News Feed 20110614

Financial Crisis
» Bundesbank Sounds Warning: EU Holding Fresh Talks on Greek Bailout
» EU’s Rehn ‘Confident’ On Greece Deal
» France Warns Debt Moves May Leave EU With Greek Bill
» Greece: S&P Drops Sovereign Rating to ‘CCC’
» Greek Economy Slapped With Sharp Credit Downgrade
» Private Sector to Stump Up 30% of Greek Aid: Dutch Ministry
» Roubini Says ‘Perfect Storm’ May Threaten Global Economy
» Sarkozy: Soaring Commodity Prices Threaten World Growth
» Spain: Press: 4 Savings Banks to be Nationalised
» US is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece
» Attack of the NGOs
» Disingenuous Transparency: Whistleblowers Suffer More Than Ever Under Obama
» Government Demands Keys to Your Kingdom
» Independent Journalists Ask About Panetta’s Far Leftist Ties
» Senate Panel Approves Panetta for Defense Secretary
Europe and the EU
» Airbus Reveals Modernistic Concept Plane for 2050
» At Last: Obama Woos Europe
» Death Toll Reaches 36: Authorities Investigating New E. Coli Find in Germany
» Denmark: Business Leaders Bemoan Closed Borders
» Eco-Friendly Mosque Planned for Germany
» Estonia Training NATO ‘Techies’ For Cyberwar
» Expellee ‘Provocation’: Prague Refuses Apology to Sudeten Germans
» Finland: Rail Vandalism: Over 100 Local Train Departures Cancelled on Monday
» France Loses Wine Title to Italy
» French Minister Presses Air France to Prefer Airbus
» Getting a Head: Early Wine-Lovers Also Brewed Own Beer
» Hackers Take Revenge on Spanish Police for Arrests
» It Takes a Village: TUI Builds Tuscan Playground for the Wealthy
» Italians Reject Nuclear Energy in Further Blow to Berlusconi
» Italy: Electorate Defies Berlusconi and Votes on Referendums
» Nuclear Referendum: Italians Vote No to Berlusconi
» Sweden: Mother-to-Daughter Womb Transplant Maybe Next Year
» Sweden: ‘Dad Told Me to Grab the Knife’: Convicted Son
» Swedish Embassies Prepped to Prevent Forced Marriages
» Swedish Kids Invited to Neo-Nazi Summer Camp
» Third Amsterdam Naked Bike Ride
» UK: ‘Sex Gang Groomed Girls of 13’: Men Accused of Luring Teens and Turning Them Into Prostitutes
» UK: Dawn Raids Across Manchester as Police Move in on Gang Who Groomed Under-Age Girls at Drug-Fuelled Sex Parties
» UK: Why Wind Farms Will Have to Shut Down for 38 Days Per Year … When it Gets Too Windy
» Kosovo Pledges to Cooperate With EU Organ Trafficking Probe
North Africa
» Foreign Journalists in Tripoli: Drinking Cappuccino as the Bombs Fall
» Germany Recognizes Rebel Leadership in Libya
» Libya: Prolonged NATO Operation ‘May Run Into Financial Problems’
» Morocco: Violence Against Women, Plan to Rehabilitate Men
» NATO Raids Endanger Libya’s Leptis Magna
» War Paradox: Libyans in Tunisia to Fill Up
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: Confronting Our Subversive Institutions
Middle East
» After 90 Years: A Dictionary of an Ancient World
» Clinton Accuses Iran of Supporting Syria’s ‘Cruel Attacks’
» Defence: Turkey’s Izmir to be NATO’s Land Forces Base
» Lebanon: New Hezbollah-Leaning Cabinet Formed
» Resisting the Arab Revolution: First Cracks Appear in Saudi Arabia’s Forced Calm
» Syria: UN: Draft Resolution of Condemnation Blocked
» ‘Turkey is Facing Great Challenges’
» Turkey Marks Istanbul Conquest
» Turkey: PM Poses as a Mideastern Rather Than a European Leader
South Asia
» Eight Killed at Football Game in Thailand by Muslim Militants
» Pakistan: Forced Conversions of Hindu Girls to Islam. Often Unreported Out of Fear
» Pakistan: Police Fire on Doctors’ Demonstration
» Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid
» With 1.2 Billion People, India Seeks a Good Hangman
» 290 Migrants Land on Lampedusa Including Women & Children
» Egypt: Coast Guard Rescues Migrant Boat Bound for Italy
» France to Deport More Romanians After Discovering They Are Behind 80% of Street Crime
» Frontex: Most Illegal Migrants to EU Head to Italy
» Greece: 90 Illegals Detained by Frontex
» Helsinki Not Helping Accommodate Itinerant Foreign Roma
» Malta: Limits to Migrants’ Integration Putting More Strain on Open Centres — Minister
» Over Half a Million New Belgians in a Decade
» Schengen Enlargement to Increase Illegal Migration: Europol
» Islam, The Ultimate Obsessive-Compulsive Religion
» Sun’s Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity
» Tiny Fossil May be World’s Smallest Dinosaur
» When Everything is Smart: RFID Chips Infiltrate Food, Towels, And Even People

Financial Crisis

Bundesbank Sounds Warning: EU Holding Fresh Talks on Greek Bailout

Euro zone finance ministers met on Tuesday for fresh talks on a new bailout for Greece, which was hit by another ratings downgrade on Monday. Meanwhile, the ECB signaled it won’t sign up for any new funding for Greece, and Germany might get its way on involving private investors in a new rescue.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU’s Rehn ‘Confident’ On Greece Deal

Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Tuesday he was confident the European Union would overcome its differences on a new Greek rescue package, and along the lines of contentious German proposals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Warns Debt Moves May Leave EU With Greek Bill

France’s central bank chief warned on Tuesday that the eurozone risks having to finance all of Greece’s economy if it forces a modification of Athens’ debt and the country is declared in default. France has been a leading backer of the European Central Bank, which has opposed calls by Germany for pushing private investors to accept delayed payment on Greek government bonds as part of a second bailout for the troubled eurozone member. “If a solution can be found that avoids the risk of a default, that would be acceptable to us,” said Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer. “If one can’t be found and you touch the debt anyway and provoke a default or a ‘credit event’, then you better be prepared to finance the entire Greek economy,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: S&P Drops Sovereign Rating to ‘CCC’

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 13 — Standard & Poor’s has once again downgraded Greece’s sovereign rating: the rating agency has taken Athens’ credit worthiness down to ‘CCC’, three notches lower that its previous ‘B’, with negative outlook.

The downgrading, which takes Greece further down the speculative league table, is the lowest rating given by any of the three major agencies, reflecting the opinion voiced by S&P, that the risk of a default over the coming twelve months has increased significantly on the basis of their parameters of full and prompt payment.

And so, in the view of S&P, there are growing risks facing the practicality of the EU-IMF aid package. This opinion is partly grounded in the increasing difficulties on the Greek political scene and partly on the present tough economic climate.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek Economy Slapped With Sharp Credit Downgrade

The US-based agency Standard & Poor’s has hit Greece with a three-band credit rating downgrade in a move that will likely dent confidence in international efforts to drag the Greek economy out of the doldrums.

Credit agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded Greek debt three notches to CCC — a rating that means it considers Greece to be “currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable economic conditions to meet its commitments.” The hefty downgrade puts Greece into the broader category of non-investment grade credit considered too risky to be a good financial bet. It leaves Greece as the country with the lowest credit rating in the world. “The downgrade reflects our view that there is a significantly higher likelihood of one or more defaults, as defined by our criteria relating to full and timely payment, linked to efforts by official creditors to close an emerging financing gap in Greece,” said the rating agency. It said its estimate of a 30 to 50 percent recovery upon default remained unchanged.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Private Sector to Stump Up 30% of Greek Aid: Dutch Ministry

The European private sector must contribute more than 30 percent of possible new financing for debt-saddled Greece, a Dutch finance ministry spokesman said Tuesday. Finance Ministry spokesman Nils Redeker said Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager was asked during a parliamentary debate whether European banks, pension funds and insurers should contribute between 20 and 30 percent of a second loan to Greece. “It will be more,” De Jager said, Redeker confirmed to AFP.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Roubini Says ‘Perfect Storm’ May Threaten Global Economy

A “perfect storm” of fiscal woe in the U.S., a slowdown in China, European debt restructuring and stagnation in Japan may converge on the global economy, New York University professor Nouriel Roubini said. There’s a one-in-three chance the factors will combine to stunt growth from 2013, Roubini said in a June 11 interview in Singapore. Other possible outcomes are “anemic but OK” global growth or an “optimistic” scenario in which the expansion improves. “There are already elements of fragility,” he said. “Everybody’s kicking the can down the road of too much public and private debt. The can is becoming heavier and heavier, and bigger on debt, and all these problems may come to a head by 2013 at the latest.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sarkozy: Soaring Commodity Prices Threaten World Growth

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Tuesday for tighter controls on the speculators he blames for soaring food and energy prices threatening global growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: Press: 4 Savings Banks to be Nationalised

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 14 — The Bank of Spain will not wait for the September deadline to expire for the recapitalisation of the savings banks, and will nationalise at least four of these institutions over the summer, according to reports today in El Periodico de Catalunya. The Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) is reportedly making preparations to take a partial or temporary stake in CAM in the month of July, followed by Catalunya Caixa and Unnim in August, and Nova Caixa Galicia in September. On the other hand, the pool of savings banks under the name Bankia preferred to resort to private capital. The group, formed by Caja Madrid, Bancaja and another 5 minor financial institutes, could be listed on the stock market in the first half of July according to sources close to Bankia, cited by Veinte Minutos, in order to raise between 3 and 4 billion euros on the market.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

US is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece

When adding in all of the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries, Pimco’s Bill Gross told CNBC Monday.

Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.

The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.

Taken together, Gross puts the total at “nearly $100 trillion,” that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Attack of the NGOs

One rarely hears of it. Few elected officials raise an eyebrow. The media makes no mention of it. But power is slowly slipping away from our elected representatives. In much the same way Mao Tse-tung had his Red Guards, so the UN has its NGOs They may well be your masters of tomorrow, and you don’t even know who or what they are.

There are, in fact, two parallel, complimentary forces operating in the world, working together to advance the global Sustainable Development agenda, ultimately heading toward UN global governance. Those two forces are the UN itself and non-governmental organizations (NGOs.)

Beginning with the United Nations, the infrastructure pushing the Sustainable Development agenda is a vast, international matrix. At the top of the heap is the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Created in 1973 by the UN General Assembly, the UNEP is the catalyst through which the global environmental agenda is implemented. Virtually all of the international environmental programs and policy changes that have occurred globally in the past three decades are the result of UNEP efforts.

But the UNEP doesn’t operate on its own. Influencing it and helping to write policy are thousands of non- governmental organizations (NGOs). These are private groups which seek to implement a specific political agenda. Through the UN infrastructure, particularly through the UNEP, they have great power.


Today these NGOs have power nearly equal to member nations when it comes to writing U.N. policy. Just as civil service bureaucrats provide the infrastructure for government operation, so to do NGOs provide such infrastructure for the U.N. In fact, most U.N. policy is first debated and then written by the NGOs and presented to national government officials at international meetings for approval and ratification. It is through this process that the individual political agendas of the NGO groups enter the international political arena.


Other than treaties, how does UNEP policy become U.S. policy? Specifically, the IUCN has an incredible mix of U.S. government agencies along with major U.S. NGOs as members. Federal agencies include the Department of State, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS) the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Fish and Wildlife service. These agencies send representatives to all meetings of the UNEP.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Disingenuous Transparency: Whistleblowers Suffer More Than Ever Under Obama

The US government is celebrating the release of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ on the Vietnam War as a sign of its openness. The truth, however, is that President Barack Obama has taken a much tougher line on whistleblowers than his predecessors — despite courtroom setbacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Government Demands Keys to Your Kingdom

City enacts controversial mandate allowing it to enter private property

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The government of a Midwest college town is now requiring the city’s businesses and apartment buildings to post their keys outside, so authorities can enter the properties “in case of emergency.”

According to the Cedar Falls City Council, the plan to require property owners to post keys in designated lockboxes — that city officials can open with a master key — is a justified way to allow the fire department and other authorities access without breaking down doors, especially in cases of false alarms.

To many Cedar Falls citizens, however, giving the city keys to their businesses and homes is a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment’s private property rights and a plan fraught with potential for abuse.

“What gives you guys the right?” asked resident Judd Saul at a May 23 public hearing on the plan. “This opens a big can of worms into the intrusion of our private property and our rights.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Independent Journalists Ask About Panetta’s Far Leftist Ties

“Researchers Trevor Loudon and Cliff Kincaid are warning the Senate to examine CIA Director Leon Panetta’s anti-defense record, associations with identified communists, and support for the Marxist Institute for Policy Studies before voting on his nomination as Secretary of Defense. A vote could come as early as Tuesday [today] in the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘Panetta opposed President Reagan’s military build-up in the 1980s, which was a decisive factor in the ultimate fall of Soviet-style communism, and he was on the side of the communists in Central America,’ they said in a joint statement. ‘There is every reason to believe, based on his public record, that he will cut major weapons systems and even military personnel as defense secretary…


[Return to headlines]

Senate Panel Approves Panetta for Defense Secretary

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved CIA chief Leon Panetta to be the next Defense Secretary in a unanimous voice vote Tuesday.

The widely expected move was immediately reported to the floor following the Committee’s action. The confirmation is expected this month.

[NOTE: no MSM coverage yet]

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Airbus Reveals Modernistic Concept Plane for 2050

Airbus has unveiled images of a Concept Plane at the Farnborough International Airshow to illustrate what air transport could look like in 2050, or even as early as 2030 if advancements in existing technologies continue at the current pace. The ‘aircraft of the future’ has a transparent, interactive cabin and is biodegradable. The seats would be ergonomic and there would be a virtual reality area, and passengers would be able to do just about anything on board, from playing golf to holding video conferences with friends, family or business contacts or ordering their shopping.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

At Last: Obama Woos Europe

Long-ignored by Barack Obama in the beginning of his term in favour of Asia and Arab nations, Europe is back on the US President’s priority list. For French daily Le Monde the trip to Washington, DC of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 6-7, the first visit by a German head of government since 1995, and Obama’s participation in the G8 summit in Deauville, France mark a change in US foreign policy. “But why now?” queries Le Monde. “Because working with China and Brazil is difficult. It’s difficult to get anything from the Turks. Obama has rediscovered that there is no better partner than Europe,” explains to the paper Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think-tank.

Furthermore, recent events such as the Arab revolutions place Europe in a strategic location which President Obama cannot afford to neglect. “The United States needs the British and the French as well as NATO, both militarily and financially,” Le Monde notes. Barack Obama is “courting the Europeans also on the Israeli-Palestinian question,” on which Washington fears isolation “when the time comes to take a stand on the recognition of the Palestinian State, in September at the UN”. This recognition is a “powerful divisive factor” for the Europeans, the paper notes.

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

Death Toll Reaches 36: Authorities Investigating New E. Coli Find in Germany

Authorities have found E. coli bacteria on red lettuce from a farm in Bavaria but say it may not be the lethal strain that has caused 36 deaths. Officials remain convinced that beansprouts from a farm in northern Germany caused the outbreak — but they’re still not sure how the bacteria got into the sprouts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Business Leaders Bemoan Closed Borders

Plans for stricter border controls send a “bad” signal that will make it harder to do business, critics say

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Eco-Friendly Mosque Planned for Germany

A small Muslim community in northern Germany is pioneering renewable energy sources by planning to build a mosque with wind turbines in its minarets.

The €2.5m (£2.2m) project would see the mosque in Norderstedt, near Hamburg, become one of the first to turn the minaret, the place from which the muezzin called the faithful to prayer, into a wind-fuelled power source.

The eco-friendly building is the brainchild of the Hamburg architect Selcuk Ünyilmaz, who has long incorporated energy efficiency into his work. “I thought about how we could give sacral architecture an ecological focus,” he said. “My design combines the modern with the traditional, so I wanted to give the minarets a contemporary function.”

The wind turbines will be housed in two 22-metre-high minarets and Ünyilmaz plans to install a pair of 1.5-metre glass rotor blades in each tower. At certain times of the day light will be beamed at the blades to create a kind of light show.

Until now the 200-strong congregation, part of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, has made do with a 100-year-old building ill-equipped to house a religious community. But last month local authorities approved plans for the project, which will measure about 1,300 sq metres and comprise two parts, the mosque and a larger building containing shops, travel agents, a cafe, hairdresser and offices.

“We want to create a meeting place for people from all religions and nationalities,” Ugur Sütcü, the chairman of the Norderstedt congregation, told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. “There will be advisory services on offer, as well as social, cultural and sporting activities.”

In order to persuade some of the more sceptical members of the congregation of the merits of his the design, Ünyilmaz looked for other mosques with similar wind turbines. But he could not find any other examples that had already been built.

The German mosque will not be the first of its kind, however, as the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat is also planning to build an environmentally friendly mosque with wind turbines in its minarets in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

Ünyilmaz’s scheme has come at a fortuitous time. Germany has approved a 2022 exit from nuclear energy and there is pressure to make up the shortfall by boosting the renewable energy sector.

The community in Norderstedt might be in tune with the energy zeitgeist but is does not yet have funds for the project. However this is not something Sütcü is too worried about. “We are confident that we can raise the money,” he said.

The coastal town is perfectly situated for wind energy production, and the minarets will help cover the building’s overheads, providing about a third of its energy. Ünyilmaz said that was one of the reasons he opted for turbines instead of solar panels, which would not produce electricity at night. “We are in the north and I don’t think there’s a day here that isn’t windy,” he said.

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

Estonia Training NATO ‘Techies’ For Cyberwar

In an unassuming, renovated military barracks dating back to tsarist times, Nato’s cyber defence centre in Tallinn is training computer experts to secure networks from attacks. The training comes amid rising cyber threats from China and Russia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Expellee ‘Provocation’: Prague Refuses Apology to Sudeten Germans

An annual meeting of post-World War II expellees was marred this weekend by bad blood with Prague. The Czech president was outraged after an expellee leader suggested that an apology for their expulsion was in order. The row threatens the fragile process of reconciliation between the two sides.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Finland: Rail Vandalism: Over 100 Local Train Departures Cancelled on Monday

Anarchist group claims responsibility for setting fire to security equipment

Detective Superintendent Timo Nyyssönen of the East Uusimaa police said on Monday that one of the suspected perpetrators of the arson of a railway security equipment box is an anarchist group which has written about the action on the Internet. The group has previously claimed to have been behind an unexploded bomb found in the Pasila district of Helsinki and for a Molotov cocktail thrown at an unmanned filling station. Police also have other lines of inquiry. Helsinki’s main railway station was calm on Monday afternoon in spite of the alterations in schedules.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Loses Wine Title to Italy

FRANCE has lost the latest round in the fight with Italy for the title of world’s number one wine producer.

New figures from the European Commission show Italian wine production grew slightly in 2010 and surpassed that of France, which is in decline.

Italy produced 4.96 billion litres last year, while France managed 4.62 billion. Sales of prosecco have overtaken champagne, at 420 million litres compared to 400 million.

However, France remains the biggest generator of revenue from wine exports. The French wine industry sold €6.33bn overseas last year, compared with €3.93bn by Italy.

France and Italy have fought over the top position in world wine for several years and the title regularly switches back and forth between the two countries depending on the weather conditions.

Spain is in third place and the United States fourth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

French Minister Presses Air France to Prefer Airbus

France’s foreign trade secretary said Tuesday he would meet the head of Air France, hinting he would press him to buy French-made Airbuses rather than US Boeings for its next big long-haul order.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Getting a Head: Early Wine-Lovers Also Brewed Own Beer

Mediterranean France is famous as one of the world’s big wine-growing regions but evidence has emerged that its sun-kissed coasts were also home to early beer-brewers. French researchers delving into a fifth-century BC house at Roquepertuse, 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Marseille have found carbonised remains of sprouted grains of barley, a telltale of the process to make malt for beer. Two samples were found in a ceramic vessel and a pit that were presumably used to soak the barley and a third was located next to a hearth and oven, where the grain was probably roasted. The find shows that the region known today as Provence had a wide range alcoholic beverages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hackers Take Revenge on Spanish Police for Arrests

The international online vigilante group “Anonymous” has taken revenge for the arrest of three of its hackers by blocking the web site of the Spanish police, officials said. “During the night of Saturday to Sunday at 2:00am, the police web site was the victim of an attack and was blocked for several minutes,” a police source said Monday. “Anonymous” claimed responsibility in a Twitter message on @Anon_Central, saying “Target: status: DOWN, for arresting peaceful protesters”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

It Takes a Village: TUI Builds Tuscan Playground for the Wealthy

Europe’s biggest travel company is investing a quarter of a billion euros in a Tuscan village and a large piece of surrounding countryside, turning it into what they hope will be a modern, multicultural vacation paradise for millionaires. But where are the Italians?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italians Reject Nuclear Energy in Further Blow to Berlusconi

Italians have voted to reject nuclear energy in a nationwide referendum, dealing a further blow to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just two weeks after his coalition suffered heavy losses in local elections.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Electorate Defies Berlusconi and Votes on Referendums

Rome, 13 June (AKI) — Italian voters dealt a blow to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi by ignoring his advice to shun the ballot box in favour of voting on referendums that includes a call to overturn a law that helps shield him and other cabinet ministers from prosecution.

Fifty-seven percent of eligible voters showed up at polling places during a two-day referendum ending Monday, easily reaching the quota of 50 percent plus one vote. It would be the first referendum to hit that threshold since 1995.

“This was a referendum on divorce. Divorce between a government and the country,” said opposition leader Pier Luigi Bersani, during a Rome press conference.

One referendum allows Italians to overturn a law that permits ministers to not attend trials because of scheduling conflicts with official business. Billionaire Berlusconi is the target of four Milan trials for business dealings and paying a minor for sex. He denies wrongdoing in all cases.

Another vote regards scrapping Berlusconi’s plan to allow nuclear power production in Italy, while two other referendums, if successful, would do away with a law forcing the privatization of local water utilities.

A 1987 referendum placed a moratorium on Italian atomic power following the prior year’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The February accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant stirred up emotions and gave momentum to the move to reverse the government’s nuclear plan.

“We’ll have to say goodbye to nuclear energy,” Berlusconi told reporters in Rome on Monday. “We’ll have to work hard on renewable energy.”

Berlusconi had called the referendums useless and advised Italy to not vote.

The voting comes on the heels of last month’s local elections which saw Berlusconi’s allies trounced in Naples and Milan- the prime minister’s conservative hometown and seat of his Mediaset television empire.

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

Nuclear Referendum: Italians Vote No to Berlusconi

The Italians have cast their ballots — and for the second time in just a few weeks, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was left holding the short stick. The country voted against nuclear energy and against the privatization of waterworks. But it has also become clear that the country has tired of its leader.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Mother-to-Daughter Womb Transplant Maybe Next Year

Plans are afoot in Sweden to perform what would be the first successful human womb transplant — one potential patient would receive her mother’s womb

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: ‘Dad Told Me to Grab the Knife’: Convicted Son

The re-trial of the so-called Högsby ‘honour killing’ continued on Tuesday with testimony from the 23-year-old son who claims his parents made him take the blame for murdering his sister’s boyfriend.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Embassies Prepped to Prevent Forced Marriages

Young Swedes facing being forced into marriage while abroad this summer can expect more help from Swedish embassies and consulates abroad, according to the Swedish foreign ministry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Kids Invited to Neo-Nazi Summer Camp

A Swedish neo-Nazi political party is offering children free admission to a camp scheduled to be held in a secret location in southern Sweden this summer. But not everyone is welcome to attend. The camp is being organised by the Party of Swedes (Svenskarnas parti — SVP), which has its roots in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement. “It is a very conscious strategy on their part. It is easier to reach young people with Nazi-propaganda before they have really made their mind up on what Nazism stands for,” journalist Johannes Jakobsson told The Local. Jakobsson, who writes for Swedish magasine Expo, which studies and maps anti-democratic, right-wing extremist and racist tendencies in society, said there is little doubt about the party’s heritage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Third Amsterdam Naked Bike Ride

Despite heavy downpours, the third World Naked Bike Ride, held in Amsterdam, has drawn several dozen people. Naked activists cycled through the city centre to promote bicycles as a cheap, healthy and environmental means of transportation. Some of the cyclists first put on transparent ponchos to protect themselves against the rain and wind but most of them biked around naked. Despite sporadic commotion they caused among the public, the event passed off without incident.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Sex Gang Groomed Girls of 13’: Men Accused of Luring Teens and Turning Them Into Prostitutes

A gang of Asian men went on trial yesterday accused of a sickening catalogue of child prostitution offences against vulnerable teenage girls as young as 13.

The nine — six are married and one is a grandfather — face 55 charges, including inciting child prostitution, grooming and rape between 2007 and 2009.

The girls — who cannot be named for legal reasons — were said to have received cash, alcohol, drugs, meals and mobile phone credit in exchange for sex with some of the defendants.

Three of the men — Ahdel Ali, 23, his brother Mubarek Ali, 28, and Tanveer Ahmed, 39 — allegedly acted as ‘pimps’, passing two of the young girls among their friends and using them as sexual commodities.

Mubarek Ali is also accused of trafficking one of the girls, while Abdul Rouf, 34, and Mohammed Younis, 59, are accused of using their homes as brothels for child prostitution.

Deborah Gould, prosecuting, said: ‘The Crown say that the men in the dock variously trafficked, raped or sexually abused girls both over and under the age of 16 years over a considerable period of time.

‘These men ensnared these girls. They had cars, jobs and money which gave them both freedom and power. They enticed the girls, groomed the girls and then exploited them either for their own sexual gratification or for money.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman [Return to headlines]

UK: Dawn Raids Across Manchester as Police Move in on Gang Who Groomed Under-Age Girls at Drug-Fuelled Sex Parties

Police arrested six men in a series of dawn raids targeting a gang believed to be involved in the sexual exploitation of teenage girls.

The men are reported to have supplied alcohol and drugs to under-age girls at sex parties.

The operation by Greater Manchester Police follows a three-month investigation involving around 100 detectives.

The men are being held on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Addresses in Longsight, south Manchester, Salford and Clayton were targeted.

Police say the victims are teenage girls living in the Stockport area.

A spokesman said: ‘This morning a joint operation by officers from GMP’s Major Incident Team and Stockport Division is making a number of arrests in connection with an investigation into organised crime groups.

‘Focusing chiefly on child sexual exploitation, the investigation involves around 100 detectives and is one of the largest ever carried out by the Serious Crime Division.

‘The arrests are the result of a three-month inquiry into the sexual exploitation of a number of teenage girls from Stockport by men.’

Six men have so far been arrested at addresses in Cheetham Hill, Fallowfield, Levenshulme, Moss Side and Chorlton-on-Medlock, all Manchester or Salford.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of GMP, said: ‘I hope today’s action shows people in Greater Manchester that the issue of sexual exploitation is one that we take extremely seriously.

‘This is the largest-ever operation carried out by the Major Incident Team and we have had dozens of detectives, including a team from Stockport, working on this investigation.

‘It is believed there could ultimately be more victims in this case and officers now want to hear from anyone else who thinks they may have been sexually exploited.

‘I want to reassure the people of Greater Manchester that we have a number of operations currently targeting this kind of criminal behaviour.

‘I cannot go into details as that could jeopardise the operations, but people need to know this issue is at the top of GMP’s priorities.

‘We work closely with local authorities, and other organisations such as Barnardo’s, to address the specific issue of adults befriending and grooming younger people for sex.’

Earlier this year two men — Abid Saddique, 27, and Mohammed Liaqat, 28 — were jailed for a total of 19 years after targeting underage girls.

The sexual predators — both British-born fathers of Pakistani origin who had arranged marriages in that country — cruised the streets of Derby in either a Range Rover or a BMW looking for vulnerable young girls to prey on.

Last year a middle-class, privately-educated schoolgirl — also from Rochdale — was rescued after being forced to act as a sex slave to a gang of Asian men.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Why Wind Farms Will Have to Shut Down for 38 Days Per Year … When it Gets Too Windy

Wind farms may have to shut down when it gets too windy because the National Grid cannot cope with a surge in power, a study has found.

This could lead to the sites being shut down for 38 days a year — at present they are switched off for 25.

Britain is expected to increase wind power capacity seven-fold by 2020 to 26.8 gigawatts (GW), which would put additional strain on the network and could lead to overload at times of weak demand and high wind speeds.

The rapid rise in renewable energy from wind and solar plants is set to bring significant problems for the network as it tries to incorporate an output which is intermittent and more difficult to predict than that from thermal plants.

‘It will become increasingly necessary to restrict the output from wind generation onto the system to ensure sufficient thermal capacity is synchronised,’ said the network operator the 2020 transmission system report published yesterday.

Based on historic data, wind turbines will have to be switched off for 38 days every year when wind power production exceeds 35 per cent of installed wind capacity and demand falls below half the levels seen at peak time, National Grid said.

In Germany, where more than 25GW of wind capacity is already in place, high wind speeds coinciding with low power demand, for example overnight during summer time, have caused negative wholesale power prices as producers are forced to sell renewable energy to the grid.

One of the keys to solving this in Britain will be developing storage facilities which can act as ‘sink’ for wind and solar power.

‘National Grid believes that suitable funding streams should be introduced to support innovative storage technologies to bring them to a point where they are made viable,’ the report added.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]


Kosovo Pledges to Cooperate With EU Organ Trafficking Probe

Kosovo government on Monday expressed its commitment to cooperate with the EU in the probe into a Council of Europe report linking the prime minister and others to human organ-trafficking.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Foreign Journalists in Tripoli: Drinking Cappuccino as the Bombs Fall

A new phase has begun in the Libyan war, with NATO apparently directly targeting dictator Moammar Gadhafi by bombing his Tripoli compound. For the foreign journalists staying in the luxury Rixos hotel, unable to go out without government chaperones, the conflict can seem surreal at times.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Recognizes Rebel Leadership in Libya

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has made a surprise visit to the Libyan rebel-held town of Benghazi, where he announced that Germany now recognizes the country’s rebel leadership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Libya: Prolonged NATO Operation ‘May Run Into Financial Problems’

Belgrade, 14 June(AKI) — A high-ranking Nato official said on Tuesday said he believed in the success of the military coalition’s operation in Libya, but cautioned that a drawn out mission could cause the alliance to run into financial difficulty.

“At this point the allied forces have enough means and I’m convinced that the operation in Libya will be successful,” General Stephane Abrial, Nato’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, told a Nato conference in Belgrade.

“But if the operation is prolonged, of course the question of finances will become an issue,” the French general said.

He echoed a concern expressed buy the US Secretary of defence Robert Gates last week that only eight Nato’s 28 members were actively taking part in the aerial operations against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Abrial opened the first Nato conference in Belgrade, attended by chiefs of general staff of member countries and participants in the Partnership for Peace program. The Partnership for Peace is a programme of practical bilateral cooperation between individual partner countries and Nato. A total of 56 countries, including Russia, are attending.

The meeting is held under tight security measures, amid opposition protests against Nato — which bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 — over what was called a “humanitarian catastrophe” and mass exodus of Albanians from breakaway Kosovo province, which declared independence in 2008.

Two thirds of Serbian citizens oppose the country’s membership in Nato and the pro-European government headed by president Boris Tadic has taken a neutral stand towards all military blocs.

But defence minister Dragan Sutanovac told the meeting Serbia was actively cooperating with Nato through the Partnership for Peace program and was ready to take part in peace-keeping missions under the umbrella of the United Nations.

“Fully aware of the emotions provoked by Nato in Serbia, we have assumed the responsibility to organize this meeting because we deeply believe that it is in the general interest and good for the future,” Sutanovac said.

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

Morocco: Violence Against Women, Plan to Rehabilitate Men

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 14 — Violence against women is not just one country’s problem, and this issue, which often results in tragedies in the home, will not have a single solution that works everywhere, because it is necessary to assess all of its aspects, starting with culture and traditions. Morocco is dealing with this phenomenon along two lines. The first, and most obvious, is to provide assistance and support to women who suffer abuse in order to avoid these traumas from building up and being replaced by a form of acceptance that paves the way for other episodes, making subordination and disadvantage synonymous with the lives of women. The second is focussed on the men who are abusing them, and this is a new development in North Africa. The Moroccan government has established an awareness and rehabilitation campaign that seeks to make men consciousness of this phenomenon in order to put a stop to these types of episodes. To this end, in June of last year Morocco launched a programme entitled, “Break the cycle of gender-based violence”, which did not just remain on paper, but which materialised in a series of initiatives and results that were explained during a conference in Casablanca, following the conclusion of its first phase. The most significant and evident piece of data involves the 27 sessions in which men accused of domestic violence explained themselves, justified their actions and were heard, watched and advised. But the programme, say the promoters, should be just a small piece of a more vast awareness regarding the problem. This is why schools and training institutions were involved in the event, with significant numbers of individuals participating: 65 directors, 96 teachers, 17 administrative executives and over 200 students, mainly from secondary schools, were in attendance.

The rehabilitation programme, it was said, learned from an experience in the Netherlands, and got underway by starting with similar situations that took place in Morocco, including the desire of women not to report episodes of violence to legal authorities or police and the refusal to leave husbands or boyfriends. So long as the violence stops and men are accompanied and assisted by specialised personnel in their path towards learning about their mistakes. A complex task carried out individually and in groups, initially at “listening centres”, and then with the contribution of teams of psychologists and motivators. A difficult mission, even painful at times, but often it is the only solution that remains.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

NATO Raids Endanger Libya’s Leptis Magna

(AGI) London — Gaddafi’s troops hiding in the historical masterpiece that is the Leptis Magna Roman archaeological site south-east of Tripoli, may be attacked by NATO. Muammar Gaddafi’s troops are in fact using the location as a shield to hide beneath and to launch Grad missiles. TNC sources in benghazi reported the news to The Times and according to CNN, nato cannot exclude air strikes on the area.

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

War Paradox: Libyans in Tunisia to Fill Up

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 9 — The war at Tunisia’s border has created yet another paradox: petrol stations in the city of Ben Gardane are besieged every day by Libyan drivers who fill their tank and then return to their country. Some pumps sell up to 33 thousand litres per day. “Previously we received no more than a dozen clients per day”, an employee at a petrol station in Ben Gardane told TAP.

“Today they are thousands”. Another employee adds: “Petrol stations in Ben Gardane have only supplied vehicles in the region’s governorate for more than 20 years”. The situation has also created a new kind of trade: Tunisians or Libyans fill up tanks and jerry cans to sell fuel on the Libyan side of the border.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Confronting Our Subversive Institutions

Shimon Schiffer and Nahum Barnea are both senior political commentators for Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest circulation newspaper. They are both also leftist extremists. In their articles in last Friday’s weekend edition of Yediot they demonstrated how their politics dictate their reporting — to the detriment of their readers and to Israeli democracy. They also demonstrated the disastrous consequences of the Left’s takeover of predominant institutions in democratic societies.

Schiffer’s column centered on the subversive behavior of President Shimon Peres and ran under the headline, “Subversive for Peace.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Middle East

After 90 Years: A Dictionary of an Ancient World

Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Clinton Accuses Iran of Supporting Syria’s ‘Cruel Attacks’

(AGI) Washington — US Secretary Hillary Clinton accuses Tehran of supporting Damascus’ “cruel attacks” on democratic protests.

Clinton went on to submit that the attacks double up on the regime’s repression of the political opposition in 2009. “Iran supports these cruel attacks carried out by the Assad regime against peaceful protesters, as well military action against its own cities”, Clinton said.

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

Defence: Turkey’s Izmir to be NATO’s Land Forces Base

(ANSAmed) — BRUXELLES, JUNE 9 — NATO defense ministers agreed on a reform which will turn the air forces base in Turkey’s western province of Izmir to land forces base, as Anatolia news agency reports. Releasing a written statement, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday.

“NATO Defence Ministers have just approved a set of important reforms. They will make NATO leaner, more flexible, and better able to deal with future challenges.” “We have agreed to streamline the agencies which run individual NATO projects, such as ground surveillance and strategic airlift. As a result, our agencies will become simpler in structure, while staying effective in their work. And we have agreed to re-shape NATO’s command structure, making it more efficient, more deployable, and more compact. Some headquarters will close.

Others will move or change their role. Together, these reforms will make NATO more affordable — offering even better value for our Allies’ money. They will make NATO more effective — focusing on the capabilities and command systems we need,” he said. No detailed information was given regarding the NATO bases in the statement, however, diplomatic sources confirmed that Izmir air forces base would be turned into land forces base within the scope of the reforms. Accordingly, two land forces bases in Germany and Spain will be united and transferred to Izmir.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: New Hezbollah-Leaning Cabinet Formed

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JUNE 14 — After almost 5 months of intricate negotiations, the incumbent Lebanese Prime Minister, Najib Miqati, has dissolved the provisional government and announced his cabinet formation, which has already been defined as “Hezbollah-inclined”: out of 30 ministers, 19 are part of the Shiite Party of God or are allies. The remaining 11 are President Michel Suleiman supporters or allies, or even Miqati allies, and are defined as “independent”. The coalition led by outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who won the 2009 election, refused to be part of the new government and will now side with the opposition. Yet Miqati, a Sunni billionaire and communications tycoon, announced that “this government is for all of you [Lebanese]” after submitting the cabinet list to President Suleiman ..

Miqati’s candidature for the post of Prime Minister was tabled by the Hezbollah-led coalition, which withdrew its ministers from the “national unity” government led by Saad Hariri in January, thus leading to its collapse. In particular, Hezbollah had come to loggerheads with the Prime Minister over disagreements regarding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) which in the next months will have to begin a trial against those supposedly responsible for the February 2005 attack in which former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated; Saad is his son and political heir. The Party of God, which is expecting to be brought to book, was calling for Beirut to keep its distance from the STL, which is presided by Italian Antonio Cassese and headquartered in the Netherlands.

STL-related policies will surely be one of the trickiest issues for Miqati to deal with, but it will not be the only one: just a few hours after the list was officially submitted, one of its members resigned. Druze State Minister-to-be Talal Arslan, left among accusations of “discrimination” on the part of the incoming Prime Minister, who did not grant him any “key” portfolio. Hezbollah and allies, including Christian leader Michel Aoun, took the lion’s share of the portfolios. They garnered Defence (Fayez Ghosn), Justice (Chakib Qortbaui), Foreign Affairs (Adnan Mansur) and Healthcare (Ali Hassan Khalil), among others. Other figures named by President Suleiman, Miqati and Druze leader Walid Jumblat took Internal Affairs (Marwan Charbel), Economy (Nicolas Nahas) and Finance (Mohamad Safadi).

“We have overcome the hurdles. We will get to work right away”, Miqati announced. Yet there are still many hurdles to face. Starting with the economy, which took a hard hit in the first months of the year as a result of political uncertainty, but also due to the “Arab Spring”, especially in Syria.

“Business fell 40% in the first six months of the year”, according to Pierre Achkar, President of the Association of Lebanese Hoteliers, which is seeing its hopes of a renewed tourism boom, to mirror last summer’s, evaporate. The property market also shrank 21% in the first four months of the year, whilst the value of Beirut’s listed companies dropped 8.9%. Following record growth levels in 2010 (7.5%), the International Monetary Fund has predicted 2.5% growth at most. Syrian President Bashar al Assad was among the first to wish Miqati well yesterday; they are close friends. Miqati expressed a certain degree of concern regarding the government’s first steps: “We hope the government will earn your trust and that of your representatives”, that is to say, that of the majority of the 128 members of Parliament, he told the Lebanese people in his first speech to the nation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Resisting the Arab Revolution: First Cracks Appear in Saudi Arabia’s Forced Calm

Saudi Arabia’s rulers are doing their utmost to resist the tide of history. The wealthy Arab country wants peace and stability within its society and in the region. But even the ultraconservative kingdom has not remained untouched by the unrest in the Arab world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: UN: Draft Resolution of Condemnation Blocked

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, JUNE 13 — The draft UN resolution condemning the “systematic” use of violence in Syria is still being blocked in the Security Council, where Russia and China are threatening to exercise their vetoes over a text they consider to be interference in a nation’s internal affairs. Speaking to journalists, Mark Llyal Grant, Britain’s Ambassador to the UN said that consultations were on-going. The draft was prepared by the United Kingdom with the support of the other European countries on the Council (France, Germany and Portugal). The text, which was presented on Wednesday, is being blocked by the representatives for Moscow and Beijing. On Saturday, delegates from these two countries were present at a meeting of experts which had the task of putting the finishing touched to the bill. Representatives from Brazil, India and Lebanon also expressed scepticism over the contents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Turkey is Facing Great Challenges’

Erdogan and his conservative party won a majority in Sunday’s elections in Turkey, but not enough to unilaterally change the constitution. The prime minister is now likely to seek a compromise. In Germany, however, commentators are more concerned about Ankara’s future relations with the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey Marks Istanbul Conquest

Turkey on Sunday marks the 558th Anniversary of Istanbul Conquest when an old era had ended and a new era had started.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: PM Poses as a Mideastern Rather Than a European Leader

Just as we Turks have turned our eyes to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech to see whether he would replace his aggressive rhetoric with a reconciliatory tone, the movers and shakers of the international community have also tuned in, to see the first glimpse of how the ruling party’s landslide victory will affect its foreign policy.

In his victory speech, which has come to be nicknamed the “balcony speech,” as he addressed his followers from his party headquarters’ balcony, the prime minister did not mention even once Europe, the European Union or the West.

Well aware that he will be watched by international audiences, he preferred to address the world as a Middle Eastern leader, rather than a European or Western leader.

He started his speech by saluting “all friendly and brotherly nations from Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Sarajevo, Baku and Nicosia.”

Later on he said, “The hopes of the victims and the oppressed have won,” and, “Beirut has won as much as Izmir. West Bank, Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem have won as much as Diyarbakir. The Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans have won, just as Turkey has won.”

The fact that he mentioned Sarajevo, while avoiding mention of Europe, clearly shows that he sees himself as the leader of the Muslims and that of those Muslims who are oppressed, not by their regimes, in the view of Erdogan, but by the Christian West. So, Erdogan’s world view, based on juxtaposing the oppressed East vis-à-vis the imperialist West, is here to stay.

No doubt, this world view, shared by Ahmet Davutoglu, who is likely to continue as foreign minister, will be put to the test. It is becoming harder and harder for them to handle the crises in the Middle East due to the cruel policies of Muslim leaders toward their own people. It took some time for Erdogan to label Bashar al-Assad’s policies as “inhumane and cruel.” The crises in the Middle East will finally show that Turkey’s policy of constructive engagement has its limits and Turkey then might feel the need to act in unity with Europe, because by itself Turkey is not in a position to exert sufficient influence to reach a desired outcome. Indeed, asking Gadhafi to leave and calling on Assad to implement reforms have fallen on deaf ears. While engaging with countries that have problematic relations is not wrong, it is equally not right to totally trust them and give them full credit. One hopes that the Erdogan-Davutoglu duo will realize fine tuning their policies accordingly and tune down for more modest rhetoric and avoid grandiose statements like being the “gamechanger of the region.”

In addition to the crises in the Middle East, the new flotilla leaving for Gaza, which might flare up the tension with Israel, stands as the most immediate problem the government has to tackle. It is obvious that the government cannot just say it has no influence over the NGOs and stand aside. It is also obvious that once the flotilla leaves Turkish waters, the government will not watch in silence another possible Israeli attack on Turkish citizens. While some in the government want a further deterioration in relations with Israel; it is probable to speculate that Erdogan as well as Davutoglu will try to stop the flotilla if they see a more visible sign from Israel on easing the embargo on Gaza. Israel should understand that pointing to the Rafah gate and saying Egypt now has opened the second gate to Gaza is not enough. Expect intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic traffic between the U.S., Israel and Turkey.

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

South Asia

Eight Killed at Football Game in Thailand by Muslim Militants

(CHAKRA) In Thailand’s restive south, eight Buddhists have been killed by Muslim militants, according to police reports.

Police Lieutenant General, Kong-att Suwannakham says insurgents detonated a homemade bomb in a football field in the province of Pattani which resulted in four policemen being killed and another dozen being wounded. They had all just met at the field to play a friendly game of football knowing little that their lives were at stake in a few minutes time.

In the province of Yala, police say that insurgents set off a roadside bomb and shot at an army patrol, killing three soldiers and wounding two. Additionally two men on bicycles, fatally shot at a formal local official in his pick up truck, in the province of Narathiwat.

In Thailand’s three Muslim-dominated provinces, more than 4,300 people have been killed in the predominantly Buddhist regions. These killings have all happened since the Islamist insurgency erupted in the country in 2004

           — Hat tip: J-P D [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Forced Conversions of Hindu Girls to Islam. Often Unreported Out of Fear

Hindus “Rights movement” launches a campaign to seek justice and to limit violence and harassment by landlords. The court in Rawalpindi exonerates three Christians of blasphemy, now there are fears of retaliation by Muslim fundamentalists.

Lahore (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Young Hindu girls forced to become Muslim and forced to marry their captors, denounce Pakistani Hindus members of the Rights Movement for “scheduled castes” recently formed in Pakistan. They also call for greater respect for their rights. Hindus belonging to “scheduled castes”, ie the protected Hindu minorities, form 6% of the total population of Pakistan, and 10% in the region of Sindh, but are under-represented in both public service and in the elected assemblies. In addition, the movement calls for the creation of a law for the registration of marriages of “scheduled castes” that used the term “Hindu” rather than “scheduled castes” in the column that specifies the religion in the registrar, and that the National Parliament promote a law against religious hatred against them.

The movement brings together various ethnic Hindu groups such as the Kolhi, Bhel, Bagri, Meghwar and Rawar. They have no permanent homes, living in temporary camps at the mercy of local land lords. Since the creation of Pakistan the number of seats in Parliament reserved for minorities has never gone beyond 10. This is why the Movement for Rights calls for granted lands, where they can establish their residence, that they be allowed to celebrate religious festivals and the application of the 6% quota reserved for them in public services. The leaders of the movement point out that the situation is such that the groups are kept in a state prison by landowners, and that instances of forced conversions of Hindu girls are extremely common, and not reported. They ask that measures are taken against those responsible.

The Christian minority suffers for similar reasons. A positive development should, however, be noted: a court in Rawalpindi has acquitted three Christians of blasphemy, even though fears that the three may become the target of an act of violence by Islamic radicals. On June 12 court judge Akhter Sarfraz ordered the release of Hector Haleem, Basharat Masih and Robin Masih because the prosecution was not able to provide evidence supporting the charges presented against them last year by a Muslim, Ghufran Sialvi. The accusation was that they had sent blasphemous messages. The court has opened an investigation to prosecute both the Police Commissioner for failure to provide evidence of the charges for the prosecution. Haleem, 55, runs an Pakistani NGO called “Peace Worldwide”.

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

Pakistan: Police Fire on Doctors’ Demonstration

Quetta, 14 June (AKI/Dawn) — At least eight doctors were injured when police opened fire on their procession in Quetta in central Pakistan on Tuesday, DawnNews reported.

Around 200 doctors were marching toward the chief Minister’s residence.

One of the wounded doctors was in critical condition.

At least 50 doctors were also arrested after police baton-charged and shelled the participants of the march.

The doctors in Balochistan province have been on strike for the past couple of weeks to press the government to accept their demands.

They want their salary and perks to be at par with those of doctors in the other provinces.

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

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

[Return to headlines]

With 1.2 Billion People, India Seeks a Good Hangman

ndia has 1.2 billion people, among them bankers, gurus, rag pickers, billionaires, snake charmers, software engineers, lentil farmers, rickshaw drivers, Maoist rebels, Bollywood movie stars and Vedic scholars, to name a few. Humanity runneth over. Except in one profession: India is searching for a hangman. Usually, India would not need one, given the rarity of executions. The last was in 2004. But in May, India’s president unexpectedly rejected a last-chance mercy petition from a convicted murderer in the Himalayan state of Assam. Prison officials, compelled to act, issued a call for a hangman.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


290 Migrants Land on Lampedusa Including Women & Children

(AGI) Lampedusa — An old dinghy boat has made landfall on Lampedusa escorted into port by the vessels of the Guardia di finanza. On board were 290 persons, including 27 women and 9 children, all of Sub-Saharan origin, who departed from Libya 3 days ago. Their conditions do not raise concern. This arrival of migrants occurred after 2 days of pause following the flurry of arrivals that on Saturday had boosted the overall number of migrants present on the island to 2,140 persons.

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

Egypt: Coast Guard Rescues Migrant Boat Bound for Italy

(AKI) — The Egyptian coast guard has rescued 87 people aboard a boat that set sail for Italy and risked sinking, according to Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Sabaa.

The migrants on Monday were intercepted 12 miles off the Egyptian coast near Alexandria in the country’s north, according to the report.

Shortly after embarking for Italy the boat experienced mechanical trouble prompting one of the passengers to call for help.

Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have reached Italian shores this year since uprisings in the Arab world toppled governments, sparked civil wars and left an authority void when it comes to patrolling coasts.

From 1 January to 23 May more than 1,400 people reportedly perished in the Strait of Sicily aboard boats sailing toward Lampedusa, according to Fortress Europe, an Italian blog that tracks the deaths through media reports.

Most migrants land on the tiny southern Italy island Lampedusa, which is closer to Tunisia than the Italian mainland.

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

France to Deport More Romanians After Discovering They Are Behind 80% of Street Crime

The vast majority of street robberies in Paris are now carried out by the children of Romanian immigrants, France’s Interior Minister has claimed.

Claude Gueant said the notoriously poor and corrupt eastern European state is responsible for exporting some of the most notorious sneak thieves in the world.

Many operate in gangs around the Gare du Nord Eurostar station, preying on English travellers as they arrive by high-speed train from London.

Last year France launched an onslaught against illegal Roma camps full of Romanian immigrants which had sprung up around the French capital.

In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Mr Gueant said: ‘Many illegal camps were evacuated.

‘However, we have to face up to another problem, that of Romanian delinquency. In Paris, 80 per cent of street robberies are committed by Romanian minors.

‘Along with the Romanian authorities, we are taking action against this delinquency, which is organised around cities and by mafia gangs.’

Paris police confirmed that there were now ‘dozens’ of Romanian gangs operating around major tourists attractions, and at transport hubs.

Passengers arriving at the Gare du Nord are often swamped by up to 10 Romanian girls asking ‘Do you speak English?’ and holding out their hands.

Bodily contact is commonplace, with the girls delving into pockets and bags as they surround their victims.

Meanwhile, hardened male criminals will keep watch, or intervene with violence if anybody tries to fight the girls off.

Young boys also snatch phones and wallets from people sitting on the outside terraces of Paris cafe’s, while underground Metro passengers find themselves surrounded by crowd of youngsters who will pickpocket them.

‘Such scenarios take place all over Paris, and it is a growing problem,’ said a police spokesman. ‘We can disperse the children momentarily, but in the end they are minors and there is very little action we can take as far as holding them in custody is concerned.’

Mr Gueant, one of the most hardline French Interior Ministers in recent history, has not only pledged to deport immigrant criminals, but also wants to reduce the amount of legal immigration into France.

Earlier this month he met British Home Secretary Theresa May in Calais, where he pledged to reduce the number of migrants crossing over to Britain to claim asylum or disappear into the black economy.

Last year, the EU blocked Romania and Bulgaria from joining the EU’s passport-free travel zone because of fears of an influx of organised criminals.

Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, has also faced major problems as a centre for drugs and people trafficking.

Around 2000 Roma people, including many Romanians, are believed to live in France. Under EU citizenship rules, Roma people have the right to move to France but must have work permits to stay for longer than three months.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Frontex: Most Illegal Migrants to EU Head to Italy

ATHENS, Greece—The main flow of illegal migrants seeking to enter the European Union has shifted dramatically from Greek borders to Italian islands due to the conflicts in north Africa, the bloc’s border protection agency said Tuesday.

A total of about 33,000 people were detected trying to enter the 27-nation bloc in the first three months of the year, with 22,600 of them detected at Italian borders, mainly in the area around the island of Lampedusa, said Frontex deputy director Gil Arias Fernandez.

Greece, which was previously the main point of entry for people seeking to cross into the EU, saw 7,200 illegal entries in the same time period.

In the same three months of 2010, just 147 illegal migrants had been detected trying to enter Italy, compared to 13,085 attempting to get into Greece, Frontex figures showed.

Fernandez said that while it was difficult to predict what would happen in the rest of the year, “the situation will remain quite dramatic in the central Mediterranean.”

According to Frontex, more than 41,000 people attempted to enter the EU in the area around Lampedusa, and the other Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia from January to today, including 1,600 people over the weekend.

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Greece: 90 Illegals Detained by Frontex

A total of 90 illegal migrants, who were picked up by a FRONTEX patrol boat southwest of the island of Crete at dawn Saturday, will be transferred to the Attica alien’s bureau on Tuesday so that deportation procedures will be initiated. The illegal migrants, who told authorities they are from Egypt, were rescued from a distressed vessel in the early hours of Saturday by the Iceland-flagged “OPV Aegir” taking part in the Frontex “Poseidon 2011” joint European operation, which was patrolling the region at the time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Helsinki Not Helping Accommodate Itinerant Foreign Roma

The Helsinki City Board has taken a negative view of a proposal that the city set up camping areas to accommodate itinerant Roma beggars who have been coming to Finland mainly from Romania and Bulgaria. The decision basically means that about 80 Romanian Roma will be evicted permanently from the premises and front yard of the Satama social centre. On Tuesday morning police began evicting Roma from the area. The premises have been rented by the Vapaa Katto organization, which has provided assistance to the Roma. Police tried to evict the campers last week as well.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Malta: Limits to Migrants’ Integration Putting More Strain on Open Centres — Minister

‘Basic’ conditions inside open centres down to more asylum seekers unable to integrate due to Malta’s innate limitations, says minister.

Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici said Malta’s detention and reception centres were constantly full to capacity because asylum seekers and refugees were facing difficulties to integrate into Maltese society.

Addressing the start of a week-long of seminars for World Refugee Day, commemorated on 18 June, Mifsud Bonnici said “Malta’s innate limitations” presented asylum seekers and other migrants with difficulties to integrate, leading to prolonged stays at the centres. “This, combined with new arrivals, leads to a situation where the centres are constantly full to capacity. Evidently, this scenario hinders refurbishment of the Centres, although such projects have in fact been undertaken.”

He also said that it was preferable for the centres to host migrants who do not have alternative accommodation, rather than seeing them on the street. “This means that the standards at open centres could never rise beyond the provision of basic services,” Mifsud Bonnici said.

Mifsud Bonnici acknowledged that the situation at the open centres has often been criticised by international NGOs. Most recently Malta was taken to task by the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg, who said material conditions in the open centres which were housing some 2,300 migrants, were substandard and needed to be improved “as a matter of urgency”.The commissioner found that the tent village in Hal Far offered “clearly inadequate conditions of accommodation for short or long periods of time”.

Hammarberg also said open centre residents who had to register there three times a week to claim their subsidy, had less possibility of finding employment since most job opportunities are located away from the open centres.

Mifsud Bonnici said conditions at the open centres resulted from the asylum pressures Malta is facing. “It is, at the end of the day, one of the main reasons why Malta has requested the assistance of the EU Member States and the United States by means of the resettlement of beneficiaries of international protection.”

A total of 654 beneficiaries have been resettled to the United States since 2007, whereas 227 have been resettled to the EU through a resettlement project, and 190 other refugees resettled by means of bilateral projects with several EU Member States. France and Germany alone have resettled a total of 191 and 133 persons respectively. Another 10 EU states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, have pledged to take a further 385 persons, including 150 to Germany.

Mifsud Bonnici also said the recent arrivals of asylum seekers and migrants fleeing the Libyan conflict meant the EU “should do more”.

“This state of affairs confirms that more needs to be done not only for Malta’s benefit, but also for the benefit of persons in need of international protection, as further resettlement projects will also facilitate the integration of those who will remain in Malta.”

Mifsud Bonnici underlined Malta’s size limitations, pointing out its population density of 1,300 per square kilometre and a labour market of 150,000 persons in employment. “Clearly, these figures attest to Malta’s innate limitations vis-à-vis the long-term integration of significant numbers of migrants.”

He said that despite such limitations, Malta was awarding some form of protection to over 50% of asylum claimants. He said Malta received the highest number of claims in 2008 — 6.4 per 1,000 inhabitants, the highest in the industrialised world — when 2,700 asylum seekers reached Malta.

He steered clearly of any mention of the illegal Italian pushbacks which took place in 2010. “Numbers remained high in 2009, and despite the lull in the number of arrivals last year, this year’s conflict in Libya has already given rise to increasing numbers of arrivals; arrivals that are expected to continue in the future. Malta’s asylum pressures remain a constant feature.”

The minister paid tribute to the Office of the Refugee Commissioner, which is now deciding cases within a general average of six months.

Commissioner Mario Friggieri said this short duration was mentioning positively in the Hammarberg country visit report. “The report had only a very short paragraph about the asylum procedure, and in the circumstances I consider this as a compliment.”

Hammarberg noted that in 2009 the average duration was 5-6 months for a claim to be processed, leading to an increase in the percentage of recognised Convention refugees — refugees as determined by the Geneva Convention.

           — Hat tip: AC [Return to headlines]

Over Half a Million New Belgians in a Decade

In the last decade over a half a million people acquired Belgian nationality. Using data from the state register the Flemish Christian democrat party worked out that between 2000 and 2010 530,000 people became Belgians. A quarter of all the new Belgians are of Moroccan or Turkish extraction. One in three new Belgians lives in Brussels. Forty percent of the new Belgians opted for Flanders with Antwerp, Ghent and Mechelen as the most popular home towns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Schengen Enlargement to Increase Illegal Migration: Europol

Enlarging Europe’s border-free Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania will increase illegal migration through Turkey and the Black Sea, a Europol expert warned on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Islam, The Ultimate Obsessive-Compulsive Religion

Exclusive: Farrah Khalil explains how she abandoned Muslim rituals, found Christ.

[WARNING: Graphic content]

Although it has been seven years, I still have the vestiges of Islamic rituals stamped into my brain. For example, I still refuse to pet my dog before I pray. Why? Well, because in Islam, dog saliva makes all prayers null and void.

There are tons of circumstances and elements that can cause a Muslim’s prayer to “not count,” like sighing, talking, clapping, turning away from the Qibla (direction of prayer), folding one’s hands, not washing up properly, intentionally laughing, intentionally weeping about “worldly matters,” prostrating an incorrect number of times and (excuse me for being crass) farting. These silly rituals that have nothing to do with my relationship with the Lord still “come a knocking” when I least expect it — grim reminders that I spent eight years of my life attempting to become the best “white, female, American, Muslim in the world!”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sun’s Fading Spots Signal Big Drop in Solar Activity

Some unusual solar readings, including fading sunspots and weakening magnetic activity near the poles, could be indications that our sun is preparing to be less active in the coming years. The results of three separate studies seem to show that even as the current sunspot cycle swells toward the solar maximum, the sun could be heading into a more-dormant period, with activity during the next 11-year sunspot cycle greatly reduced or even eliminated. The results of the new studies were announced today (June 14) at the annual meeting of the solar physics division of the American Astronomical Society, which is being held this week at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tiny Fossil May be World’s Smallest Dinosaur

A new fossil discovery could be the world’s smallest known dinosaur — a feathered, birdlike creature that lived more than 100 million years ago and grew no more than 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) long. The fossil, a tiny neck bone found in the southern U.K., is a mere quarter-inch (7.1 millimeters) in length. It belongs to an adult dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous period 145 million to 100 million years ago, reported University of Portsmouth paleozoologist Darren Naish in the August issue of the journal Cretaceous Research. That would put the animal in the running for world’s tiniest dino, a title currently held by Anchiornis, another birdlike dinosaur that lived in what is now China 160 million to 155 million years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

When Everything is Smart: RFID Chips Infiltrate Food, Towels, And Even People

What if your food were as rich in information as it is in nutrients? That’s the vision of an art student who recently demonstrated online a prototype of a system where an edible chip embedded in your lunch communicates its nutritional information, provenance, travel miles, and so on to your phone via a reader in the plate. With this system, people could check ingredient lists for allergens, tally up the carbon footprint of their meal, or figure out whether they’ll still have calories left for dessert.

           — Hat tip: Egghead [Return to headlines]