa Abdelaalem was quoted by Bikya Masr as saying. Ansar al-Sharia has also been accused by local authorities of throwing acid on several girls “for refusing to bow to their demands.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Yemen: Al-Qaida’s Wretched Utopia and the Battle for Hearts and Minds

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports from south Yemen on the jihadis offering free water and electricity alongside sharia law

Driving east out of Aden, we were just a few hundred metres past the last army checkpoint when we saw the black al-Qaida flag. It flew from the top of a concrete building that had been part-demolished by shelling. From here into the interior, all signs of control by the government of Yemen disappeared. This is the region of newly proclaimed jihadi emirates in south Yemen that are run by affiliates of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni franchise of the movement founded by Osama bin Laden. AQAP has existed in this ragged, mountainous terrain for years, but in the last 12 months the jihadis have moved down from the high ground to take control of cities in the lowlands. They are in the process of setting up an al-Qaida utopia here, where security is provided by jihadis, justice follows sharia law and even the administration of electricity and water supplies is governed by the emir.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Afghanistan: Amateur Astronomers Take Stargazing to Kabul

A campaign is being launched to take astronomy to schools, orphanages and refugee camps throughout Afghanistan.

Amateur astronomers, government officials and science communicators are behind the project, which will dole out star-gazing kits first around Kabul. The Reach for the Stars project will establish the country’s first astronomy curriculum for young children. Drawing on the rich heritage of astronomy under Islam, the campaign hopes to expand to other countries too. “During the so called ‘dark ages’ in Europe, Islamic civilisation championed both astronomy and physics, shaping our modern science,” said Christopher Phillips, who is leading the project. “In more recent times this has been suppressed; it was taught that the skies were the realm of Allah, and astronomical study and investigation were un-Islamic and forbidden. Now we want to help Afghan children regain ownership of their astronomical heritage and take advantage of its educational opportunities.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India: Hindu Nationalist Governments Do Not Protect Christians

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), highlights the problem. More anti-Christian attacks are reported in the states of Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, which are governed by the Hindu nationalist NJP. Anti-conversion laws and lack of justice have created a climate of terror for Christians.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Governments led by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “lack the political will to guarantee security and protection for the Christian minority inside and outside its places of worship,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) as he spoke to AsiaNews about two fresh anti-Christian attacks in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka by Sangh Parivar activists.

Last Friday, residents in Badne village (Kanker District, Chhattisgarh) cordoned off a private home where Rev Dhaniram Nag and 50 members of the Pentecostal Bethesda Church of God had gathered for a prayer service.

Led by the village chief (sarpanch), they took the Christians out of the house one at a time, beating each in a brutal manner. When some fainted from the violent blows, the attackers threw cold water on them to bring them around in order to beat them some more. They especially targeted women and children. One of the worshippers who was already ill, Jaykant Pawar, died during the attack. The village chief and his acolytes then tried to pin the blame for his death on the pastor and the other Christians.

The day before, 19 April, more Hindu nationalists from the Sangh Parivar organised a protest in front of the Hebron Church in Marathalli, Karnataka, demanding that its pastor, Rev Victor Babu, be arrested. They accuse him of forcibly converting 32 children from a local elementary school at a summer camp.

A local resident, Rajashekara Reddy, filed charges against Rev Babu at the Mahadevapura police station under Article 295 A of the Indian Penal Code against “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.”

“Anti-conversion laws are a tool to persecute the local Christian community In Chhattisgarh,” Mr George said. “Hindu nationalist groups use them as for propaganda in their campaign of hatred against minorities, pushing Hindus to resort to violence. In Karnataka, militants are encouraged by the Somasekhar report to continue to terrorise Christians.”

On 28 January 2011, a report by the justice commission chaired by former judge BK Somasekhar found that the Bajrang Dal and its coordinator Mahendra Kumar were not responsible for the attacks against churches and other places of worship in Karnataka in 2008.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Indian Court Challenges Dead Fishermen Compensation

‘Against the law’ judge says

(ANSA) — New Delhi, April 30 — The Indian supreme court on Monday challenged a compensation settlement signed last week between the owner of an Italian tanker and the families of two Indian fishermen allegedly killed by two marines guarding the vessel against pirates on February 15.

One of the judges said the deal, under which each of the families would receive 10 million rupees (145,000 euros), “must be annulled” because it was against Indian law.

When the settlement was agreed on April 24, the families were quoted as saying: “We forgive our Italian brothers”. Italy described the compensation as “an act of generosity” with no implication of guilt.

Rome is trying to have the case tried in Italy, arguing the incident took place in international waters.

The Indian supreme court has admitted Rome’s plea and set a May 8 date for the first hearing.

A separate hearing for the long-awaited release of the Enrica Lexie tanker has been postponed until Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



On Surprise Visit to Kabul, Obama to Sign Partnership Agreement With Karzai

President Obama landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a surprise visit, to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan meant to mark the beginning of the end of a war that has lasted for more than a decade.

Mr. Obama, arriving after nightfall on Tuesday under a veil of secrecy at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, flew by helicopter to the presidential palace, where he was to meet President Hamid Karzai before both leaders signed the pact. It is intended to be a road map for two nations lashed together by more of than a decade of war and groping for a new relationship after the departure of American troops, scheduled for the end of 2014.

Mr. Obama was scheduled to address the American people from Afghanistan on Tuesday evening, which would be the middle of the night in Afghanistan. The address — on the one-year anniversary of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan — will give Mr. Obama a new opportunity to make an election-year case that he has wound down two inexpensive and now unpopular wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

[Return to headlines]

Far East


Chinese Islam Expert Offers Insight

BEIJING, 9 Jumada Al-Thani/30 April (IINA)-University of Hawaii at Manua professor James D. Frankel visited San Diego State on Tuesday to lecture about a special topic: Chinese Islam. While many might think it uncommon to use the words “Chinese” and “Islam” together, Frankel is considered an expert in the subject. “When people find out that there are Muslims in China they wonder how many, and the answer could be 20 million to 200 million,” Frankel said laughingly. “This is a controversial figure because it’s hard to count.” Although counting the number of Muslims is difficult in a country such as China, which has a population of 1.4 billion, experts suspect there may be more than 100 million Muslims in China, according to Frankel.

The lecture explained the history of how the Hui people, one of many Chinese Muslim groups, have historically adapted to Chinese and Muslim culture simultaneously. The ancient Silk Road, which connected the Mediterranean region to China, brought Muslim traders to the heart of the Chinese Empire for economic reasons rather than religious, Frankel explained. “The Muslims started to speak exclusively Chinese. Arab, Turkish and Persian men married Chinese women and their children were bilingual, but eventually the use of foreign Islamic languages diminished,” Frankel said.

One characteristic distinguishing the Chinese Muslims from the rest of the population the most is that many do not eat pork. This is one of the reasons why the Han people, who constitute 90 percent of the population, don’t know much about the Chinese Muslims, according to Frankel. “The Muslims don’t eat pork and therefore cannot go to a Han Chinese home and have, for example, dinner with them because of the fear of being contaminated by the pork meat,” he said. Frankel said the Han look down on the Chinese Muslims in a general sense because they know very little about them. The differences between the two groups cause prejudice, according to Frankel. “When I lived in Beijing, I took a cab from a mosque and the cab driver asked, ‘What are you doing at a mosque? Why would you be interested in them they’re so weird,’“ Frankel said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Ghana: Muslim Youth Chase MCE

HUNDREDS OF Muslim youth from Ashaiman yesterday thronged the Jericho Islam School Park to protest against the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Numo Addison Addinortey, for attempting to develop the land for a different project. The angry youth, wielding clubs, machetes and other offensive weapons, and amidst chanting of ‘Allahu Akbar’, meaning ‘Allah is great’, burnt car tyres at the four corners of the land. The land in question already has a mosque, Arabic and English school, Mohammedian Mission School and three new blocks under construction for the Muslim women of the community.

Speaking with DAILY GUIDE at the scene, Alhaji Usman Abdul Hamid, Imam of the mosque on the land, said it was an insult to Islam that the only land released to them freely by the chiefs and people of Tema in the early 1960s for the development of Islam would be bought by the MCE. He narrated that investigations by the youth at the assembly indicated that some of the Muslim chiefs in Ashaiman allegedly sold the land to Mr. Addinortey at GH¢170,000 for his personal use. “The assembly members told us that the purchase of this land was never raised on the floor of the house in any of their meetings. Therefore, where is Addinortey coming from that he has bought the land for a GETFund project?” Imam Usman wondered. He mentioned the name of a certain Umara aka Big Joe as the one who conspired with some of the Ashaiman Muslim chiefs to sell the land to Mr. Addinortey.

The agitating youth expressed readiness to fight tooth and nail to protect the land, explaining that if they let go of the land, Muslims would not have any field to hold their Eid prayers, as their Islamic schools and mosques would be demolished. When DAILY GUIDE contacted Mr. Addinortey via phone, he confirmed that the land had been acquired by the assembly for a project that was expected to be funded by the GETfund, denying that he purchased the land for himself. He alleged that some members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) were hiding behind the youth to agitate against him and the government because the NPP, according to him, was jealous of the government’s development achievements in the area. He noted that a check by the assembly revealed that the land was acquired by a Malian, a resident of the area by name Mallam Kunta, who was late. He said realizing that the municipality lacked a lot of Government schools, the assembly decided to use the place for the construction of schools. “What the assembly intends to do on the land is geared towards eliminating the shift system as well as improving upon the standard of education in the municipality,” Mr. Addinortey remarked.

Mr. Addinortey promised to go ahead with the development of the land irrespective of the tension the youth would create in Ashaiman. He added that the assembly would go to the land to cut sod for works to commence on it. Mr. Addinortey, however, failed to disclose how much he or the assembly bought the land for from the Malian High Commissioner. At the time of filing this story, the MCE was said to have failed to carry out the assembly’s promise of sod cutting.

FROM Razak Mardorgyz Abubakar, Ashaiman

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Ride Along With Tuareg Rebels, As Al Qaeda Undermines West African ‘Spring’

The nomadic Tuareg people had hoped for more freedom in what is now a disintegrating situation in the West African nation of Mali. Islamic radicals have taken advantage of a power vacuum to exert their authority. A look up close with Tuareg rebels…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Uganda: Muslim Faction Give Museveni Last Chance

The head of Imams in the Kibuli-based faction, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, has said they will use their second meeting with President Museveni on Friday as the last chance to solve the Muslims’ woes. While addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, the outspoken cleric said the President was using a divide-and-rule approach to weaken the Muslim community. Sheikh Muzaata said President Museveni had earlier met the same faction seven times but nothing constructive between the two groups had been realised. But the Presidential Press Secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said whoever was blaming the President for Muslim woes is unfair. He said the Muslims have always been divided since independence.

At the weekend, Sheikh Muzaata said President Museveni’s intervention was a calculated move by government to divert them from dislodging Mufti Shaban Mubajje who they accuse of being a stumbling block in restoring sanity in the Muslim leadership. He said his group under a new operation dubbed ‘bye bye Mubajje’ was planning another procession to unseat Mufti Mubajje from Gaddifi National Mosque. But Hajj Nsereko Mutumba, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council spokesperson, scoffed at the Kibuli group, saying it lacks capacity to dislodge his boss. “Let them do what they think is right,” he said. Last week, supporters of rival supreme Mufti Zubair Kayongo, where Sheikh Muzaata falls marched from Kibuli through the city centre to Gaddafi National Mosque-Old Kampala, the seat of the Islamic faith in an attempt to block the ongoing grassroots Muslim elections but their plans were thwarted by riot police.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


79 Migrants, 15 Traffickers Stopped Off Sicily

Crossings have resumed because of good weather

(ANSA) — Mazara del Vallo, May 1 — Italian police on Tuesday stopped 79 Egyptian migrants and 15 suspected traffickers on a fishing boat just off this western Sicilian port.

Migrant crossings from north Africa to southern Italy have recently resumed because of good weather.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Finland.: MTV3: Majority Wants Roma Beggars Deported

Finns are not prepared to accept beggars on the country’s streets — in any season. The majority says they should be sent back home.

According to a survey commissioned by commercial broadcaster MTV3, as many as four-fifths of people interviewed favoured the deportation of Roma beggars currently in Finland.

As many as 85 percent of men questioned said the vagrants should be sent home. Some 81 percent of women shared the same opinion.

Arto Tanner, a docent at the University of Helsinki who has examined the plight of Eastern European Roma, says he was surprised by the survey’s results.

In his opinion, the tough stance taken by respondents legitimises officials’ strong measures when dealing with Roma beggars.

The MTV3 survey was carried out by Think If Laboratories Oy in April. Around 2,000 people were interviewed. The margin of error was three percentage points.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Greece Opens Immigrant Detention Center

Greece has opened a detention center for migrants outside Athens amid protests by local residents. With elections approaching, an anti-foreigner far-right party has made inroads in the polls.

Greece opened its first purpose-built detention camp for undocumented migrants on the outskirts of the capital, Athens, on Monday, a week before a national election in which immigration has emerged as a key issue amid lingering recession and debt.

Opinion surveys indicate that far-right extremists, who have campaigned strongly against migrants, currently draw five percent support. That would be enough to win them seats in parliament for the first time.

Greece’s ruling Socialist PASOK and conservative rival New Democracy parties have also pledged to crack down on immigration to try to win over voters. At a rally in Athens on Sunday, Civil Protection Minister Miahlis Chrysohoidis said: “We are sending a message in every direction that the country is not unfence anymore.”

Conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras said last week he would halt what he termed an “unarmed invasion” by undocumented migrants.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Ireland: Asylum Seeker Can Challenge Deportation Ruling

HIGH COURT JUDGMENT: O -v- Refugee Appeals Tribunal Anor.

Neutral Citation (2012) IEHC 46.

High Court

Judgment was delivered on February 2nd, 2012, by Mr Justice Gerard Hogan.

Judgment

A Nigerian Christian pastor who claimed he was at risk of persecution because of his opposition to Sharia law was granted leave to judicially review a decision to reject his application for asylum.

Background

The applicant built his own Christian church in the Nigerian capital, Lagos, where he spoke out against the operation of Sharia law in Nigeria. He claimed he was targeted by a militant Islamic group called Ahaddinjay as a result. Matters came to a head in February 2007, he claimed, when his church was burned down and the following day his sister was murdered. He said he was advised by police to leave Lagos and he travelled to the neighbouring state of Oyo and later to Benin, from where he travelled to Cork via Morocco. He arrived in Ireland in August 2007 and sought asylum, claiming his feared for his life if he returned to Nigeria and that there was no effective state protection in Nigeria. His application was rejected and when he appealed the initial decision the Refugee Appeals Tribunal said his claim was wholly lacking in credibility and his evidence “quite unbelievable”, referring to his “demeanour and credibility”. The tribunal member also said he “could easily have relocated” and that he had visited the UK 10 times in two years, returning to Nigeria each time.

Decision

Mr Justice Hogan said it was not possible to discern the reasons given for the decision reached. He remarked that the description of a witness’s demeanour as “lacking in credibility” was an uncertain expression. “An assessment of demeanour in itself can rarely be a sure ground for dismissing the cogency of a witness’s evidence by reason of that fact alone,” he said. This was particularly the case in asylum cases, in that allowance had to be made for translation difficulties and cultural norms. He quoted guiding principles enunciated by Mr Justice John Cooke in relation to assessing credibility — it must not be based on perceived correct instinct or gut instinct, a finding of credibility must be based on correct facts, untainted by conjecture of speculation, and where an adverse finding involved discounting evidence supporting a claim, the reasons for that rejection must be stated. He said the applicant could establish substantial grounds for contending that the tribunal member had violated these principles.

No explanation had been given for the member’s decision, leading to the court concluding that he had elected to disbelieve the applicant’s evidence for purely subjective reasons. “One is left to presume that the Tribunal member discounted the applicant’s narrative regarding the burning of the church or the murder of his sister on the following day. Yet the reasons for this conclusion are simply not explained,” Mr Justice Hogan said. It did not appear to be in dispute that the applicant was a Christian pastor or that he had given offence to Muslims by the stridency of his preaching. Indeed, the tribunal member had commented he was not surprised “that the Muslim community would take grave exception to the manner of his preaching”.

The applicant had submitted a photograph of the remains of his church and a newspaper article dealing with the Niger delta oil crisis at this time, but no reason was given for rejecting this documentary evidence. In relation to internal relocation, the tribunal must ask whether it was reasonably possible for the applicant to travel to another part of Nigeria in safety or whether, given his preaching activities, he might be targeted by Islamic groups. In relation to his travel to the UK and return to Nigeria, Mr Justice Hogan pointed out that all these trips had taken place before the events of February 2007. He granted leave to challenge the decision to refuse the asylum application.

The full judgment is on courts.ie.

The names of counsel in this case were not available.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Soros Group: Calling People “Illegal” Is “Hate Crime”

There is a lonely, barren place in what passes as the logic center of the brains of members of the communist Left. Or, we could simply say that they are liars. That is certainly true of leftist leaders — they are indeed liars, but many millions of followers of the Left are more likely just deceived. That is A-OK with the power masters of the communist Left, because it is their aim to deceive.

I came across a promotional video for a campaign to abolish the word “illegal” when referring to people who are in our country illegally. Yes, that is correct. These leftists who are pushing for the dismantling of United States national sovereignty and promoting open borders are seeking to hijack the very language we use to describe criminal aliens. Of course, that is nothing new. For decades, these people have been manipulating the language to disguise their communist platform with euphemisms.

[…]

This video, this piece of communist propaganda, is just one more fragment of the massive program of the Left. All their lies are for the purpose of hiding their true agenda for our nation, an agenda that includes domination by global governance through the United Nations, the dissolving of our national sovereignty, complete centralized government control of the people and the abolition of our United States Constitution — just for starters!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Psychology of Racism, Part 1

Within the mind and heart of a bigot exists a hidden world of hatred, failure, and low self-esteem, combined with a powerful need to feel good at another’s expense. Roy Masters (a Jewish immigrant from England who has experienced firsthand the cruelty of anti-Semitism) looks beyond the surface politics of discrimination and explores the intriguing psychology of this dangerous and divisive prejudice.

Today we are witnessing the renewal of a hate-based ideology, one based on identifying and persecuting scapegoats for personal and national problems. After the promise of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, people of good will the world over had hoped widespread racism would be a thing of the past. And although it has mushroomed in the last decade, this attitude of contempt for one group by another has unfortunately always been present, not only in this country, but throughout the world.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General


Dialogue With Muslims Won’t Quell Islamic Jew Hatred

by Pamela Geller

Anti-Islamist blogger responds to accusations she publishes ‘dishonest hate literature about Muslims and Islam.’

Dylan Kaplan appeals for harmony between Jews and Muslims while claiming that Robert Spencer and I “publish dishonest hate literature about Muslims and Islam.” Kaplan has high hopes for his project of building friendships, claiming that “if we could make friends we would be bringing security” to Israelis and “Palestinians.” Why are we exhorted to initiate dialogue with Muslims, while there’s never talk of the Islamic Jew-hatred that has motivated 1,400 years of Muslim persecution of the Jews?

The root cause of the ongoing war against Israel is Islamic Jew-hatred: Quranic chapter and verse served up as a daily diet in the “Palestinian” media. The same Islamic Jew-hatred that fueled the alliance between Hitler and the leader of the Muslim world, the Mufti of Jerusalem. “Making friends” won’t eradicate that hate. Where is Kaplan’s discussion of the 1,000,000 Jews who were expelled from Muslim lands in 1948, when Israel was established? We hear much about how Muslims were supposedly expelled from Israel, but they were told to leave by their leaders, who said they could come back after Israel was destroyed. How is that the Jews’ fault? How does it make Spencer and me haters if we discuss the root causes of the enmity that many Muslims feel for Jews?

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Mars Volcanic Glass May be Hotspot for Life

Glass sand on Mars may point the way to chemically-rich water ideal for hosting life. The newly discovered glass dune fields, spread across almost a third of the planet, likely formed from interactions between magma and ice, or water — interactions that could create the perfect environments for microbial life.

The northern lowlands spread across millions of square miles in the Red Planet’s northern hemisphere. But dark sediments in the region have puzzled planetary scientists.

Briony Horgan and James Bell, both of Arizona State University, used the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter to re-examine light radiated from the Martian plains. They determined that the strange readings were caused by sand composed of glass. “We’re actually seeing glass particles, like glass sand,” Horgan said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]