News Feed 20120529

Financial Crisis
» France: Wealth Managers Toast Wine Funds
» Imbalances Could Blast the Eurozone
» Spanish and Italian Borrowing Costs Soar
» Support for EU Economic Integration Shrinking
 
USA
» 45 Signs That China is Colonizing America
» Bosnians Celebrate Mosque Opening
» Commerce Considers Labeling Arab Americans a Disadvantaged Minority
» Decoration Day
» Doc Watson, Renowned Guitarist and Folk Singer, Dies
» Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries to Stop Them
» Frank Gaffney: It Ain’t Necessarily So
» Jim Wallis’ Interfaith Message to Young People: “We Are Here to Find Common Ground.”
» Mufreesboro Mosque Stopped for Lack of Adequate Public Notice of Hearings
» Sheriff Joe’s Posse: ‘Hawaii Duped Arizona’ Letter on Obama Eligibility ‘Doesn’t Verify Anything of Significance’
» Some Proposed Mosques Face Obstacles Across the Nation
 
Canada
» Quebec Protesters, Government Continue Talks
 
Europe and the EU
» Danish Security Services Arrest Two Terror Suspects
» Eastern Europe Protests Corruption
» France: Churchgoers Pelted With Stones
» France: Islam is Synonymous With Peace: Saudi’s Prince Al Waleed
» Italy: At Least Nine Killed After Another Quake Hits Emilia
» Muslim Preacher: Dutch Are Lower Than Animals
» Norway Public Sector Workers Go on Strike
» Poland Beekeepers Kick Monsanto Out of the Hive, Successfully Ban Bee-Killing GM Corn
» Sweden Boosts Spending on Anti-Terror Battle
» Swedish Jewish Leader: ‘Enough is Enough’
» Switzerland Sees Spike in Cross-Border Crime
» UK: A Muslim, Northern, Working-Class Mum Handpicked for Cameron’s A-List … But is Sayeeda Warsi Up to the Job?
» UK: Boris Puts Ex on a Task Force for Muslims
» UK: Craig Oliver is Right: The BBC Does Have a Problem
» UK: David, George, Boris and a Story of European Intrigue
» UK: Luton: Local Sikh Community Protesting Over ‘Sex Attack Police Failures’
» UK: Tube Racist Whose Champagne-Fuelled Tirade Was Viewed by Thousands on YouTube Jailed for 21 Weeks
» Vatican Makes Series of Denials in ‘Vatileaks’ And IOR Cases
 
North Africa
» Islamists in Egypt Blame Christians for Voting
» Islamists Face Setback in Egyptian Presidential Election
» Protesters Attack Egyptian Candidate’s Office
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Anti-Israel Protests Fail to Silence Habima Globe Performance
» Protesters Clash Outside the Globe as Israeli National Theatre Company Performs
 
Middle East
» Iranian General Seems to Confirm Troops Are in Syria in Interview Blunder
» Powerful ‘Flame’ Cyberweapon Torching Mideast Computers
 
Russia
» ‘Allah’s Enemy!’ Radio Host Slash-Attacked for Anti-Islam Rant on Air
» Muslims Outraged at Xenophobic Graffiti
 
South Asia
» Bangladesh Islamic Party Leaders Indicted for Alleged Atrocities Committed During 1971 War
» India: Maxim Media Study Halal Tourism Opportunities in India
» Italian Marines’ Jurisdiction Appeal in India Rejected
» Pakistan: The Farce of Tribal Jirgas
» Pakistan: Tribal (In)Justice: Six Face Death for Attending Mixed Gathering
 
Far East
» China’s Rising Costs Deter European Business: Survey
» China and Japan Will Start Direct Currency Trading
» Chinese ‘Looking for Opportunities’ In U.S.
» EU Firms Grow Wary of Business Climate in China
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Mali: Touaregs Declare ‘Islamic State of Azawad’
» Nigeria: Much Crime, Little Punishment
» Nigeria: Muslims and Christians ‘Destined by Allah’ — Sultan
» Nigeria: Gunmen Kill One in Attack on Shia Muslims in Nigeria
» Obama Opens Door to Africa for Monsanto
» Robert Mugabe Asked to be UN ‘Leader for Tourism’
» South Africa: R1.3bn Mosque and Varsity Complex
 
Immigration
» Malta Urges EU to Tackle North Africa Migrants
 
General
» German and Chinese Solar Firms Battle for Survival
» The Lake That Time Forgot

Financial Crisis


France: Wealth Managers Toast Wine Funds

In the midst of the eurozone debt crisis, some financial managers are touting alternative “passion” investments for the well-to-do who are turning their backs on stock and bond markets.

Wines, forests, ancient manuscripts, race horses, watches and classic cars are some investment options, either via shares in affiliated companies or mutual funds. Wine, and especially highly sought-after vintages, are attracting attention now that the market has begun to recover from the after-effects of a market bubble.

An example is La Financiere d’Uzes, a family-owned investment company that has launched a mutual fund baptized “Uzes Grands Crus.” “The idea is to consider a vintage bottle of wine as an investment, a new asset class on the order of stocks, and to move from the logic of a consumer to one of a financier,” chief executive Dominique Goirand said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Imbalances Could Blast the Eurozone

The eurozone can boast a nearly balanced current account compared to the rest of the world. But within the monetary union, huge differences between countries make for a potentially explosive situation.

When one speaks of imbalances, one is often reminded of the notable symbiosis between the United States and China. The Asians sell unbelievable amounts of consumer goods to Americans, and then use those earnings to buy American bonds to finance US debt.

To some extent, Germans are the Chinese among Europeans. In 2011, Germany pulled in a current account surplus of 136 billion euros ($171 billion) — in other words, exported more than it imported. Just under half of that goes to the eurozone, mainly, to the so-called PIIGS — to the heavily indebted European countries Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain — as well as to France.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish and Italian Borrowing Costs Soar

The cost of insurance against a Spanish default reached another record on Monday, with Italy’s borrowing costs also rising sharply amid continued market fears about the fate of the eurozone.

“With a risk premium at 500 points, it is very difficult to raise finances,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday (28 May) in a press conference. His country’s ‘debt risk premium’ — the default insurance investors demand on Spanish bonds compared to German bunds — that day leapt to a eurozone record of 514 basis points.

But Rajoy insisted Spain was not seeking financing from the eurzone bail-out fund, but rather alluded to earlier calls for the European Central Bank (ECB) to resume its bond-purchasing or cheap bank loans programmes which last year helped both Spain and Italy lower their borrowing costs.

“We need a clear, forceful and energetic defence of the euro,” Rajoy said. Last week he noted that ECB money is a more pressing issue than the theoretical discussion about further political integration of the eurozone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Support for EU Economic Integration Shrinking

Only one in three (34%) think European economic integration has strengthened their country’s economy, a new survey conducted in eight EU nations by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes show. Only in Germany do most people (59%) say that their country has been well served by European integration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


45 Signs That China is Colonizing America

Just because you were once the most powerful nation on earth does not mean that you will always be the most powerful nation on earth. Every single year, hundreds of billions of dollars leaves the United States and goes to China. This enormous transfer of wealth has had a dramatic effect on both countries. In case you haven’t noticed, many of our formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit are rotting away while shining new factories and skyscrapers are going up all over China. If you go into any major retail store today and start turning over products, you will find that hundreds of them have been made in China and that very few of them have been made in America. As a nation, we buy far, far more from China than they buy from us.

As a result, China is absolutely swimming in cash and they have been looking for things to do with all that money. One thing that China has done is loan the U.S. government over a trillion dollars and this has given the Chinese a tremendous amount of leverage over us. China has also started to buy up businesses, real estate and natural resources all over America. This kind of “economic colonization” is similar to what China has already been doing in Africa, South America and Australia. The formula is actually very simple. We send them our money and then they use it to buy us. With each passing day China’s ownership over America grows, and it is frightening to think about where all of this could end.

The following are 45 signs that China is colonizing America…

#1 It was recently announced that China’s Dalian Wanda Group has bought U.S. movie theater chain AMC Entertainment for a whopping 2.6 billion dollars. This deal represents China’s biggest corporate takeover of a U.S. firm ever.

#2 Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced that it has given approval for banks owned by the Chinese government to buy stakes in U.S.-owned banks.

[…]

#6 A Chinese company known as “Sino-Michigan Properties LLC” has purchased 200 acres of land near the town of Milan, Michigan. The goal is to build a “China City” with artificial lakes, a Chinese cultural center and hundreds of housing units for Chinese citizens.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Bosnians Celebrate Mosque Opening

Facility in Warren provides not only a place of worship, but also a place for many of the area’s immigrants to gather

Asim Hodzic stands in a field behind the new Bosnian Islamic Center, listening with thousands of others as an imam blesses the place that local Bosnian refugees have been waiting for. Thousands of Bosnian-Americans from across the country Sunday attended the dedication of the new mosque on Blue Level Road. It’s an important step for the local Bosnian community, they say, which is made up of an estimated 5,000 people who are mostly Muslim.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Commerce Considers Labeling Arab Americans a Disadvantaged Minority

The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) petitioned Commerce earlier this year to ask that Arab Americans be made eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which helps minority entrepreneurs gain access to capital, contracts and trade opportunities.

The ADC petition cited “discrimination and prejudice in American society(,) resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world.” The group claimed discrimination against Arab Americans increased after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The ADC petition asserts that, in the government’s efforts to protect Americans, they essentially took away the rights of other Americans,” according to the notice of proposed rulemaking about the petition.

Commerce is asking for comment about whether there is social and economic discrimination against Arab Americans, along with examples of it occurring. The MBDA will decide whether or not to accept the petition by June 27.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Decoration Day

In 1993, the Gorbachev Foundation USA was invited to sink roots at the Presidio as part of the post’s conversion from the headquarters of the 6th U.S. Army to a national park.

From the website, Mikhail Gorbachev, Creatively Marketing Global Communism, comes this statement regarding Gorbachev’s State of the World Forum, “Former Soviet Communist Party boss Mikhail Gorbachev, founder of the State of the World Forum six years ago, used a $5,000 per person gathering of the world’s political and business elite to plea for the United Nations to adopt a Soviet-style “central authority” to manage the world’s business and environmental concerns.”

And this,

“The collapse of the Soviet Union as presented in the western media was a fraud. The Soviet Union didn’t collapse and communism didn’t die. They just reorganized. This is Gorby’s goal for the United States… and that’s what the UN program of regionalization is about. The movement is to dissolve the United States as a nation and then to break it up into areas of regional governance under an unelected continental government similar to the European Union.”

If my grandparents on both sides, who fought in WWI and WWII for American freedoms knew of Gorbachev’s group in the Presidio, they would roll over in their graves.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Doc Watson, Renowned Guitarist and Folk Singer, Dies

Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89.

Mr. Watson, who had been blind since he was a year old, died in a hospital after recently undergoing abdominal surgery, The Associated Press quoted a hospital spokesman as saying.

Mr. Watson, who came to national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s, injected a note of authenticity into a movement awash in protest songs and bland renditions of traditional tunes. In a sweetly resonant, slightly husky baritone, he sang old hymns, ballads and country blues he had learned growing up in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, which has produced fiddlers, banjo pickers and folk singers for generations.

His mountain music came as a revelation to the folk audience, as did his virtuoso guitar playing. Unlike most country and bluegrass musicians, who thought of the guitar as a secondary instrument for providing rhythmic backup, Mr. Watson executed the kind of flashy, rapid-fire melodies normally played by a fiddle or a banjo. His style influenced a generation of young musicians learning to play the guitar as folk music achieved national popularity.

“He is single-handedly responsible for the extraordinary increase in acoustic flat-picking and fingerpicking guitar performance,” said Ralph Rinzler, the folklorist who discovered Mr. Watson in 1960. “His flat-picking style has no precedent in earlier country music history.”

[Return to headlines]



Flash Mob Steals From Baltimore 7-Eleven; Beats Store Manager Who Tries to Stop Them

Another mob of juveniles causes problems in downtown Baltimore. This time, it happens inside a 7-Eleven where dozens of kids came for free Slurpees but ended up stealing much more. The entire incident was caught on video. But city police and managers at the 7-Eleven have refused to let WJZ see that video. But there are plenty of people in that busy area of town who saw it all unfold.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Frank Gaffney: It Ain’t Necessarily So

Last week, President Obama told the latest graduates of the Air Force Academy that, despite massive cuts in defense spending being made by his administration, “We will maintain our military superiority in all areas — air, land, sea, space and cyber.”

This fits the meme being pushed by Team Obama as the campaign heats up. It is of a piece with the contention that the President has been so extraordinarily successful a Commander-in-Chief as to be unassailable politically with regard to his stewardship of national security and foreign policy.

As with his commitment to the newly minted Air Force officers, in the immortalwords of Ira Gershwin, this narrative “ain’t necessarily so.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]



Jim Wallis’ Interfaith Message to Young People: “We Are Here to Find Common Ground.”

At a White House ordained national interfaith conference, Evangelical Left icon Jim Wallis spoke to college students about bringing faiths together to find common ground. (Were you aware that the White House sponsors initiatives like this?) It’s called the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, and its purpose is to promote service projects and “foundational goodness” to bring students from different religious backgrounds together.

In the syncretized blending of faith, a “meditation and prayer space” transitioned the speakers and sessions, including teachings from a Christian, a Muslim, and a self-professed pagan. Not invited: a representative from the Absolute-Truth-Via-Sola-Scriptura camp. Just saying.

Who is Jim Wallis, you may ask? He is a spiritual advisor to President Obama and a former Chapter President of Students For a Democratic Society, a violent communist organization in the 1960s.the leader of Sojourners, the leading social justice organization in the US.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Mufreesboro Mosque Stopped for Lack of Adequate Public Notice of Hearings

by Jerry Gordon

Just after 1:00PM CDT, today, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Chancery Court Judge Robert Corlew issued his ruling in a case with potential national implications stopping the construction of the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). Judge Corlew ruled narrowly in a second trial held in April 2012 on a complaint brought by local mosque opponent, Kevin Fisher, and local residents near the mosque site. The complaint filed was about whether adequate notice was provided to the citizens of Rutherford County. The WSMV-TV report noted Judge Corlew’s ruling and the controversial background of previous hearings held since May 2010;…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



Sheriff Joe’s Posse: ‘Hawaii Duped Arizona’ Letter on Obama Eligibility ‘Doesn’t Verify Anything of Significance’

“Hawaii duped Arizona” in its response to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s request to verify Barack Obama’s eligibility for the 2012 election, charges the lead investigator of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse.

“We have developed incontrovertible proof that the verification provided by the Hawaii Department of Health to Arizona’s secretary of state on May 22 really doesn’t verify anything of significance,” said Mike Zullo, who is in Hawaii to follow up on his team’s initial findings concerning Obama’s birth record.

As WND reported, after more than eight weeks of pressing Hawaii’s Department of Health, Bennett said Tuesday that he finally received information that proves Obama’s American birth and satisfies Arizona’s requirements for placing the president on the ballot.

Zullo — who met with Hawaii Department of Health officials in Honolulu the day before the letter to Bennett was issued — said that after he returns to Phoenix to brief Arpaio, the sheriff will schedule a press conference “at the earliest possible date in June.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Some Proposed Mosques Face Obstacles Across the Nation

CHICAGO (USA TODAY) — Mohammed Labadi has a lot at stake when the DeKalb City Council votes tonight on a request from the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University to build a two-story mosque. Labadi, a businessman and Islamic Society board member, wants a bigger mosque to replace the small house where local Muslims now worship. He also hopes for affirmation that his neighbors and city officials have no fear of the Muslim community.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Canada


Quebec Protesters, Government Continue Talks

Students from Quebec and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table Tuesday for a second day of talks in an attempt to end a sometimes violent months-long dispute over tuition hikes. Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests.

Returning to the talks in Quebec City, student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin said the parties were close to an agreement, saying the education minister would introduce a proposal on tuition rates later in the day. “We hope this offer is substantial,” he said. “What this means exactly we’ll find out in the next hours.”

The French-speaking province’s average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike — $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Danish Security Services Arrest Two Terror Suspects

Authorities in Copenhagen have announced the arrest of a pair of “Danish citizens of Somali origin,” saying that the two brothers were planning a terror attack. One was said to have been trained at an Al-Shabaab camp.

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said early on Tuesday that two brothers aged 18 and 23 were arrested the previous evening on suspicion of planning “a terrorist act.”

“One was arrested at his place of residence in Aarhus, Denmark, while the other was arrested upon arrival by plane to the Copenhagen Airport. In connection with the arrests, searches have been carried out at two addresses in Aarhus,” the English-language version of the PET statement said.

The statement described both men as Danish citizens of Somali origin, and said they had lived in the central city of Aarhus — some 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen — for the past 16 years.

“The detainees are suspected of planning a terrorist act by, among other activities, having discussed the method, the target and the weapon types to be used,” the statement said, without providing details in these three areas.

“One of the detainees is also suspected of having voluntarily been trained, instructed or taught at an al-Shabaab training camp in Somalia with a view to committing acts of terrorism,” the PET said.

The al-Shabaab group in Somalia is fighting for control of parts of the country, and is said to have ties to al Qaeda.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Eastern Europe Protests Corruption

BUCHAREST, Romania — More than two decades after the fall of communism, angry residents in Eastern European democracies are rebelling against a culture of corruption that is making their economic hardships even worse.

Demonstrators recently brought down a corrupt government in Romania and nearly toppled one in the Czech Republic. In Slovenia, the prime minister is under indictment, while Croats are watching a massive corruption trial. Hungarians have taken to the streets to protest a new constitution that centralizes power in the national government.

“We grew up in a culture where petty corruption was almost like a civic virtue — a way to get around the stupid (communist) system we had,” said Miklos Marschall, deputy director of Transparency International, who is from Hungary.

Now graft is reaching beyond the penny-ante levels of the old Iron Curtain, he said. “You see the politicians’ corruption, corruption in big businesses, and that frustrates people,” he said.

Andreea Nicutar of the Eruption Anticorruption group, which mobilizes young Romanians for political change, called the wave of political scandals “degrading.” “(Corruption) steals our liberty, our dignity and our self-esteem,” he said.

Some analysts say the wave of protests indicates a new awareness of corruption they attribute to political maturity among citizens. “It is a positive (development) that the states of the Central and East European region are prepared to acknowledge and attempt to deal with the issue because this shows a maturing on their part that is not frequently enough acknowledged by their peers elsewhere in Europe and around the world,” said Eamonn Butler, professor of Central and Eastern European studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Last month, the Czech government barely survived a no-confidence vote in parliament after a court convicted two lawmakers on bribery charges.

More than 100,000 demonstrators marched in Prague to protest corruption, as well as austerity measures the Czech government imposed to deal with the Europeanwide financial crisis.

On May 14, leading Czech opposition politician David Rath was arrested carrying $350,000 in cash. Police found another $1.5 million stashed in his home and charged him with accepting bribes in public contract deals while serving as governor of the district of Central Bohemia.

“People are really happy that this has happened,” Quentin Reed, an anti-corruption consultant in Prague, said of Mr. Rath’s arrest. “This could be a wind of change in the Czech Republic if it really means that the police got their act together and went after this guy.”

In Slovenia, Prime Minister Janez Jansa was recently indicted on bribery charges involving arms smuggling. His efforts to impose budget cuts brought thousands out in protest. “Austerity measures are heading in the wrong direction,” said Jure Zebec, a 40-year-old writer from the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Churchgoers Pelted With Stones

Around 150 people attending a service in a church in the southern city of Carcassonne had to take cover when they were attacked with stones. Local newspaper Midi Libre reported that around four young men burst into the Saint Joseph church on Saturday evening and started throwing the stones. There were around 150 people in the church at the time.

The newspaper said the youths were of “north African descent.” Some of the parishioners tried to catch the youths before they fled. Nobody was injured in the attack although many of the churchgoers were reported to be “deeply shocked.” The Saint Joseph church is in a sensitive neighbourhood of the city with the neighbouring La Conte housing estate close by.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Islam is Synonymous With Peace: Saudi’s Prince Al Waleed

Terror acts are committed by few individuals who try to hijack Islam

Most Muslims are strongly against terrorism and only a few individuals are committing such acts and trying to hijack Islam, which is a synonym of peace, Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal has said. The Prince, one of the richest men on earth, said he believes that Islam has come under attack worldwide because of some bad groups within it, referring to the September 2001 deadly terror attacks on the United States. “I am a very transparent person and I believe that Islam has been attacked not because of the religion itself but because there have been problems with the behavior of certain individual Muslims or small groups within our religion,” he told the London-based Middle East magazine. He said his latest project to set up an Islamic culture centre at the Louvre Museum in Paris is intended to promote the real spirit of Islam after funding similar projects at Georgetown, Harvard and other Western universities. “Clearly the new initiative at the Louvre will feature Islamic culture and history and tell the while world that Islam is not at all what you see portrayed by the few who have attempted to hijack and kidnap it,” he said. “It is fully-fledged religion that covers all areas of life-personal, public, even material and legal…Islam is synonymous with peace…it is not synonymous with those acts that have attempted to ruin its international image.” Prince Al Waleed said he was convinced that 99.99 per cent of the mainstream Muslims advocate peace and are strongly opposed to terrorism.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: At Least Nine Killed After Another Quake Hits Emilia

Magnitude-5.8 quake comes nine days after tremor killed seven

(ANSA) — Rome, May 29 — At least nine people were killed when another big earthquake hit Emilia-Romagna on Tuesday, nine days after a 6.0-magnitude quake in the region claimed seven lives and caused massive damage.

Tuesday’s earthquake struck at 9:00 local time and was of magnitude 5.8, said the Civil Protection department, which added that the shock had been felt throughout northern Italy. Once again the epicentre was in the province of Modena, in Emilia.

Premier Mario Monti promised that the State would do everything necessary to get the earthquake-hit region of Emilia-Romagna back to normal. “I guarantee that the State will do everything that it has to do, that it is possible to do, to ensure this very special, important and productive region for Italy can return to its normal life in a short period of time,” Monti said.

Security officials said two of the people were killed in the town of San Felice sul Panaro, near Modena, and there were also reports that a person was missing there.

Another fatality was at Mirandola, which is also in the province of Modena.

In Milan many residential buildings and offices were evacuated because of fears they could cave in and people poured out from their homes and workplaces in Bologna for the same reason.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Muslim Preacher: Dutch Are Lower Than Animals

British Muslim Preacher Abu Abdullah Al-Britani spoke on Saturday at a conference of radical Muslims in Amsterdam. He called the Dutch people “lower than animals.” He added that the Netherlands are a dirty and filthy country which forces women into prostitution. Al-Britani called the parliamentarians Ahmed Marcouch (Labor) and Tofik Dibi (green Left) surrogate Muslims and idiots.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Norway Public Sector Workers Go on Strike

Norway public sector workers were called out on strike on Thursday after salary negotiations broke down, affecting schools, day care centres and prisons.

Thursday’s strike action is the first in three decades by public sector workers in the country.

Up to 30,000 of Norway’s 600,000 state and municipal employees were taking part in the strike, according to a tally by the NTB news agency. That number was expected to increase unless the different unions can reach wage settlements with central and local governments.

According to NTB, the strike was the first in 28 years involving state employees in Norway, an oil-rich country of around 4.7 million people.

“I am disappointed and think it is a shame that an agreement could not be reached through negotiations,” Administration Minister Rigmor Aasrud said in a statement.

She insisted that Norway’s left-leaning government had proposed wage hikes that “would have ensured a significant purchasing power increase to all state employees,” offering to increase salaries by 3.75 percent.

The different unions however had demanded that their members receive the same increase as in the private sector, which they said was nearly 4.3 percent.

“The government cuts us off with worse wage development than for employees in the private sector. That is unreasonable,” Arne Johannessen, chief negotiator for the Unio union representing teachers and day care workers, said in a statement.

Some 8,500 of Unio’s members were taking part in the strike, affecting schools and day care facilities across the country, except for in Oslo, where negotiations continued.

Norway’s main union, LO, also criticised state and municipal governments for failing to agree to “fair demands for wage development on a par with the rest of the workforce.”

“A strike could therefore not be avoided,” LO chief Roar Flaathen said in a statement.

Some 10,000 of LO’s members did not show up for work Thursday, affecting among others municipal administrations, traffic and harbour authorities.

Police, customs authorities and prisons were also affected, forcing for instance all prisoners at one prison to be transferred to other facilities, NTB reported.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



Poland Beekeepers Kick Monsanto Out of the Hive, Successfully Ban Bee-Killing GM Corn

(NaturalNews) A significant health freedom victory has taken place in the European nation of Poland, where all plantings of Monsanto’s MON810, a genetically-modified (GM) variety of maize (corn) that produces its own built-in Bt insecticide in every kernel, have been officially banned.

The decision comes after thousands of protesters recently took to the streets in demonstration of the undeniable fact that both MON810 and the chemicals applied to it are at least partially responsible for causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the worldwide phenomenon in which entire swarms of honey bees disappear or turn up dead.

“The decree is in the works. It introduces a complete ban on the MON810 strain of maize in Poland,” said Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki, who also explained to the press that pollen from MON810 appears to be responsible for further devastating the already dwindling bee population throughout the country and elsewhere.

According to reports, Poland’s decision to ban MON810 makes it the first nation to formally acknowledge that Monsanto’s GM corn is definitively linked to CCD. It also affirms the findings of several earlier studies that have identified a link between Bt GM crops and bee deaths, including independent research conducted by Pennsylvania beekeeper John McDonald.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Sweden Boosts Spending on Anti-Terror Battle

The fight against terrorism is consuming ever larger portions of the budget allocated to Swedish security service Spo, which has seen its allocation double in the last decade, according to a new report.

In the wake of the September 11th 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the murder of foreign minister Anna Lindh two years later, S po has been a prioritized agency for the Swedish government, which has more than doubled Spo’s budget in the last ten years.

Last year, S po head Anders Thornberg had command over a budget of 1.1 billion kronor ($153 million), according to the agency’s 2011 annual report, which was published on Monday. In addition, Spo’s counter-terrorism division now accounts for 29 percent of the agency’s overall budget, up from 18 percent ten years ago.

Meanwhile, 42 percent of S po’s budget is now spent by the personal protection division, which employs 130 body guards devoted to providing security to government ministers and other VIPs.

Back in 2001, the division only account for 24 percent of Spo spending. “Preventing terror attacks in Sweden and other countries continues to be a high priority,” wrote Thornberg in the report, according to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

The report also describes how the agency discovered the exact route taken by Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab when he drove from Tran s in south central Sweden to the Swedish capital ahead of the December 2010 attack

After analyzing data retrieved from a GPS unit recovered from his burned out car, Spo IT-experts showed how Abdulwahab had apparently gotten lost on his way to Stockholm and for a short while was on his way to Norrt lje, north of Stockholm, because he had typed in the wrong destination in his GPS.

The Spo report also reveals that 15 countries are actively spying on Sweden or systematically gathering intelligence about Swedish targets abroad. In the report, S po singles out three countries specifically: Iran, Syria, and Libya.

The goal of the spying operations, according to Spo, is to illegally collect sensitive information about Swedish politics, the economy, technical expertise, and the country’s defences.

There are also cases whereby foreign powers attempt to influence Swedish politics or buy Swedish companies in an effort to obtain information or access to technology.

Another type of illegal intelligence activity which takes place in Sweden is directed toward opposition political leaders or critics of certain regimes who are living in exile in Sweden.

According to S po’s report, there are several people in Sweden who are suspected of supporting and financing terrorism in other countries, most of whom are motivated by “violent Islamic extremism” and support terror operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Several people have also traveled from Sweden to areas experiencing unrest in order to participate in terrorist training camps, according to Spo’s report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish Jewish Leader: ‘Enough is Enough’

The head of the Jewish community in Stockholm said on Tuesday she welcomes a planned meeting with top Social Democrats to discuss “anti-Semitic” remarks made by Ilmar Reepalu, but warned that “enough is enough”.

“There has to be a change in the way Ilmar Reepalu speaks and the way he behaves and in what he says and doesn’t say,” Lena Posner-K rsi, chair of the Jewish Community in Stockholm (Judiska F rsamlingen i Stockholm) told The Local.

Posner-Kr si was one of three Jewish community leaders to sign a letter sent on Friday by the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities (Judiska centralrdet i Sverige — JC) to Social Democrat party head Stefan L fven.

“With this letter, we want to point out that Ilmar Reepalu no longer has any credibility among us Jews in Sweden,” reads a letter signed by the heads of the Jewish communities in Malm, Stockholm, and Gothenburg.

“Regardless of what he says and does from now on, we don’t trust him.”

The letter was sent after Reepalu suggested in an interview that the Sweden Democrats, a political party with a clear anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim line which has its roots in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement, had “infiltrated” the Jewish community in Malm to foster anti-Muslim sentiments.

On Monday, it emerged that the Social Democrats had responded to the letter by suggesting a meeting.

“Stefan Lfven called me basically as soon as he got the letter and said he wanted to meet as soon as possible,” Posner-K rsi said.

“We take this as a very positive signal that they take this matter seriously.”

She added that she and others in Sweden’s Jewish community have grown tired and frustrated by Reepalu’s repeated “anti-Semitic” statements in recent years.

“His statements provoke a lot of strong sentiments in others. He strengthens differences instead of minimizing them and that is very problematic,” said Posner-K rsi.

“Something has to be done so we don’t have another round of insulting and anti-Semitic statements. Enough is enough.”

Posner-K rsi emphasized she is approaching the talks, scheduled for Monday, April 2nd with L fven and Social Democrat party secretary Carin Jmtin, with an “open mind”.

“I’m going in to listen unconditionally and have an open dialogue. We’ll see what they say and let that lead us further,” she said.

“We’re going to play it by ear.”

While refusing to elaborate on what she and other Jewish community leaders may want to achieve by the talks, Posner-Kr si said she would welcome a face-to-face meeting with Reepalu, whom she has never met.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with meeting him, but he might have a problem meeting with me because I’d tell him what I think,” she said.

“No bullshit. I won’t tolerate it. I’m not a politician.”

On Friday, following the release of the letter from Sweden’s Jewish community leaders, Lfven issued a statement emphasizing the importance of relations between his party and the Jewish community.

“I can understand their reaction and I want to be clear. It’s never okay when our representatives are seen as being unclear when it comes to people’s equal value,” he said in a statement.

A spokesperson for L fven confirmed for The Local that a meeting was scheduled for April 2nd but added that the Social Democrat head didn’t plan to comment further on the matter until after the meeting.

Attempts by The Local to reach Reepalu for comment were unsuccessful.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Switzerland Sees Spike in Cross-Border Crime

Cross-border crime is on the rise, and becoming ever more violent, in western Switzerland and the Ticino, according to new statistics. The latest figures produced by Swiss border authorities show a significant increase in the number of arrests being made at the borders, newspaper Tribune de Genve reports.

“The perpetrators are armed with assault rifles, machine guns and even rocket-propelled grenades. They will stop at almost nothing,” J rg Noth, head of the Swiss Border Guard, told the newspaper. “We even had a case where criminals blew up a bank with explosives,” he said.

In 2010, 2,530 people were arrested, followed by 2,960 arrests in 2011. However, 2012 looks set to smash the record with 970 arrests in the first quarter, correlating to an annual figure of some 3,880 if the trend continues in the same way.

The number of border guards is now being increased in the affected areas, and special training is also being given. New equipment is being provided, including better body armour, and a new road-block system is being set up in order to “effectively” stop renegade vehicles.

According to Noth, the numbers are increasing because of the rise in aggravated robbery carried out by organized crime gangs from the French suburbs, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reports. The criminals are believed to come mostly from around Lyon, and are targeting Geneva, Vaud, Neuchtel and Jura, as well as the Ticino.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: A Muslim, Northern, Working-Class Mum Handpicked for Cameron’s A-List … But is Sayeeda Warsi Up to the Job?

When Sayeeda Warsi stood outside 10 Downing Street in a pink-and-gold shalwar kameez before the first Coalition Cabinet meeting in May 2010, she was one of the most conspicuous members of an uncertain new Government. As Britain’s first woman Muslim Cabinet minister, Baroness Warsi symbolised the public face of a Conservative Party modernised and reformed by David Cameron. The new Tory co-chairman was female, Asian, working class, educated at a comprehensive, and spoke with a broad Yorkshire accent. Hers was the profile of Eton-educated Cameron’s dreams. What clearer message could be sent that the Tories were no longer the party of toffs and privilege?

[…]

[Reader comment by Jim Lamb, Queensland, Australia on 28 May 2012 at 11:52. Spelling and punctuation amended.]

It’s hard to figure out, which political party is the worst. The Tories, Liberal or Labour. Judging by the Tories performance over the last two years, they seem to be the worst party ever, adding the damage they did to the country last time they were in office. Thatcher destroyed British industry, and manufacturing, Cameron is destroying everything that is left. He’s even spending billions on The Islamic Brotherhood, he’s backed them in Libya, and is donating huge ammounts to them in Britain, just what is going on? He has done more damage to Britain in 2 years, than Labour done in 13 years. He’s made Britain a laughing stock oversesas. Under Tory leadership, Britain has lost ALL credibility. Yet the Tory voters think he’s a hero they even suggest there be an election ASAP believing the Tories could form a government in their own right. These people must be really sick. It’s Unbelievable.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Boris Puts Ex on a Task Force for Muslims

Mayor Boris Johnson has invited his ex-wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, to become a member of City Hall’s Muslim Engagement Task Force. The invitation came hours after winning his second term as Mayor after Mostyn-Owen got in touch to congratulate him on his victory. “I wanted to tell him of all people that even my husband, who is Pakistani, had voted for him,” Allegra tells me this morning. “Boris telephoned me the day after the election and asked if I would like to be a member of the task force. I have given him a list of my proposals. Muslim women’s problems tend to be about isolation, while Muslim men’s problems are about alienation. A lot of the isolation leads to mental health issues. These are treated as a cultural issue by the politically correct, whereas it’s usually just a case of normal depression. Muslim women need better support as they have no back-up.” Mostyn-Owen says she has a wealth of contacts in the Arab and Pakistani world and is itching to get on with the job. She met Johnson at Oxford University and they married in 1987 in a shambolic ceremony at which Johnson forgot his morning suit and lost the wedding ring an hour after the ceremony. The couple split up, eventually divorcing in 1993. Mostyn-Owen has since worked at the East London Mosque, where she teaches art to young Muslims. In 2009, she married a Muslim man called Majid, 22 years her junior.

[JP note: As the East London Mosque has a worrying history of extreme politics, Allegra Mostyn-Owen is surely a highly inappropriate person chosen by a foolish mayor for a worryingly-inappropriate Muslim-appeasement taskforce. Vote Boris — get dhimmi politics.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Craig Oliver is Right: The BBC Does Have a Problem

by Benedict Brogan

Courtesy of GuidoPaul you will doubtless have by now seen the video of Craig Oliver explaining to Norman Smith why his reporting was a load of old nonsense (first flagged up by Mandrake). There’s been an amusing side-spat after someone — the BBC? the Government? MI5? — tried to take the video off YouTube, but it’s back, and hugely enjoyable, if only for Norman’s expressive roll of the eyes at the end. There’s plenty of fun to be had decontructing it, not least the sight of Dr Dre’s sunglasses tucked into his open necked shirt (Bernard Ingham, where are you?). The Left are having a field day over what they say is an example of a spin doctor bullying a defenceless journalist. But anyone who has watched the whole thing will see why the jeering is unjustified. If anything, the exchange looks like a fairly routine encounter: unhappy spinner makes case at length, journalist listens politely but stands firm. As spin bollockings go, it was tame. If anything, it is revealing of a deeper issue that continues to cause trouble behind the scenes, namely Conservative frustration with the way the BBC covers things. It’s not just Guto Harri who has a beef. No 10 has been frustrated for ages with the Left-wing default setting at the BBC. The work of individual political journalists, such as Norman, may be unimpeachable. But a Guardian-reading liberal bias colours the choices the BBC makes. Even BBC figures admit it privately. In his polite, sensible way, Craig Oliver was giving voice to the Right’s anger that the BBC dresses Left, without thinking.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: David, George, Boris and a Story of European Intrigue

by James Kirkup

In the Age of Cameron, there is no thought-crime greater than to suggest a difference, no matter how fractional, between the Leader and his best beloved Chancellor. David Cameron and George Osborne are one indivisible entity, a conjoined soul sharing two mortal bodies. They agree, full stop. And woe shall befall any Westminster gossip or idle scribbler who suggests otherwise.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Luton: Local Sikh Community Protesting Over ‘Sex Attack Police Failures’

Hundreds of members of the Luton Sikh community are protesting outside local police station amid claims police were failing to properly investigate a sex attack on a young woman.

Police said they were negotiating with the protesters staging the “sit down” protest outside the Buxton Road police station.

It comes after a young Sikh woman, who has not been identified, was reportedly beaten and sexually assaulted in the Bedfordshire town by a “Muslim man”.

On Wednesday night, Bedfordshire Police confirmed they were “in talks” with the protesters to try and “resolve the situation” amid fears of rising tensions.

Reports suggested that more than 300 locals were involved in the protest because of “lack of action” from police over Monday’s attack.

There were reports that members of the English Defence League were also among the crowd.

Locals reported that the “community … feels the police could do more with regards to the investigation and current situation”.

Concerns were also raised that police were set to release the accused sex attacker amid fears it fuel rising tensions.

Detectives have arrested a man, who has not been identified, in connection with the attack.

On Tuesday night a Bedfordshire police spokesman said: “Police in Luton are currently in talks with members of the Sikh community who are holding a sit down protest outside the Buxton Road police station this evening (Tues May 29).

“Their concerns follow a report that a young woman from their community was sexually assaulted yesterday (Mon May 28).

“The allegation is currently subject of an investigation and all parties involved are being spoken with to establish the facts.”

She added: “One man has been arrested in connection with the allegation and enquiries continue.

“Police are working to resolve the situation this evening with the community leaders.”

Police declined to comment further or disclose the nationality of the arrested man.

           — Hat tip: A. Millar [Return to headlines]



UK: Tube Racist Whose Champagne-Fuelled Tirade Was Viewed by Thousands on YouTube Jailed for 21 Weeks

A drunken secretary who hurled racist abuse at fellow Tube travellers in a tirade that was viewed by thousands of internet users across the world has been jailed for 21 weeks.

Jacqueline Woodhouse, 42, launched a champagne-fuelled rant at passengers on the Central line, telling those seated near her: ‘I used to live in England and now I live in the United Nations.’

The expletive-ridden video was recorded between St Paul’s and Mile End stations on January 23, before being uploaded to YouTube and viewed more than 200,000 times.

The seven-minute clip was captured by fellow passenger Galbant Singh Juttla who was making his way home from a funeral at the time.

He became distressed by Woodhouse racially abusing a black woman who had bumped into her accidentally.

Today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, district judge Michael Snow sentenced her to 21 weeks behind bars — but she will be eligible for release in just over 10 weeks.

He also imposed a five-year antisocial behaviour order which prevents her from travelling on the London Underground or DLR while drunk.

Condemning her behaviour, he said: ‘Anyone viewing it would feel a deep sense of shame that our citizens could be subject to such behaviour who may, as a consequence, believe that it secretly represents the views of other white people.’

Previously the court was told that Woodhouse had drunk an ‘unknown’ quantity of champagne at a retirement party before getting on the Tube at 11pm.

Woodhouse, of Romford in Essex, admitted causing harassment alarm and distress to Mr Juttla earlier this month.

In the video which was played in court earlier this month, the clip begins with Woodhouse shouting in a thick Essex accent about ‘foreign s*** heads’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Vatican Makes Series of Denials in ‘Vatileaks’ And IOR Cases

‘No cardinal under investigation’ says Lombardi

(ANSA) — Vatican City, May 28 — The Vatican on Monday denied reports that a cardinal and a woman were being probed in the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ case and denied that the investigation had anything to do with a recent high-profile sacking at the Vatican Bank. “No cardinal is under investigation,” said Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, before he also “categorically denied” that an unnamed woman was being questioned. The anonymous reports surfaced in Italian media after Pope Benedict XVI’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was detained on Friday for allegedly being in possession of illegally obtained documents linked to the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ scandal, which rocked the Catholic Church earlier this year when sensitive Church papers began appearing in the Italian press. The documents included letters to the pope and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the Holy See’s ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano’, who was the deputy governor of Vatican City when they were written. The letters contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City. A person said to be involved in the leaks said “cardinals and Monsignors” were involved too, along with their secretaries and “small fry” like Gabriele. Lombardi said Monday that “no one else is under investigation at the moment”.

A day before Gabriele was named a suspect, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi stepped down as president of the Vatican Bank, officially called the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), following a no-confidence vote by the board of directors. “The two issues must be kept separate,” said Lombardi, adding that the two issues are being “confused” because they happened one day apart. Vatican experts said Gotti Tedeschi’s split with the bank was likely linked to internal tensions regarding the Vatican’s efforts to secure inclusion on the international ‘white list’ of countries which are considered to have acceptable financial transparency laws, unlike tax havens.

Once a close adviser to former Italian economy minister Giulio Tremonti, Gotti Tedeschi was named president of the Vatican bank in 2009, shortly before Rome prosecutors froze 23 million euros from the bank in two cash transfers deemed suspicious under Italy’s money-laundering laws.

On September 21, 2010 Gotti Tedeschi and IOR Director-General Paolo Cipriani were placed under investigation.

“We asked to be questioned, everything was done according to the rules,” said Gotti Tedeschi, then suspected along with Cipriani of failure to observe Italian money-laundering rules.

Prosecutors unfroze the money last June citing a new Vatican law as one of the motives for releasing the funds.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Islamists in Egypt Blame Christians for Voting

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The official results of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections were announced today, the run-off will be between Mohamed Morsy, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Air Marshal Ahmad Shafik, Mubarak’s last PM, who served for less than one month during the revolution and before Mubarak was ousted.

This results, which were expected since Friday, has enraged many Egyptians who feel that they are left with two options, each worst than the other, namely either going back to the Mubarak regime represented by Shafik or the Islamists who will drag Egypt into being another Afghanistan or Iran. Nasserist candidate Hamdeed Sabahy, favored by a great number of youth — especially those who participated in the 25 January Revolution, came in third.

Many Islamists, fearing Shafik if he comes to power, especially after vowing to bring back order and security within one month of his election, are blaming Copts for voting for Shafik and bringing him to second place. Copts have been accused of being “traitors” and “anti-revolutionary” for voting to bring back the old regime.

Nearly 6,000,000 Christian Copts were eligible to vote, from a total Coptic population of 18,000,000 Copts (according to the Church’s data).

These accusations against the Copts, which started last Friday after the preliminary elections results were released, are seen by many as a real threat to Copts. “These accusations are part of a terror and intimidation campaign to prevent them from voting again for Shafik,” said Egyptian writer Saad Namnam, “or even boycotting the elections altogether, which would be the same as voting for Morsy.”

Two days ago The Islamic group Gama’a al-Islamiyya issued a statement which said that the advance of Ahmed Shafik in the elections was due to several reasons. Firstly “sectarian voting, where the Copts gave their votes to Shafik at the direction of the church, which is unfortunate.”

“We have been bombarded by the media by accusations from the revolutionary youths and prominent Islamist leaders,” said Caroline Asaad, of Maspero Coptic Youths Federation. “Our friends at college, work and our neighbors all accuse the Egyptian Church of high treason by directing Copts to vote for Shafik.” Caroline said she voted for Sabahi while her parents voted for Shafik.

“What did they want us to do?” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid.. “Whoever says that supporting Shafik is a crime against the ‘25 January Revolution’, we ask him to advise us whom to vote for? The sea is in front of us and the Islamists are behind us.”

Dr Emad Gad, MP and deputy director of Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said this campaign against the Copts is a prepared strategy by the Muslim Brotherhood to increase the chances of their candidate in the run-off election, by promoting a lie that votes of the Copts helped Shafik to advance. “This is not true at all. The largest block of votes for Shafik was in the four provinces of the Delta, namely Sharkia, Gharbia, Menoufiah and Dakahila, where the Copts make up only 5% of the total population.” He added that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists usually say the total number of the Copts does not exceed 6% of the population. “So does this ratio have the ability to turn the election results upside down?”

Christian politician George Ishaq, of the Dostor Party, said that it is not true that the Coptic vote was behind Shafik getting second place. “To accuse the Christians of all voting for Shafik is not true, as the Christians are not one voting block. Christian youths voted for Hamdeen Sabahi, those who are older voted for Shafik and Amr Moussa.” He added that those who voted for Shafik were the “remnants” of the Mubarak regime and members of his dissolved NDP Party, some Christians who fear a religious state as well as all those who fear the Revolution.

This was confirmed by results of a Coptic voting trends survey carried out by Coptic website Christian Dogma. The results were divided between Shafik, Ex-Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi.

Dr. Gad believes the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups want to bring religion into the elections again, as votes for their candidate Morsy have declined, having received only half the votes the Muslim Brotherhood got in the parliamentary elections.

“There is no better way to reap votes like getting religion into elections; to do so you have to mobilize people through religion,” says Dr. Gad. “You also deprive your opponent of his supporters or the largest number of them, and the easiest way to do this in Egypt is to speak to uneducated or simple Egyptians, and tell them that your rival is the candidate of the Church, and Copts support him.” He said that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists tried it in the parliamentary elections and succeeded. “Certainly, the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to seize the post of President during the run-off is to ‘religionalize’ the run-off on the one hand and intensify talk about Coptic support for Shafik on the other..”

Some TV programs and their guests defended the Copts. “Copts should not be blamed, but blame those who terrorized them,” said ex-presidential candidate Khaled Ali. Most media guests said the dismal performance of Islamists in parliament was the reason why voters turned away from them to other candidates, especially those looking for stability.

Egyptians who voted for Shafik believe that they would not re-elect him after four years if he fails them, but with the Muslim Brotherhood, they believe they would never get rid of them once they have control of all the organs of government.

Bishop Anba Pachomius, the acting Patriarch of Coptic Church, denied that the Church had any role in Shafik reaching the run-off election, saying that the Coptic citizen has the right to choose the next president who represents his aspirations, and no one has any right to dictate to him any opinion. He added that the church did not decide so far on a particular candidate to support for the run-off election before considering his stance on Article II of the Constitution, which is vital for this decision, as it should also ensure that Copts resort to their laws and their holy books with regards to their personal status laws. Article II states “Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia].”

In an interview published in al-Dostor Daily on Sunday, Bishop Pachomius pointed the necessity to specify the criteria that must be met in the presidential candidate, “mainly believing in a secular state, the principle of citizenship, the adoption of the common law for building of houses of worship, and the personal laws for non-Muslims.” The Coptic Orthodox Church had issued a statement before the elections saying that it is not endorsing any candidate.

Tarek el Zomor, a prominent figure of the Gama’a al-Islamiyya “demanded an apology from the Copts “for voting for Shafik, as “this was a fatal error.” This has enraged Copts.

“What if most Christians agreed among themselves to have allegiance to the candidate with the least inclinations towards a religious State? Where is the offense in it and why wonder about it?” commented Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub. “Did they really expect a Christian to choose a president to represent him from those who cut off the ear of a Christian (AINA 3-26-2011), blocked the railways in objection to the appointment of a Christian governor in Qena (AINA 5-3-2011), burn down several churches and who are diligently working to write a Constitution which undermines the rights of Christians? Then I do not know what apology is demanded from us Christians by Zomor? And to whom? And why?”

Tarek El-Zomor was convicted in 1984 for his role in the assassination of Egypt’s former President Anwar Sadat and for belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. He was released by the military council in March 2011.

On Saturday May 26, during a TV interview on Al Nahar TV with prominent presenter Mahmoud Saad, Dr. Morsy said that Egypt is for everyone and that Muslims and Christians are equal before the law. Addressing the Copts, Morsy said that he cannot imagine that there is any Copt who would contribute towards the return of the former regime.

Morsy wondered whether over the past 80 years (since the Muslim Brotherhood was founded) if anyone has heard of any attack by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood against any Copt. He said that Copts took part in the Revolution and the bullets of the former regime did not differentiate between a Muslim or Copt. He vowed to the Copts that they will be Egyptian citizens before the law, in their rights and duties (video).

Addressing Morsy, popular anchor Amr Adib said yesterday during his program Cairo Today, which is viewed by millions of Egyptians, it is no good making promises on TV. “If you want the votes of the Copts then give them a signed document that it is possible for a Copt to be president or vice-president of Egypt, or even that a Copt could be allowed to be head of the Gynecology Department at a hospital, of which they are deprived.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]



Islamists Face Setback in Egyptian Presidential Election

While the Brotherhood claims victory, the election was actually a defeat-at least temporary and possibly less important than it seems-for the Brotherhood and Islamism. Here’s why.

The Islamist Camp

Note that only about 44 percent of voters backed an Islamist candidate, compared to 75 percent in the parliamentary election, while only about 25 percent voted for the Muslim Brotherhood compared to about 47 percent in the parliamentary vote. Why?

To begin with, the two top Islamist candidates were removed by the election commission, the Brotherhood’s first choice and the only Salafist candidate. Presumably, many voters stayed home or opted for their second choice party. The question is whether those who crossed the line and voted for a non-Islamist will return to the Brotherhood in the second round.

[…]

Is Islamism continuing to march forward? Yes. Remember this principle: The Key to “Coopting” Islamists is for them to lose and accept defeat. But what if they win victory, especially an overwhelming victory in practice, they become more aggressive.

The Brotherhood’s recent history (and also that of Hamas, Hizballah, and the Turkish regime) proves this point and that’s why Western policies of encouraging the Islamists as a way to moderate them are wrong.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Protesters Attack Egyptian Candidate’s Office

Violence has flared in the Egyptian capital as protesters vented their anger at the outcome of the country’s first round of presidential voting. Part of the headquarters of candidate Ahmed Shafiq was set alight.

Images of the fire were broadcast on Monday evening by the privately-owned Al-Hayat television channel. The blaze was started by protesters, the report said, and there were no injuries.

The fire was started at an annex of the headquarters of the former Prime Minister Shafiq, who is to take on Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in the second round of the election in June.

State news agency MENA said the campaign office had been broken into and vandalized before it was set on fire.

Results of the first round were announced earlier on Monday, with Morsi gaining 24.8 per cent of the votes and Shafiq 23.7 percent, said election commission chief Farouk Sultan. The pair emerged as the top two candidates from a field of 13 and are now set to contest the second round in voting on June 16 and 17.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Anti-Israel Protests Fail to Silence Habima Globe Performance

Anti-Israel protesters attempted to disrupt the Habima Theatre’s performance of The Merchant of Venice at the Globe Theatre on Monday evening. The Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, appealed for protesters not to disturb the show in a speech before the curtain went up. But the pro-Palestinian activists ignored him and several were removed from the theatre by security officials after shouting, waving banners and disturbing other audience members. A group of protesters were also physically picked up by their hands and feet by security after they began screaming and refused to stop or leave the venue. With pro and anti Israel demonstrators outside the theatre, there were lengthy security checks on arrival and a heavy police presence as well as extra security organised by the Globe. Despite protesters wielding signs that read “Israel is an apartheid state” the Habima actors maintained their composure and the show went on.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Protesters Clash Outside the Globe as Israeli National Theatre Company Performs

Pro-Palestinian protesters were thrown out of London’s Globe Theatre amid chaotic scenes during a performance by the Israeli national theatre company. Tel Aviv’s Habima company was performing Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice last night when demonstrators among the audience unfurled banners and displayed a Palestinian flag. A silent protest descended into chaos with scuffles breaking out as security staff moved in to remove around 20 people. Florence Hartley, 24, one of the demonstrators, said: “There were some of us on ground level by the stage and more people in the balcony. We took our banners out and many of us had tape over our mouths. It was a silent protest. “But once the security staff moved in I was knocked to the floor and they had to drag me out. Some of the audience were shouting ‘scum’ at us.” One man was arrested on suspicion of assault on a security guard and remains in police custody, Scotland Yard said.

[…]

[JP note: London’s pro-Palestinian supporters are not just scum, they are fascist scum. Or as Shakespeare might have said, “Purge you of your scum!”]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Iranian General Seems to Confirm Troops Are in Syria in Interview Blunder

In an apparent slip-up, an Iranian general has admitted that special forces have been deployed from Tehran to Syria to assist the Assad regime’s crackdown against the anti-government uprising.

The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) published an interview with General Ismail Qa’ani, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, on Sunday night, in which he praised his troops for crushing opposition forces in Syria — saying the Quds’ presence helped prevent civilian massacres.

“Before we were not in Syria, the slaughter of the people by the opposition was much higher. But with the presence of the Islamic Republic in a physical and non-physical manner, many great massacres in Syria were stopped.” Gha’ani said in the interview, according to The (London) Times.

The quote was removed by the ISNA within hours and without explanation, but not before other media outlets discovered it. Gha’ani was said to have been speaking at a student event on Sunday evening.

Tehran is allied to Damascus, and rumors that Iran is providing military support to President Bashar al Assad have circulated since the uprising began 15 months ago. Anti-government fighters have reportedly told of how they encountered Iranians in battle.

But this is considered to be the first time a senior Iranian officer has admitted the Quds force is operating in Syria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Powerful ‘Flame’ Cyberweapon Torching Mideast Computers

The most sophisticated and powerful cyberweapon to date — a Swiss Army Knife spy tool that can evolve and change to deal with any situation — has been discovered on the loose in several Middle Eastern countries, security researchers said Tuesday.

The Worm.Win32.Flame threat, or “Flame” for short, was likely built by the same nation-state responsible for the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iran’s nuclear power plant in 2010. But this new weapon is twenty times the size of that cyberbomb and far more powerful, making it practically an army on its own, said Roel Schouwenberg, a senior security researcher with Kaspersky Labs.

“Flame is a cyberespionage operation,” he told FoxNews.com. Its prime goal: capturing data from a machine.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia


‘Allah’s Enemy!’ Radio Host Slash-Attacked for Anti-Islam Rant on Air

A radio host has been hospitalized after being cut 15 times by an unidentified criminal. Two weeks ago the journalist ventured to criticize the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, on air.

Sergey Aslanyan, 46, was brought to Moscow’s hospital with numerous non-penetrating knife wounds to the chest, neck and arm.

According to the police report, on late Monday evening an unknown man called to Aslanyan’s flat over the building intercom and called him outside for a talk. When the journalist stepped out of the entranceway he was knocked over the head with a heavy object, after which the assailant brought the knife into play.

Aslanyan claimed that the attacker was shouting “you are Allah’s enemy!” while slashing at the victim.

Police say the abuser was a slim man of about 30, while according to some witnesses there were several attackers.

As of now the journalist is conscious and his condition is stable. His relatives and friends are free to visit him in his flat, which is guarded by police. Investigators say they do not have a primary lead, but hope to identify the perpetrator using porch surveillance camera data.

Still, Izvestia newspaper made a guess that the attack could be linked to recent statements made by the journalist in a radio show. While discussing religion in general he made some “from zero to hero” remarks towards the Prophet Mohammed.

“The Prophet Mohammed, as we know, was not a religious figure. He was a businessman, but after getting considerable financial support built plans as to how to get to the top,” Aslanyan disclosed. He also said that the Prophet “rewrote the Bible” so that “now everyone would know the Prophet Mohammed was not a market shopkeeper, but an outstanding political figure.”

According to Aslanyan, the idea of Islam was a “business project from the very beginning,” and turned out to be successful due to “handsome financing.” Besides that, the journalist, who was an external expert at this radio show, speculated that the Prophet had some sort of sexual disorder.

Reportedly, the journalist later apologized on air for the harsh statements he had made, but that did not change public opinion much.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Muslims Outraged at Xenophobic Graffiti

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Moscow’s mufti Albir Krganov has appealed to the capital’s Bureau for Human Rights over nationalistic slogans and graffiti which he says insult the feelings of believers and non-Russian nationals. Krganov — vice chairman of the Central Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia — said the body had received a large number of complaints from believers over xenophobic graffiti.In particular, they reported such slogans as “Russia is for Russians” covering the walls along the railroad to Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. It is worrying that in Russia — a multinational and multi-confessional country — some people allow themselves to express nationalistic statements, the mufti noted to Russian News Service.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Bangladesh Islamic Party Leaders Indicted for Alleged Atrocities Committed During 1971 War

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The chief of Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party and one of his deputies were indicted Monday for alleged crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 independence war against Pakistan. A special tribunal set up by the government to deal with charges of crimes against humanity indicted Matiur Rahman Nizami, the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, on 16 charges, including genocide and murder. Another tribunal indicted Abdul Quader Molla, a deputy of Nizami, for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity. Nizami’s trial will begin July 1, while Molla’s starts June 20. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India: Maxim Media Study Halal Tourism Opportunities in India

NEW DELHI,7 Rajab/28 May (IINA)-Recently formed Muslim marketing consultancy firm, Maxim Media Pvt. Ltd, the Publisher of India’s First Muslim Lifestyle magazine and Islamic Calendar, in a strategic tie up with US based research and advisory firm, Dinar Standard, is researching on the possibility and opportunity oh Halal tourism in Indian market.

Marketing Director, Ziaulla Firdos Nomani said, “Dinar Standard of US and Crescent rating Pte Ltd of Singapore in JV are publishing report on Muslim friendly services in tourism industry. Out of the 14 countries they have selected, Maxim Media is studying on the Muslim friendly opportunities India provide for inbound travelers from OIC and other countries.”

The Muslims are the second largest majority in the world, they are approximately 2.1 billion. As wealthier Muslim populations in Muslim-majority countries and particularly Western Europe and the US grow, so does the possibility for Halal tourism to become big business.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italian Marines’ Jurisdiction Appeal in India Rejected

Ruling further postponed

(ANSA) — New Delhi, May 29 — An appeal to decide the jurisdiction of two Italian anti-pirate marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the southern coast of India in February was rejected by the Kochi High Court on Monday, sources told ANSA.

A ruling on the appeal has been postponed numerous times, the last in April. The detained marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between India and Italy since their arrest and imprisonment in the city of Thiruvananthapuram.

The Indian supreme court is considering Italy’s claim that it should have jurisdiction for the case, not India, as the incident took place aboard an Italian vessel in international waters.

Italy says it should have jurisdiction for the case, not India, as the soldiers were guarding an Italian merchant vessel in international waters.

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: The Farce of Tribal Jirgas

A tribal jirga in Kohistan in the Hazara division of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has done something that reminds us of the days of the Taliban rule in Afghanistan and gives us a glimpse of a future Pakistan impacted by growing intolerance and bigotry. A tribal council of elders has condemned four women and two men to death for “staining the honour” of their families. A video presented to the jirga purported to show the alleged crime of ‘mixing’ of the sexes in violation of the law of ‘gender segregation’ during a wedding party while the accused allegedly dancing together.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Tribal (In)Justice: Six Face Death for Attending Mixed Gathering

KOHISTAN: In a shocking instance of tribal (in)justice, a jirga in a remote village of Hazara division has condemned four women and two men to death for ‘staining the honour’ of their families.

They were allegedly caught on videotape singing and dancing together at a wedding ceremony in violation of the “tribal custom of gender segregation”. The women, all of them married, have been called back from their in-laws and locked in a room in Seertaiy village, in Peech Bela union council of Kohistan district. “A tribal jirga has declared them Ghul (fornicators). And they might be killed any time,” said Muhammad Afzal, elder brother of the two men condemned to death. The men have, however, managed to flee.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


China’s Rising Costs Deter European Business: Survey

(BEIJING) — One in five European companies operating in China may invest elsewhere in the future as wages are getting too high and regulations too cumbersome, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The European Chamber of Commerce said that while China was an increasingly important market for its members, many were deterred by rising prices and regulatory barriers in the world’s second largest economy.

In all, 22 percent of respondents in its annual business confidence survey were considering shifting investment from China to other markets, it said.

“We are happy to report that European companies are continuing to invest and create jobs in China, but the lack of reform of the regulatory environment is worrying and has a disproportionate impact on foreign business as well as on the domestic private sector,” said the chamber’s president, Davide Cucino.

“There are indications from this survey that as reform continues to stall and costs rise, a previously reliable stream of FDI (foreign direct investment) may slow and planned investments may be shifted to other emerging markets.”

The average annual salary of workers in private businesses in the Chinese cities rose 12.3 percent last year from the year before to 24,556 yuan (3,900 US dollars), the National Bureau of Statistics said separately Tuesday.

While Chinese salaries remain low compared with rich countries in Europe and North America, they have been outpacing wage increases in neighbouring countries.

This causes China to lose competitiveness with other growth economies such as Vietnam, and many economists have forecast a trend for companies to set up shop elsewhere.

In April, Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia, which operates several factories in China, broke ground for its first Vietnamese plant, expected to be completed by 2013.

While rising costs are somewhat inevitable as a result of shifts in labour supply and demand, enterprises are also increasingly frustrated about the regulations they have to obey, and sometimes feel unfairly targeted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



China and Japan Will Start Direct Currency Trading

For the first time, China is going to let a major unit other than the dollar swap with its national currency. Beijing and Tokyo have agreed to start direct trading within days, with no bucks involved.

The two Asian economic powerhouses, China and Japan, will begin direct trading of their currencies from June 1, the governments in Beijing and Tokyo confirmed on Tuesday. The US dollar as an intermediary currency will no longer be used in bilateral operations.

“The move is to promote bilateral trade, facilitate the use of the yuan and the yen in international trade settlements and lower the cost of conversion,” the China Foreign Exchange Trade System said on Tuesday.

China’s central bank said it would support what it viewed as an important step in strengthening bilateral cooperation and developing financial markets. The direct currency trading decision came on the back of preparatory talks between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda last December.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Chinese ‘Looking for Opportunities’ In U.S.

Companies bullish when it comes to investing in American businesses

The world’s most populous country is in the midst of a wave of purchases and investments in American companies. The influx of Chinese capital is welcomed by some economists, while others fear the increasing influence of the rising superpower.

“There are a lot of Chinese companies that are interested in coming to America and buying companies,” said Siva Yam, president of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce. “We have seen an increasing trend of Chinese companies investing in America.”

A number of Chinese firms have too much money not to invest, Mr. Yam said, and increasingly they are looking beyond their own shores for opportunities.

The $2.6 billion sale of U.S.-based theater chain AMC Entertainment last week to the Dalian Wanda Group is the latest — and most expensive — example of a cash-rich Chinese company making a splash, this time in the U.S. entertainment industry.

Chinese investors also are looking for openings in U.S. manufacturing, technology, financial services and real estate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Firms Grow Wary of Business Climate in China

Over a fifth of all EU firms active in China consider turning their backs on the country. A survey by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China says many firms are critical of the business environment there.

Nearly a quarter of all European companies with operations in China considers moving at least part of their businesses out of the country in the near future. This is the finding of a study by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

In its annual business confidence survey which was released on Tuesday, the Chamber confirms that China is becoming an increasingly important strategic market for European enterprises. But it also highlights growing concerns over rising costs and barriers to market access.

“A significant proportion of EU firms may shift investment away from China’s costly market place to other nations due to increased market pressures and missed opportunities caused regulatory barriers,” the survey said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Mali: Touaregs Declare ‘Islamic State of Azawad’

Touareg rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamist group Ansar al-Din signed an agreement Saturday (May 26th) in Gao, establishing a breakaway Islamic state in northern Mali. The agreement, which unites two of the largest factions in the country’s north, was immediately denounced by authorities in Bamako.

“The government of Mali categorically rejects the idea of the creation of an Azawad state, even more so of an Islamic state,” Hamadoun Toure, information minister in the transitional administration, told AFP. “Mali is secular and will remain secular,” he added. The pact was signed by Belal Ag Sharif, head of the MNLA political bureau, and al-Abbes Ag Antala, chief of the Ifogas tribe and first deputy of Ansar al-Din leader Iyad Ag Ghaly. The settlement was met with celebratory gunfire, according to Gao resident Adoum Ag El-Wali.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Much Crime, Little Punishment

May 29, 2012: The war against Boko Haram is very visible in the Moslem north. There are roadblocks everywhere and a lot more soldiers and police. This is hurting Boko Haram, which has suffered some serious losses (of leaders and bomb making supplies and technicians) in the last few months. But the Islamic terrorists retain a growing popularity among many Moslems, because of the promise to eliminate the corruption that strangles the economy and oppresses every Nigerian every day. President Johnson has been in power for a year, and was elected on the promise of making a major effort to curb corruption. There has been a lot of noise about suppressing corruption, but little result. Those corrupt officials who are indicted tend to bribe their way past judge, jury and jailers. There is still lots of crime, and not much punishment.

[…]

May 28, 2012: In the northeast, Boko Haram shot dead four Christian merchants. Boko Haram wants to drive all Christians out of the Moslem north and eventually turn the north into an Islamic religious dictatorship.

May 26, 2012: In the north, Boko Haram shot dead three card players. Boko Haram considers card playing, and most forms of entertainment as sinful and punishable by death.

May 21, 2012: In the capital, police arrested a Boko Haram man trying to enter a government building carrying concealed weapons. In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, two Boko Haram attacks left five dead.

May 19, 2012: In the central Nigerian city of Jos, a police raid uncovered a bomb making workshop. Jos has, for the last few years, been the scene of deadly violence between Moslems and Christians.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Muslims and Christians ‘Destined by Allah’ — Sultan

Gusau — The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar yesterday enjoined Muslims to leave peacefully with adherents of other faiths in the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony of secretariat of the Zakat and Endowment in Gusau, Zamfara state the Sultan said Muslims should be law abiding and also respect constituted authorities, saying that without peace there would be no development. Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar (l), with the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, during his visit to Sokoto on on Thursday (24/5/12).NAN Photo He added that Muslims wherever they are in the country should always strive to preach peaceful coexistence. “You should remember that it is Allah that has destined and joined Muslims and Christians together in the same country” he said.

[…]

[JP note: Destined to fight until only one is left standing.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Gunmen Kill One in Attack on Shia Muslims in Nigeria

At least one Shia Muslim worshiper has been killed and several others have been injured after unidentified gunmen opened fire in a mosque in Nigeria.

Local sources say two people were killed in the attack. The attack took place in the northeastern Potiskum city outside the home of a cleric who leads the Sunday evening prayers.

According to locals, this cleric was present at the scene of the shooting but was unharmed in the attack. The Nigerian Army has rejected reports that this cleric was present at the scene of the attack. The cleric has gained popularity for criticizing the Boko Haram Islamists. The religious leader is also known to have criticized the Nigerian Army for its handling of a recent attack on the city’s cattle market, which left at least 34 dead. According to one of the locals, the gunmen, who were in four vehicles, appeared to want to assassinate the cleric but instead killed his brother, who resembles the religious leader, and his driver. According to another one of the locals the assailants fled in their cars after opening fire on worshipers.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama Opens Door to Africa for Monsanto

(NaturalNews)Last week President Barack Obama announced a plan that puts Monsanto, as well as other large argi-businesses, in charge of increasing food supplies to malnourished regions in Africa. The Grow Africa Partnership is a part of the Obama administration’s plan to end hunger in Africa.

While $3 billion dollars in commitments have already been secured by Monsanto and its peers, the local organic farmers in Africa have largely been left out of the program.

“I’m delighted to be here taking part in this conversation as I believe public and private sector commitment is necessary and able to support a transformation in African agriculture,” said Monsanto Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant.

Letting a company like Monsanto expand their reach globally is not only irresponsible, but it sets a dangerous precedent. The problem with letting any private company fund and develop agriculture is that their primary concern will be with their own bottom line, rather than food security. Simply put, their objective is not the fight against hunger, it’s to make money.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Robert Mugabe Asked to be UN ‘Leader for Tourism’

The Zimbabwe president, accused of ethnic cleansing and bankrupting his country, asked to champion tourism

With a line-up that includes Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin, the UN’s choice of ambassadors has been known to cause raised eyebrows or the odd smirk.

Seldom, however, has there been such anger, or questioning of the organisation’s credibility, as that greeting the appointment of a new international envoy for tourism: Robert Mugabe.

Improbable as it seems, the Zimbabwean president, who is widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorising opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy, has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking.

Despite that fact Mugabe, 88, is under a travel ban, he has been honoured as a “leader for tourism” by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, along with his political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, 75. The pair signed an agreement with UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai at their shared border at Victoria Falls on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Rifai urging tourists from around the world to visit : “I was told about the wonderful experience and the warm hospitality of this country … By coming here, it is recognition, an endorsement on the country that it is a safe destination.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



South Africa: R1.3bn Mosque and Varsity Complex

Hoping to leave a legacy in South Africa, “Uncle Ali”, as he is popularly known, has already spent more than R210-million on the new Nizamiye mosque and community complex, and has no plans for slowing down. “Everyone wants to leave something greater before dying. If you look at the richest men in history, they’re often forgotten. But if you’re rich and you leave something that helps people, you will feel their prayers long after you are dead,” the Turkish-speaking Katircioglu said yesterday. The estimated cost of the entire project, including a Muslim university, is R1.3-billion. But Katircioglu could not give an exact figure because he had “stopped counting a long time ago”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Malta Urges EU to Tackle North Africa Migrants

Maltese President George Abela on Tuesday urged the European Union to take further steps to tackle illegal immigration from North Africa, an issue significantly affecting his tiny Mediterranean nation.

“North Africa is still not settled, the situation there not yet stabilised, and that will undoubtedly affect our island,” Abela warned, referring to the wave of uprisings and political upheaval that started last year.

Abela said Malta — which a population of 413,000 — recently experienced a huge influx of migrants, with over 200 arriving on the country’s shores last weekend alone, swelling an existing contingent of around 5,000.

“That in itself has put pressure on the Maltese economy because we do not have the administrative capacity to handle these immigrants,” Abela told journalists during a visit to Lithuania.

The president said he expected fellow EU countries would take in more refugees to share the burden, insisting the European Commission should create a permanent mechanism to tackle the issue.

Abela said Europe could take its cue from the United States which he said had absorbed 1,000 refugees in recent years when the EU only took in a few hundred.

Since 2002, around 15,000 migrants have arrived in Malta, which became an EU member in 2004. The nation consists of seven Mediterranean islands, four of which are uninhabited.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

General


German and Chinese Solar Firms Battle for Survival

Germany was proud of its supposedly future-proof solar industry and subsidized it to the hilt. But then the Chinese got in on the act and started making much cheaper solar cells. Now, following a glut in production, companies in both countries are fighting for survival.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Lake That Time Forgot

by Tom Chivers

After 20 million years below the Antarctic ice, Lake Vostok will finally reveal its secrets

At the bottom of the Earth, two miles below Antarctica’s ice sheet, scientists have broken a 20-million-year silence. A Russian team has drilled 3,770 metres (2.3 miles) through the polar ice to a vast freshwater lake, called Lake Vostok. It has lain undisturbed for four times as long as human beings have been separate from apes. It has taken the team 22 years to drill through, and the day after they achieved their goal they had to leave, before the brief Antarctic summer came to an end and the air became too cold for aeroplanes to fly. So it will not be until December that any frozen samples can be retrieved, and not until the end of next year that liquid water from the vast lake, as large as Lake Ontario, will be examined.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]