News Feed 20120426

Financial Crisis
» Cost of Spain’s Housing Bust Could Force a Bailout
» Cyprus: 13th Salaries Next for the Cutting
» Eurozone Economic Confidence Falls Sharply in April
» Greece: Troika to Return to Athens After Elections
» Greece: Incomes Fall by a Quarter in a Year
» Greece: Income Down 25% in 2011, Says OECD
» Isolated Merkel Embraces Monti and Growth
» Monti Believes EU Will Move to Stimulate Growth
» Spain: Ticket Sales Down 42% in Cinemas, Productions Fall
» Spain: Port of Barcelona Economic Drive, 1 Bln Investments
» Turkey’s Year-End Inflation to be Around 6.5%, CB
» Black Panics and White Hispanics
» Chrysler More Than Quadruples Profits in First Quarter
» Dallas Muslim Scholar, Dr. Kavakci, Reveals Misconceptions About Sharia Laws
» From Giant Fireball Over Calif., Tiny Meteorites
» Marine Critical of Obama on Facebook Expelled From Ranks
» Rights Groups See Politics Behind Rise in Muslim Hate Crimes
» Why a Mega-Mosque in the Bible Belt?
» Islam Open House in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday
» Minority Lawyers in Canada Push for a Less White Bench
» Sharia Law Subject of Event at Library
Europe and the EU
» Denmark: Rare Fighter Plane Wreck Lifted From Seabed
» France 2012: Sarkozy to ‘Crush’ Hollande, No Accord With Fn
» France: Driver Mistakes Paris Metro for Parking Entrance
» France: Paris Police Protest Over Officer’s Arrest
» France: Marine Le Pen: Don’t French Jews Get it?
» France: Sarkozy: Ramadan Supports Hollande, Denied by Both Men
» France: The Rather Dangerous Monsieur Hollande
» French Mosques Accused of Backing Hollande
» Germany: Telekom: 100,000 WLAN Connections Unsafe
» Holland Ten Points Ahead of Sarkozy in French Elections
» Italy: Grillo Says That “Partisans Would Again Take Up Arms Today”
» Italy: Almost Half of Pensioners Get Less Than 1,000 Euros a Month
» Italy: 40 Million in ‘Ndrangheta Assets Seized
» Melanie Phillips: The New Intolerance
» Netherlands: Wilders Discovers Europe
» Norway: 40,000 Join in Oslo Anti-Breivik Singalong
» Norway Town to Build Toilets for Beggars
» Norwegians ‘Face Terror With Music’ As 40,000 Take to Streets to Sing Children’s Song Breivik Claimed Was Marxist Propaganda
» Schulz: EU Collapse is a ‘Realistic Scenario’
» St George’s Flag is a Racist Symbol Says a Quarter of the English
» Sweden: Second Suspect Arrested in Teen Stabbing Case
» The Hype Starts Here: Ukraine Protests at Energy Firm Football Advert
» UK: Cardiff Library Backs Down on Protocols
» UK: Crack Team of Ex-Servicemen Who Normally Protect High-Profile Celebrities Employed by Council to Catch Litter Louts
» UK: George Galloway Converted to Islam 10 Years Ago, Claims Jemima Khan
» UK: George Galloway’s Muslim Conversion: Why the Big Secret?
» UK: Labour Jews Still Critical But Endorse Ken Livingstone With a Week to Go
» UK: London Riot Ringleader Has ‘Unduly Lenient’ Four-Year Sentence Doubled by Attorney General
» UK: Manchester United Attack Facebook After Site Refuses to Take Down Sick Page Mocking Munich Air Disaster
» UK: Police Granted More Time to Quiz Terror Suspects
» UK: The Legacy of Victorian England’s First Islamic Convert
» Kosovo: Hundreds of Additional NATO Soldiers Due for Elections
» Serbia: Belgrade Relocates Roma to Make Way for Street
Mediterranean Union
» Website Created for Emancipation of Arab Women
North Africa
» Egypt: End to Gas Sales to Israel Raises Questions About Camp David Accords
» Egypt: 13 Presidential Candidates, Shafik Back in Race
» Outrage as Egypt Plans ‘Farewell Intercourse Law’ So Husbands Can Have Sex With Dead Wives Up to Six Hours After Their Death
» Ransom Money Finances AQIM
» Tunisia: Gannouchi Attacks State Media, Not Impartial
Israel and the Palestinians
» 64th Anniversary, Peres Warns “Enemies”
» Israel: From Darling of the Left to Pariah State
Middle East
» Syria: UN: Annan Has Budget of Almost 8 Mln USD
» Syria: Erdogan to Damascus, We Have Powerful Army
» U.S. Seen as Iran ‘Cyberarmy’ Target
» UAE: Lawyer Refers to Dictionary in Trial Accusing Man of Insulting Islam
» Video Shows Syrian Rebel Buried Alive
» Huge Green Cloud Over Moscow Has Terrified Russians Tweeting for Their Lives
» No Sharia Court in Russia
South Asia
» India: ‘TMC Terror’ Over Bhangar College Poll
» Indonesia: Lady Gaga Warned About Offending Muslims During World Tour
» Pakistan: Blasphemy Allegations: Suspect Taken Into Custody Following Violent Demo
» Pakistan: Bin Laden’s Family of Twelve Set to be Kicked Out of Pakistan Tonight
Far East
» China: Wen Announces $10 Billion Line of Credit
» How China Combats Product Piracy (Or Not)
» Indigenous Filipinos Battle for Their Land
Australia — Pacific
» Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens Unveils Moonshadow Musical
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Boko Haram Attacks Nigerian Newspaper Headquarters
» Twin Bombings Hit Nigerian Newspaper
» Uganda: Muslim Youth Storm Old Kampala to Unseat Mubajje
Latin America
» Walmart’s Mexican Morass: The World’s Biggest Retailer is Sent Reeling by Allegations of Bribery
» Afghans Found Abandoned Off Calabria, One Dead
» Greece: Asking EU for Deal With Ankara
» Immigrants Deported: Algiers Complains With Rome
» Indignado Generation Finds Happiness Abroad
» Supreme Court Casts Doubt on Obama’s Immigration Law Claim
» The Netherlands Criticised for High Residency Permit Fees
» Young Men in Mexico Say the US No Longer Offers Them a Better Future
Culture Wars
» Respected Muslim Leader Warns Gay Marriage Threatens Civilisation and the World’s Population
» NATO Faced With Rising Flood of Cyberattacks
» Tiny Crystal May Hold Key to Future of Computers

Financial Crisis

Cost of Spain’s Housing Bust Could Force a Bailout

By any measure, the Spanish real estate boom was one of the headiest ever. Spurred by record-low interest rates, Spaniards piled into holiday villas along the Costa Blanca, gaudy apartments in Madrid and millions of starter homes throughout the country.

But since the frenzy drove Spanish home prices to a peak in 2007, they have fallen by at least one-fourth, and the bottom seems nowhere in sight. As Spain endures its second recession in three years and unemployment nears 25 percent, an increasing number of debt-heavy Spaniards can no longer meet monthly payments on the mortgages that their banks were all too eager to give.

With a rising portion of Spain’s 663 billion euros, or $876 billion, in home mortgages at risk of default, many economists say it is only a matter of time before some of Spain’s biggest banks will need a bailout. And the Spanish government, staggering under its own debt and budget deficit burdens, may not have the money to come to the rescue.

The implications of all this for the rest of Europe were a prime topic at last weekend’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington. The big fear is that the European Union will need to step in with a Spanish bailout — one much bigger than any of those already extended to Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cyprus: 13th Salaries Next for the Cutting

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 26 — Cyprus’ Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly neither denied nor confirmed yesterday whether cutting the public sector’s 13th salary was one of the measures the government was considering to plug a 150 million to 200 million euros shortfall from the 2.5% fiscal deficit target in 2012, as Cyprus Mail reports today. Unions oppose any moves on the 13th salary, which is given out at Christmas. “I cannot be clear; any measure would first be discussed with the social partners,” Shiarly told reporters when pressed whether the 13th salary was on the table. The minister stressed that any measures should be put in place as soon as possible because any delays could render them ineffectual.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Eurozone Economic Confidence Falls Sharply in April

Business and consumer confidence in the eurozone’s economy fell sharply in April, reversing gains at the start of the year, a European Union indicator showed on Thursday. The European Commission’s Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) dropped from 94.5 points in March to 92.8 points in April, returning to a level last seen in December in the 17-nation single currency area.

The ESI remained stable in the wider, 27-nation EU at 93.2 points. “The decline in the euro area was mainly driven by weakening confidence in the industry and services sectors,” the commission said, adding that only the retail sector saw an improvement in confidence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Troika to Return to Athens After Elections

Council of Ministers tomorrow on bank recapitalisation

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos delivers a speech during a conference organised by the European Commission in Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — After a brief pause due to the pre-election period in Greece, representatives of the troika (the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank) will once again be heading back to the country. Immediately after the formation of the new government resulting from the May 6 parliamentary elections. The troika will be heading back to Athens for an initial visit to the new staff of the Finance Ministry. It will then go back again later in early June to begin verification on the implementation of the plan for recovery of the Greek economy and the deciding on economic measures to bring in 11.5 billion euros in the 2013-2014 period provided for by the programme. According to Finance Ministry sources quoted by Greek newspapers, if the recession in 2012 surpasses the 4.7% foreseen by the state budget, then the troika may requests fresh measures during the June verification visit. Should this be the case, the finance ministry may request an extension for the period to reduce deficit to under 3%, for 2014 instead of 2013. Moreover, the same sources say that the Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for tomorrow will make decisions concerning the recapitalisation of banks and thereby prepare for a definitive solution to the problem for the post-election period.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Incomes Fall by a Quarter in a Year

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 26 — Real incomes in Greece dropped by a massive 25.3% in 2011 from the year before, according to an annual report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which uses data forwarded by the Greek Finance Ministry. It adds that Greek salary workers pay relatively low taxes but high social security contributions.

Maurice Nettley, senior tax policy economist at the OECD, told daily Kathimerini on Wednesday that the average gross salary in 2011 dropped from 20,457 euros to 15,729 euros. The reduction amounts to 23.1%, but actually grows to 25.3% when taking inflation into account. After-tax incomes (for unmarried workers) went down by 25.5% to 16,180 euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Income Down 25% in 2011, Says OECD

Central bank predicts further 20% fall in 2013-14

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Despite the severe austerity measures imposed by the government in Athens, in line with international creditors, in a bid to restore to health the country’s disastrous national accounts, the recession in Greece is being felt with increasing force.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has announced today that income in the country fell by 25.3% last year compared to 2010. The figure comes in an annual OECD report, which features analysis of figures supplied by Greece’s Ministry of Finance.

Worse still, the future is far from positive. Only two days ago, the governor of Greece’s central bank, Giorgios Provopoulos, presented the bank’s annual report on the progress of the national economy, which predicts that the recession will reach a level of 5% for the current year, while the first timid signs of economic recovery will not be seen until at least the end of 2013.

For all of these reasons, the central bank predicts that income for public and public sector workers will suffer a further fall of around 20% between 2013 and 2014, while the rate of unemployment will remain above 19%. As the head of Greece’s statistics office (Elstat) recently announced, the unemployment rate in the country hit a new record high in January, rising to 21.8% after a figure of 21.2% in December. In essence, the number of people without work in Greece has almost doubled since 2010, the year that the impact of the crisis first began to be felt, and when the Athens government turned to the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency loans.

The OECD study also shows that Greek workers pay relatively low taxes but high levels of social contribution. Maurice Nettley, an expert in fiscal economy at the OECD, said that the gross average wage had fallen from 20,457 euros to 15,729 euros in 2011. The fall is of the order of 23.1%, but rises to 25.3% if inflation is taken into account. Net of tax on income (for unmarried workers), income fell by 25.5% to 16,180 euros per year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Isolated Merkel Embraces Monti and Growth

La Stampa, 26 April 2012

Angela Merkel doesn’t want to be left alone in the turmoil of the crisis. With her long time partner Nicolas Sarkozy on the way out after the first round of French elections, the chancellor is already looking for another ally, and Mario Monti seems to be her choice. German government’s spokesman Steffen Seibert has revealed that Merkel and Monti’s staff have already met to plan a series of joint German-Italian initiatives to promote economic stimulus measures to be discussed at the European council in June, La Stampa reports.

In addition to the possible loss of traditional stalwarts France and Netherlands (the Dutch government resigned following a row over austerity), Merkel’s fiscal discipline creed came under fire yesterday as ECB chairman Mario Draghi declared that fiscal consolidation cannot be achieved through cuts and taxes alone, and requires “structural measures to favour economic growth”…

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

Monti Believes EU Will Move to Stimulate Growth

‘Structural reforms needed’

(ANSA) — Brussels, April 26 — Italian Premier Mario Monti said Thursday he believed he had convinced the European Union that more must be done to stimulate growth in the eurozone. “That seems to be the case,” he told reporters at the European Business Summit in Brussels.

The German government said on Wednesday that it is 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. On Wednesday 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.

Merkel said Wednesday 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. “Now Europe has to raise its growth potential using structural reforms,” he said, adding that it must “avoid policies that only in an ephemeral way give the impression of growth”. After introducing economic liberalizations and measures to cut red tape, Monti’s government has now presented controversial labor-market reform in Italy that would make it easier to fire workers with the aim of spurring growth and new hiring. “The bill is currently being reviewed by the parliament and I believe it will soon become law,” he said. The premier also reaffirmed his government’s plan to technically balance Italy’s budget in 2013, despite the deepening recession which has led some commentators to doubt the likelihood. Monti said that attaining the goal required “avoiding old-fashioned Keynesian policies that encourage expansion of budget deficits”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Ticket Sales Down 42% in Cinemas, Productions Fall

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 23 — Spanish-made films are doing poorly at the country’s box offices: since the start of the year there has been a 42% drop in sales in year-on-year terms, with turnovers down from 43.4 to 23.5 million euros. Such are the figures announced today by the Chair of the Federation of Spanish AudioVisual Producers, Pedro Perez, who calls the situation a worrying one, “even though it is not a complete rout”. As for productions, the Federation says that by April 20, twenty-five films had been produced in Spain, compared to the forty-two at the same point in 2011. Thirty-three films had been started, down by 47.6%. The sector is awaiting the enactment of a new law, possibly in January 2013, which proposes as mixed model of financing with tax breaks for producers. Fiscal support should be raised to 40%, compared to the present level of 18%, while the European average is 25%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Port of Barcelona Economic Drive, 1 Bln Investments

New terminal awarded to Grimaldi for EUR 22 mln

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, 26 APRIL — In times of crisis, the Port of Barcelona reasserts its position as a driving force for the economy, with projects worth one billion Euros in progress, including the new ferry terminal awarded to Grimaldi by the Port Authority for EUR 22 mln yesterday. Out of total investments, EUR 826 mln are in private capital, while the Port administration will invest 193 mln in 2012, according to Port Authority sources quoted today by La Vanguardia. Among the main works there is the construction of the container terminal by Tercat, a branch of the Chinese Group Hutchinson, with an investment of EUR 500 mln, whose opening is due to take place next summer. Tomorrow, the enlargement of the Meroil-Lukoil facilities will be inaugurated; the operation cost EUR 50 mln and will increase the storage and transport capacity of oil products. The tender for the construction and use for 15 years of the new short sea shipping terminal awarded to the Italian company Grimaldi will be carried out on the Costa berth.

According to the company’s sources, thanks to this new installation the first stage of works will be completed in the summer of 2013. More attention will be paid to passengers and the number of operations will be increased. In 2011, Grimaldi transported 400,000 passengers on four lines based in Barcelona and connected with Livorno, Civitavecchia, Sardinia and Tangiers, in Marocco. The company is currently active in the ferry terminal in Barcelona, managed by Acciona Transmediterranea. The terminal will be built on a surface of 7.4 hectares and will be used for passenger traffic and for the transport of freight on ferries. Last year, Grimaldi also transported 100,000 trailers and 100,000 new vehicles. Barcelona is Spain’s short sea shipping leader. The project provides for a station on 3,000 square meters on the ground floor, which will also host a hall, an area for baggage invoicing , 18 windows and 5 automatic machines, a check room, a communication room, offices on the first floor; outdoors, three gangways will connect the terminal with the ships. Projects in process do not only aim at increasing industrial and trade activities, but also at improving urban areas; to this end, the Municipality of Barcelona is assessing the compatibility of Grimaldi’s project with the Municipality’s plan to transform this port area into a new neighbourhood of the city. Among other projects, the transformation of the Port Vell marina into a luxury yacht harbour with a capacity totalling 140 berthing places for large and medium-size vessels is provided.

The British group Salamanca decided to invest EUR 30 mln in the new yacht harbour. However, the inhabitants of Barceloneta are opposing the project, which is currently undergoing technical review by the Port Authority and needs to be incorporated in the Municipality of Barcelona’s city-planning programmes. The yacht marina is due to be built near the repair shops of Marina Barcellona 92, that has enlargened its facilities he with an investment of EUR 37 million and later confirmed itself as the point of reference in the Mediterranean Sea for this kind of service.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Year-End Inflation to be Around 6.5%, CB

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 26 — Turkish Central Bank forecast on Thursday the year-end inflation around 6.5% in 2012, as Anatolia news agency reports. Bank governor, Erdem Basci, said that the year-inflation would be 5.3% the lowest and 7.7% the highest. “The year-end inflation will be around 5.3% in 2012,” Basci told a press conference in Ankara. Basci projected the year-end inflation in 2013 around 3.4% the lowest, 7% the highest and 5.2% the average. The governor also said that the inflation would be stabilized around 5% in the medium term

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Black Panics and White Hispanics

Make no mistake about it: At issue in the Zimmerman case is not whether he had a right to overpower Martin. The power struggle in the Zimmerman case stems from race-baiters’ worry that Hispanics will overtake blacks as the most powerful racial interest group in America. That is why Jackson and Sharpton are clinging on to Martin like Marion Berry on a crack pipe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Chrysler More Than Quadruples Profits in First Quarter

U.S. sales drive growth for Fiat-controlled automaker

(ANSA) — New York, April 26 — Fiat-controlled American automaker Chrysler more than quadrupled net profits in the first quarter of 2012, Fiat said Thursday. The gains were chiefly driven by U.S. sales, up 40% to $473 million. Revenue on the year was up 25% to $16.4 billion thanks to an overall sales increase of 33% for a total of 523,000 automobiles. Fiat took control of Chrysler in 2009 and now holds a 58.5% stake in the Detroit Number Three. CEO Sergio Marchionne told shareholders this month that Fiat this year may buy another 3.3%, lifting its stake to 61.8%, and that it has until June 30, 2016 to buy up the 40% stake held by the union-controlled fund VEBA. The two automakers are expected to formally merge before the end of 2015.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Dallas Muslim Scholar, Dr. Kavakci, Reveals Misconceptions About Sharia Laws

RICHARDSON (Texas, USA), 4 Jumada Al-Thani/25 April (IINA)-Irving-based Radio Azad’s Nikhat Qureshi presented a distinguished radio show on “Islamophobia and defending Sharia law” recently. One of her guests was the Muslim scholar, Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, a Dallas prominent scholar-in-residence and Imam at Richardson’s Islamic Association of North Texas, and one of several North American Muslims included in the “500 most influential Muslims in the world.” Dr. Kavakci explained the history of the development and practice of Sharia, Islamic law, in Classical Islam and in the contemporary world, shedding the light on facts and misconceptions about Muslim penal codes, Muslim countries claiming to be practicing Sharia, and the compatibility of Sharia with the American constitution.

Dr. Kavakci was born in 1938 in Turkey. At the age of 9, he completed the memorization of the whole Qur’an. After completing training in Islamic sciences he became a nationally accredited Mufti (ordained and authorized to give Fatwa-religious opinion- and religious verdict in the Islamic field,) and he worked several religious positions like Imam and Waiz (preacher). Dr. Kavakci received a Bachelor degree in Law from the College of Law of Istanbul University and in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Higher Islamic Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Islamic History and Culture from the Faculty of Arts in Istanbul University. He worked as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor in the Institute of Islamic Research at Istanbul University, and helped establish the first College of Islamic Studies in modern Turkey, now part of Ataturk University. He has practiced law in Iraq, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. He has a number of books published in English and is working on several works in progress. For more details about Dr. Kavakci’s works and biography, please visit the IANT website from which this brief introduction was quoted.

Sharia literally means the road, path to water, Dr. Kavakci stated. It includes “the laws, rules and regulations, drawn from the Quran and Hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and tradition), understood [by Muslim jurists], and made applicable [in human relations pertaining to everyday’s living and worship rituals.]”These laws empower people before life [i.e. rules concerning the rights of a fetus in its mother’s womb], through life, and after death [i.e. burial rites.] Sharia covers moral values, family relations, respect of parents and elders, human transactions, worship, charity, etc…In a nut shell, Sharia “covers all of a human being’s actions and deeds.”

Through this overview of Sharia, Dr. Kavakci has already confronted misconceptions, like the false statement that Sharia is only about penal codes. As a matter of fact, “less than 10 percent of Sharia” is considered penal codes of crimes and offenses, like theft and highway robbery, clearly mentioned in the Quran. The rest of the Sharia laws, over 90 percent, are left to Muslim jurists to analyze and determine their legal rulings. In addition, Dr. Kavakci stated that penal code is only a part of the whole Islamic law, which also includes secular public and civil laws, all of which is left to democracy to handle; democracy here understood as the agreement of Muslim scholars.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

From Giant Fireball Over Calif., Tiny Meteorites

Robert Ward has been hunting and collecting meteorites for more than 20 years, so he knew he’d found something special in the Sierra foothills along the path of a flaming fireball that shook parts of Northern California and Nevada with a sonic boom over the weekend.

And scientists have confirmed his suspicions: it’s one of the more primitive types of space rocks out there, dating to the early formation of the solar system 4 to 5 billion years ago.

“It was just, needless to say, a thrilling moment,” Ward of Prescott, Ariz., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday as he walked through an old cemetery in search of more meteorites about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento.

He found the first piece on Tuesday along a road between a baseball field and park on the edge of Lotus near Coloma, where James W. Marshall first discovered gold in California, at Sutter’s Mill in 1848.

Ward, who has found meteorites in every continent but Antarctica and goes by “AstroBob” on his website, said he “instantly knew” it was a rare meteorite known as “CM” — carbonaceous chondrite — based in part on the “fusion crusts from atmospheric entry” on one side of the rock.

“It is one of the oldest things known to man and one of the rarest types of meteorites there is,” he said. “It contains amino acids and organic compounds that are extremely important to science.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Marine Critical of Obama on Facebook Expelled From Ranks

(AGI) Washington — Marine Sergeant Gary Stein was expelled from the corps after 10 years for having criticized Obama on Facebook. This was the decision made by the disciplinary commission of the Marine Corps after Stein’s criticism of the “Commander in Chief” on his Facebook profile, in a case which creates a precedent in the limits of free speech for service personnel on the social network. On March first Stein had, among other things, written on Facebook, “F**k Obama I won’t follow all his orders.” He then added an image of the President with the word “ass” superimposed.

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

Rights Groups See Politics Behind Rise in Muslim Hate Crimes

Amnesty International says politicians have been pandering to prejudice against Muslims in a quest for votes.

The Oslo courtroom where confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is on trial offers a look at a tragic outcome of anti-Islamic hostility. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, years of war and repeated calls for violence against the West stirred worldwide fears of Muslim extremism, but many human rights analysts say they find it difficult to explain a recent surge in anti-Islamic hate crimes other than political manipulation and fears that displays of Islamic faith herald new threats from radicals. In Europe and in North America, where incidents of Islamic extremism have been few and rarely fatal since the Sept. 11 attacks, anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased over the last two years as states enacted laws barring mosque construction and the wearing of veils, head scarves and beards meant to reflect the depth of Muslims’ faith, not fanaticism.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Why a Mega-Mosque in the Bible Belt?

Victoria Jackson takes her video camera into controversy over Muslim center

An Islamic Center and Mosque is being built in Murfreesboro, TN smack dab in the buckle of the Bible belt. The Imam, “Dr. Ossama Mohamed Bahloul, is a graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies (Usool el Din) ranking top 4 in a class of 200.” Why did such a powerful Imam choose to settle in TN instead of say, Egypt, Jordan, even Los Angeles? Proselytizing? Terrorist Training Camp?

The new Mosque is being built about two feet away from the Grace Baptist Church. Odd choice of location, but there are acres of empty land surrounding the mosque that could be used for expansion.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Islam Open House in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday

An open house to promote religious harmony, dispel misconceptions about Islam and to educate people about the true and peaceful teachings of Islam will take place Saturday at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. The Holy Qur’an Open House will be held at the main and Korah branches from noon until 4 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada, an auxiliary wing of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. In a press release, a spokesman said it is a non-profit, charitable, religious organization established in more than 200 countries worldwide, with 65 chapters in Canada. “We have been promoting peace, condemning terrorism and dispelling myths about Islam as part of our nationwide campaign for the past year,” said Rizwan Rabbani. During the last 14 months, they have visited 337,374 homes in more than 200 Canadian communities, reaching out to an estimated 1,303,941 people with the help of 2,649 volunteers, he said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Minority Lawyers in Canada Push for a Less White Bench

Minority lawyers, chafing at an overwhelming number of white appointees to federal judgeships, are mobilizing to press for a more transparent appointment process. They accuse the government of concealing its poor record of minority appointments behind an intolerably opaque process. “The demographics of the bench must be tracked and reported — who applies, and gets appointed and who makes the decisions,” the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers said in a statement Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sharia Law Subject of Event at Library

MIDLAND — A Muslim organization will pay another visit to Midland this weekend to tackle misconceptions and answer questions about Islam. Saturday’s information session will tackle the subject of “Sharia: The Misunderstood Islamic Law.” It will take place at the Midland Public Library from noon to 4 p.m. The event is being organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada, which is an auxiliary wing of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a non-profit charitable organization with 65 chapters throughout Canada. Part of its mandate is to promote peace, condemn terrorism and dispel myths about Islam. In the past 14 months, representatives have visited more than 200 communities, reaching out to an estimated 1.3 million people. This is the group’s third visit to Midland.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Rare Fighter Plane Wreck Lifted From Seabed

The remains of a rare World War II German fighter plane, of which only one intact example exists, have been fished from the sea off northern Denmark, a nearby military museum announced on Wednesday.

The wreckage of the Heinkel He-219 night fighter, badly corroded by seawater, was recovered on Monday from Tannis Bay, on the Jutland peninsula, where it was lying at a depth of just three metres. Experts at the Danish Aalborg military museum are now examining it.

Just 268 of the aircraft were built, due to air raids on the Heinkel factory hindering production and internal squabbling in the Nazi government. The only survivor apart from the Danish example is in the US National Air and Space Museum.

The heavily-armed, radar-equipped He-219 was one of the most sophisticated aircraft of its time, featuring ejector seats and a pressurised cockpit, aviation historian Ib Loedsen said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France 2012: Sarkozy to ‘Crush’ Hollande, No Accord With Fn

President courts far right voters but not Le Pen

Nicolas Sarkozy is stirring up his fans in view of the final round of voting

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — Nicolas Sarkozy has blocked the way for the National Front to enter his future government should he be re-elected on May 6, and is stirring up his fans in view of the final round of voting. “Hollande? I’ll blow him up, crush him down. Don’t be afraid to rumple your best clothes. Use even your own heavy artillery,” he reportedly said to his fans, according to a press leak in the well-informed satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé. The outgoing president is making no concessions, moving forward in an election campaign in which only days remain and with polls showing conflicting results.

Interviewed yesterday evening live on the TF1 television channel, Sarkozy did however say that he wanted to “listen to and understand those voting for the National Front (FN). I am not here to lecture on morality like the conformist gauche.

After four years in a crisis, I am not surprised by the results achieved by Marine Le Pen.” He went on to say that he did not consider it shameful for those “who voted for a candidate whose point of view I do not share (…) I don’t understand how one can censure the votes of people who are suffering”. Pushed into a corner by that 17.9% raked in last Sunday by the National Front, which could prove decisive in the second round, Sarkozy has been forced to court far-right voters but has not opened up to Marine Le Pen. He will not be making any agreement with her, not now nor in the legislative elections in June. The clarification came on the day after he had said that Marine Le Pen was “compatible” with the republic. In an interview on the France Info radio station, he said that “there will not be any agreement with the National Front nor the ministers within its ranks. I have never wanted this.” However, he rushed to add, “that 18% of voters casting their ballots for Marine Le Pen should not be demonised”. In his opinion, it may prove a gold mine of useful votes. “They do not belong to Marine Le Pen and it is my duty to address them. I do not see them as individuals with extremist ideas. There are no good and bad votes. The French made their choice and must once again do so.” Sarkozy also lashed out at Hollande, noting that the latter “claims that Marine Le Pen’s voters are wrong. I instead believe that, when people express themselves, they are not wrong.” Within the UMP itself some are wondering how long the dam separating the two parties on the right will hold. Some think that the borderline between the UMP and the FN has never been so fragile — especially since Sarkozy’s direction has become clear, and is headed straight for the right. Immigration and the votes of non-EU nationals have become his daily bread.

However, he is assuring his followers that he will never form an alliance with Marine Le Pen. The Socialist candidate is taking advantage of the situation, speaking out against the “numerous ambiguities” within Sarkozy’s party — especially in view of the parliamentary elections (June 10-17), in which the National Front hopes to achieve results similar to those seen in the presidential ones.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Driver Mistakes Paris Metro for Parking Entrance

A driver looking for a parking lot drove down a staircase into a Paris metro stop. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. “There was a sign indicating ‘Parking Haussman Grands Magasins’ here, and there wasn’t anything blocking the way, so it was confusing. Luckily nobody was climbing the stairs,” 26-year-old driver Johan, told daily Ouest-France.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Paris Police Protest Over Officer’s Arrest

Hundreds of angry policemen demonstrated on the Champs-Elysées in Paris late Wednesday to protest charges laid against a colleague who had shot dead a serial offender in the capital’s suburbs.

As the policemen, some of them in cars with sirens blaring, paraded on the French capital’s best-known avenue and in the suburb of Bobigny where the drama occurred, Interior Minister Claude Guéant said he “understands their emotion.”

A delegation of the three policemen’s unions was received at the interior ministry and demanded that the accused officer should continue to be paid, a representative told AFP. The unusual show of solidarity by the police came after one of their number was arrested for voluntary homicide.

On Saturday night in the Noisy-le-Sec district of Bobigny one of four policemen tipped off about a fugitive said he was confronted with an armed man who flung a grenade at him. He fired four shots at the man who died shortly afterwards, the policeman said.

However an autopsy showed the victim had been shot in the back, according to court records. The grenade turned out to be a dud. The 33-year-old policeman pleaded self-defence.

“The police are really up in arms,” said Nicolas Comte, leader of the union of which the accused policeman was a delegate. “We do not deny that justice must be done, but the description of voluntary homicide by the judge is incomprehensible.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Marine Le Pen: Don’t French Jews Get it?

Israel’s former ambassador to France has expressed his dismay at support given by French Jews to Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National (FN). Ms Le Pen won almost one in 5 votes in Sunday’s first round presidential election. Danny Shek, who served in Paris from 2006 until last year, says that there is an increasing view among some Jews that Ms Le Pen is “cleaning house” and should be supported. Mr Shek said: “What worries me as a Jew and as an Israeli is that more and more Jews find her appealing. There is a growing popularity for the primitive formula, ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. I wrote an article on the French elections for an Israeli newspaper, in which I said this, and I had 250 talkbacks. A good 70 — 80 per cent of them said I was a fool, picking up on this idea. They thought Le Pen was someone who was cleaning house. The fact that one in five French voters felt comfortable enough with a party that stands for xenophobia and antisemism is horrific.” France has the biggest Jewish community in Europe, numbering more than half a million. Richard Pasquier, the president of Crif (the French equivalent of the Board of Deputies) says he is relaxed about the FN. There are antisemites in the party “but they are not the majority…The antisemitism is no longer a main characteristic of the FN”.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Sarkozy: Ramadan Supports Hollande, Denied by Both Men

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 26 — Tariq Ramadan, the controversial Muslim intellectual and Swiss national, has never expressed his support for François Hollande in the French presidential election, as the outgoing President, Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed yesterday. The notion was denied today by both the Socialist candidate and Ramadan himself.

The two men reacted to comments by the President and candidate, who, talking about Ramadan yesterday on TF1’s flagship news programme, said: “This is a man who invites votes for Hollande. And I have never heard Hollande say that this bothers him”.

The Socialist candidate denied the accusation this morning. “This is completely false,” Hollande said on the radio station France Info. “Tariq Ramadan, who does not even vote in France, has never mentioned my name,” he added.

Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in 1928, also denied Sarkozy’s comments. “Never in my life have I called on people to vote for Hollande,” he told the AFP agency. “I am not French and I have never told people who to vote for. I said that there should be no instructions for Muslims on who to vote for, because this makes no sense. I only said that French citizens, Muslims or otherwise, should vote with their conscience and come up with an assessment of Sarkozy’s policy, which is very negative”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: The Rather Dangerous Monsieur Hollande

The Socialist who is likely to be the next French president would be bad for his country and Europe

Apr 26th 2012 | from the print edition

IT IS half of the Franco-German motor that drives the European Union. It has been the swing country in the euro crisis, poised between a prudent north and spendthrift south, and between creditors and debtors. And it is big. If France were the next euro-zone country to get into trouble, the single currency’s very survival would be in doubt.

That is why the likely victory of the Socialist candidate, François Hollande, in France’s presidential election matters so much. In the first round on April 22nd Mr Hollande came only just ahead of the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. Yet he should win the second round on May 6th, because he will hoover up all of the far-left vote that went to Jean-Luc Mélenchon and others and also win a sizeable chunk from the National Front’s Marine Le Pen and the centrist François Bayrou.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

French Mosques Accused of Backing Hollande

The rightwing UMP party has accused Socialists of courting the Muslim vote and alleges that mosques are calling for the faithful to vote for leftwing candidate Francois Hollande.

“I want to condemn the conniving and irresponsible attitude of the Socialist Party and its candidate after religious leaders belonging to a network of 700 mosques called on followers to vote for Francois Hollande,” writes UMP lawmaker Eric Ciotti in a press release on Wednesday. Ciotti said the move was “serious and inacceptable” and said he “firmly condemned such practices”.

Muslim religious authorities in France however deny they have called on voters to support Hollande. In an interview with the newswire AFP, Abdallah Zekri, a leader of the French Council of Muslim Faith, says imams have called on followers to vote but have not given them instructions as to who they should vote for.

According to the weekly Marianne, only one mosque in France, located in Puteaux, west of Paris, has called on believers to vote for Hollande.

Relations between President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Muslim community are tense as Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, is taking a hard line on immigration. He also shocked French Muslims when he called on authorities to label halal meat in France.

Sarkozy lost to Hollande in the first round of the presidential election last week and needs the vote of the far right party the National Front if he wants to beat his Socialist rival in the second round next week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Telekom: 100,000 WLAN Connections Unsafe

More than 100,000 Deutsche Telekom customers have been told to turn off their wireless internet routers after the company admitted their connections were wide open to being used by others.

Three router models were found to have a glitch in their programming which would enable just about anyone to infiltrate a particular WLAN network. No prior knowledge or technical ability is necessary, simply a particular PIN number which is being circulated on the internet.

The revelation means that Telekom customers may have been unwittingly granting access to their private wireless network for several months, Die Welt reported on Thursday. The problem affects the W 504V, W 723V (Type B) and W921V models, all manufactured by Speedport.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Holland Ten Points Ahead of Sarkozy in French Elections

(AGI) Paris — As the second round approaches, Francois Holland is ten points ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy in the most recent poll published by TNS-Sofres, with the incumbent president at 45% and his opponent at 55%. In the first ballot held on April 22nd Hollande won 28.63% of the votes against Sarkozy’s 27.18%

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

Italy: Grillo Says That “Partisans Would Again Take Up Arms Today”

(AGI) Rome — Beppe Grillo has commented on Italy’s current situation on his blog. “Today the parade of corpses honoured the Resistance. The crumbling picture of Fini, Monti, Napolitano and Schifani represents Italy. The old eyes of the partisans would survey the desert with bewilderment. Perhaps they would start crying. Perhaps they would once again take up arms,” Grillo writes. Beneath the photo of the four highest-ranking Italian politicians, Grillo points out: “In 1945, we won back freedom by fighting, as our fathers and grandfathers who fought and lost their lives thought. If they could come back from their graves, they would be dismayed at the ruin that they would see before them”.

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

Italy: Almost Half of Pensioners Get Less Than 1,000 Euros a Month

Nearly 30% under 65, Istat and INPS say

(ANSA) — Rome, April 26 — Nearly half of all retired Italians received less than 1,000 euros in monthly pension payments in 2010, a report said Thursday. National statistics agency Istat and pension agency INPS reported that 7.6 million pensioners, 45.4% of the total, received less 1,000 euros in retirement benefits every month. For 2.4 million pensioners, 14.4% of the total, monthly payments were less than 500 euros. The total government payout on pensions increased by 1.9% to 258.5 billion euros from 2009.

But the number accounted for 16.64% of GDP, compared to 16.69% in the previous year. The average annual payment for Italy’s 16.7 million pensioners was 15,471 euros. Over 70% of Italian retirees were over the age of 64, while nearly one third, 29.1%, were less than 65. Over one quarter of pension recipients were between 40 and 64, and 3.5% were under 40.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: 40 Million in ‘Ndrangheta Assets Seized

Hotel and Jaguar among items taken from Mob associate

(ANSA) — Cosenza, April 26 — Italian police on Thursday seized 40 million euros in assets from a convicted affiliate of the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Francesco Costa, 69, is in jail on a range of mafia charges.

Among the assets seized were a hotel, six plots of land, a company and three cars including a Jaguar.

Italy has stepped up its efforts to seize mafia assets and has set up a national agency to manage confiscated assets with a headquarters in Reggio Calabria and a recently opened office in Milan.

‘Ndrangheta is Italy’s richest mafia thanks to its domination of the European cocaine trade.

Recent investigations have shown its increasing penetration of the northern Italian economy as well as its spread overseas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Melanie Phillips: The New Intolerance

To judge from what we are reading and hearing almost every day at the moment, it would seem Britain is in the throes of a war of religion. A war, that is, between religion and atheism. Professor Richard Dawkins, the Savonarola of atheism, regularly hurls his thunderbolts at believers. Christianity, says the church, is under siege. Christians are being prevented from wearing the crucifix at work, being barred from adoption panels. Even Delia Smith has now brought her rolling pin to the fight to defend the faith. At the heart of this great argument lies the assumption on the part of the anti-religion camp that this is a battle between reason and obscurantism, between rationality on the one hand and knuckle-dragging ignorance and prejudice on the other. And of course, that anti-religion camp is on the side of reason, and thus of intelligence, science, progress and freedom; whereas religious believers would undo the Enlightenment and take us all back to the dark ages of credulity, superstition and the shackling of the mind.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders Discovers Europe

Trouw Amsterdam

Now that the Dutch Prime government has fallen, with elections likely for 12 September, political commentator Les Oomkes argues that Wilders’ railing against Europe might prove fortuitous: leading to Europe as the central theme of the election campaign and a shift in the political balance of power.

Lex Oomkes

Should the forthcoming elections in the Netherlands have the effect of reducing both the fragmentation of political parties and the electorate’s inclination towards the left and right-wing extremities, then the current crisis may ultimately prove a blessing in disguise.

However, one would have to be a born optimist to consider this a genuine possibility. Unfortunately, the latest indications do not bode well. There is currently nothing to suggest that there will be prospects for the formation of a politically sound coalition with a logical composition following the elections. Quite the contrary, fragmentation and further instability would appear to be on the cards.

Since 2002, just a decade ago, the Netherlands has had a string of five governments. And the political middle ground has all but been abandoned during this period. In fact, the previously dominant three major parties, PvdA (Labour), CDA (Christian Democrat) and VVD (Liberal) may perhaps even fail to jointly secure a majority in the Lower House.

Europe as the root of all evil

In the meantime, however, the odd ray of hope has also been spotted. For instance, in a statement issued on Saturday with a view to explaining his rather curious behaviour during the recent Catshuis negotiations, Mr Geert Wilders claimed that the EU is the root of all evil. He appears to be suggesting that Brussels had put pressure on the minority government to withdraw to the Catshuis in order to negotiate further extensive cost-cutting measures.

While Mr Wilders’ statement was the most obvious nonsense, this by no means suggests that it is insignificant. His PVV (Party for Freedom) has declared the EU the ‘ogre’, against which it eagerly looks forward to campaigning during the next few months…

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

Norway: 40,000 Join in Oslo Anti-Breivik Singalong

Tens of thousands of rose-waving Norwegians gathered in central Oslo Thursday to deride mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik by singing a song he hates, viewing it as Marxist indoctrination.

Some 40,000 people, according to police, massed in the rain at a square near the Oslo district courthouse where Breivik is on trial for his July 22nd attacks that killed 77 people, to sing “Children of the Rainbow” by Norwegian folk singer Lillebjørn Nilsen.

Inside the court, the 33-year-old accused right-wing extremist sat listening without showing emotion to powerful testimony from survivors of his bloodbath on the ninth day of his trial. Drawn by an internet campaign, the protestors streamed into Youngstorget Square wearing colourful raincoats and carrying Norwegian flags and roses, which have come to represent Norway’s peaceful response to the horrifying attacks.

The culture ministers of the Nordic countries were also at the square to participate, while other similar events were to take place across Norway. Nilsen led the chorus as the crowd, including many children who came with their nursery and elementary schools, sang along, waving roses in the air.

Afterwards they walked slowly together, still singing the song, to the courthouse to add their roses to the piles of flowers already lining the security barriers outside in memory of Breivik’s victims. Breivik last Friday told the court that Nilsen was “a very good example of a Marxist” who had infiltrated the cultural scene and that his song was typical of the “brainwashing of Norwegian pupils.”

In reaction to his comments, two Norwegians launched a Facebook campaign calling on the public to “reclaim the song” and sing it together near the courthouse. “I felt like he was trampling on a song I grew up with and that I sing to my child,” Lill Hjønnevåg, one of those who initiated the protest, told public television network NRK.

The song is an adaptation of US folk singer Pete Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race” and is very popular in the Scandinavian country. Its chorus goes: “Together, we will live, each sister and each brother, small children of the rainbow and a green earth.”

Nilsen has rejected Breivik’s interpretation of the song. “In fact, it’s not about people, it’s about protecting the environment,” he told daily Aftenposten.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway Town to Build Toilets for Beggars

Kristiansand’s town council voted on Wednesday to install toilet and shower facilities that can be used by beggars operating on the streets of the town in southern Norway.

After a heated debated, the motion was passed by a slim majority of 28 representatives to 25. The town will now set aside 300,000 kroner ($52,500) for the construction of sanitary facilities for beggars.

Two parties, the Conservatives and the Progress Party, were deeply opposed to the move, newspaper Fædrelandsvennen reports. “The money beggars get in their mugs goes to men in suits who drive them around and decide where to place them,” said Conservative representative Odd Nordmo. “If we build sanitary facilities for beggars here in the town we are creating possibilities for the establishment of a new Christiania,” he said, referring to a hippie-like commune in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Progress Party group leader Tor S. Utsogn was in full agreement. “An ethnically segregated toilet like this will undoubtedly attract beggars,” he said. “We know that there are Romanian men sitting in cars keeping control over their beggars.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norwegians ‘Face Terror With Music’ As 40,000 Take to Streets to Sing Children’s Song Breivik Claimed Was Marxist Propaganda

1970s song Children of the Rainbow sung in central Oslo. Killer called song an example of ‘cultural Marxists’ infiltrating schools.

Thousands of Norwegians took to the streets today to sing a children’s song that deluded mass killer Anders Behring Breivik claimed was being used to brainwash youngsters.

Some 40,000 converged on Oslo’s central square to ‘face terror with music’ and sing the 1970s song Children of the Rainbow.

Just a few hundred metres away, Breivik continued to stand trial in the city’s courthouse for his July 22 bombing-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Schulz: EU Collapse is a ‘Realistic Scenario’

The collapse of the European Union is a “realistic scenario,” as member states are claiming back power, xenophobia is increasing and so are calls to reintroduce border controls, said the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

“In the past few months we have witnessed a disturbing trend towards renationalisation and ‘summitisation’: the Heads of State and Government are arrogating more and more decisions to themselves, debating and taking decisions behind closed doors and in disregard of the Community method,” thundered Schulz.

Speaking in front of the College of Commissioners he underscored the need for an even closer cooperation between the Commission and Parliament. That “is an important sign that we are defending the Community method with determination.”

Schulz complained that the latest crisis shows an acceleration in the creation of Parliament-free zones. “By means of the Fiscal Compact, an attempt was made to create a Fiscal Union beyond the control of Parliamentarians, by-passing the Commission,” he said.

“Together we can oppose the trend towards ‘summitisation’ and ‘renationalisation’. This development is extremely dangerous, as we were reminded again only last week by the Franco-German call for the reintroduction of border controls: any assault on freedom of movement is an assault on the foundations of the European Union,” he told the College.

His remarks come as the eurozone is shaken by a severe debt crisis and the 27-country bloc is divided by disputes over the Schengen Area and border control.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy echoed Schulz concerns as he warned in Romania that the “winds of populism” were affecting the free movement of persons within Schengen, one of the EU’s key achievements.

Worries about “populism” at the EU level have increased as National Front leader Marine Le Pen received a record number of votes in the first round of the French presidential elections held on Sunday. 17.9% of French voters cast their ballot for the far-right candidate.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

St George’s Flag is a Racist Symbol Says a Quarter of the English

The English feel far more patriotic about the Union Flag than the St George’s Cross, according to a new poll.

The survey found that while 80 per cent linked the British flag with such feelings, only 61 per cent associated them with English one. By contrast, the Scottish and the Welsh were far more likely to feel pride in their flag — the St Andrew’s Cross and Red Dragon respectively — than the English in theirs.

The survey was carried out by the think tank British Future as part of a report analysing how people from around the UK view their “national identity”. It will be released tomorrow, on St George’s Day.

The organisation say the results show that more needs to be done to encourage a sense of “English patriotism” if the Union is to survive. In a letter to The Sunday Telegraph, signed by academics as well as MPs from all major parties, the think tank also calls for the introduction of a new English national anthem to help foster a greater sense of identity at sporting and national occasions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Second Suspect Arrested in Teen Stabbing Case

Another person has been arrested in the investigation of the Landskrona killing on Monday in southern Sweden, where a 19-year-old woman was stabbed to death. “This is a woman born in 1973. She was apprehended at 6pm on Wednesday and was formally arrested at 8.45pm,” said police spokesperson Eva-Lotta Hermansson Truedsson to news agency TT.

According to prosecutor Magnus Larsson, the arrested woman could be described as close to the victim. He said that the woman is under suspicion of instigating the murder and that it is possible that the circle of suspects could widen. Currently, it doesn’t seem as if either of the two apprehended suspects will be released.

“Not the way it looks right now, but there are a number of measures being carried out and the situation could easily change,” said the prosecutor to TT. Police arrested the woman’s 16-year-old brother after finding him outside the apartment, the Aftonbladet newspaper reported on Wednesday.

It has been alleged that the boy killed his sister for disgracing their family by having several boyfriends and trying to build a life for herself away from home, but this has not been confirmed by police.

On Wednesday it became known that the 19-year-old had been feeling threatened for some time and had been in contact with a support group, which was trying to fix her up with sheltered accommodation in another municipality, through the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

The national organization Glöm aldrig Pela och Fadime (GAPF), a group honouring two of Sweden’s most publicized cases of so-called “honour killings” has now reported the municipality handled the threats that the 19-year-old girl was living under. The group is questioning whether the authorities have been observant enough of the increased threats against the woman before her death.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Hype Starts Here: Ukraine Protests at Energy Firm Football Advert

The Ukrainian authorities are angry at a Dutch energy firm advert which focuses on the forthcoming European football championships, according to Dutch media reports on Wednesday.

In the advert, a woman is shocked after looking online at photos of scantily-clad Ukrainian women. The voice over goes on to suggest Dutch women keep their men at home by switching to energy provider Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij, which is offering a free home beer keg system as an incentive.

The NRC quotes Ukrainian media as saying the advert is aimed at discouraging the Dutch from attending the football event this summer. It says Ukraine’s ambassador to the Netherlands is to raise the advert with the company.

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

UK: Cardiff Library Backs Down on Protocols

Anti-racism campaigners have urged Cardiff City Council to remove a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion from a city library. Anti-racism campaigner Dave Shipper, 85, wrote to the library in February that the book was written to “foster hatred of Jews”. The edition of the antisemitic forgery, printed in 2010 in Milton Keynes, is the translation by Victor E Marsden and has no academic annotations or indication that the content is fraudulent, according to Mr Shipper. He said: “I hope it is by accident rather than design, and that this copy could have been donated and accepted [by the library] unwittingly. I am anti-censorship, and the text should be available for research, but this was on an open shelf, with nothing to modify it. It was alongside many textbooks on anti-racism.”

Cardiff Council has now agreed to remove the book from the open shelf, but will not restrict access to it when requested. A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “Cardiff Library Service does not restrict access to publicly available material, unless it is against the law. We do not therefore exclude material on the basis of moral, political, religious, racial or gender grounds. However, following the correspondence with Mr Shipper, we have decided to remove the book from open shelves and make it accessible on application only.” Mr Shipper, whose father was Jewish, said library staff had told him that the book was clearly categorised as “racism”. He said: “If that is categorised as racism, then what on earth are the other books available in that category?” A spokesman for the Community Security Trust urged Cardiff to remove the book altogether. “It is outrageous that such a prominent antisemitic book should be available in a public library. CST urges the relevant authorities to remove it immediately. Failure to do so would be a moral disgrace.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Crack Team of Ex-Servicemen Who Normally Protect High-Profile Celebrities Employed by Council to Catch Litter Louts

A town hall has called in a crack squad of ex-servicemen trained in covert surveillance who specialise in protecting high-profile celebs to stop residents littering.

Basildon Council in Essex has hired private security firm Xfor to track residents, shoppers and dog walkers in the hope of stopping them littering, dropping cigarette butts or failing to clean up dog mess.

A team of three men and one woman will patrol the streets and parks of Basildon, handing out £75 on-the-spot fines to any offenders during the controversial six-month trial.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: George Galloway Converted to Islam 10 Years Ago, Claims Jemima Khan

George Galloway converted to Islam 10 years ago, Jemima Khan has claimed in an article for the New Statesman, out today.

Khan interviewed the MP for Bradford West for the magazine. In the article, she claims that he converted in a ceremony in Kilburn, north-west London, a decade ago.

She writes: “Those close to him know this. The rest of the world, including his Muslim constituents, does not.”

Galloway has also recently remarried in a Muslim ceremony, having come out of two previous Muslim marriages.

The revelation has led some to speculate that Galloway has not made his conversion public knowledge for fear of losing the “working-class white vote”.

However, Galloway has denied ever attending the ceremony in Kilburn that Khan writes of, issuing this statement:

“The opening paragraph of Jemima Khan’s piece in the New Statesman (referring to an alleged conversion ceremony) is totally untrue. Moreover I told her it was fallacious when she put it to me. I have never attended any such ceremony in Kilburn, Karachi or Kathmandu. It is simply and categorically untrue.”

The statement, however, does not deny that he is a Muslim.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: George Galloway’s Muslim Conversion: Why the Big Secret?

Why did George Galloway feel the urge to keep his conversion to Islam secret?

The New Statesman reveals today, in an interview by Jemima Khan with the fiery new MP for Bradford West, that Galloway converted 10 years ago at a ceremony in Kilburn, north-west London. On one level, it’s not surprising: he peppers his speeches with “inshallahs”, during his campaign, pamphlets were distributed (although he says he was not responsible for them) saying that “God knows who is a Muslim”, pointing out that his Labour opponent in the Bradford by-election, Imran Hussain, drank alcohol and that he, Galloway, did not and “never has”; he has had no fewer than three Muslim wives (though not, I must quickly add, at the same time).

But it is very odd that he kept this to himself for so long. His adopted religion, surely, is not a shameful secret. Certainly his appeal to the Islamic communities, first of Tower Hamlets and now of Bradford, is well known. But, as Khan points out, he has generally been referred to as a “Catholic” in the media, and that this might not have hurt his chances with the working-class white vote:

There must have been some white constituents in Bradford, who, although natural Labour supporters, preferred to vote for the white Catholic candidate rather than the brown Muslim one representing Labour.

Whether that’s true or not, there’s something strange about Galloway’s secretiveness on the matter. Perhaps, with all the accusations of divisive identity politics that have been flying around since his startling victory, he realised that his Respect Party’s claims to be a broad-based Leftist movement rather than a single-issue Muslim protest vote would be undermined. It would be nice to hear Galloway’s own explanation.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Jews Still Critical But Endorse Ken Livingstone With a Week to Go

A group of prominent Jewish Labour supporters who expressed their concerns about Ken Livingstone have now endorsed his candidacy for London Mayor. A letter sent by the activists — Andrew Gilbert, Neil Nerva, Judith Bara, Jem Stein and Rabbi Danny Rich — to Labour leader Ed Miliband last month came after a meeting at which Mr Livingstone stood by his decision to embrace radical Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The group claimed that Mr Livingstone had also suggested Jewish voters would not back Labour because they are rich.

But endorsing him in their latest letter the activists say they are acting with “eyes open and breathing deeply, maybe with a sigh or two” in endorsing him. They acknowledge that as mayor Mr Livingstone would “irritate, upset and annoy”, but encourage Jewish supporters to back him over Conservative rival Boris Johnson. Mr Livingstone has “regularly upset” them with his position on Israel and his “inappropriate” approaches to political Islamists, they say. Their letter concludes that voting for the Labour candidate would lead to better results for the Jewish community than the election of Mr Johnson, who would provide “a few laughs, but little service and not much engagement”. “Under Ken as mayor, we will get irritated, upset and annoyed but we will get lots of services and lots of engagement and an improved London.”


[JP note: Don’t Labour Jews get it?]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: London Riot Ringleader Has ‘Unduly Lenient’ Four-Year Sentence Doubled by Attorney General

A riot ringleader who was at the heart of last year’s Croydon disorder had his sentence of four years detention nearly doubled today because it was too lenient.

Adam Khan Ahmadzai, 20, attacked police, robbed, pillaged and looted during a shocking orgy of ‘mayhem and carnage’ during last August’s mass disorder.

He was given 48 months in a young offender institution when he appeared at Inner London Crown Court in January.

But Attorney General Dominic Grieve referred the case to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the total sentence imposed for offences of violent disorder, robbery, burglary and criminal damage on the evening of August 8, 2011 was unduly lenient.

Today, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Irwin, agreed and said it should be increased to seven years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Manchester United Attack Facebook After Site Refuses to Take Down Sick Page Mocking Munich Air Disaster

Manchester United have attacked Facebook for refusing to remove a sick page that mocks the Munich Air Disaster.

The group, named ‘I like to Munich Munich’, features the words ‘Ha Ha’ above a picture of the wreckage of the aircraft which crashed in 1958 while attempting a take-off from a snowy runway, killing eight United players and 15 others.

A spokesman for Manchester United has called the page ‘deeply offensive’ and one former player and manager has branded the group’s founder ‘an idiot’.

But the social networking site won’t take it down — because it doesn’t break their rules.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Granted More Time to Quiz Terror Suspects

Counter-terrorism officers have been granted further time to question five men arrested on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Britain, a Scotland Yard spokesman said today.

The men, aged 21, 23, 24, 30 and 35, were detained at five separate houses in Luton on Tuesday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

The dawn raids followed police searches at some of the homes last September, when computer equipment was seized.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said they had been granted a week to question the men after a warrant of further detention was issued.

“All five were arrested at separate residential addresses in Luton. They have been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody,” he said.

“On April 25 a warrant of further detention was issued, to expire seven days after their arrest.”…

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

UK: The Legacy of Victorian England’s First Islamic Convert

On a bleak, wet and windy day in Liverpool the old Georgian, white-stoned building which once housed England’s first registered mosque looks quite dull. The property on Brougham Terrace is just a few miles from Liverpool city centre but, in stark contrast to the newer council building next door to it, the paint is peeling off the front walls and the windows are boarded up, after years of vandalism. The house, one of three adjoining properties, was once owned by William Abdullah Quilliam, a solicitor and son of a Methodist preacher. In 1887, he became the first Christian to convert to Islam in Victorian England. Born William Henry Quilliam, he turned to the religion after a trip to Morocco, and adopted the name Abdullah. Two years later he opened the Liverpool Muslim Institute at 8 Brougham Terrace, as a mosque and hub for the growing Muslim community. He also opened a boys and girls school and an orphanage.

Professor Ron Geaves is author of the book Islam in Victorian Times. He gave the first Abdullah Quilliam Lecture at the Pakistan Community Centre in Liverpool earlier this month.

“William Abdullah Quilliam was brought up as a devout Christian and was part of the Temperance Movement which promoted abstinence from alcohol. One of the reasons he was attracted to Islam was that alcohol is forbidden for Muslims. He also had theological concerns about Trinitarian Christianity,” he said.

Muslim leader

Quilliam gained national and international recognition through his many writings and lectures about Islam and Muslims. Part of his house was converted into a publishing house for this purpose. In 1894 the title of Sheikh-ul-Islam, leader of Muslims in the British Isles, was conferred on him by the last Ottoman caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II. He was also appointed Vice Consul of Persia by the Shah. Prof Geaves said: “He was a royalist and was also recognised by Queen Victoria. He had sent her one of his books about Islam, apparently. She then ordered several copies for her children.” At the time of her son King Edward VII’s coronation, Quilliam was widely recognised as a leader of Muslims in the British Isles. Prof Geaves recounts an occasion when Quilliam, as Sheikh-ul-Islam, dressed in his long robes and turban, accompanied the Lord Mayor to greet foreign dignitaries arriving in England through the port at Liverpool. They included maharajas, royalty and world leaders. “Hundreds of guests had gathered in the Great Hall, in the Empire building, including foreign troops. When they saw him the whole regiment rose and offered him not the British military salute but the Islamic ‘Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar’. (God is great).”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Hundreds of Additional NATO Soldiers Due for Elections

Pristina, 24 April (AKI) — Around 5,000 NATO troops (KFOR) stationed in Kosovo will be reinforced by seven hundred more soldiers ahead of controversial Serbian elections in slated for May, KFOR spokesman Uve Novicki said on Tuesday.

General elections in Serbia are scheduled for 6 May, but Kosovo’s minority Serbs are set to hold municipal elections the same day, despite warning of Pristina authorities, Belgrade and the international community.

Kosovo majority Albanians declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade opposes and still operates “parallel institutions” in the Serb-populated north. Under international pressure, Belgrade has refrained from organizing local elections in Kosovo, but the call has been ignored by local Serbs, who accuse Belgrade of treason.

Germany and Austria have said they were asked to send 550 and 150 new troops respectively to Kosovo, which should be deployed this week. “Our demands have been met,” Novicki said.

The reinforcements were a “part of our careful planning and positioning to make sure that we have enough troops for our task”, Novicki said. KFOR has kept peace in Kosovo for the past ten years and intends to do so in the future, he added.

Kosovo authorities have threatened to prevent the holding of Serbian elections if necessary even by force. Kovicki said new troops would be stationed in mixed communities in predominantly Serb-populated north to prevent ethnic conflicts.

Serbia’s pro-European president Boris Tadic has made a number of concessions on normalizing relations with Kosovo at the request of the European Union. The EU has tied Serbia’s bid for membership to normalizing relations with Pristina and forced Belgrade to renounce elections there as a first step towards abolishing “parallel institutions” in the north.

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

Serbia: Belgrade Relocates Roma to Make Way for Street

Authorities have started removing about 250 Roma families from an informal city outside the Serbian capital. Rights groups have called the evictions human rights violations. The city of Belgrade started removing nearly 1,000 Roma from a settlement of tin and wood huts outside the capital, drawing sharp criticism from Amnesty International and other rights groups.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Website Created for Emancipation of Arab Women

Initiative by European Council to favour dialogue

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG — A new website set up by the European Council’s North-South Centre is aiming to create a platform upon which European and Arab women can swap experiences. The Euro-Med Women Network website ( has been put in place by the Italian MP Deborah Bergamini, the chair of the North-South Centre, and was presented in Strasbourg today to a selection of authoritative representatives of the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, who oversaw the launch of the website and begun efforts that will allow suggestions and demands emerging from online discussion to be implemented.

“The Arab Spring came about thanks to the Internet and this will also be our meeting place,” Bergamini said. “Any woman, Arab or European, will be able to contact other women, swap mutual experiences, but also send messages to civil society and to political authorities”.

“In this way, we want to help Arab women, who have thus far been deprived of any right to emancipate themselves,” Bergamini continued. “The initiative is one of the projects being carried out by the European Council to facilitate equality between men and women in southern Mediterranean countries”.

The parliamentary assembly yesterday approved a report prepared by Fatiha Sadi, a Belgian socialist MP of Moroccan descent, which asks countries that have recently set out on a road towards democracy to introduce reforms “elevating the status of women and removing any form of discrimination against them”, measures without which the Arab Spring would not be legitimised and, as a result, doomed to failure.

After the debate in the chamber, to boost the message of equality between men and women, there was an exhibition of paintings by the Palestinian artist Nadia Shihabi, who is involve in the struggle for women’s rights, and whose father was an activist in the movement for the liberation of Palestine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: End to Gas Sales to Israel Raises Questions About Camp David Accords

Anti-Israeli bluster rises on the anniversary of the Sinai’s return to Egyptian control. However, for experts people want to change, not end agreements with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to keep extremism in check. The group wants the agreements to be more respectful of the Egyptians and provide greater security for Sinai’s Bedouins who are the victims of religious extremism and criminal gangs.

Cairo (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — The decision by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to stop selling gas to Israel marks a new beginning in Egyptian-Israeli relations. Although downplayed by both sides as commercial dispute, it does raise questions about the 1978 Camp David Accords, which the establishment in both Egypt and Israel considered untouchable.

In the meantime, to mark the day Egypt regained control of the Sinai peninsula from Israel in 1982, a group of protesters pledged they would cover a memorial to Israelis killed in the war with an Egyptian flag bearing the words, ‘Sinai — the invaders’ graveyard’.

The gesture will be one of the most public expressions of anger among ordinary Egyptians who have to cope with economic and energy crises after having to accept Mubarak’s pro-Israel policies.

“People want economic agreements with Israel changed,” said Nagui Damian, a young Coptic leader of the Jasmine Revolution. “They protected the political interests of the Mubarak government and never took into account the situation of poor Egyptian families.”

Egyptians no longer want the government to sell out national resources to a country accused of serious human rights violations against the Palestinians.

Despite the climate of tensions, neither side wants a breakdown in relations between the two states and a cancellation of agreements that have guaranteed peace for more than 30 years in the region and access to US economic aid.

Even the Muslim Brotherhood, which has always opposed relations with Israel, calls only for changes to the economic agreements in order to make them fairer, give Egyptians greater dignity and increase security in the Sinai Peninsula.

Yesterday, Waleed al-Haddad, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of Egypt’s largest party, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP), told Israeli daily Haaretz that concerns over security are growing in the desert peninsula. Criminal gangs have blown up the gas pipeline that delivered gas to Israel 14 times in recent months. They have also attacked villages.

Sinai Bedouins have appealed to the Egyptian parliament to deploy more troops to the peninsula, accusing the government of failing to take them into account in its security plans.

The “peace deal with Israel isn’t [in the] constitution, it’s just an agreement that can be changed,” Haddad said. Egypt, he insisted, has the right to increase the size of its security forces on its territory where it should exercise full sovereignty. Equally, he also complained that Israelis were allowed into that area of Egypt without a visa.

Thousands of foreign tourists visit the Sinai every year, playing an important role in Egypt’s fledgling economy.

“Without the presence of the Egyptian military it will be impossible to maintain a routine life,” Haddad explained.

“Democracy is about responding to public sentiment and public sentiment has little interest in maintaining a real relationship with Israel,” said Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center.

In view of the situation, Egypt should follow Turkey’s example, which cut back its relations with Israel without breaking them after the Mavi Marmara affair. At the same, anti-Israeli sentiments are not likely to go beyond anti-Israel bluster and symbolic gestures.

In fact, even the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main party in the Egyptian parliament, needs Western backing and is concerned that Islamic extremism in the Sinai could lead to violent acts.

After Mubarak’s fall, a group called the Revolutionaries of Sinai had wanted the Dayan Rock memorial destroyed, but now said covering it in a flag would suffice.

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

Egypt: 13 Presidential Candidates, Shafik Back in Race

Salafist and ex-intelligence chief Suleiman exclusion upheld

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — Thirteen candidates will stand for election in Egypt’s Presidential election, which is being held on May 23 and 24, the country’s electoral commission has announced in a news conference.

The readmission to the race of Ahmed Shafik, the last Prime Minister to serve under the ousted President, Hosni Mubarak, has been upheld. Shafik has been allowed once more to run for election despite a law ratified on Tuesday that bans all of the main exponents of the last 10 years of the Mubarak regime from standing for election. The exclusion of the former head of Egyptian intelligence under Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, has been upheld, as has that of the Salafist leader, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. The second-in-command of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater, has also been ruled out of the running.

The electoral commission last night readmitted Ahmad Shafik, who was appointed Prime Minister in the last few days of Mubarak’s rule, after accepting an appeal.The chair of the electoral commission, Faruk Sultan, explained in a press conference that Shafik had been allowed to re-enter the race in an attempt to avoid the postponement of the elections.

Shafik had earlier lodged an appeal citing the unconstitutional nature of the rule to ban the main exponents of the last 10 years of the Mubarak regime from standing for election. Faruk said that the commission had decided to readmit Shafik to avoid an appeal by the new President if the rule were to be found unconstitutional and had also passed it onto the constitutional court for a ruling on the matter.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Outrage as Egypt Plans ‘Farewell Intercourse Law’ So Husbands Can Have Sex With Dead Wives Up to Six Hours After Their Death

Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives — for up to six hours after their death.

The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament.

It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women’s rights of getting education and employment.

Egypt’s National Council for Women is campaigning against the changes, saying that ‘marginalising and undermining the status of women would negatively affect the country’s human development’.

Dr Mervat al-Talawi, head of the NCW, wrote to the Egyptian People’s Assembly Speaker Dr Saad al-Katatni addressing her concerns.

Egyptian journalist Amro Abdul Samea reported in the al-Ahram newspaper that Talawi complained about the legislations which are being introduced under ‘alleged religious interpretations’.

The subject of a husband having sex with his dead wife arose in May 2011 when Moroccan cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari said marriage remains valid even after death.

He also said that women have the right to have sex with her dead husband, reported.

It seems the topic, which has sparked outrage, has now been picked up on by Egypt’s politicians.

TV anchor Jaber al-Qarmouty slammed the notion of letting a husband have sex with his wife after her death under the so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ draft law.

He said: ‘This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni?

‘This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?’

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Ransom Money Finances AQIM

Analyst, Western states paid millions of Euros

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, 26 APRIL — Several Western countries are to blame if Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb not only extended its activities all over the Sahel, but also cast its sinister shadow on several other countries in Western Africa; indeed, Western countries decided to pay the ransom for their fellow countrymen and women who had been either directly kidnapped by Al Qaida or given to the Jihadist group by other groups. This is what Serge Daniel maintains in the book he wrote on this characteristic of Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, whose title is “AQIM, the kidnapping industry”, a sort of Bible for those who try to clear out the mystery surrounding this blood-thirsty and very determined group and its activities of.

In an interview on the site Maliweb, Serge Daniel talked about some elements which, in his own opinion, are objective and cannot be questioned. Western countries are ready to pay several millions of dollars or Euros for the release of their fellow countrymen and women whose kidnapping is managed by AQIM. The analyst provides a long and detailed list of paid ransoms, there are also some “voids” which may raise suspicions. According to Daniel, in recent years money from Spain (between EUR 8 and 9 mln), Canada (“some millions”), Austria (between EUR 2.5 and 3.5 mln), Germany (five millions) has flowed in AQIM’s cash. Italy is included in the list too: according to the expert, Italy paid EUR 3 mln for the release of its hostages. Switzerland’s position is quite peculiar: although it was the only country which did not provide exact figures, Daniel labels Switzerland as “very generous with kidnappers”.

A huge amount of money has circulated for all these years, although individual States have officially denied allegations and suspicions of having paid the ransom, they have actually created a way to negotiate with dangerous individuals, departing from the international principle which says “do not negotiate with terrorists”. But what has Al Qaida in Maghreb done and continues to do with the money? It funds its complex organisation structure, it buys weapons and equips the men it chooses to populate its ranks. We are talking about actual hiring, because it is hard to think that all militiamen are driven by a religious motivation; it is far more likely that they are “mainly and simply” attracted by money. Daniel does not write about this in his book, he just mentions an episode: among Jihadists entering Timbuktu there were some young men from his own Mali city who had moved to Libya to work. It was just found out that the money they used to send home were directly taken form the cash of one of Al Qaida’s Katibats (brigades) in Maghreb.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Gannouchi Attacks State Media, Not Impartial

They are professedly hostile to gvt, Ennahdha chairman

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, 26 APRIl — Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the religious and government party Ennahdha, attacked state media, especially the State TV, on the grounds that they allegedly adopted a clearly anti-government line. Gannouchi’s statement to Express radio came a few hours after the end of the sit-in (during which some violence took place) organised by some fundamentalists who took the headquarters of the state TV under siege and asked for its purge. The sit-in had been going on since the beginning of March. According to Gannouchi, “people are very frustrated by the will of concealing the government’s activities”; the government is headed by Prime Minister Hamadi Djebali, the “right arm” of Ennahdha’s leader. According to Gannouchi, the state TV lacks professionalism: “it is not neutral, rather, it is the exact opposite of neutrality.” Going back to one of the requests that some of his party’s members repeatedly and forcefully made in recent months, Gannouchi stated that, given such unsatisfactory situation, privatisation would be the last solution is a global reform of the sector is not carried out.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

64th Anniversary, Peres Warns “Enemies”

Settlers’ outposts amnesty gift for independence, Minister

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — President Shimon Peres warned “enemies” threatening Israel against “repeating the mistakes of the past” during one of the ceremonies for Independence Day, celebrating the 64th anniversary of the Jewish state. Today, during the official Tsahal (Israel’s armed forces) celebrations, in the presence of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and the Chief of Military Staff, General Benny Gants, Peres stated: “To those who threaten Israel I say: do not repeat the mistakes of those who came before you.” Peres made indirect reference to Iran and recalled the wars that Israel won in the past.

According to the President, those wars “brought unexpected advantage to Israel and unexpected losses to attackers.” “Those who threaten us”, Peres continued, “do it because they want to conquer us”, while Israel is ready to defend itself, “but it aims at peace.” Another Independence Day tradition which has been going on for some time now is the annual contest on knowledge of the Bible, with the participation of young Jews from all over the world. This event, which is particularly dear to Prime Minister Netanyahu (one of his children is a top-level expert of this contest) risks to generate some controversies this year. It was Gideon Saar (Likud, right) the Minister of Education and Netanyahu party fellow, to prompt the controversy: during the event’s introduction, Saar labelled the recent and heatedly debated “amnesty” on the three illegal outposts of settlers in the West Bank occupied territories as “ Netanyahu’s gift for Independence Day”. The amnesty prompted the enthusiasm of the nationalist right and the fury of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), further weakening any hope left for the negotiations and was heavily criticised by the UN, the USA, the EU and by several foreign governments.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel: From Darling of the Left to Pariah State

By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky

April 26 this year, according to the corresponding date of the Jewish lunar calendar marks the 64th anniversary of Israel’s Declaration of Independence (May 15, 1948).

Since then, Israel has been constantly in the news and with the passage of time subjected to the growing myth never challenged by the media, that the United States was wholly or largely responsible for fully supporting Israel on the ground from the very beginning, a claim that is wholly without any foundation in fact.

The world has been inundated with a tsunami of Arab propaganda and crocodile tears shed for the “Palestinians” who have reveled in what they refer to as their Catastrophe or Holocaust (“Nakba” in Arabic). Their plight has been accompanied by unremitting criticism that the United States was the principal architect that stood behind Israel from the very beginning with money, manpower and arms.

The fact is that President Truman eventually decided against the pro-Arab “professional opinion” of his Secretary of State, General George Marshall and the Arabists of the State Department. He accorded diplomatic recognition to the new Jewish state but never considered active military aid. Truman’s memoirs revealed a bitter contempt for the professional “striped-pants” boys of the eastern Ivy League Colleges who were the old-timers in the State Department.

Although sometimes angered by Jewish pressure on the question of the Zionist movement’s goal of a Jewish state, Truman’s strong Baptist sentiments and basic human decency won out in reaching his decision against the “experts” to recognize the State of Israel and his comments that…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Syria: UN: Annan Has Budget of Almost 8 Mln USD

Six times more than envoy to Sudan and South Sudan

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, APRIL 26 — Special UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan has a budget of almost 8 million USD to carry out his mandate, six times the sum established by the United Nations for the envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.

This sum, a document of which ANSA has received a copy reads, includes wages for his 18-strong staff (around 3 million USD) and operational costs (4,465,700 million). The operational costs include official visits, infrastructures, air and land transport, communication, computer equipment and other services and equipment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: Erdogan to Damascus, We Have Powerful Army

Russia concerned over Turkey’s call for Nato defence

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has fired a new warning shot to the Damascus authorities today, saying that Ankara “will take the appropriate measures, as a NATO country” if there are further incidents on the border between the two countries.

“We have powerful armed forces,” the moderate Islamist Prime Minister told Al Jazeera, according to the Hurriyet website. “Syria must know that if there are further border violations, Turkey’s reaction will not be the same,” he added.

Two weeks ago, Syrian security forces opened fire on Syrian refugees who were crossing the border into Turkey. Ankara protested and reported the incident to international organisations.

Speaking of current mediation by the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, Erdogan said that two or three thousand observers are necessary to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire in Syria, rather than the current figure of 300.

“If the plan fails, I think that the UN Security Council will have a very important task”.

Russia on his part is concerned about the statements made by Turkey’s Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who

said that Turkey reserves the right to invoke the article that guarantees the collective defence of NATO countries against Syria. “Of course we are concerned about these statements, particularly considering the fact that the question implies the hypothetical application of a key article, article 5 of the Washington treaty, which deals with the collective defence of NATO countries in case of an armed attack against one of the NATO members,” spokesman for Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Lukashevich explained in a press conference.

The spokesman continued that the violence in Syria is not over, but that its intensity is diminishing even though the agreement on the cease-fire continues to be violated “both by the Syrian government and the opposition.”

Some groups, he underlined, “have shifted to a strategy of large-scale regional terrorism”.

In the meantime, in Syria 70 people have been killed since yesterday. Among the victims there were 11 children killed in Hama, the city most hit by the violences.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

U.S. Seen as Iran ‘Cyberarmy’ Target

Specialists to testify about threat

Iran is recruiting a hacker army to target the U.S. power grid, water systems and other vital infrastructure for a cyberattack in a future confrontation with the United States, security specialists will warn Congress on Thursday.

“Elements of the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) have openly sought to pull hackers into the fold” of a religiously motivated cyberarmy, according to Frank J. Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University.

Lawmakers from two House Homeland Security subcommittees will hold a joint hearing Thursday about the cyberthreat posed by Iran — as tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program continue at a high level and as a possible Israeli strike against it looms.

The Washington Times obtained advance copies of witnesses’ prepared testimony. In his remarks, Mr. Cilluffo says that, in addition to the recruiting by the Revolutionary Guards, another extremist militia, the Basij, “are paid to do cyberwork on behalf of the regime, (and) provide much of the manpower for Iran’s cyber-operations.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UAE: Lawyer Refers to Dictionary in Trial Accusing Man of Insulting Islam

The lawyer of an engineer jailed in Abu Dhabi for insulting Islam by referring to “damn” mosques has insisted a UAE court look up the word in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Briton, an engineer who was in charge of a project to build gardens around mosques, is alleged to have asked a colleague “When will we finish with the damn mosques?” according to a police report. But the lawyer of the engineer this week asked a translator during the trial to look up the meaning of the word “damn.” “The first meaning for the word ‘damned’ says: ‘According to Christianity, a damned (person) is someone who God is angered with forever… the second meaning says ‘damn’ can be used for strong criticism in an unofficial way and is a way of expressing anger,” read out the translator at the Appeals Court, according to a report from The National. “You were accused of saying ‘damn mosques’ during a meeting, what do you say about that,” the Appeals Court judge asked the engineer, the newspaper reported. But the defense lawyer interrupted, saying the evidence was invalid and that the case should be dropped. “We have to carry out our procedures and ask the defendant,” the judge replied. “Are you afraid he will say something now that will give us proof? He has already been questioned in court before.” The Briton, named JM by the newspaper, has pleaded not guilty to insulting Islam and said he respects the religion. “I said it out of concern for the project because I wanted to be ready as soon as possible,” he said at the appeal trial, after already being sentenced to a month in prison by the Misdemeanor Court.

The Appeals Court and will announce its new verdict on April 30, the newspaper stated.

(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Video Shows Syrian Rebel Buried Alive

Gruesome video footage allegedly showing a Syrian activist being buried alive at gunpoint by soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime has gone viral on Thursday and is considered to be the most horrific video to have emerged since the Syrian uprising began.

The footage, which was uploaded onto YouTube, shows a blindfolded man with only his head above ground and screaming for his life as Assad’s soldiers’ surround him.

In the video, the soldiers appear to point their gun barrels at the buried rebel. As the unit’s commanding officer approaches, one of the soldiers’ turns to him and says: “Yes sir, we placed him in there as you have ordered.”

The officer then asks: “What’s he got? Did you find anything with this damn animal?”

The helpless man, described as being from Al-Qussair, a city in western Syria near Homs, is then accused of carrying a camera to capture footage of Assad’s forces to send to television networks.

The rebel is called an “animal” and a “dog” several times before the order is given to bury him.

In the disturbing video, which was shot with a mobile video camera, the surrounding soldiers are shown shoveling dirt over the rebel’s head as the man cries, “I bear witness that there is no God by Allah.”

As his head disappears from view under the ground, the soldiers taunt him by ordering him to say: “Say that there’s no God but Bashar, you animal.”

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]


Huge Green Cloud Over Moscow Has Terrified Russians Tweeting for Their Lives

Anxious Russians have been bombarding Twitter today with fears about an ominous green cloud looming over Moscow.

Having awoken to the bizarrely tinged skies talk of chemical spills and ash clouds soon dominated the site, while some even connected the unusual scenes to today’s anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

Because far from paranormal or the onset of war, according to officials in Moscow, it is nothing but pollen.


But some social network users are still far from convinced.

MadmanCrow said: ‘Green cloud over Moscow reported to be birch pollen? Sounds like B.S. to me.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

No Sharia Court in Russia

Human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin saying that attorney Dagir Khasavov who suggested creating Sharia court in the country should be prosecuted. Attorney Khasavov said on TV that Muslims don’t accept Russian Court and therefore they have to have their own Court. Otherwise, the Attorney said, Moscow will be sinking in blood and become a dead sea.

Lukin replied that such a statement makes him feel hard. He said he wishes to remind everybody who lives in our country that we have the Constitution and the Law that we have to obey. And only the Supreme Court can make orders that must be taken to action.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: ‘TMC Terror’ Over Bhangar College Poll

BHANGAR (SOUTH 24-PARGANAS): Teachers of a college on the outskirts of Kolkata have been living in terror for two days after an alleged assault by a band of Trinamool Congress men, reportedly led by former MLA Arabul Islam. Many teachers of Bhangar College allege that Islam threatened to strip them naked and beat them up. He allegedly hurled a jug of water at a lady professor, Debjani Dey, on Tuesday injuring her in the face. Islam denied all the charges and challenged journalists to remove Debjani’s plaster to check if there is any injury at all.

On Wednesday, there was a band of outsiders hovering ‘menacingly’ at the gates. Teachers stood outside for hours, unsure of whether they should go in and Islam’s “threats” the previous day. Many returned home. Eventually, a few mustered the courage to walk past the musclemen and the rest followed. There is still tension on the campus and the teachers and angry and frightened. The ruckus is apparently over election to the West Bengal College and University Teacher’s Association (WBCUTA). The college has five seats in the WBCUTA general committee. At the moment, the Left holds three and the Trinamool two. When the teachers walked in on Tuesday morning, they were told that Islam — who heads the college’s governing body — had issued a ‘whip’ asking teachers to vote for Trinamool in all five seats. This created a commotion in the staff room as teachers started protesting.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Lady Gaga Warned About Offending Muslims During World Tour

One Indonesian leader calls on Lady Gaga not to wear provocative outfits.

Lady Gaga has been warned about her provocative outfits ahead of her tour of Indonesia in June. The multi-million-selling artist, who is on a 110-date world tour to promote her album Born This Way Ball, is currently in South Korea. Indonesia is the world’s biggest Muslim nation and Islamic leaders have said her risque outfits will not be tolerated. “I call on Lady Gaga to respect our cultural and traditional values. Most people here are Muslims and we cannot tolerate her revealing outfits and sexy performances,” the Indonesia Ulema Council leader Amidhan told AFP. “It’s better for Lady Gaga to cancel her show in this country if she has no willingness to respect our demand. Please do not destroy our nation’s morality and ruin our dignity.” Lady Gaga — Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — has courted controversy for appearing clad in outfits made of raw meat or on high heels. Big Daddy, the promoters for the concert in Jakarta, said tickets began selling in early March and were sold out within two weeks.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Blasphemy Allegations: Suspect Taken Into Custody Following Violent Demo

FAISALABAD: Saddar police on Monday rescued from his accusers a man suspected of defiling pages of the Holy Quran at a mosque near Toba-Gojra Road on Sunday night.

Police said the man, identified as Imran, was mentally-challenged. They said he would be produced in a court on Tuesday (today). Talking to The Express Tribune, Saddar Station House Officer Mian Muhammad Akram said the suspect had denied having burned any page of the Holy Quran. He quoted Imran as saying that he had burnt some worn out papers he collected from a mosque while cleaning the shelves on Sunday night. But, he added, he had no idea that the pages came out of the Holy Quran. He said he had started cleaning the shelves on seeing a lot of dust.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Bin Laden’s Family of Twelve Set to be Kicked Out of Pakistan Tonight

Osama bin Laden’s family was set to be kicked out of Pakistan last night — just days before the first anniversary of the terror mastermind’s death.

The slain al Qaeda leader’s three widows, their eight children and one grandchild are being flown to Saudi Arabia.

A Pakistani judge ordered earlier this month that the women be deported to their countries of citizenship after serving a six month sentence for illegally entering the country.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Wen Announces $10 Billion Line of Credit

China has announced a special line of credit worth $10 billion to fund infrastructure, technology and environmental projects in central and eastern Europe, one its fastest-growing trade partners.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday said his government plans to set up a $10 billion (7.6 billion euro) special line of credit for central and eastern European countries as his trip to Europe comes to an end.

Speaking to thousands of delegates at the China-Central Europe economic forum in Warsaw, Wen said the credit line was “to boost practical cooperation with central and east European countries.” The investment projects are to include “a certain amount of concessional loans to support cooperation projects in infrastructure, high and new technologies and green economy.”

Wen Jiabao is opening a trade show in Hanover with Angela Merkel. Afterward, they will visit a Volkswagen factory. The agenda highlights the dominance of economic ties in Sino-German relations. (22.04.2012)

Wen pointed to the dramatic rise in trade between China and central and eastern Europe in the past decade, growing at an average annual rate of 27.6 percent and reaching $52.9 billion in 2011. He said he hopes to see bilateral trade hit $100 billion by 2015.

China is flush with cash and is seen as eager to invest more in stable ex-Communist countries like Poland. The Europe Union is the biggest importer of Chinese goods and services.

The Chinese premier began his tour of Europe in Iceland and made stops in Germany and Sweden before arriving in Poland. Thursday’s forum in Warsaw hosted 300 Chinese companies and 450 firms from across the region. Wen was scheduled to meet with 16 prime ministers from the region later in the day.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso spoke with Wen on the phone Thursday, releasing a statement saying China had restated its commitment to supporting Europe amid the debt crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

How China Combats Product Piracy (Or Not)

Thursday was World Intellectual Property Day and China touted a very visible program supporting it. The authorities wanted to show how vehemently they were fighting product piracy. German firms are among the many international businesses, industries and individuals which have had to cope with the brazen theft and illegal reproduction of copyrighted or trade-marked goods.

Facing worldwide criticism, China has been keen to demonstrate the tough measures it has undertaken against intellectual property theft and product piracy. Unfortunately, not all their propaganda has unfolded they way they wanted it to.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indigenous Filipinos Battle for Their Land

Small farmers and indigenous groups in the Philippines have been struggling for decades against big companies, corrupt officials and influential families to get land once promised to them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens Unveils Moonshadow Musical

The world premiere of Cat Stevens ‘Moonshadow’ musical will happen in Melbourne, Australia is May. Yusuf (Cat Stevens) has been working in Melbourne with the cast for the past months and has now spoken about his first musical. ‘The musical has been my baby for a while and its about to be born here in Melbourne. I’m really excited. It’s looking fantastic,’ he told a media gathering during rehearsals. Yusuf first indicated the musical was on the way when he performed at except during his Australian tour in 2010. ‘The beginning of this goes back, if you know my history, I was born in the West End of London,’ he said. ‘I was one of those who lived there and didn’t have to travel very far to get to Soho or into Piccadilly Circus at the other end of my road. From there I picked up the urge for things musical’. The story came from questions he asked as a child. ‘I used to look up at the night sky and one of the big questions that I had was ‘where does the sky end’. Everything seemed to have an end but where does the sky end. In a way that is the premise for this musical,’ he said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Boko Haram Attacks Nigerian Newspaper Headquarters

(AGI) Abuja — The press is under attack in Nigeria where two attacks were carried out on the headquarters of three daily papers. Seven people were killed and a dozen wounded. The first attack took place at 11.30 a.m. in Jabi, a district in the capital ABuja. The suicide bomber managed to enter the compound where the important pro-government daily paper This Day has its office. Three people died in this attack after the suicide bomber entered the compound driving a Toyota jeep through a secondary entrance near the printing presses, while from the main entrance it is possible to enter the news desk areas which was filled with journalists at the time of the attack. A police officer told AGI that “This was an anomalous attack and choosing to blow himself up near a back entrance seems to indicate the wished to intimidate the reporters.” The second attack took place in Kaduna, the state capital in Northern Nigeria, where four people died and many were wounded. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks although investigators believe that the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram was involved.

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

Twin Bombings Hit Nigerian Newspaper

Two bombs have exploded at newspaper offices in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and the northern city of Kaduna in attacks bearing resemblance to others claimed by a radical Islamist group.

Twin bombings hit the offices of the Nigerian daily newspaper This Day in two cities on Thursday, killing at least three people, witnesses and officials said. A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at This Day’s offices in the capital, Abuja, while a man threw an explosive device at an office in the northern city of Kaduna that houses This Day, The Moment and The Daily Sun newspapers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Uganda: Muslim Youth Storm Old Kampala to Unseat Mubajje

Police has fired tear gas to disperse a group of Muslims opposed to Mufti Shaban Mubajje’s administration who this Thursday afternoon started marching to Gaddafi National Mosque in Old Kampala, the official seat of Muslims in Uganda, to unseat the current administration, describing it as a disgrace to the community. The group first converged at Kibuli Mosque where top Muslim leaders including Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, the head of Muslim propagation department at Kibuli, reiterated their decision to boycott tomorrow’s elections. The elections, which were expected to start at mosque level, are aimed at ushering in new representatives to the 110-member Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) general assembly. The police has managed to disperse the crowds but they have broken into different groups, with most of them still marching to Old Kampala. A statement from Police says that they have “deployed at the Old Kampala mosque to ensure safety and security.”

The Kibuli factions says the elections cannot be held under the current administration, which they accuse of illegally disposing community property. Mufti Mubajje, 57, who assumed office in 2000, has been under fire since 2006 when a section of Muslims accused him of fraudulently disposing of Muslim property in Kampala. The conflict ended up in court, with Mubajje, Hassan Basajjabalaba and former secretary-general Edris Kasenene facing criminal charges in relation to the accusations. The trio was acquitted, but the anti-Mubajje faction rejected the ruling, saying that the magistrate’s pronouncement that Mubajje lied in the property dealings disqualifies him from leading the Muslim community. The anti -Mubajje faction responded by electing a rival Mufti, Sheik Zubair Kayongo, who’s based at Kibuli.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Walmart’s Mexican Morass: The World’s Biggest Retailer is Sent Reeling by Allegations of Bribery

Walmart’s Mexican arm, Walmex, stands accused of greasing local officials’ palms over several years to speed the granting of permits to open new stores. Managers at group headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, were apparently informed about the payments (which were said to be made through intermediaries) in 2005. They launched a probe, but wound it down without disciplining anyone. They did not disclose any of this to the authorities until last December. Walmart says it began an “extensive” investigation last autumn into its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), America’s anti-bribery law. In a statement after the article appeared, it said: “If these allegations are true, it is not a reflection of who we are or what we stand for.”

Since venturing across the Rio Grande in 1991, the company has quickly come to dominate Mexican shopping. It accounts for half of Mexico’s formal retail market and has nearly four times as many stores as its nearest rival, Soriana. It is Mexico’s largest private employer, with 200,000 staff. And Walmex contributes nearly a quarter of Walmart’s foreign sales.

Corruption is a huge problem for businesses in Mexico…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Afghans Found Abandoned Off Calabria, One Dead

Migrants possibly thrown overboard

(ANSA) — Locri, April 26 — Police on the coast of Calabria were investigating the death of an Afghan and the alleged beatings of four others who were rescued in a group of 35 immigrants believed to have been dumped by traffickers Thursday.

The surviving victims were in hospital where one was reportedly in critical condition from ingesting seawater and suffering lesions. Police, who found the Afghan group abandoned on the coast without any trace of a boat, suspect some were beaten by traffickers as they tried to resist being thrown overboard. Witnesses said roughly 50 were aboard the ship when it left Greece four days ago, leading investigators to worry that more bodies have yet to be recovered. photo: the coast of Calabria

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Asking EU for Deal With Ankara

Obligation needed for immigrant’s countries to reabsorb them

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 25 — The European Union must take steps to tackle the emergency of immigration in Greece and must sign the readmission treaty with Turkey, from whose border 90% of illegal immigrants heading for the EU arrive, according to Michalis Chrisochoidis, the Greek Minister for Civil Protection, who made the appeal to the European Parliament’s home affairs commission.

“We want obligations from Europe for deals with third-party countries from where migration flows arrive,” Chrisochoidis said. “The countries will therefore be forced to reabsorb their citizens, which at the moment they do not do at all”.

Underlining the serious humanitarian crisis in the country, the Greek minister described the old centre of Athens as a stomping ground for drug traffickers and criminal networks who enrol illegal immigrants. The minister asked for “cooperation” from all member states. The main problem is Turkey, which in exchange for the signature of the readmission agreement is demanding the liberalisation of visas for the Schengen area for Turkish citizens. In the meantime, Chrisochoidis explains, Ankara does not demand visas and opens its doors to citizens of other countries, such as Algeria or Somalia, who subsequently arrive in Greece. Athens is “determined” to protect the country’s borders, while Chrisoidis says that “isolated initiatives” to close national borders within the EU to push immigrants away, such as those mooted during the French election campaign, “are unacceptable”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigrants Deported: Algiers Complains With Rome

Italian ambassador summoned, ‘unacceptable and humiliating’

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Algeria has complained with Italy over the treatment of two of its nationals deported last week on an Alitalia Rome-Tunis flight, the photos of which — showing the men with scotch tape over their mouths — went viral on the web and sparked a great deal of heated debate in Italy as well. The Algerian Foreign Minister has today summoned the Italian ambassador to the country, Michele Giacomelli, to “protest vehemently on behalf of the Algerian authorities” against the treatment which Algiers called (according to the Algerian foreign ministry spokesman) “violent, humiliating and unacceptable”. The incident — with the two seated in the last row of the plane with plastic handcuffs on, mouths taped shut with packaging tape and a protective mask lowered over their faces — is one which Rome has already announced that it will be looking into thoroughly. This was reiterated yesterday by the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who wrote to the Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni — who had expressed “profound consternation” over the case — saying that the Italian government has already opened an administrative investigation into the matter and that the magistrature began a judicial one. This was in line with what had been said by Interior, Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, who in reporting before the Chamber of Deputies on the events said that the use of “coercive measures” such as scotch tape on mouths was an “extemporaneous” behaviour, and above all one that is “offensive to personal dignity”. “It is entirely in the police’s interest” to make sure that light is shed on the case in all of its aspects, said the head of the interior ministry in announcing that an inquiry would take place.

It is a matter that the Algerian government has now asked to know more about, calling Ambassador Giacomelli to the foreign ministry, where he met with the Secretary of State for the National Community Living Abroad, Benattallah Halim. Reporting this was the spokesman for the Algerian ministry himself, saying that during the meeting “protest” had been expressed over the treatment suffered “by two of our fellow countrymen”, treatment called “violent, humiliating and inacceptable”, and that ambassador had been urged to “convey to the Italian authorities” Algiers’ position while awaiting “clarification”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Indignado Generation Finds Happiness Abroad

Polityka Warsaw

Thousands of young people, often educated, are leaving Portugal and Spain. Europe doesn’t need them while Africa and South America receive them with open arms

Aleksandra Lipczak

Ana Ferreira oozes optimism. She is twenty six, comes from the Azores and for almost four years now has been based in Africa, first in Angola, now in Mozambique. Contrary to what could be expected, she is not a volunteer but a paid employee at a corporate human resources department.

“When I look at my friends in Portugal, living on student grants, doing short-term jobs, completing successive graduate or postgraduate courses, I think they are detached from real life. I live in Maputo where I’m doing great and actually advancing career-wise. What am I supposed to be returning to?”

Gonçalo Jorge, a twenty-eight year old marketing executive from Lisbon, fought not for work but against frustration. After obtaining his degree, he got a job with a public transport company. “I wanted to do great things but all that was waiting for me was a sinecure”, he says. When he finally found an interesting opening at a private company, it was the terms of employment, with a contract for just a year, that proved a problem. So he moved to Angola and today is country manager for a Portuguese wine producer. He is responsible for the company’s entire operations in Angola and earns four times what he did in Portugal.

Portugal has already lost one in ten of its university graduates. The exodus has continued for several years now because the crisis and high unemployment hit the country much earlier than the rest of Europe. Youth unemployment in Portugal is at over 34 percent today and in Spain at over 50 percent. If it weren’t for emigration, it would be much higher…


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

Supreme Court Casts Doubt on Obama’s Immigration Law Claim

Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

The court was hearing arguments on Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, which requires police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, and would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration has sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy, but justices on both sides of the aisle struggled to understand that argument.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at one point.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Netherlands Criticised for High Residency Permit Fees

The Netherlands charges non-EU nationals too much money for a residency permit, the European Court of Justice said on Thursday. The case was brought by the European Commission.

While legislation allows member states to set their own fees, the cost should not be so high that applicants cannot afford a residency permit and therefore don’t apply, the court said

It described the Dutch fees — currently between €188 and €830 — as ‘excessive and disproportionate’, pointing out that even the cheapest permit is seven times the price of a Dutch id card.

The Netherlands must now take action to meet the Commission’s objections or face a fine, a statement from the European Court said.

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

Young Men in Mexico Say the US No Longer Offers Them a Better Future

Seismic shifts in immigration and demographics leave towns full of young men who once would have dreamed of the US

In a typical year, the young men in this agricultural region of western Mexico would have made the journey north to America. But not this year or for this generation: a better future across the border is a promise they no longer trust.

“For years, we dreamed of America, but now that dream is no good,” says 18-year-old Pedro Morales, sitting in the elegant Spanish colonial square of Comala under the shadow of the spectacular Volcan de Fuego. “There are no jobs and too many problems. We don’t want to go.”

In an historic shift, the tide of immigration from Mexico to the US has stalled. Villages that were empty of young men are now full. A report published by the Pew Hispanic Center this week confirmed what was already anecdotally clear: the largest wave of immigration in US history has stalled and is now close to slipping into reverse.

Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, less than half the number that migrated between 1995 and 2000. At the same time, the number of Mexicans who moved to Mexico over the same period rose to 1.4 million, double the number over the previous five years.

Other research groups in the field say the narrowing gap in wages and relative costs of living between Mexico and the US, as well as improving education standards in Mexico, has tipped the calculation back.

“The great migration of the past five decades has been slowing for a decade,” says Doug Massey, founder of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University. “We’ve been at a point of stasis since 2009.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Respected Muslim Leader Warns Gay Marriage Threatens Civilisation and the World’s Population

GAY marriage is not just a “grave sin” but a threat to civilisation itself, according to one of Scotland’s most respected Muslim leaders.

Bashir Maan, the former Glasgow Labour councillor and spokesman for the Council of Glasgow Imams, also said it would lead to a decline in world population as governments “promote homosexuality”. His comments come as Glasgow imams urge Muslim voters to boycott May’s local elections if they cannot find a candidate who opposes gay marriage.

It would be better to withhold a vote rather than cast it for a candidate in favour of same-sex marriage, they argue, despite all of the main parties supporting the idea. A key fear among imams is that mosques could be sued or prosecuted if they refuse to conduct gay marriages, despite the Government insisting no-one will be compelled to conduct ceremonies. One worshipper, attending a mosque in Glasgow’s west end on Friday, confirmed the imam had been going “hell for leather” on the subject.


[JP note: I can think of a bigger threat to world civilisation.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


NATO Faced With Rising Flood of Cyberattacks

NATO cyberwarfare experts suspect that Chinese and Russian intelligence services are behind a recent uptick in cyberattacks against the Western alliance. SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that NATO’s cyberwarfare unit registers up to 30 such attacks each day. Employees have been warned to be on their guard.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tiny Crystal May Hold Key to Future of Computers

A tiny crystal could hold the secret to computers of the future, unimaginably more powerful than today’s most advanced supercomputers. Preliminary tests indicate that the new processor can eclipse the capacity of current computers by an extraordinary 80 orders of magnitude — a one with 80 zeros after it — potentially taking computing into a new dimension.

Trumping even the super-advanced computer from the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — a custom-made planet Earth — tests suggest the new device’s potential can be matched only by a conventional computer as big as the known universe.

“No classical computer could do what this simulator has the potential to do,” said University of Sydney experimental physicist Michael Biercuk, who developed the crystal with scientists from the US and South Africa.

Biercuk said applications of the system, or systems like it, could include analyzing photosynthesis at an atomic level and developing materials for power distribution that allow electricity to flow without resistance.

The system, a tiny crystal of beryllium ions, uses quantum mechanics rather than conventional computing technology. While it is not the first processor to do so, it is the first to break through a threshold of the number of atoms needed to exceed the capacity of classical computers for certain problems.

Biercuk said it would take 10 to 20 years for the processor to be incorporated in commercially viable machines, and that it would never be used for general-purpose computing. But scientists may be able to use the technology long before then for analysis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]