News Feed 20120528

Financial Crisis
» EU Put to the Test by Markets, Italy to Pass
» Europe’s (Olive) Oil Crisis
» European Funds Dumping Euro-Assets
» Greece: State May Run Out of Funds by July
» JPM, Facebook, Gold… and the Potential of a Titanic Financial Market Event
» ‘Maximum Fraud’ In U.S. Treasuries Market: Opinion
» ‘Pay Your Taxes’: Greeks Furious Over Harsh Words From IMF and Germany
» Police Tell Greeks Not to Withdraw Money From Banks
» Spain: Bankia Shares Plunge as Trading Resumes
» The Rats in JPMorgan’s Granary Exposed
» “I Would Vote for Obama!” — Squeals Castro’s Daughter
» A President’s Appeasement Politics
» Beyond Outrageous
» Continuing to Unravel the Soetoro-Obama Legend
» Dewey & Leboeuf, New York Law Firm, Files for Bankruptcy
» NSA Analyst: “We Could Have Prevented 9/11”
» Obama Campaign Again Urging Supporters to Report on Non-Believers
» Spot the Narrative
» Stealth Islamic Propaganda Shown to Six Million American Students
» The War for America
» US Snakebite Lands Norwegian Student With Massive Bill
» US Troops Practice for Peace in a Texan Afghan Village
» Vatican: The Holy Office Puts the American Sisters in the Corner
» Islam Comes Knocking in Bid to Promote Harmony
Europe and the EU
» Al-Shabab Plotting Attack in Netherlands
» Eurovision 2012: BBC Facing Calls to Withdraw
» France’s PM Ayrault is More Popular Than Hollande
» France: Nice Outlaws ‘Too Festive’ Weddings
» Ireland: Schull Shipwreck Had Nutty Cargo
» Italy: Pope’s Valet Said to be Behind Vatileaks
» Italy: Environment Chief Says Rome Waste Situation Near Critical
» Netherlands: Handling of Amsterdam Sharia Group Criticised
» Oldest Art Even Older: New Dates From Geißenklösterle Cave Show Early Arrival of Modern Humans, Art and Music
» Prague Remembers Nazi Past With Replica Death Camp
» Sharia4holland Spokesman Arrested Over Wilders Threat
» Sweden: Exile Uzbeks Suspect Regime for Imam Attack
» Swedish Teen Reported to Police for ‘Face Rape’
» UK: Fined for £1,300 for Flouting Smoking Laws
» UK: Heroin Dealers Jailed
» UK: Islamic Extremists Target UK Students on Social Networks
» UK: Minister in Apology Over Rent
» UK: Profile: Sayeeda Warsi, The Trailblazing Peer Who Divided the Tory Party
» UK: Redditch Unites as EDL March Ends Peacefully
» UK: Tory Peer Baroness Warsi Faces Police Inquiry Over Expenses
» We Are Living a New Babel, Distressing Daily Events: Pope
North Africa
» Egypt: Italian Energy Giant ENI Makes Big Oil Find
» Egypt: The Facebook Caliphate
» Egypt’s Brotherhood Scrambling to Broaden Support
Israel and the Palestinians
» Gauck to Tread Delicate Line in Middle East
Middle East
» Bahrain: Stolen Ancient Relics Recovered
» Turkey: Thousands Pray for Istanbul Landmark to Become Mosque
» UAE: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Visits Islamic Centre
South Asia
» Pakistan: PU [Punjab University] Dean Urges CM to Ban Objectionable Textbooks
Far East
» Ex-Premier Puts Blame for Fukushima on Government
Australia — Pacific
» Australia Relists Four Terror Groups
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Mali Rebels Merge to Create Independent Islamist State
» Mali: Rebels Take Arms Cache That Can ‘Prolong War’
» 76 Egyptian Migrants Land in Ragusa Area
» Italy: Indian Immigrant Kills Wife for Wearing Western Clothes
» Cow, Wisdom, And Economics
» Flame: Massive Cyber-Attack Discovered, Researchers Say
» Solar Impulse Plane Prepares to go Intercontinental
» Square Kilometre Array Contest Ends in a Draw

Financial Crisis

EU Put to the Test by Markets, Italy to Pass

Eurozone fears Spain and Greece, Irish referendum on pact

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — The markets are reacting to Spain’s ever more dramatic economic situation, a continuing risk that Athens may leave the eurozone, the ‘progress reports’ that the EU Commission will be sending out to Italy and other EU partners, the May 31 referendum in Ireland on the ratification of the Fiscal Compact, and the debate over the eurobonds: yet another highly-charged week lies ahead for the eurozone and the EU due to many elements of uncertainty which continue to weigh heavily on their future. On Wednesday the European Commission will be making its “recommendations” to Italy in a sort of progress report in which it will asses what has been done and what remains to be done in order to get the country’s finances back in order as well as relaunch competitiveness and growth. According to the indications so far, Italy is expected to pass the test. However, Brussels will be recommending that Italy continue firmly in the direction taken, implementing all the decisions made and bringing in new actions to reduce unemployment, especially that affecting the young and women, as well as restore competiveness — which has been pared exceedingly slim. In Brussels’ view, trends seen in the period permitting, no further cuts will be necessary so long as the planned increase in VAT of two percentage points is implemented in October. Meanwhile, over the next few days European institutions — the EU Parliament, Council and Commission — will continue working closely with national chancelleries to select the measures to be taken to relaunch growth and ensure the stability of the eurozone (with eurobonds and the like). The Budget Commission of the European Parliament, in particular, will be voting on the agreement reached with the European Council to bring in a pilot programme in the field of project bonds. All of these of issues which — after Brussels — others will be having their say on, including Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and ECB governor Mario Draghi. On Thursday Monti will be spending the entire day in the EU capital, first speaking at the Brussels Economic Forum and then at the State of the Union conference. Draghi will be taking part in a public debate on Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday morning he will appear at the Economic Commission meeting within the European Parliament. The spotlight, however, remains especially on Greece and Spain.

Athens — while awaiting the June 17 elections, which will determine whether or not it remains in the eurozone — continues to be a strong of great concern. Yesterday fresh speculation came from Greece which gave weight to the bleakest predictions: that at the end of June, lacking further international aid, the country will go into default. Social and political tension is so high that statements by IMF director Christine Lagarde (“Greeks need to start helping each other by paying all taxes”) have led to generalised outcry spreading beyond the nation’s borders.

Adding to the criticism of Lagarde by Greek politicians and the shower of protest which flooded her Facebook page was that of the French government. According to the latter, this is no time to “give lessons” to the Greeks by presenting a vision which is “a bit caricatural and stereotyped”. However, in this phase Spain is also filling the eurozone to with dread. The Spanish banking system is extremely fragile and the Bankia case (for the bailout of which Madrid will have to spend a record high 23.5 billion euros) may not be the last to weigh on the coffers of a state which due to devastated public finances is seeing the spread between its ten-year bonds and the German Bund rise relentlessly. How long will Madrid be able to hold out without requesting EU aid? And, last but not least, there is the referendum due to be held in Ireland on May 31 on the ratification of the Budget Pact.

Outlooks say that the ‘yes’ vote will win, and in any case the pact is structured in such a way that it can come into effect even with only a majority of countries having voted for it.

However, a ‘no’ vote would lead to Ireland losing EU aid, and would certainly not help the eurozone regain stability.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Europe’s (Olive) Oil Crisis

Spain, Italy and Greece, already fighting a financial and economic crisis, are now facing an oil crisis. Olive oil, that is. The price of the Mediterranean diet staple has plunged to a 10-year low as domestic consumption in the top producing southern European countries has fallen because of the economic crisis. That fall has coincided with a bumper olive crop in Spain, the biggest grower, creating a glut that has forced the EU to intervene to reduce the surplus amid worries about rural incomes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

European Funds Dumping Euro-Assets

Some of Europe’s biggest fund managers have confirmed they are dumping euro assets amid rising fears over a possible Greek exit from the eurozone and single currency turmoil, the FT reports. The euro has lost 5% in the past three weeks, hitting a 22-month low on Thursday ($1.25).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: State May Run Out of Funds by July

Papademos presented dramatic report during consultations

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 28 — The Greek State could run out of funds halfway through June, according to a report drafted by outgoing Premier Lucas Papademos. Papademos described the country’s disastrous economic situation to the political parties that were involved in the consultations led by Greek President Karolos Papoulias. These consultations have not had a positive result. According to the premier’s report, which was published by newspaper To Vima (The Tribune), whether the Greek State will be able to pay its bills from the end of June depends on the question if EFSF and the IMF will grant the tranches included in the agreement closed with Greece. These payments will need to be authorised by the troika — International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank -, depending on the measure in which Greece is implementing the economic programme the Greek government has agreed with the troika. Several delays have already been recorded, like privatisations, so it remains to be seen whether the troika report will support the payment of the next tranche. Referring to the situation of the banking system in Greece, Papademos pointed out that “the liquidity of the Greek banking system has fallen dramatically in the past two years, not only because Greek banks were excluded from the international markets but also because many citizens have withdrawn their savings, a consequence of the political uncertainty and fears for Greece leaving the euro.” From the end of 2009 to March 2012, according to Papademos, bank deposits fell by 73.5%, while around 2 billion euros were withdrawn from banks in the first ten days of May 2012 alone.

“At this rate,” the premier wrote in his report, “Greek banks will no longer be able to loan from the European system in a matter of three or four weeks at most.” Today, fifteen days after the report, Greece’s financial situation is even worse. In an attempt to strengthen tax collection, today Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Zannias visits the two largest inland revenue offices in Athens. On May 30 he will chair a meeting attended by the directors of the ten largest tax offices and the five most important customs offices in the Attica region. In these circumstances people in Greece have to cast their ballot again, with an uncontrolled default looming that would set the country many years back, making the hard sacrifices made so far useless.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

JPM, Facebook, Gold… and the Potential of a Titanic Financial Market Event

The reason for this rare, extra commentary over a weekend is to focus on a couple of points which really stand out in their particular significance and are worth pondering in terms of what is coming down the road for financial markets.

The first is what we jumped all over on PLANET GATA from the get-go about the JP Morgan hedge trade flap gone wrong. It made NO sense from the very beginning to any of us that such a commotion was made over a $2 billion loss on a trade, for whatever reason, when they had just reported yearly gains of $18 billion. Clearly, Mr. Dimon’s public pronouncement, that caught the attention of the entire investment world, was only paving the way for future announcements that will be much more dramatic. All he was doing when he inferred the losses MIGHT get worse was protecting himself, as best he could, by going on the record.


Facebook shares opened up 11 percent at $42.05, and traded as high as $45, before running out of steam, disappointing investors hoping for a big first-day pop. The shares closed up just 0.6 percent at $38.23.

Without the bank bailout, Facebook’s IPO would have been a loser on the day, Wall Street insiders said.

The heavy buying, however, cut into the banks’ already meager fees on the deal. The underwriters agreed to accept a smaller cut — just 1.1 percent of the $16 billion Facebook raised in the IPO — in order to land the high-profile assignment.

After splitting $176 million in fees, the firms likely spent more than they made in fees by buying the swooning stock. Sam Hamadeh, CEO of research firm Privco, believes the banks spent around $380 million on Facebook stock.

“On the heels of JPMorgan’s $2 billion ‘hedging’ trading loss, tThe underwriters have used up all the fees they made on the Facebook deal just to buy and prop up the stock to prevent a busted IPO,” said Hamadeh.


My take on this, from my Behavioral Finance background on how our financial system really operates, is the effort to hold up the Facebook IPO was an effort to hold up the stock market as a whole.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Maximum Fraud’ In U.S. Treasuries Market: Opinion

NEW YORK (Bullion Bulls Canada) — One should never underestimate Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when the subject turns to fraud and deceit.

For those who missed the news, foreign central banks (the largest holders of U.S. Treasuries) have been frantically dumping more Treasuries onto the market over the past four weeks than at any other time in U.S. history.

Those with even the tiniest understanding of supply/demand fundamentals understand how markets operate in such situations. When there is a sudden explosion of supply, the price buyers are willing to pay for that good plummets until enough new buyers enter the market to soak up all of that excess supply.

So how far have U.S. Treasuries prices fallen during this “panic” in the U.S. Treasuries market? Zero. To comprehend the absolute absurdity of this situation requires adding one more piece of data to our scenario: U.S. Treasuries prices are currently at their highest level in history — despite the fact that the U.S. has never been less solvent.


China and Japan (two of the world’s top 5 economies) just announced they are phasing out U.S. dollars from their bilateral trade. This is merely the latest in an endless series of bilateral and multilateral deals which are incrementally (but relentlessly) removing the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

To date, these deals have already reduced the demand for U.S. dollars by $trillions per year. To focus on just the China/Japan deal, as an elementary reality of their new commercial arrangement, both of these nations need to hold more of each other’s currency — and less U.S. dollars. And this scenario is being repeated in one economy after another, all over the world.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Pay Your Taxes’: Greeks Furious Over Harsh Words From IMF and Germany

As Greeks prepare to head to the polls once again in three weeks, international criticism of the country is intensifying. IMF head Christine Lagarde on Friday said citizens must begin paying their taxes, while a member of the German cabinet referred to Greece as a “bottomless pit.”

It’s not often that world markets react to pre-election political surveys in countries the size of Greece. But on Monday, investor relief appears to be widespread at reports that support for pro-austerity parties in Greece is rising ahead of general elections scheduled for June 17.

According to the polls, an increase of support for the center-right party New Democracy could give it enough seats in parliament to team up with the Socialist PASOK party, both of which support pursuing the austerity policies handed down by the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for massive bailout aid. The anti-austerity party Syriza is likely to come in second. The new elections became necessary after results from the vote on May 6 made the formation of a governing coalition impossible.

Despite the temporary market respite — following last week’s freefall on fears of a disorderly Greek exit from the euro zone — tempers remain on edge in Greece. And over the weekend, much of the ire of the country’s political elite was focused on IMF head Christine Lagarde.

In an interview published Friday in the British daily Guardian, Lagarde blasted Greeks for not paying their taxes. “As far as Athens is concerned,” she said, “I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.” Just to make sure her message was getting through, she added: “I think they should also help themselves collectively… by all paying their tax.”

Elsewhere in the interview, she said that she thinks more about children in the African country of Niger than she does about Greeks. “I think they need even more help than the people of Athens,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Police Tell Greeks Not to Withdraw Money From Banks

Police are urging Greeks to keep their money in bank accounts rather than putting it at risk of theft, the Guardian reports. Greece’s banks are likely to be shored up on Friday or Monday with €18bn of bailout funds. Almost 25% of deposits have been taken out from Greek banks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: Bankia Shares Plunge as Trading Resumes

Shares in Spanish lender Bankia plummeted on Monday, as trading resumed following news that the bank will need a hefty 19-billion euro bailout from the government.

Bankia shares fell some 28 percent on Madrid’s blue-chip IBEX 35 index after trading resumed on Monday. This came after the troubled lender announced on Friday that it would need a 19-billion-euro injection of funds from the government to stay afloat.

Shares in the bank, which was formed from a merger of seven regional savings banks in 2010, have lost more than 70 percent of their value since listing in July 2011. The bailout would be Spain’s biggest to date.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Rats in JPMorgan’s Granary Exposed

The news tonight that JPMorgan Chase [JPM] has lost $2 billion in trading (aka gambling), with risk of more losses to come, links with my article in Monday suggesting that such activities resemble those of “rats in a granary”.

JPMorgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, said on a conference call late Thursday that there were “many errors,” “sloppiness” and “bad judgment.”

Regrettably Mr Dimon misses the point. Banks backed by government guarantees shouldn’t be involved in gambling. Period.

The problem is systemic

In the past, Dimon has smugly attacked lawmakers on their efforts to reduce the systemic risk posed by big banks. Dimon now says, “We’re going to manage it to maximize the economic value for shareholders. What does that mean? It means that we’re not going to do something stupid.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


“I Would Vote for Obama!” — Squeals Castro’s Daughter

“If I were a U.S. citizen I’d vote for Obama for president,” boasted Mariela Castro during her San Francisco conference this week. “I think he is sincere, I think he speaks from the heart.” To cheers and applause from the San Franciscan crowd Raul Castro’s daughter also proclaimed that, “what we want is the power of emancipation through socialism.”


For the record: Fidel Castro converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western hemisphere, a huge influx of immigrants into one that provoked an exodus of 20 per cent of her population against enormous odds and at the cost of their every possession. And this after Castro’s fiefdom was lavished with Soviet subsidies that totaled almost ten Marshall Plans (into a nation of 6.5 million.) This economic feat defies not only the laws of economics but seemingly the very laws of physics.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

A President’s Appeasement Politics

by Raymond Ibrahim

American intellectual Will Durant’s The Lessons of History-co-written with wife Ariel and published in 1968, when the Soviet Union posed a threat to the United States-still offers insightful lessons, especially concerning American-Muslim relations.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Beyond Outrageous

As bad as Obama-Soetoro and his mindless Marxist minions are, they are amateurs compared to the United States Senate when it comes to shredding the Constitution and stomping the shreds into the mud.

I, and many others, have written about the willful refusal of the Senate to pass a budget. One needs only to look around at the state of the economy, the number of jobless Americans, and the shrinking workforce to grasp the incredible damage this has done to the country. But the damage these spineless parasites have done goes much deeper.

Every single piece of the mass of odious, unconstitutional legislation that has been passed in recent years was approved by the majority Democrat Senate, nearly always with the conniving collaboration of ever-willing-to-please RINOs. The laws run the gamut from government takeover of private industries to economy and jobs killing expansion of the national debt. And what should be of great concern to We, the People, is the radical, totalitarian-left direction that all of them are pushing us.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Continuing to Unravel the Soetoro-Obama Legend

Obama-Ayers connection, eyewitness account

Allen K. Hulton is not a household name, nor is it his desire to have it become one. He is a man with a simple story, an account of incidents that took place over a period of several years while delivering mail in a Chicago suburb. He spent about 30 years delivering mail, years that would have been contiguous had he not served in the military during the Vietnam era.

His career as a civil servant is unblemished, as is his service to our country. At 69, he is articulate but without any penchant to embellish information beyond what he knows to be true. His careful attention to detail along with his desire to tell only what he can clearly recall without conjecture is a refreshing change of pace for me, after conducting countless interviews as a career investigator for nearly as long as Mr. Hulton carried the mail.

On Friday, 25 May 20112, I interviewed Allen Hulton about his chance encounter with Barack Hussein Obama well before he emerged on the political scene. I also interviewed him about his encounters with Thomas and Mary Ayers, the parents of domestic terrorist of the Weather Underground William Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn.

Including the two hour on-air interview on The Hagmann & Hagmann Report, I spoke with Mr. Hulton for just over three hours, and spent an additional two hours verifying his bona fides. It’s ironic and telling that I know more about Mr. Hulton than America knows about Barack Hussein Obama.


The second part of this encounter is perhaps the most unusual and unsettling. It was during this conversation that Barack Hussein Obama, long before he entered the political arena and over a decade before emerging on the national scene as a presidential candidate, looked Mr. Hulton in the eyes and stated with the assuredness of someone who was just hired at a normal job, “I am going to be President of the United States.” According to Mr. Hulton, there was no question or hesitation in his voice, or doubt in his statement. Mr. Hulton admitted to be taken aback by his statement and the manner in which it was conveyed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dewey & Leboeuf, New York Law Firm, Files for Bankruptcy

Dewey & LeBoeuf, the New York law firm crippled by financial miscues and partner defections, filed for bankruptcy on Sunday night, punctuating the largest law firm collapse in United States history.

The filing, made in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, marks the final chapter in a turbulent period for the New York-based Dewey, which unraveled after disappointing profits and prodigious debt forced it to slash partners’ salaries. The partners, already owed millions of dollars from prior years, grew concerned over the firm’s finances and their ability to get paid. A partner exodus destroyed the firm.

“This is a very sad day for the legal profession,” said Richard J. Holwell, a former federal judge in Manhattan now in private practice. “Dewey is a fabled firm with a lot of great lawyers and a demise of this magnitude is unprecedented.”

[Return to headlines]

NSA Analyst: “We Could Have Prevented 9/11”

Thomas Drake, a brilliant intelligence analyst, software engineer, and IT management consultant, worked at the CIA in the 1980s, then as a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and ultimately as an NSA senior executive in 2001. But from 2006 until July 2011, he became the government’s and NSA’s public enemy.

Why? From his high-level perch at NSA, he saw the failure to act on intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks, and he saw corruption at the highest levels.

So he blew the whistle. Four times, from the fall of 2001 through 2004.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Campaign Again Urging Supporters to Report on Non-Believers

Turning back to that page out of Stalin’s handbook for good citizenship, the Obama campaign has revived its program of asking Americans to inform on fellow citizens when they see someone, some organization, some politician, or some news outlet “attacking” the Obammessiah.

Some of you may recall the black eye that team Obama got when it tried to do this before. Obama’s Attack Watch was heavily lampooned. (See Video Below)

One of the best tools that the East German and Soviet regimes had to keep the average citizen of their oppressive regimes in line was a program that urged citizens to tattle on their neighbors, that taught children to tell on their parents, and expected workers to rat out their co-workers. If someone came to the government informing on a fellow citizen, that citizen was praised and rewarded.

Now, Team Obama has gone all Stalin on us again with yet another such effort, this one called the Obama Truth Team. The new effort sports a page on the Obama-Biden website where you can “Fight Back: Report an Attack.” (See screen shot of page HERE)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Spot the Narrative

Wouldn’t it be terrible if we lived in some kind of dictatorship where a tiny group of powerful men controlled the broadcast media and used it to justify abuses of power by the government?

Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing?

Yeah, me too.

It all starts with the narrative. Coverage of the lawsuits can be minimized as much as possible, but sooner or later it has to be reported on. The media is as lazy, as it is corrupt and stupid, so they usually garner their talking points from liberal talking point distributors like Think Progress and Media Matters.

The narrative on the Catholic lawsuits is problematic because it’s a clear case of religious freedom being infringed on. That means this problematic fact has to be countered by…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Stealth Islamic Propaganda Shown to Six Million American Students

by Larissa Scott

On May 16 and 17 of 2012, Channel One Network, a national distributor of educational videos and newscasts viewed daily by over 8,000 middle and high schools, aired a two-part video series, titled “Young and Muslim in America” and “Islam in America.” In “Young and Muslim in America: How being a part of Islam changed ten years ago, Part 1,” students watch as Muhtasham Sifaat, 18, kneels on a prayer rug inside an empty classroom. His voiceover explains how he moved around a lot when he was younger, but Islam has given him stability. What is not revealed is that Mr. Sifaat is a political activist serving as a chapter president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), one of the most radical Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America. The MSA pledge states: “Allah is my lord. Islam is my life. The Koran is my guide. The Sunna is my practice. Jihad is my spirit. Righteousness is my character. Paradise is my goal. I enjoin what is right. I forbid what is wrong. I will fight against oppression. And I will die to establish Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The War for America

Are we losing America? Are we fighters for freedom as we claim? The United States sends troops around the world to fight for freedom, to keep the torch of liberty burning bright in lands where political ideologies like communism and Islamism, under the iron fists of various madmen, work to take away the people’s freedoms. Yet, right here in America, a regime has set itself up in Washington DC, and the question is, are we willing to fight here? Is our exceptionalism worth fighting for? Are we willing to make this nation, as founded, the center of our efforts?


The federal government has never before made such a major push because the people behind big government philosophy knew it is unconstitutional, and they could never get it past the people too quickly. Now, they think they can squeeze this stuff by us, that there is enough people using government entitlements, and desiring the health care entitlement, that they can make the final push for socialism and stay in power depending upon the overwhelming number of votes they have bought with these programs.

Statism is growing, and has been, worldwide, but for a ruling elite to rise up in America and take away the people’s voice bit by bit, it is disconcerting. To the average American, it may seem like I am over doing it, here. But when one understands the text of the United States Constitution, it becomes clear. The Constitution was written to create a central system, but to limit it to only protecting, preserving and promoting the union, and nothing more.

Before the American Constitution, written constitutions were not the norm. People relied on common law, which could be manipulated by the rulers through adjusting popular opinion. Also, since common law was known by all of the people, they were indifferent to the necessity of writing them down. They were simply a matter of custom, changing if necessary, when the winds of government mandated so.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Snakebite Lands Norwegian Student With Massive Bill

A 23-year-old Norwegian student got a dual shock in the United States recently when he was first bitten by a rattlesnake, then hit by an astronomical hospital bill. Dag-Are Trydal’s venomous encounter took place as he made his way to his car at a parking lot in San Diego, newspaper VG reports.

“I literally jumped out of both my flip-flops between two cars. A rattlesnake had crept up behind me and bitten me in the foot,” said Trydal. If the snakebite hurt, more pain was soon to follow in the form of a hospital bill amounting to $143,000 (861,000 kroner).

“It seemed insanely high. I didn’t understand how it could be so expensive. Fortunately, I have student insurance,” said the 23-year-old, an exchange student from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

It now falls to travel insurance firm Europeiske Reiseforsikring to foot the sky-high bill. “I’ve worked for Europeiske Reiseforsikring for 25 years and have never come across anything like it,” said spokeswoman Emma Elisabeth Vennesland.

“We didn’t think it was possible when we saw the amount and had to double check with our US office twice. This is an all-time high for us.” She confirmed that falling ill in the US can be a costly business. “Just a simple doctor’s visit, to check if you have influenza for instance, can cost up to 15,000 kroner,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

US Troops Practice for Peace in a Texan Afghan Village

NATO has set its “irreversible” course out of Afghanistan. After years of training for war, the US army is now preparing for peace in a reconstructed Afghan village in the Texan desert.

Afghans who are now living in the US have been employed by the army as actors to re-enact scenes of everyday Afghan life. US soldiers about to be deployed to Afghanistan are learning how to remain calm even if they are insulted or threatened.

“You learn how to keep yourself contained when everything seems not to be going the way you want it,” explains Sergeant Martinez. “Because the more you overreact the worse it’s going to get. We learn to speak calmly and try to get them to be on our side.”

Americans and Afghans are now partners in the fight against the Taliban. The soldiers in Texas are also learning how to transfer responsibility to the Afghan security forces. As trainers they have to learn to trust the Afghans. Sergeant Martinez says it is difficult for those who have already been deployed to Afghanistan to get used to this role.

German soldiers stationed in Texas have been enlisted to give basic training in intercultural competence and behavior.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Vatican: The Holy Office Puts the American Sisters in the Corner

The “liberal” leadership of the women religious of the United States has been effectively stripped of authority. By order of the pope. Here is the document from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith that explains how and why

VATICAN CITY, April 30, 2012 — The congregation for the doctrine of the faith has charged the archbishop of Seattle, James Peter Sartain, with bringing back to the straight and narrow the “Leadership Conference of Women Religious,” the conference of religious superiors of the United States of America, initials LCWR, the cartel that connects most of the communities of sisters in the country.

He will be assisted in the enterprise by bishops Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. The former was also in charge of the two-year investigation, from 2009 to 2010, that led to this decision.

On the same day as the appointment of Sartain as “commissioner,” on April 18, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith also made public an eight-page document of its own, in English, that reconstructs the run-up to the decision and above all presents its justifications.

The primary justification given is that the conference of female religious superiors of the United States has given free rein to ideas and approaches judged by Rome as being incompatible with correct doctrine, and particularly dangerous because of “the influence the LCWR exercises on religious Congregations in other parts of the world.”

The document of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith is reproduced in its entirety further below.

Among the accusations that the Holy See makes against the conference of American women religious superiors is the de facto approval of the tendency to go “beyond the Church” and even “beyond Christ,” as theorized in a 2007 talk by Dominican sister Laurie Brink.

Another accusation concerns the resistance of some groups of sisters against accepting the Mass, celebrated by a male priest, as the center of their communal life…

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


Islam Comes Knocking in Bid to Promote Harmony

Members of a Muslim youth group will knock on doors in Kingston on Wednesday as part of a campaign to promote religious harmony and understanding. Kingston will follow a stop in in Simcoe on Tuesday, where nearly a dozen members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association of Canada will rise at 3:45 a.m. and say a prayer for Simcoe before heading to the town. According to Rizwan Rabbani, executive director of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the youths will pray for the well-being of Simconians, the betterment of the town, and peace and harmony among religious faiths. The youths will also “pray that everyone becomes a believer of their faith.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Al-Shabab Plotting Attack in Netherlands

A former commander of the Somali al-Qaeda-linked organisation al-Shabab has said that dormant cells in the Netherlands are secretly preparing terrorist attacks.

The commander, who left al-Shabab because of a dispute with its leaders, said the militant Islamist group is actively recruiting and training members of the Somali diaspora in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States to launch attacks in the countries where they have a residence permit.

Dutch public broadcaster VPRO spoke to a BBC reporter, Mary Harper, on its radio programme Bureau Buitenland. Ms Harper had interviewed Mohamed Farah al Ansari who said Somalia was becoming the new hub of jihadism. Al Ansari joined up with government forces and entered a protection programme with the interim government after he stopped activities with Al Shabab.

The Somali commander was questioned by US security officials at the American embassy in Nairobi.

Waging jihad

Al-Shabab is an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union, which splintered into several smaller factions after its defeat in 2006 by the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the TFG’s Ethiopian military allies. The group describes itself as waging jihad against “enemies of Islam”, and is engaged in combat against the TFG and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

The outfit controls large swathes of the southern parts of the country where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia Law. Its strength is estimated at around 14,000 militants. The group also targets foreign aid organisations, leading to a suspension of humanitarian operations and an exodus of relief agents.

The UN Security Council voted earlier this year to increase AU peacekeeping forces in Somalia. The fighting has shifted away from the capital Mogadishu and government troops have managed to take a strategic al-Shabab stronghold in south-western Somalia.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Eurovision 2012: BBC Facing Calls to Withdraw

The BBC is facing calls to pull out of the Eurovision Song Contest after another night of humiliation in which Engelbert Humperdinck finished second from bottom.

Out of 42 countries, only four — Ireland, Latvia, Belgium and Estonia — awarded any points to the UK. Humperdinck ended with just 12 points on a night which revived allegations of political voting from the member nations. British viewers flooded websites and social networking sites with calls for the BBC to quit the contest. They included Philip Schofield, the television presenter, who wrote on Twitter: “It’s time to pull out. Not even Robbie [Williams] could win it for us, it’s too political.” Hundreds of viewers posted messages on the BBC website, many calling for the corporation to withdraw. “Enough is enough. The BBC must have better things to spend its money on,” said one. “I am sorry but there is no way our entry deserved its low position. It was a real song without gimmicks sung by a real singer. The voting is a joke and totally predictable every year,” said another. Sweden won the competition, which was held in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. Only Norway polled fewer votes than the United Kingdom.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France’s PM Ayrault is More Popular Than Hollande

(AGI) Paris — France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is more popular than President Francois Hollande, reports survey. On Le Journal du Dimanche, the survey reads that the head of government enjoys the confidence of 65% of the French, a record for a PM; The head of the Elysee, instead, has 61%, slightly less than the percentage Nicolas Sarkozy reaped after his swearing in.

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

France: Nice Outlaws ‘Too Festive’ Weddings

The southern city of Nice is clamping down on weddings that get overly boisterous.

Le Monde reports that the mayor has decided noisy revellers can “disrupt the tranquility and solemnity” of the moment and can also lead to delays for other marriages taking place. Out will be shouts, whistles and the use of “flags, particularly foreign ones.” Folk music “without authorisation” and illegal parking around the city’s town hall will also be banished. “Dancing” and “parading around with streamers and flags” will also be outlawed.

To enforce the rules, those planning to marry will have to sign a special marriage charter. Anyone breaking the rule will face having their wedding ceremony delayed by 24 hours. During summer months, the town hall in Nice carries out 25 to 30 weddings every Saturday. The new measures come into force on June 1st.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Schull Shipwreck Had Nutty Cargo

A sixteenth-century ship that had been carrying a load of coconuts has been found in Ireland’s Schull Harbor. Most of the remains of the wooden ship are buried under silt, and part of it was damaged during digging for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant. Underwater archaeologist Julianna O’Donoghue is researching the history of the ship.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pope’s Valet Said to be Behind Vatileaks

Important developments in Vatican inquiry into leaked Pope’s confidential documents: a pile of secret documents found in valet’s flat. The man is arrested and interrogated by the Vatican.

ROME — The Vatican Gendarmerie has today arrested a man it holds responsible for leaking confidential documents about the Pope, an affair christened “Vatileaks”. The revelations appear in the recently published book Sua Santità (His Holiness) by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi. The Vatican press office announcement talks of “theft”, “receiving stolen goods” and “ the use, including commercial, of confidential documents illegitimately acquired and retained”.

According to Vatican sources cited by Italian news agency ANSA, the man arrested is someone very close to Pope Benedict XVIII, his valet Paolo Gabriele, a man said by those who know him to be absolutely devoted to and trusted by the Pope.

The Vatican Gendarmerie discovered a huge pile of confidential documents in the apartment by the Vatican walls where Paolo Gabriele lives with his wife and three children. A Roman in his early 40s, Gabriele has worked in the papal apartments since 2006, and joined the papal household after working for its Prefect, Monsignor James Harvey.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi announced that the Gendarmerie’s investigation, “has identified someone in illegal possession of confidential documents”. This morning a man was questioned by Vatican chief prosecutor Nicola Picardi…

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

Italy: Environment Chief Says Rome Waste Situation Near Critical

(AGI) Rome — The waste situation in Rome is nearing “a critical point,” Corrado Clini told SKY TG24. The Environment chief was being interviewed about the waste issue in Rome by Maria Latella and said he was sure that a new waste disposal site would be identified within a few weeks, after which a differentiated waste collection system would be implemented. Mr Clini said: “I think Rome has been spoilt by the existence of an extremely capacious dump, which has largely allowed us to shelve the question of waste disposal for years and years. This does not, however, justify all those who have failed to make provisions that would have brought Rome in line with European directives from the 80s onwards. […] Three European directives have been issued since 1991, geared to reducing the quantity of waste, stepping up differentiated waste collection and refuse matter. This has not happened in Rome.”.

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

Netherlands: Handling of Amsterdam Sharia Group Criticised

Amsterdam VVD councillor, Robert Flos, has criticised the police for the way they dealt with a hate speech on Dam Square on Friday. On local television channel AT5, the councillor says the police failed to arrest the Sharia4Holland speakers, who made death threats aimed at Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders and arrested a passer-by who tried to enter a discussion with the speakers.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Oldest Art Even Older: New Dates From Geißenklösterle Cave Show Early Arrival of Modern Humans, Art and Music

New dates from Geißenklösterle Cave in Southwest Germany document the early arrival of modern humans and early appearance of art and music.

Researchers from Oxford and Tübingen have published new radiocarbon dates from the from Geißenklösterle Cave in Swabian Jura of Southwestern Germany in the Journal of Human Evolution. The new dates use improved methods to remove contamination and produced ages between began between 42,000 — 43,000 years ago for start of the Aurignacian, the first culture to produce a wide range of figurative art, music and other key innovations as postulated in the Kulturpumpe Hypothesis. The full spectrum of these innovations were established in the region no later than 40,000 years ago.

These are the earliest radiocarbon dates of Aurignacian deposits, and they predate Aurignacian dates from Italy, France, England and other regions. These results are consistent with the Danube Corridor hypothesis postulating that modern humans migrated to Europe and rapidly moved up the Danube drainage. Geißenklösterle Cave is one of several caves in the Swabian Jura that have produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates from Geißenklösterle together with existing dates using thermoluminescence confirm the great antiquity of the Swabian Aurignacian.

The new dates indicate that modern humans entered the Upper Danube region prior to an extremely cold climatic phase referred to as the H4 event dating to ca. 40,000 years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Prague Remembers Nazi Past With Replica Death Camp

Czech and Slovak groups are marking the 70th anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s top officers, by constructing a replica of a Nazi concentration camp in Prague.

In a leafy square in the center of Prague, workmen are putting the finishing touches to a replica of a Nazi concentration camp. Grey huts are lined up under the oak trees. A watchtower looms ominously overhead.

It’s been put here to remember those who helped shelter a group of paratroopers who assassinated SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the acting Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, in 1942, an act that prompted terrible reprisals from Hitler.

“Many people were killed here, and we want to give a voice to them as well (…) to tell their stories — something personal — and to make the visitors here realize that these people, who have been forgotten, are worth remembering,” Magdalena Benesova, who’s in charge of the project with the Post Bellum historical society, said in an interview with DW.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sharia4holland Spokesman Arrested Over Wilders Threat

Amsterdam police have arrested the 29-year-old spokesman for radical Islamic group Sharia4Holland for making threats against MP Geert Wilders.

In an impromptu press conference on Dam square in Amsterdam on Friday, the man likened Wilders to a Roman dog and warned him to learn the lesson of what happened to Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was killed by an Islamic militant.

The arrest followed a formal complaint by Wilders and critical comments from politicians.

Sharia4Holland, an offshoot of Sharia4Belgium, is said to have handful of members in the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Exile Uzbeks Suspect Regime for Imam Attack

After three people were remanded into custody, of which two were Uzbek citizens, suspicions that the attempted murder against the imam Obid Nazarov in February was politically motivated are growing among Uzbeks in Sweden.

“We would never have thought this could happen in Sweden, in Europe,” said an Uzbek man from Nazarov’s congregation in Strömsund in northern Sweden. He said he was certain from the day of the attempted murder. And especially since a married Uzbek couple were remanded into custody for being accessory to the crime, he is absolutely certain that the regime had a hand in what happened.

Several Uzbeks in Strömsund saw an unknown person move around the area the week before the attempted murder. The Uzbek told TT that he is upset that the community “dropped its guard” in Sweden. “They have sent people before to kill those in opposition, for example in Russia, and now it has happened here as well,” he said.

Nazarov is the religious leader for the Uzbek community in Strömsund, some 200 people who have escaped oppression and religious persecution. “He is our imam and he is very important to us. Everyone listens to him,” said the man to TT.

The imam fled to Sweden in 2006, after the Uzbek government had filed a warrant for his arrest with Interpol, on suspicion of terrorism. “It is ridiculous, but for the Uzbek regime freedom fighters are terrorists, journalists are terrorists,” said Nazarov in an interview with Radio Free Europe in April 2006. Nazarov is described as very strictly religious, which was a thorn in the side of the Uzbek regime. He was accused of religious extremism.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Teen Reported to Police for ‘Face Rape’

A 15-year-old boy from Norrköping in eastern Sweden has been reported to police for allegedly “face raping” another teen by writing false messages on the latter’s Facebook page, an increasingly common phenomenon among young Swedes.

From a legal perspective, the crime is a serious one, but despite the fact that many young people in Sweden have been the victims of “face rape”, police don’t receive many reports about the crime.

“A huge number of our young people have been victims of this, but many probably don’t realize that they can report it,” Anders Ahlqvist, an IT-expert with the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen), told the TT news agency.

“Face rape” can be seen as another name for computer hacking, a crime which is punishable by fines or up to two years in prison. And it’s a very common crime.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Fined for £1,300 for Flouting Smoking Laws

A Rochdale man and his business, an exclusive shisha bar in Bolton, has been fined for flouting smoking laws. Imran Saleem, aged 32, of Springbank Lane, Rochdale, was fined £1,300 and ordered to pay more than £1,300 in costs to Bolton Council. Bolton Magistrates Court heard that people were allowed people to smoke inside the Arabian Lounge, Derby Street, Daubhill, Bolton on two separate occasions in September and October 2011. Any place of work or public building which is enclosed, including shisha cafes, is required to be smoke-free. For a business to comply with the Health Act 2006, it must be more than 50 per cent open to allow for ventilation of smoke — or customers must smoke outside. When environmental officers visited the Arabian Lounge last year they found people smoking shisha indoors.


[JP note: Deportation would have been better.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Heroin Dealers Jailed

Two men from Rochdale are among six people who have been handed prison terms of more than 30 years for their roles in a heroin ring. Mohammed Hanif, 39, of Reservoir Street admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to five years and five months imprisonment. Raja Miah, 27, of Gower Street admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to four years and one month imprisonment.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic Extremists Target UK Students on Social Networks

MUSLIM extremists are using social networking sites to radicalise British students, research has revealed.

Chilling videos of armed insurgents, accompanied by hate-filled speeches from leading Al Qaeda figures, have been posted on websites linked to Islamic societies at several leading universities. The use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread propaganda and recruit fresh activists marks a new phase in the rise of radical Islam in Britain. Rupert Sutton, co-author of a report, Challenging Extremists, published today by campaign groups The Henry Jackson Society and Student Rights, uncovered the online use of propaganda. He said: “The attempted radicalisation of students over the internet, predominantly via social media, is deeply concerning. We were able to uncover large amounts of shocking material targeting students and in many cases, shared by students themselves.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Minister in Apology Over Rent

CONSERVATIVE Party chairman Baroness Warsi has admitted failing to declare thousands of pounds in rental income in the register of interests for members of the House of Lords.

The Cabinet Office minister said the omission was due to an “oversight”, adding that she had reported the letting of her Wembley flat in the separate Register of Ministers’ Interests.

The arrangement had also been declared to the Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs, she insisted. The Tory peer bought the property in 2007 but moved closer to Parliament when she became a minister in 2010, after which she began letting the Wembley flat. “Due to an oversight, for which I take full responsibility, the flat was not included on the Register of Lords’ Interests when its value and the rent received came to exceed the thresholds for disclosure,” she said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Profile: Sayeeda Warsi, The Trailblazing Peer Who Divided the Tory Party

Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi was the first Muslim woman to be appointed a Cabinet minister.

The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, who has described herself as a “Northern, working-class roots, urban, working mum”, she represented the sort of multicultural, classless Conservative party David Cameron wanted to build. Having attended a comprehensive school, she represented increased diversity within a party known for its domination by white, privately-educated men. She said her support for Conservative principles was inspired by father’s success in making his way from working in a mill to running a £2m-a-year bed manufacturing firm. In 2004, she gave up her job as a solicitor — and a £130,000 annual salary — to stand for Parliament in her home town of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Redditch Unites as EDL March Ends Peacefully

REDDITCH residents put on a show of unity and defiance as a march through the town from the EDL passed off peacefully. More than 100 officers were drafted in from across the West Mercia force area as well as Warwickshire, West Midlands and British Transport Police to help control the event and tensions were high throuhgout the day as a large counter demonstration, made up of residents from all sections of Redditch’s community and members of United Against Facism, attemped to get near to the main EDL rally. Between 100 and 150 members of the EDL from across the region turned out for Saturday’s rally which saw speeches made from the bandstand although police officially estimate the figure at about 40. The event lasted for about half an hour during which members of the group urged people to ‘wake up to the facts’ about Islam and made a number of anti-islamic statements and chants.

Trouble flared when passers-by from the afro-caribbean community angered by some of the comments attempted to intervene with the rally and a lager can appeared to be thrown from the EDL side, but officers quickly intervened. In total there were three arrests — one for a breach of the peace and two on suspicion of assault — and police say they were all men and believed to have been attached to the counter EDL demonstration. EDL member Ed Stevens said they were trying to raise awareness about the threat of Islamic grooming of young white girls.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tory Peer Baroness Warsi Faces Police Inquiry Over Expenses

Baroness Warsi was is facing calls for a police investigation into her parliamentary expenses after she claimed up to £2,000 for staying rent-free in the home of a Tory party donor.

The Conservative Party co-chairman claimed up to £165.50 a night while staying at a London house belonging to Dr Wafik Moustafa. She said she was entitled to the expenses because she had paid a “financial contribution” to her political aide, Naweed Khan, when both were non-paying guests at the house. But Dr Moustafa insisted that he received no money and said he was “disgusted” that she had claimed taxpayers’ money when he had simply been “helping out” the two party members by offering his free hospitality. MPs compared the disclosures with the case of Lord Hanningfield, the Conservative peer who was jailed last year for claiming overnight expenses to stay in London when he was not in the capital.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

We Are Living a New Babel, Distressing Daily Events: Pope

(AGI) Vatican City — The Pope said in his homily today that we are living in a “new Babel” with distressing “everyday events.

[…] People seem to be becoming increasingly aggressive and quarrelsome, they don’t take the time to look dispassionately at themselves and thus remain locked within themselves.” The Pope was speaking during the Pentecostal mass at St Peter’s. He also said “Pentecost is a celebration of human unity, understanding and communion” and it remains so in our world, in which people have got closer but “understanding and communion is often superficial and problematic.” Everybody experiences “inner conflict, division, riven by human and spiritual impulses. We cannot obey them all. We cannot be egoists and generous people simultaneously, or follow trends and lord it over others while experiencing the joy of disinterested service.” He added “We constantly have to choose which impulse to follow and we can only do this properly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”.

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

North Africa

Egypt: Italian Energy Giant ENI Makes Big Oil Find

Rome, 24 May(AKI) — Italy’s largest energy company Eni said Thursday it had made a “significant” oil discovery in Egypt’s Western Desert, 290 kilometres southwest of the port city of Alexandria.

The well located in the Meleiha field was drilled to a total depth of 3,628 meters and is estimated to have reserves of 150-250 million barrels, Eni said.

Production from the well and other test wells will be approximately 10,000 barrels of oil per day in the next few months, according to Eni.

“This result confirms that the Meleiha Concession still holds significant un-tapped deep exploration potential,” Eni stated.

The drilling of the well is part of Eni’s strategy to refocus exploration activities in Egypt by targeting deeper plays in the Western Desert.

Eni owns a 56 percent working interest in the Meleiha Concession. Russia’s Lukoil holds a 24 percent stake and Japan’s Mitsui owns 20 percent.

Eni, through its fully owned affiliate the International Egyptian Oil Company, has been present in Egypt since 1954 and is the largest foreign energy company in Egypt.

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

Egypt: The Facebook Caliphate

by Mark Steyn

Liberal democracy cannot be tweeted.

So how’s that old Arab Spring going? You remember — the “Facebook Revolution.” As I write, they’re counting the votes in Egypt’s presidential election, so by the time you read this the pecking order may have changed somewhat. But currently in first place is the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, who in an inspiring stump speech before the students of Cairo University the other night told them, “Death in the name of Allah is our goal.”



           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Brotherhood Scrambling to Broaden Support

The Muslim Brotherhood is scrambling to broaden its appeal to liberals, leftists and Christians after official results Monday showed that the Islamist group’s candidate will face ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister in next month’s runoff for president of Egypt.

To get the support it needs, the Brotherhood must tone down its religious rhetoric and offer far-reaching concessions, such as protecting the right to protest and strike, election-watchers said.

The Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, will go head-to-head against Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander, in the June 16-17 runoff. They were the top vote-getters in last week’s first round of voting.

None of the 13 candidates had been expected to get the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright. Still, Morsi’s top finish was a surprisingly strong showing, because he was widely viewed as a weak candidate and because the Brotherhood’s popularity has eroded recently because of a series of missteps.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gauck to Tread Delicate Line in Middle East

German President Joachim Gauck will be expected to discuss rising anti-Semitism and Günter Grass’ controversial poem when he visits Israel on Monday, the country’s new ambassador to Berlin said.

Anti-Semitism and racism are “a big danger,” said Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, according to a story in Die Welt newspaper on Monday. “Anti-Semitism is more present in Europe. We see it unfortunately nearly every day. Also in Germany this phenomenon is rising and becoming more widespread,” the ambassador said.

Hadas-Handelsmann was also critical of German author Grass’ poem, published in April, which severely criticized Israel’s position in the nuclear conflict with Iran and portrayed Israel as the aggressor.

The poem caused much outrage in Israel, led to Grass being banned from the country and was debated for weeks. “Of course this topic will be discussed during his visit,” the ambassador said.

Gauck’s visit to Israel is important because Germany and Israel are closely tied due to their histories, but also because Gauck is from the former German Democratic Republic and personally experienced persecution and repression, Hada-Handelsmann said.

Gauck’s office said he wanted to, “put down a marker of solidarity with Israel in difficult times,” yet at the same time he would stress Germany’s “continued commitment” to the creation of a Palestinian state.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain: Stolen Ancient Relics Recovered

In Bahrain, vandals cut the barbed wire fences surrounding the 3,500-year-old A’ali’s Royal Burial Mounds, then removed large boulders from the site and used them to block access to roads in the village of A’ali. Some of the boulders were then broken by road cleaning crews. “The boulders are being rapidly removed from the streets and returned to their original locations through efforts by our officials and workers we hired,” said Abdulla Al Sulaiti, director of the ministry of archaeology and heritage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Thousands Pray for Istanbul Landmark to Become Mosque

ISTANBUL, 6 Rajab/27 May (IINA)-Thousands of devout Muslims prayed outside Turkey’s historic Hagia Sophia museum on Saturday to protest a 1934 law that bars religious services at the former church and mosque. Worshippers shouted, “Break the chains, let Hagia Sophia Mosque open,” and “God is great” before kneeling in prayer as tourists looked on.

Turkey’s secular laws prevent Muslims and Christians from formal worship within the 6th-century monument, the world’s greatest cathedral for almost a millennium before invading

Ottomans converted it into a mosque in the 15th century. “Keeping Hagia Sophia Mosque closed is an insult to our mostly Muslim population of 75 million. It symbolises our ill-treatment by the West,” Salih Turhan, head of the Anatolian Youth Association, which organised the event, told the crowd, whose male and female worshippers prayed separately according to Islamic custom.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UAE: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Visits Islamic Centre

Abu Dhabi: General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday visited the Suhail Bin Owaidha Islamic Centre in Zakhir area in Al Ain. Shaikh Mohammad toured the centre’s various sections and listened to a presentation by Hamad Suhail Al Khaili on the message, goals and role of the centre. He inspected the centre which comprises a mosque that accommodates 3,000 worshippers inside and 1,000 worshippers in the external yard. Quran memorisation

It also consists of a female mosque that can accommodate 1,000 worshippers, in addition to offices and 15 classrooms, a library and a lecture hall. The centre organises training courses and programmes for Quran memorisation and preparation of imams, in addition to its role in promoting religious awareness through symposiums and lectures. Earlier, Shaikh Mohammad attended a lunch banquet hosted by Hamad Suhail Al Khaili in Zakhir, Al Ain. The banquet was attended by Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region, shaikhs and others.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: PU [Punjab University] Dean Urges CM to Ban Objectionable Textbooks

Punjab University (PU) Faculty of Education’s Dean Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal has urged Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to ban certain textbooks which contain objectionable material. In a letter to the CM, a copy available with The News, the educationist alleged that the History textbooks, particularly for English medium schools, written by a foreign author contained objectionable material. He said one of the history textbooks included such text and information as were against the teachings of Islam and centuries old views held by the Muslims. Quoting an example, Iqbal said one textbook described that the Holy Quran was written (compiled) twenty years after the demise of the Holly Prophet (PBUH), which was totally against the Islamic teachings. According to him Islamic history clearly indicated that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had appointed some scribes to write the verses of the Holy Quran on any suitable object like the leaves of trees, pieces of wood, parchment or leather, flat stones and shoulder blades as and when the verses were revealed to the Holly Prophet (PBUH).


[JP note: Mohammed was obviously influenced by ancient druids.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

Ex-Premier Puts Blame for Fukushima on Government

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has apologized for last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster and said the government bore responsibility for the human and environmental crisis that followed.

Testifying before a special parliamentary committee investigating the circumstances of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Monday that the “nuclear accident was caused by a nuclear plant which operated as national policy.”

Kan, who, since the March 12, 2011 earthquake and tsunami accident, has become a strong opponent of nuclear energy, told the panel he believed “the biggest portion of blame lies with the state.”

“As a person who was in charge of the country at the time of the accident, I sincerely apologize for my failure to stop it,” he said. Kan stepped down as premier six months after the accident.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia Relists Four Terror Groups

Australia has relisted four groups as terrorist organisations, with three considered a potential threat to diggers in Afghanistan.

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, in a report tabled on Monday, said Ansar al-Islam (AaI), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) should continue to be listed as terrorist organisations. They were first listed in 2003, with the listing reviewed every two years since.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mali Rebels Merge to Create Independent Islamist State

Two rebels groups who seized control of northern Mali have agreed to turn their territory into an independent Islamist state. Both groups have grown in power in recent months, capitalizing on political instablity.

Mali’s Tuareg rebel National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine Islamist militants agreed to join forces on Saturday, signing a deal to create an independent Islamist state in the north of the country.

“The agreement reached this evening will see the merging of the two movements — the MNLA and Ansar Dine — to create an independent Islamic state,” MNLA spokesman Mohamed Ag Attaher told news agency Reuters.

“It will also see the merging of our two forces and the appointment of an executive authority for the Azawad state,” Attaher said from the northern town of Gao, where the accord was signed.

Local residents said the deal was greeted by celebratory gunfire across the city, where the two groups had held talks for several days.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mali: Rebels Take Arms Cache That Can ‘Prolong War’

Bamako, 28 May (AKI) — Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has come into possession of a large arms cache in northern Mali which can prolong the war and stregnthen the Islamist insurgency, according to the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

The underground arsenal was found near the city of Gao around 320 kilometres east-southeast of Timbuktu. The arms belonged Malian military forces that who were driven from the area by Tuaregin rebels April, the pan-Arab daily said.

Unnamed security officials said they are worried about the arms that will “certainly make the rebellion in the north last longer and more difficult because the arms will reinforce their strengthen of the rebels’ fire-power.”

Islamists and Tuareg rebels declared the nation’s north an independent country to be governed by Sharia law.

The joint announcement from the Ansar Dine and the Tuareg MNLA rebel groups increases the possibility that will be divided.

“The two movements have created the transitional council of the Islamic state of Azawad,” the groups said.

“We are all in favour of the independence of Azawad… We all accept Islam as the religion,” the statement said.

The two groups took advantage of a military coup in Bamako to seize control of the territory early last month.

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


76 Egyptian Migrants Land in Ragusa Area

(AGI) Ragusa — A fishing boat carrying 76 migrants landed in the Ragusa area this morning. All the passengers were men and are believed to be Egyptians, who sailed from Libya. They ran aground shortly after 5am, on the promontory of Anticaglie, at Caucana, on the coast between Marina di Ragusa and Santa Croce Camerina. The migrants were transferred to the emergency reception centre at Pozzallo.

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

Italy: Indian Immigrant Kills Wife for Wearing Western Clothes

Piacenza, 28 May (AKI) — An Indian immigrant in northern Italy has admitted to killing his pregnant wife because she dressed in Western clothing and tossing her lifeless body into a river.

Singhj Kulbir, 37, late Sunday told police in the city of Piacenza he strangled to death his 27-year-old wife Kaur Balwinde before disposing of her corpse by throwing it in the Po River.

Investigators say Kulbir, who worked for an agricultural company, killed his wife to punish her for dressing too like a Westerner against Indian traditions.

Balwinde’s body was found floating on Sunday in the Po river near Piacenza 153 days after she went missing. The mother of a five-year-old boy, she was three months pregnant, according to the PiacenzaSera news website.

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


Cow, Wisdom, And Economics

I have always learned from the wisdom of my senior generation. As a child, I sat spellbound in the twilight around the elders of the village, listening to their stories. The lessons learned were priceless and fascinating for someone who “had not seen the world yet.” The moral of those long ago and faraway sagas have served me well through life.

I was delighted when, Ionel Iloae, a Romanian journalist, told a humorous story, albeit dark humor, of an entire village in Dragata, Moldova, who ate a “mad” cow. He was not talking about mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome, but a cow that had been bitten by a rabid animal, presumably a fox.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Flame: Massive Cyber-Attack Discovered, Researchers Say

A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said.

Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010.

The company said it believed the attack was state-sponsored, but could not be sure of its exact origins.

They described Flame as “one of the most complex threats ever discovered”.

Research into the attack was carried out in conjunction with the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.

They had been investigating another malware threat, known as Wiper, which was reportedly deleting data on machines in western Asia.

In the past, targeted malware — such as Stuxnet — has targeted nuclear infrastructure in Iran.

Others like Duqu have sought to infiltrate networks in order to steal data.

This new threat appears not to cause physical damage, but to collect huge amounts of sensitive information, said Kaspersky’s chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk.

“Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on,” he said.

More than 600 specific targets were hit, Mr Kamluk said, ranging from individuals, businesses, academic institutions and government systems.

Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert stating that it believed Flame was responsible for “recent incidents of mass data loss” in the country.

The malware code itself is 20MB in size — making it some 20 times larger than the Stuxnet virus. The researchers said it could take several years to analyse.

Iran and Israel

Mr Kamluk said the size and sophistication of Flame suggested it was not the work of independent cybercriminals, and more likely to be government-backed.

He explained: “Currently there are three known classes of players who develop malware and spyware: hacktivists, cybercriminals and nation states.

“Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts. It is also different from rather simple hack tools and malware used by the hacktivists. So by excluding cybercriminals and hacktivists, we come to conclusion that it most likely belongs to the third group.”

Among the countries affected by the attack are Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into it,” Mr Kamluk said.

The malware is capable of recording audio via a microphone, before compressing it and sending it back to the attacker…

           — Hat tip: VladTepes [Return to headlines]

Solar Impulse Plane Prepares to go Intercontinental

Solar-powered plane Solar Impulse is well into its first intercontinental journey from Payerne in Switzerland to Rabat in Morocco.

Solar Impulse took just over 17 hours to fly first to Madrid-Barajas airport, seen here landing at 1.28 am local time today. Following some days’ technical adjustments and a change of pilots, the prototype plane is due to continue with its second leg to the 16-megawatt Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy plant near Rabat. The 800-kilometre journey is expected to take 20 hours. Slow going, perhaps, but pretty impressive for a plane that uses no fuel but sunlight.

With wings spanning 63.4 metres and covered in 12,000 solar cells, Solar Impulse can carry just one person — the pilot — but last year it completed a 26-hour flight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Square Kilometre Array Contest Ends in a Draw

My telescope is bigger than yours. That’s the message South Africa is sending Australia and New Zealand after the African nation tied with the Oceanic duo to host the world’s largest radio telescope.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will investigate the early history of the universe, dark energy, dark matter and gravity. Member countries of the SKA Organisation decided late last week that both proposed sites for the array — in South Africa and Western Australia — should help with those investigations.

The two sites will complement one another. The SKA has two lines of work: whole-sky surveys using low-frequency antennas, and more directed investigations using high-frequency antennas. South Africa will host the high-frequency dishes while the Western Australian site will host the low-frequency antennas.

The decision has been met with general satisfaction. But in a statement, Naledi Pandor, the South African minister of science and technology, expressed disappointment that her country will not host the telescope exclusively.

An independent SKA advisory committee “identified by consensus Africa as the preferred site”, she said, claiming the decision to share the telescope was a compromise “in order to be inclusive”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]