News Feed 20120606

Financial Crisis
» Corruption and Crisis Linked in Europe, Says World Watchdog
» EU Makes First Step Towards Disputed Banking Union
» EU-17: Zero Growth Confirmed, Italy Bottom of Rankings
» France Slashes Pension Age to 60 for Thousands
» German Giants Spend Millions Lobbying US
» Moody’s Downgrades German and Austrian Banks
» Obama, Cameron Urge ‘Immediate Plan’ For Eurozone
» Obama Calls Monti to Discuss Eurozone’s Response to Crisis
» Possible Deal Takes Shape on Aid for Spain’s Banks
» US Holds Conference Call With China About Euro-Crisis
» Americans’ Heads Have Been Growing, Scientists Say
» Islamic Mosque Nearly Complete in Northern Longview
» Memorial Day With Muslims
» New Mosque Envisioned for Short Pump
» Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction, Dies at 91, A.P. Says
» Sharia Law Should be OK With GOP
» Islamic Sharia is a Threat to Canadian Society
Europe and the EU
» Belgian Right-Wingers Offer Burqa Bounty
» Belgian Far-Right Launch New Vigilante Scheme
» Breivik Refuses to Answer Oslo Court’s Questions About ‘World of Warcraft’
» Corruption Watchdog Says Business and Politics ‘Too Cozy’
» Denmark Has Fewer But Larger Farms
» France: Mayor of Nice Accused of ‘Stigmatising’ Muslim Population
» France Signs in €3bn-a-Year Pensions Reform
» France: Louis XIV Railway Carriages Take to Paris-Versailles Line
» Germany: Hostility Between Muslims and German Nationalists Rattles a Former Capital
» Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out Brings Unexpected Costs
» Miracle Milk Molecule Keeps Obesity at Bay
» Norwegian Far Right Says Breivik Correct to Fear Muslims
» Schmoozing With the New World Order
» Swedish Teen Held for Child Rape
» Swiss Man Charged With Somali Insurgency Links
» The Rise of the Right: Why Liberals Cannot Afford to Lose
» Toulouse Killer Mohamed Merah Was ‘Traced’ To Al-Qaeda Stronghold
» UK Halal Commission Launched
» UK: BBC’s Jubilee Coverage: Never Apologise, Never Explain
» UK: Baroness Warsi: Falling or Being Pushed?
» UK: Cameron Created Warsi — Will He be Forced to Destroy Her?
» UK: Comrade Warsi, Fallen Hero of the People’s Revolution
» UK: Can the BBC Still be a National Broadcaster?
» UK: Police Want Teenage Girls’ Sexual Health Data to Help Crack Down on Child Sex Grooming
» UK: Simply Dazzling
» UK: The New Statesman’s Attempt to Paint Sayeeda Warsi’s Tory Critics as Racist
» UK: This Great Diamond Jubilee Had a Missing Ingredient
» Yemen: Al-Qaeda Starts Suicide-Bomber Recruitment Drive
» Serbian President Under Fire for Denying Srebrenica Genocide
Mediterranean Union
» 1.4 Bln Euro Allocated for Southern Regions
North Africa
» Libyans Ask “Where is the State?” After Airport Seized
Israel and the Palestinians
» German Translates Oldest Known Hebrew
» Jerusalem House Firebombed as Israeli Government Stokes Anti-Immigration Fervour
Middle East
» Economy: Turkey and Lebanon on Way to Integration, Minister
» Jordan: Civil Groups Back Woman Suing an Islamic Bank Over Dress Code Sacking
» Qatari Bank Set to Buy Ailing UK Lender IBB
» So, What Did the Muslims Do for the Jews?
» Turkish Muslims Slam Blasphemous Article on Yahoo News
» UAE: Three Men Abuse 9-Year-Old Boy
» Russian General Warns Finland About NATO
South Asia
» Afghanistan: At Least 23 Killed in Kandahar Suicide Attack
» Distrust Fuels Anti-Muslim Violence in Myanmar
» India: Muslim Girl Can Marry at 15 if She Attains Puberty: HC
» India: Has Skin Whitening in India Gone Too Far?
» Indonesia: Headscarf Law Provokes Criticism
» Myanmar Muslims Protest Over Mob Killings
Far East
» Australian Minister Heightens Security in China
Australia — Pacific
» Anger Over Proposal to Ban Child Killers Having Kids
» Crescent Unveils First Sharia-Compliant Fund
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Army Kills 16 Members of Boko Haram
» Tanzania: Muslim Clerics Call for New Census Team
Latin America
» Barack Obama’s Unwelcome Jubilee Present to Britain: Washington Reaffirms OAS Resolution Calling for Falklands Negotiations With Argentina
» UK: Gangmasters Caught Running Illegal Labour Teams Escape Prosecution

Financial Crisis

Corruption and Crisis Linked in Europe, Says World Watchdog

(BRUSSELS) — Links between Europe’s financial crisis and corruption can no longer be ignored, with Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain doing the least against malpractice, Transparency International said Wednesday.

More accustomed to tracking corruption in poorer African or Asian states, the organisation said links between the private and public sector favoured abuse of power, misappropriation and fraud, while also undermining economic stability.

A 60-page report titled “Money, politics and power: corruption risks in Europe” noted “a strong correlation between corruption and fiscal deficits” and said Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain topped a list of nations “found to have serious deficits in their integrity systems.”

Of the 25 countries surveyed — the European Union’s 27 members minus Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta, but including Norway and Switzerland — only 19 regulate lobbies.

A mere 10 ban anonymous political donations.

“Across Europe many of the institutions that define a democracy and enable a country to stop corruption are weaker than often assumed,” said Cobus de Swardt, who heads the watchdog.

A huge 74 percent of Europeans believe corruption is a major problem in their country, according to EU surveys.

The report said many governments are not accountable enough for their public finances and contracts worth a whopping 1.8 trillion euros ($2.25 trillion) in the European Union each year.

Only two countries adequately protect whistleblowers from retaliation while 17 countries lack codes of conduct for parliamentarians.

Citizens seeking to access public information face barriers in 20 countries, Transparency International added.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden were the best protected, but there had been a serious roll-back on corruption in some central and eastern European countries — notably the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia — since they joined the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU Makes First Step Towards Disputed Banking Union

(BRUSSELS) — As urgency mounts over Spain’s finances, the EU on Wednesday unveiled new plans for winding up failing banks, a first step towards a controversial eurozone “banking union”.

With the clock ticking down to an end-June summit seen as pivotal to the euro’s future, Madrid needs help to find 80 billion euros ($100 billion) for bank recapitalisations in the midst of a deep recession brought on by the bursting of a property bubble.

Against this sombre backdrop, the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Commission insist the eurozone must establish a banking union as a path towards deeper fiscal and political integration.

This should, the three bodies say, feature centralised supervision, cross-border deposit guarantees and a shared system for lenders that go bust — the plan that EU markets commissioner Michel Barnier set out in Brussels.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has identified the need for “fiscal integration, with a fiscal authority, and banking integration, a banking union with eurobonds, with a banking supervisor and a European bank deposit guarantee fund.”

France and Italy back this line, but Germany sees problems with introducing the deposit guarantees as well as allowing eurozone rescue funding to go straight to banks, in this case Spain’s.

“These instruments must be applied for by governments,” not banks, said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He also underlined that Berlin opposes cross-border deposit guarantees before other “important steps towards integration” have been taken.

Banking and fiscal union would entail massive shifts in sovereignty over budgets and supervision of lenders.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU-17: Zero Growth Confirmed, Italy Bottom of Rankings

Q1 eurozone GDP -0.1% , Eurostat

Zero growth for GDP in the eurozone and the EU in the first quarter of the year, Eurostat has confirmed today. In the same period Italy recorded a drop in GDP of 0.8%, the worst result among those reported by Eurostat after Hungary (-1.3%) and the Czech Republic (-1%). Compared with the first quarter of 2011 and after seasonal corrections, in the January-March 2012 period GDP — according to the Eurostat figures — dropped by 0.1% in the eurozone but rose by 0.1% in the EU-27. In the previous quarter the variations had been +0.7% and +0.8%. In Italy the Eurostat figures confirm a decrease in GDP on the year by 1.3%, which is above only those of Greece (-6.2%), Portugal (-2.2%), Hungary (-1.5%) and Cyprus (-1.4%), and is at the same level as that of the Netherlands. The Eurostat figures also confirm the driving role played by Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Slashes Pension Age to 60 for Thousands

France’s new Socialist government rolled back an emblematic reform of Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration on Wednesday with a decree lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers, a minister said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Giants Spend Millions Lobbying US

US finance firms poured almost half a billion dollars last year into lobbying the US government. The goal: Soften the blow of new financial rules. DW has learned that two German firms are among the big spenders.

In the wake of the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s and with tougher regulation looming with the passage of the Dodd-Frank act, (financial regulatory reform to improve transparency and accountability in the US financial system — the ed.) there is a lot at stake for finance companies doing business in the US.

That’s why the finance industry, since the crisis began with the bursting of the US housing bubble in 2007, has not slashed, but increased its lobbying efforts despite the severe losses that almost killed many banks and insurers at the height of the meltdown in 2008 and 2009.

In the pre-crisis year 2006 the finance industry spent $378 million (304 million euros) on lobbying. Five years later banks, insurers and real estate companies paid out $477 million, an increase of 26 percent, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The list of financial institutions coughing up millions every year to lobby the US government reads like the ‘Who is Who’ of American banking. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Citigroup — all the Wall Street heavyweights invest heavily and consistently in exerting influence on regulators and legislators.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Downgrades German and Austrian Banks

Credit rating agency Moody’s Wednesday lowered ratings for six German banking groups and Austria’s three largest banks. German lenders face increased risk of further shocks emanating from the euro area debt crisis, Moody’s said. Austrian banks were lowered due to their exposure to the financial crisis in eastern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama, Cameron Urge ‘Immediate Plan’ For Eurozone

(LONDON) — US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on the need for an “immediate plan” to resolve the eurozone crisis, in telephone talks, Downing Street said Wednesday.

The call was in the run-up to the G20 summit in Mexico later this month, where leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies will try to chart a way out of the global economic crisis.

In a conversation late Tuesday, Cameron and Obama “agreed on the need for an immediate plan to tackle the crisis and to restore market confidence, as well as a longer-term strategy to secure a strong single currency”, said a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s Downing Street office.

Cameron had been making clear for some time that the eurozone countries needed to take “decisive action” to bolster their currency, she added.

He believes this should involve creating an effective “firewall” to prevent contagion spreading; ensuring banks are well capitalised; developing a system of fiscal burden-sharing; and enacting a supportive monetary policy across the eurozone.

Cameron is due to visit Berlin on Thursday, where he is likely to urge German Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tighter fiscal governance in the eurozone.

A new plan set out by European Union markets commissioner Michel Barnier would set up a common system to wind up failed banks, a first step towards a controversial banking union in the eurozone.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We welcome the announcement today and the proposals. The UK government’s view is it represents a positive step in tackling the problem of ‘too big to fail’ in the banking sector.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama Calls Monti to Discuss Eurozone’s Response to Crisis

(AGI) Rome- Barack Obama called Mario Monti to discuss the need to strengthen the eurozone’s ability to react to the crisis.

Both the U.S. President and the Italian Prime Minister agreed on the importance of reinforcing Europe’s response capacity.

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

Possible Deal Takes Shape on Aid for Spain’s Banks

Spain has been reluctant to ask for European bailout money for its struggling banking sector. Now, a German newspaper is reporting that a possible compromise may have been found. With the Spanish economy struggling more than ever, a solution would come not a moment too soon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

US Holds Conference Call With China About Euro-Crisis

US finance minister Timothy Geithner on Wednesday called Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan to discuss Europe’s debt crisis, the US treasury said in a press statement. Pressure is mounting on EU decision makers to find a solution for Spain — either via a bail-out or direct funding to the country’s banks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Americans’ Heads Have Been Growing, Scientists Say

If you’re American with an average-sized head, your noggin is likely bigger than your ancestor’s was seven generations ago. That’s the implication of research by Richard Jantz and colleagues at the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee.

The scientists analyzed about 1,500 skulls, dated from various years in the 1800s and 1900s. The researchers focused on Caucasian individuals because there weren’t as many skulls from blacks and Hispanics. Although their conclusions are about white Americans, there is no reason to believe these patterns don’t pertain to other races, Jantz said. More research just needs to be done.

Over the last 150 years or so, it appears that skulls got narrower from side to side by about 5 to 7 millimeters, and higher from top to bottom by an average of nearly 10 millimeters, Jantz said. And the overall size of the head has, on average, increased by an amount equivalent to the size of a tennis ball, he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Islamic Mosque Nearly Complete in Northern Longview

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — “The mosque is complete,” said Dr. Mohammad Rashad, the imam of the mosque on Amy Street. “And in July, we plan, before Ramadan starts — one week before that — we’re going to do the inauguration. And after that, we’re planning to have an open house for all the people who have supported us. We’ll invite all the neighbors and the city and its people.” The roughly 40 Muslims, who have been meeting in a Longview apartment for about 30 years, announced plans in January to build a meeting place on a 6.6-acre lot just off the northern Longview city limit.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Memorial Day With Muslims

by Peter Skerry

Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, several thousand Muslims gathered in Hartford for the annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America. ICNA was founded almost 40 years ago by Indian and Pakistani university students intending to return home. Most of them never did, but their organization still has ties to Pakistan’s Jama’at-I Islami, the Islamist party founded by Sayyid Mawdudi, one of the twentieth century’s most notorious Muslim intellectuals. So this event featured much that would alarm or offend many Americans. Yet it also revealed how even Islamists here are adapting in ways that many of us would find encouraging, even gratifying. Nevertheless, these Islamists have yet to address the political realities of life in America.

ICNA’s Islamist lineage explains why its convention has been cosponsored by the Muslim American Society, or MAS, an affiliate of the Arab-oriented Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s more visible Islamist movement. But visibility was hardly the problem on Hartford’s deserted weekend streets. Among the many bearded men in conventional American garb were others in ankle-length thobes and kufi caps. Still more visible were the women, virtually all of whom were “covered” — most with head-scarfs (hijabs) and not a few in niqab, a veil covering the face, leaving only the eyes exposed. Inside the convention center, there were several “sisters only” sessions. But most events were open to men and women, though the 2,200 seats in the main auditorium were divided by a barrier of large potted plants that shielded women choosing not to sit with their male relatives on “the brothers’ side.”

The conference theme was: “Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah.” All the more surprising, then, was the well-attended session on business start-ups. Another panel featured a Muslim-American academic arguing that mosques here are “failing to make a connection to our young people.” And in response to complaints from women in the audience that they had been discouraged from praying at their local mosque, the researcher agreed that “many of our mosques don’t make sisters feel comfortable.” Particularly compelling was a “brothers only” session about avoiding the lure of drugs, alcohol, and pornography. At previous such events I have attended, middle-aged or elderly immigrant imams would cite passages from the Qur’an. But on this occasion, hundreds of adolescent males listened intently to two young imams only a few years older than they. These two spoke with the authority of individuals raised in this society, hinting that they understood the power of such temptations from their own experiences. One imam spoke especially persuasively of pornography’s destructive impact on marriages, emphasizing the alienation of Muslim wives from their addicted husbands.

Earlier that evening another young imam, American-raised but Saudi-educated, spoke on “the challenges of modernity.” He reminded the crowd that Islam had for too long resisted modernity, citing how Muslim societies had banned the printing press up to the middle of the nineteenth century. He then described a recent white-water rafting trip on which the guide advised that in case of capsizing not to fight the torrent but to “go with the flow.” So, too, this imam argued, must Muslims learn to adapt to modernity. Citing the example of homosexual marriage, he then argued while Muslims here did not have to endorse it morally, they would probably have to accept it as a matter of law. For anyone familiar with these organizations, such assertions are startling for their insight and force. Clearly, a new generation of American-raised Muslims is emerging to take over from their decidedly less-effective immigrant elders. Such leaders will undoubtedly help Muslims adapt and integrate to our changing society and culture.

Yet glaring issues remain unaddressed. As at other such gatherings I have attended, there was complete silence about political obligations that Muslim Americans have to this country. Though convened on a national holiday commemorating those who sacrificed for the rights that Muslim Americans now demand as citizens, there was not a single mention all weekend about how those rights have been secured. To be sure, there was one panel session on “Giving Back to the Homeland,” where ICNA highlighted its emergency relief efforts to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Yet one searches in vain for any display of the American flag or acknowledgment of the political obligations as well as the benefits of American citizenship. This silence is no accident. In part it reflects decades of “rights talk” in America to which Muslims generally have readily assimilated. But this silence more fundamentally reflects the Islamist ideology on which ICNA, MAS, and other such organizations are founded — an ideology that has yet to come to terms with loyalty to the nation-state, particularly where Muslims are in the minority.

Peter Skerry is co-covener of the Dialogue on Islam in America at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is completing a book about Muslims in America.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

New Mosque Envisioned for Short Pump

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) — Another mosque is in the works for Henrico County, this time in the most densely populated place, yet. Drawings made public by the West End Islamic Center (WEIC) call for the new, roughly 13,000 square foot building to go in a wooded area where Shady Grove and Twin Hickory Roads meet in Short Pump. A passerby would hardly call it more than an empty house, but there it sits, at Shady Grove and Twin Hickory…the tiny place the WEIC currently calls home. Now, plans first made public on the center’s web site call for that single-level, temporary house of worship to be knocked down. It would be replaced with a distinctive two-story mosque including space for prayer and school. Board members say it would help fellow Muslims worship -five times a day- closer to where they live and work. “As the community’s growing we’ve been trying to have a place here, locally, where our kids don’t have to travel half an hour, 40 minutes or more,” said Irfan Hasan of the WEIC, referring to the Islamic Center of Virginia (ICV) in Chesterfield. Soon, the ICV will have plenty of company. Plans for the building in Short Pump represent the third such mosque to be designed for Henrico County’s west end dating back to last year. There’s the mosque under construction in Lakeside, and the other future mosque being debated along Hungary Road. Both moved forward after Henrico’s government got a lesson, last year, in religious sensitivity.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction, Dies at 91, A.P. Says

Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction whose lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America, died on Tuesday in Southern California. He was 91.

By many estimations Mr. Bradbury was the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. His name would appear near the top of any list of major science-fiction writers of the 20th century, beside those of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and the Polish author Stanislaw Lem.

In Mr. Bradbury’s lifetime more than eight million copies of his books were sold in 36 languages. They included the short-story collections “The Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man” and “The Golden Apples of the Sun,” and the novels “Fahrenheit 451” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

[Return to headlines]

Sharia Law Should be OK With GOP

Many conservative Republicans claim that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim who is trying to enact Sharia Law, the strict law of the Muslim faith, into our laws in the U.S. So let’s take a closer look at Sharia Law.

According to Sharia Law:

  • A husband should be the head of the household and women should obey their husbands.
  • Government should be based on the religious laws in the Bible.
  • Homosexuality is illegal, and gay marriage or service in the military is banned.
  • Abortion is strictly forbidden.
  • Children in public schools should be indoctrinated with religious doctrines like the Ten Commandments.

Obama supports the separation of church and state and has worked to oppose every one of these tenets of Sharia Law. However, most conservative Republicans agree with these tenets of Sharia Law. In fact, the more you read about Sharia Law, the more it looks exactly like the platform of the Republican Party. So, conservatives are right about one thing. There really is a threat of Islamic Sharia Law being enacted in America, but it’s not from Obama. It is the very tea partiers and birthers who hate Obama so much who are actually trying to write Sharia Law into our Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Islamic Sharia is a Threat to Canadian Society

by Mike Harding

Last year I stood at Bay and Queen Streets in Toronto on Canada Day, to support Israel. But I also stood there in support of the Hudson Bay Stores whose head office is right there. The Hudson Bay Stores were given an ultimatum by Muslim groups in Canada that demanded the Hudson Bay Stores STOP carrying products made in Israel. Thankfully, the Hudson Bay Stores chose to stand up for and with Israel.

As well, Islam teaches to kill Christians and Jews in Islamic societies and it is the main reason for my stand against Islam and its barbaric teachings. Canada is a free country and I am so glad I live here and I intend to do all I can to keep it free. Things have not changed since last year; in fact, it has been worsening all over the world including Canada.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgian Right-Wingers Offer Burqa Bounty

(Reuters) — Belgian right-wingers have offered to pay a 250 euros ($310) bounty to anyone who reports a veiled woman to police, they said on Tuesday, in the wake of face veil riots in Brussels.

Filip Dewinter, a senior figure within Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party, told Reuters the riots had made police apprehensive about enforcing the burqa ban and that the payment should put pressure on authorities to further enforce it. “It’s a textile prison for the women who have to live under it,” he said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Belgian Far-Right Launch New Vigilante Scheme

Filip Dewinter, a leading member of Belgium’s far-right Vlaams Belang party, has offered a reward of €250 to anybody who reports a Burqa-wearing woman to the police, Reuters reports. Belgium imposed a burqa ban last year. Dewinter in April launched a website for people to denounce illegal migrants.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Breivik Refuses to Answer Oslo Court’s Questions About ‘World of Warcraft’

The Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik became angry and refused to answer questions in an Oslo court Wednesday after a prosecutor sought to quiz him about his time spent playing the “World of Warcraft” video game.

The 33-year-old killer became visibly upset when the prosecutor expressed a wish to ask questions about Breivik’s use of the game, according to the Verdens Gang newspaper.

Breivik told the court the game had nothing to do with the July 2011 attacks in Norway, and accused the court of trying to “ridicule” him.

“I do not want to answer any questions related to this,” he said.

The court had previously heard about Breivik’s obsession with playing computer games during his 20s.

Friends told the court that Breivik began to shut himself inside to play World of Warcraft in 2006, after moving in with his mother. At the time, he apparently had the specific intention of playing the game for a whole year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Corruption Watchdog Says Business and Politics ‘Too Cozy’

The anti-corruption group Transparency International says close ties between business and government across Europe have undermined economic stability. It singles out southern European countries as expecially corrupt. The 63-page document showed a “strong correlation” between failure to rein in public spending and inability to tackle graft.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Denmark Has Fewer But Larger Farms

The number of farms in Denmark has dropped by 50 per cent over the past 20 years.

There are fewer farms in Denmark, but the farms that are here are getting bigger.

According to the latest figures from Statistics Denmark, one in five Danish farms — some 8,000 — had at least 100 hectares of grain, rapeseed, hay or other crops last year compared with one in twenty farms with at least 100 hectares 20 years ago.

Denmark had a total of 40,700 farms in 2011, a 3.4 per cent drop on 2010. This compares with 77,000 farms 20 years ago.

Although farms are getting bigger, Denmark still has many small and medium-sized ones — some 22,300 farms have less than 30 hectares.

The figures also look at water use and irrigation across Denmark, finding that Jutland farms and nurseries tend to water their crops more than in eastern and central parts of the country.

Some 13 per cent of farms in Denmark watered their crops last year — three per cent of eastern Denmark farmers watered, five per cent of Funen farmers watered, while the figure for Jutland farmers was 18 per cent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Mayor of Nice Accused of ‘Stigmatising’ Muslim Population

The Right-wing mayor of Nice has been accused of “stigmatising” the southern French town’s Muslim population after passing a decree on “noisy” town hall weddings, in particular cheering, whistling and foreign flag-waving, which he says disturb the peace.

Since June 1, mayor Christian Estrosi, who belongs to the UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has outlawed “whistling”, deploying “flags, notably foreign ones”, the presence of “unauthorised” folk music groups, illegal parking around the town hall or holding up traffic to “dance” or “parade with banners or flags”. He said such behaviour was “liable to disturb the peace and solemnity of the moment” and could create “unfair delays in the proper running of weddings”. Any wedding parties failing to abide by the new rules could see their ceremony delayed by up to 24 hours. Opposition Socialists and rights groups have blasted the measure as a veiled attack against French Muslims whose traditional ululations are a frequent fixture at wedding ceremonies in France. They claim it is blatant anti-immigrant electioneering ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections in a staunchly Right-wing town where the far-Right National Front commands strong support.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France Signs in €3bn-a-Year Pensions Reform

The French government has signed into life a decree to lower the pension age to 60 for people who have worked since early in life, Reuters reports. Social affairs minister Marisol Touraine said it will cost €1.1 billion a year up to 2017 and €3 billion a year afterward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Louis XIV Railway Carriages Take to Paris-Versailles Line

Possibly the most glamorous local railway carriages in the world started operating on Wednesday between Paris and Versailles. They may look like any old beat-up railway train on the outside but inside they are decorated with reproductions of interiors from the royal château of Versailles.

For the modest price of a local network ticket passengers travelling to Versailles, just outside Paris, will have a décor fit for a king.

The first of five carriages decorated with reproductions of the château’s world-famous royal apartments built by Louis XIV, Louis XVI’s library and similar sumptuous scenes started running Wednesday. The others will all be in operation by the end of the year.

The line carries 550,000 passengers every day, 10 per cent of the regional network’s traffic, partly thanks to tourists visiting the Sun King’s palace.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Hostility Between Muslims and German Nationalists Rattles a Former Capital

By MELISSA EDDY / The New York Times

BONN, Germany — The people who live in the trim row houses with well-tended gardens that line the streets of this spa town along the Rhine like to boast of their city’s tolerance, which dates to its time as the capital of West Germany and home to dozens of foreign embassies. “We used to be a city of diplomats,” said Christa Menden, who owns a flower shop.

But since 1999, when the central government moved to Berlin, the capital of the reunited Germany, the diplomats have gone. Now there is a growing population of Muslim immigrant families, many of whom have moved into the neighborhood of Bad Godesberg, filling many of the houses left empty by the shift in capitals. Today Bonn, once tranquil, is a volatile cocktail of social tensions between its Muslim newcomers, who include some German converts as well as immigrants from Arab-speaking countries, with some hard-core elements, and a far-right nationalist group that is mounting a growing campaign against them.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out Brings Unexpected Costs

The German government was quick to approve a phase-out of nuclear power in the country after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now the costs of moving toward renewable energy are just being realized, and low-income consumers are paying the price.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Miracle Milk Molecule Keeps Obesity at Bay

Swiss research into a little-known “hidden vitamin” thought to be present in milk has yielded astonishing results. A group of researchers at the Polytechnic School in Lausanne (EPFL) have conducted research into the effect of the molecule nicotinamide riboside, which may also be present in other natural foods and drinks, including beer.

The researchers found that the molecule helped prevent obesity, increasing muscle performance and improving energy expenditure. In addition, it appeared that there are no side affects associated with the molecule, even when the doses were significantly increased.

“It really appears that cells use what they need when they need it, and the rest is set aside without being transformed into any kind of deleterious form,” author Carles Canto said in a statement.

The group first isolated the molecule, and then fed it to mice. Despite being on a high-fat diet, the mice gained significantly less weight than those that were not fed the molecule. They also showed no sign of developing diabetes.

Mice who had been fed the molecule also performed better in endurance tests, as well as in tests measuring heat loss in an air-conditioned environment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norwegian Far Right Says Breivik Correct to Fear Muslims

(Reuters) — Norwegian far-right leaders told the court trying Anders Behring Breivik on Tuesday the mass killer was right to fear his nation’s “planned annihilation” by Muslims, even if his method of combating it was wrong.

Breivik killed 77 people on July 22, first detonating a car bomb outside government headquarters and killing eight, then gunning down 69 people, mostly teenagers, at the ruling Labour Party’s summer camp on Utoeya Island. He argued his victims deserved to die because they supported Muslim immigration, which he said is adulterating pure Norwegian blood. “The constitution has been cancelled, we’re at war now,” Tore Tvedt, the founder of far-right group Vigrid told the court. Tvedt, 69, with greying hair and moustache, addressed the court in a firm voice. “When they get their will, the Nordic race will be exterminated,” he said of Muslim immigration. Breivik’s defence team called Tvedt and other far-right supporters to the stand to support their argument that Breivik is sane since his ideology is shared by others, even if their numbers are few. “Take a look at society in Pakistan, look at the 57 Islamic states. People there live in a regime of terror and slavery, that’s what we had under national socialism and in the Soviet Union, people were trapped in a terror state,” Arne Tumyr, the head of an anti-Islam group told court.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Schmoozing With the New World Order

Green Party Leader Slammed for Going to Bilderberg

The secretive annual Bilderberg conference of the global elite has inspired a host of conspiracy theories. Now a senior German Green Party politician is under fire for attending this year’s event. Many greens are asking what he was doing schmoozing with business and financial leaders.

Industry leaders from around the globe, heads of government and leaders of organizations such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization gathered over the weekend in Chantilly, Virginia for the 60th edition of the fabled Bilderberg conference on finance and foreign affairs. The list of participants reads like a global who’s who of the rich and powerful. Outgoing Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann was there, as was Shell CEO Peter Voser, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Teen Held for Child Rape

An 18-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of having raped two ten-year-old girls at a school in western Sweden on Monday afternoon. The teenager was arrested at his high school in Stenungsund on Tuesday. Police have classified the suspected offence as child rape but have otherwise released few details concerning the case.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swiss Man Charged With Somali Insurgency Links

A Kenyan court on Wednesday charged a Swiss man with being a member of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda allied Shebab, the latest in a string of foreign nationals accused of links to the Islamist insurgents.

Magd Najjar, who was initially reported to be Swedish when he was arrested last month, was charged in a court in the Kenyan capital Nairobi of “engaging in organized criminal activities by being a member of Al Shebab.”

Najjar was also charged with being in Kenya illegally. Najjar, who is believed to be in his late 20s, did not speak when he appeared in a crowded court room for the brief hearing. He did not issue a plea.

Bail was refused and the trial will begin on July 2nd, said Najjar’s lawyer Edna Khaemba.

Several foreign nationals are wanted by Kenyan police accused of planning bomb attacks or of being connected to the Shebab, including citizens from Britain, Germany and Turkey.

Briton Jermaine Grant is on trial in Kenya after he was found with various chemicals, batteries and switches which prosecutors say they planned to use to make explosives.

Prosecutors say that he was working with fellow Briton Samantha Lewthwaite, whose is on the run over terror plot allegations, and is the widow of Jermaine Lindsay, who attacked the London Underground in 2005.

Since Kenya sent forces into southern Somalia in October to fight the Shebab it has been hit by retaliatory attacks.

The warnings of possible attacks on Kenyan targets have increased in recent weeks, according to Western security analysts and monitoring groups.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Rise of the Right: Why Liberals Cannot Afford to Lose

by Yasmin Qureshi and Dr Nafeez Ahmed

As the Eurozone crisis has teetered along the edge of disaster thanks to continued political and economic instability in Greece, Spain and Italy, the meteoric rise in the popularity of far-right political parties raises grave questions about Europe’s future. Populist anger at economic mismanagement has led to unprecedented success for the extreme right in Greece and France, along with the fall of a string of governments such as Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Romania, Italy and the Netherlands — where the refusal of the far right Freedom Party to support Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s austerity measures in April led his minority coalition to collapse.

Previously, the Freedom Party’s 24 seats made it the third largest bloc in parliament, turning its founding leader Dutch MP Geert Wilders (pictured, right) into something of a kingmaker. Despite speculation that his sudden withdrawal from Rutte’s coalition would reduce his popularity, the opposite has happened. Exploiting the increasing unpopularity of austerity, Wilders’ call for budget decisions to be made not by the EU, but by domestic policymakers, has led his Freedom Party to outstrip the ruling Liberal Party. However, as in France, these far right gains have been outweighed by an even more popular Socialist Party, which has just doubled its seats to 30.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Toulouse Killer Mohamed Merah Was ‘Traced’ To Al-Qaeda Stronghold

Merah, a self-confessed al-Qaeda follower of French-Algerian origin, was killed in a police siege in Toulouse in March after shooting dead three paratroopers, a trainee Rabbi and three Jewish children, in a spree that shocked France.

“The Merah Case: the Investigation” by journalists Eric Pelletier and Jean-Marie Pontaut, due out on June 14, says “Western intelligence services” established a link between Merah and “an organisation close to al-Qaeda”.

It claims the spy services had detected the activation of “two internet addresses” linked to Merah in September 2011 in Miranshah, the capital of Pakistan’s Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold of North Waziristan.

It adds that they established Merah was using a telephone number at the time known to be used to contact an extremist group.

The journalists wrote that France’s DCRI domestic intelligence service “recognises” having received the information from “friendly” spy agencies, but only “several days after” Merah’s killings in southern France.

Merah’s killing spree sparked a deluge of criticism at home and abroad over how France’s intelligence services failed to trail him more closely given that they had singled him out as an extremist and that he was on a US “no-fly” list.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK Halal Commission Launched

Muslim Council launches new halal food lobby

Will defend halal slaughter methods

All halal foods (those permitted under Islamic dietary guidelines) will now be regulated by a new overarching body, the UK Halal Commission. Launched on Saturday, 2nd June 2012 at a special gathering of imams, scholars and health and food industry associations, the UK Halal Commission will act as the UK’s premier halal organisation, defending the halal industry from recent attacks and lobbying media and government.

False charges

At the Muslim Council (MCB)-sponsored event at Birmingham Central Mosque, the meeting signed a historic communiqué, the ‘Birmingham Declaration’. The Declaration underlined concern at attempts by pressure groups to change the law, potentially removing the exemption which allows religious communities such as Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals without stunning. The Declaration affirmed the Muslim community’s resolve to resist these attempts and to campaign against them.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: BBC’s Jubilee Coverage: Never Apologise, Never Explain

by Janet Daley

So the BBC has dismissed all the criticism of its ludicrous coverage of the Diamond Jubilee. What’s new? The BBC, as its critics really ought to know by now, is Never Wrong. The babyish, ignorant, patronising tone of its broadcasting during the Jubilee celebrations was perfect for the occasion, according to the Corporation’s official spokesman — and this was proven by the fact that its programming had been watched by more than 60 per cent of the total audience. Which is to say that nearly half of viewers went elsewhere — a quite remarkable failure rate for the national broadcaster which would once have been the unquestionable voice of the entire nation.


[Reader comment by Verdonk on 6 June 2012 at 07:46 am.]

Yes, the BBC is the closest agency to the Vatican in the world, self declared as infallible [never wrong by the very fact that what it utters defines truth and error] and indefectible [incapable of moral wrong by definition since it defines such morality]. And utterly lacking in transparency and scrutiny by other outside agencies or persons. The BBC is now a campaigning organisation. It has strict and rigid policy orientations on a raft of issues: climate ideology, Islam, sexuality, mass migration, cultural relativism.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Baroness Warsi: Falling or Being Pushed?

I’m not a great fan of Baroness Warsi. Although she has complained about Islamophobia she was happy enough to use alarmist homophobic literature in her 2005 campaign. And I wrote about my disagreement with her speech about militant secularism here.



I had missed the main article on Abid Hussain. As pointed out in the comments below, his job is giving out public money from Tower Hamlets council to “community groups”.

[H]is day job is as the £60,000-a-year “third sector and external funding manager” at Tower Hamlets council, overseeing grants to community groups.

That’s the real scandal here. A man with a background in the Muslim equivalent to Combat 18, in a local authority which has a substantial extremism problem. Who is he giving money to? The fact that he is a pal of a senior Tory is a symptom of the problem — these guys can’t be challenged, let alone removed.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Created Warsi — Will He be Forced to Destroy Her?

The Baroness was put in a near-impossible position by her leader and political patron, writes Paul Goodman.

In 2001, one in 10 voters were members of ethnic minorities. By 2050, that figure will have risen to one in five. And, in the words of Andrew Cooper, David Cameron’s head of strategy, “the number one driver of not voting Conservative is not being white”. Mr Cameron was well aware of the grim demographic implication of these facts for the Tories’ electoral prospects when he became party leader in 2005. They had only two ethnic minority MPs, Adam Afriyie and Shailesh Vara. Neither had much interest in the fissiparous politics of ethnicity and religion, or in being projected as the face of a modernising Conservative Party. Mr Cameron needed someone to oblige — urgently.

The someone who eventually did so was a punchy, plain-speaking Muslim woman solicitor and unsuccessful parliamentary candidate called Sayeeda Warsi. That Baroness Warsi has never won an election, and is in effect the Prime Minister’s own creation, is crucial to understanding her present troubles. In 2007, Mr Cameron plucked her from Conservative Campaign Headquarters and sent her to the House of Lords, complete with membership of the Shadow Cabinet and responsibility for community cohesion. I worked with Lady Warsi, doubling up in the same portfolio as an MP, and swiftly drew three conclusions.


And the architect of this mess isn’t so much Lady Warsi as David Cameron. There is a terrible circularity in the story of their relationship. Her original appointment protected the Conservative Party from accusations of racism. However unfairly, her plight exposes the Prime Minister to precisely that charge. In 2007, Mr Cameron rushed into the politics of ethnicity to get his party out of a tight spot. He may now have the opportunity to repent at leisure.

[Reader comment by tommo2 on 6 June 2012 at about 09:40 hrs.]

The labour choice for a Muslim representative peer fared no better. Bangladeshi Baroness Uddin stole £125,349 through fraudulent expense claims and was suspended from the HoL in October 2010. She declined to pay the money back while pretending she didn’t have funds to cover the debt. Uddin was reinstated in May 2012 since settling her account and brazenly re-assumed her seat in the Lords with no apology. Incidentally, Cameron hasn’t outlawed the radical Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir which is allowed to spread anti-Western propaganda in campuses across the country. Just another u-turn Dave?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Comrade Warsi, Fallen Hero of the People’s Revolution

by Dan Hodges

Yesterday I got back from a week’s holiday in Majorca. My return reminded me a bit of that short story by Raymond Bradbury, where the time traveller arrives back in the present, and finds a dead butterfly stuck to the sole of his shoe. He then realises that while things are ostensibly the same, some strange, subtle changes have occurred during his absence.


Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury has become a cause. A week ago she was a mouthpiece for the austerity-loving, proletariat-hating, toff-toasting, banker-backing one per cent. Today she is a woman, a Muslim, and a victim of the class, gender and race prejudice that infects David Cameron’s Tory party.


[Reader comment by validuscorporeanimoque on 6 June 2012 at about 13:45 hrs.]

“But the presence of a Muslim women at the top of our politics is hugely significant,” …yes, it is. It signifies that Muslims are gaining the upper hand when in fact their religion should be proscribed here since it represents the singlemost danger to our nation. It also signifies that our politicians are running scared of the fact. It signifies too, that we are a weak bunch of people in allowing this dysfunctional section of our society jockey into position for the wider introduction of sharia law and many of the awful features of their culture.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Can the BBC Still be a National Broadcaster?

The BBC’s central error in its coverage of the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant was — as Iain Martin has pointed out — to treat a news event as a piece of light entertainment. Despite the Corporation’s lack of public contrition, lessons had obviously been learned by the Tuesday, when the callow young things were shoved aside by proper historians and newscasters. But the whole farrago also spoke volumes about the BBC’s difficulty in being a national broadcaster in a fragmented age.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Want Teenage Girls’ Sexual Health Data to Help Crack Down on Child Sex Grooming

Police are in talks with doctors to get access to teenage girls’ sexual health records under plans to tackle child grooming gangs. They believe spikes in the number of sexual health tests in one area would be an early indication of an active gang and help detectives to launch investigations much sooner. But, according to The Independent, police still face a fight to convince doctors because of concerns over patient confidentiality and fears it could deter young people from getting tested. Discussions are still at an early stage as to whether police access will be granted to the record which can currently only be viewed by doctors. The database, currently only available to doctors, details: the date of each test taken; what was screened for; the patient’s age group; the broad area they come from and their ethnicity.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Simply Dazzling

THE sun did not shine on the Diamond Jubilee as much as we had hoped.

But after four days of spectacle and celebration Britain suddenly seems a brighter, happier, more confident place. A nation that has spent 2012 mired in the gloom of recession woke up this morning with a grin on its face. In paying tribute to the 60-year reign of a Queen who has embodied selfless devotion, we have given ourselves a welcome reminder of what makes this country so special. Still cynical? Just glance at the front page of today’s newspaper to see the ocean of smiling, cheering faces in The Mall yesterday. Or talk to any of the millions, both here and abroad, who watched history unfold on TV or the internet.

Such optimism has a solid foundation. The Jubilee has given the economy a much-needed boost. It has also been a mouth-watering taster for the London Olympics. The pomp and splendour of the past few days has been a priceless advert. It will have persuaded many foreign sports fans to take the plunge and book a trip to London 2012. Even the unexpected hiccups — the downpours and Prince Philip’s illness — only served to highlight the Queen’s incredible sense of duty as she carried on regardless. The Jubilee was a demonstration not just of our love for the Queen — but of our belief in a modern, forward-thinking Royal family. Once again William, Kate and Harry took a central role. Once again their composure and easy good humour proved the monarchy is in good hands. Would we really want to scrap such history and heritage for a head of state who is an ex-politician or civil servant?

Maybe when it’s pigs — not Spitfires — flying over Buckingham Palace.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The New Statesman’s Attempt to Paint Sayeeda Warsi’s Tory Critics as Racist

by Tim Montgomerie

If you don’t think Sayeeda Warsi is an ideal Tory Chairman you are a racist. The allegation is not made directly — smears rarely are — but readers of the New Statesmen are left in little doubt.

Exhibit A from Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman from 3rd April:

“Judged by the intensity and sheer volume of the anti-Warsi vitriol it is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that her critics don’t like her because she ticks three very un-Tory boxes: she is female, Asian and Muslim. Since it is 2012 and they can’t say as much in public, her right-wing opponents target instead her alleged lack of “competence” and “ability”.”

Exhibit B from Rafeal Behr on yesterday’s New Statesman blog:

“The anti-Warsi camp is very sensitive to the charge that it is motivated by racism, sexism or any other prejudice. It is all just a question of political effectiveness, they insist. That is plainly a bit disingenuous. There are plenty of white Tory men who would love a seat in the cabinet and flatter themselves by thinking they have been passed over because of a positive discrimination policy in favour of ethnic and gender diversity.”

The New Statesman is not the only place where you can read similar suggestions. Monday’s Independent, Ian Birrell in The Guardian and ex-Statesman hack James Macintyre have all tip-toed through not dissimilar territory. I’ve ignored it up until now — some of it directed to me and ConHome — because you hesitate to give legs to such sulphurous stuff but it’s being repeated too often to ignore.


[Reader comment by colliemum on 6 June 2012 at about 9am.]

The left will never become tired of shouting ‘racist’ at any Tory or just conservative person. It’s time for us to do what conservatives across the Big Pond have been doing for some time now: laugh at the ‘racist’-screamers, and tell them this particular word doesn’t wash any longer. It’s time we learned to stand up and point out to them that valid criticism is valid criticism, regardless of the skin colour of the person criticised.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: This Great Diamond Jubilee Had a Missing Ingredient

The British have lost the skill of making memorable speeches to mark big occasions, says Harry Mount.

The British do ceremonial occasions like nobody else on earth. Or so the conventional wisdom goes. Certainly, yesterday’s Jubilee celebrations showed our ceremonial architecture at its best — from St Paul’s Cathedral, showcase of British baroque, right back to Westminster Hall, an 11th-century survival from William Rufus’s reign. The military spectacle, the ceremonial uniforms, the royal fanfares… Tick, tick, tick. But something was missing — memorable oratory. True, the Archbishop of Canterbury was his usual, planet-brained, measured self in his sermon; the Prime Minister was audible and clear in the reading of Romans 12.1-18. And the Queen, as ever, was word perfect.

But there was no great speech, let alone one with the fine delivery that makes beautifully written words leap off the page into memorable oratory. The philosopher AC Grayling got it right at the Hay Festival this week, when he said that the British have lost the art of speech-making. Soundbites, tweets and an increasingly visual culture have eaten away at the marrow of political and regal communication.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Yemen: Al-Qaeda Starts Suicide-Bomber Recruitment Drive

Sanaa, 5 June (AKI) — Al-Qaeda has launched a drive to recruit suicide bombers in Yemen, said a statement posted to jihadist websites on Tuesday, purportedly from the terror network.

US, Israeli, French, British and “apostate” Yemeni government sites are top objectives but anti-Islamists, economic and military organisations and the press will also be targeted, the statement said.

“This is an unprecedented campaign aimed at recruiting anyone who wants to carry out a suicide attack against a western target,” read the statement.

Headlined “Come aboard the martyrs’ caravan’, the statement continues: “The purpose of this campaign is to reach those who intend to carry out a suicide bombing and are looking how to do it and slay the greatest number of victims.”

Individuals make the best suicide bombers because “they are harder for the enemy to identify,” the statement claimed adding that the bomber should coordinate with Al-Qaeda’s command in Yemen

“There are normally three steps involved in carrying out a suicide bombing: selecting a target, gathering the information needed to undertake the operation and carrying this out,” the statement said.

Al-Qaeda in Yemen should approve the target of the planned attack, train the suicide bomber and claim the attack should it be successful, according to the statement.

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


Serbian President Under Fire for Denying Srebrenica Genocide

Serbia’s new nationalist president sparked international criticism when he called the massacre at Srebrenica merely a serious crime in need of investigation. His comments may hinder Serbia’s chances of joining the EU.

In an interview with Montenegrin television, newly elected Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said it was “very difficult to prove in court that an incident took the form of genocide.” He went on to call the massacre that occurred in Srebrenica a “serious war crime committed by a few Serbs,” adding that the perpetrators should face criminal charges for their actions.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice, however, see the matter differently. Both bodies called the murder of more than 8,000 Bosniaks by Serbian troops in July 1995 an act of genocide. The courts went on to rule that Serbia was not directly responsible for the massacre, but added that the country broke international law by failing to prevent it, and by not contributing to bringing those responsible to justice.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

1.4 Bln Euro Allocated for Southern Regions

(AGI) Rome -The government and the regions agreed to allocate almost 1,4 billion euro for fostering social inclusion in the South. The government and the regions agreed, during today’s meeting of the State-Regions Conference, to tap a special Development and Cohesion Fund for the South for almost 1.4 billion euro. It was announced by the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion in a statement. “About one quarter of these resources, mostly aimed at increasing social inclusion and the quality of public services, were granted on a merit basis, that is based on how close each region was to achieve the goals set for the 11 indicators of service quality”, the statement reads.

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

North Africa

Libyans Ask “Where is the State?” After Airport Seized

TRIPOLI (Reuters) — Invading Libya’s biggest international airport was embarrassingly easy: the attackers cut the wire perimeter fence in broad daylight, and then drove onto the tarmac while airport security chiefs stood and watched.

The occupation of Tripoli airport for several hours on Monday by an armed militia force has compelled policymakers in Europe and the United States to ask what sort of country they helped create when they joined the campaign last year to force Muammar Gaddafi from office.

Libya, home to Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, is free from Gaddafi’s repression, but it is a chaotic country where nearly a year on from the end of the revolt, the state still barely exists.

Garbage piles up uncollected in suburban streets, drivers park their cars in the middle of highways, and, as incidents like the attack on the airport underscore, rag-tag militias who answer only to their own commanders are more powerful than the police and army.

“How can these people … close the airport like this?” asked Adel Salama, a civil society activist in Zintan, a town whose fighters used to control the airport before handing over to the central government back in April.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

German Translates Oldest Known Hebrew

The oldest known written ancient Hebrew other than the Bible has emerged as laws to protect slaves, widows, orphans and foreigners, according to the German theologian who translated the script.

The five lines of ancient Hebrew were painted onto a clay pot about 3,000 years ago. Their author is thought to have been a trainee court official — they were instructed to write out important laws over and over again to improve their writing skills.

Archaeologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered the inscription-covered clay slab in 2008 while excavating the site of a ancient city known to have existed in 10 BC, Khirbet Qeiyafa, which lies 25 kilometres south-west of Jerusalem.

They sent copies to experts in ancient languages, who all had a go at translating the ancient scripture.

Professor of Protestant theology at the University of Münster, Dr. Reinhard Achenbach’s final interpretation was published recently in the French-language Hebrew studies journal Semitica.

“The language seems to be ancient Hebrew, but it is closely related to other west-semitic canaanite languages,” the Old Testament expert told The Local in an email.

The tablet’s significance lay in its instructions to take care of the disadvantaged of ancient Israeli society.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Jerusalem House Firebombed as Israeli Government Stokes Anti-Immigration Fervour

Violence against African immigrants in Israel spiked once more as an apartment housing 10 Eritrean asylum-seekers was firebombed on Monday. At least four residents suffered burns and smoke inhalation when trying to extinguish the blaze, in an attack the police are treating as arson due to graffiti saying “leave the neighbourhood” which was daubed on the property.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Economy: Turkey and Lebanon on Way to Integration, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, JUNE 6 — Lebanon and Turkey aimed to reach an economic integration, Anatolia news agency reports quoting Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Nicolas Nahhas as saying on Wednesday. Nahhas stressed that “the process called ‘Arab Spring’ is just the beginning. We can now move on to a stage in which we can have more active cooperation from a sleeping peace”. “Following Turkey’s grant of a license to the Audi Bank, we will work so as to facilitate a platform between our two countries,” Nahhas stated. “In the recent period, Turkey and Lebanon have a goal to move towards an economic integration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Jordan: Civil Groups Back Woman Suing an Islamic Bank Over Dress Code Sacking

AMMAN // Civil society groups and human rights organisations in Jordan are backing a woman who is suing an Islamic bank that sacked her because she refused to wear the hijab.

Vivian Salameh, a Christian, finds herself at the centre of the debate over how accommodating Jordan should be when Islamic and secular principles clash. She was sacked last month after she refused to wear the head cover, imposed on all female employees as part of a dress code introduced in January 2011 by the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank. The Jordanian Network of Civil Society Organisation, which consists of 10 rights groups and NGOs, expressed its concern over Ms Salemeh’s sacking and urged the bank to “return her back to her job”.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Qatari Bank Set to Buy Ailing UK Lender IBB

Qatar’s Masraf Al Rayan is in discussions to become the biggest shareholder in Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), a troubled Sharia-compliant lender.

Masraf Al Rayan, the biggest Islamic bank in Qatar, announced after a board meeting on Monday that it had entered negotiations to obtain a controlling stake in IBB through a capital increase. “Masraf Al Rayan will acquire 70 per cent of the bank and the government of the state of Qatar will acquire the remaining 30 per cent,” the bank said. “This is subject to obtaining approval of the official authorities in the state of Qatar and the United Kingdom.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

So, What Did the Muslims Do for the Jews?

by David J Wasserstein

Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth. The argument for it is double. First, in 570 CE, when the Prophet Mohammad was born, the Jews and Judaism were on the way to oblivion. And second, the coming of Islam saved them, providing a new context in which they not only survived, but flourished, laying foundations for subsequent Jewish cultural prosperity — also in Christendom — through the medieval period into the modern world.


Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond. Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms — all for the better.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkish Muslims Slam Blasphemous Article on Yahoo News

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — An article on popular news website Yahoo News on Monday has drawn widespread criticism from Turkish theologians for its blasphemous content and manipulation of fundamental Islamic principles. The controversial article, written by Donald Pennington, refers to Islam in its headline as “dangerous” and “outdated” and suggests that it should be rejected by all. Referring to the conviction of a Kuwaiti man, Hamad al-Naqi, to a 10-year jail sentence for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, it describes Islam as a threat to the freedom of expression. Professor Hamdi Döndüren, a theologian, said the allegations in Pennington’s article are groundless and based on ignorance about fundamental Islamic principles. Döndüren warned that the publication of such articles that insult Islam and the Prophet Muhammad foment Islamophobia in the West.


[JP note: The article in question is no longer available on Yahoo news, but may be accessed here ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UAE: Three Men Abuse 9-Year-Old Boy

DUBAI: A nine-year-old Indian schoolboy’s walk to school was frequently intercepted by three sodomists, a hearing was told on Tuesday. On the evening of March 28 in Abu Hail, MM’s father found him hiding in a nearby mosque for fear that the compatriot paedophiles would grab him on the way, he said. The Dubai Criminal Court heard that the first suspect AA, 21, a grocery salesman, was actually sodomising the boy daily in March. “He took advantage of the time when MM was going for evening religious lessons and took him to an abandoned villa in the neighbourhood,” explained prosecutors. Both NA, 42. a driver, and MH, 40, a barber, reportedly abused the boy. They used to grab him from the bus stop and take him to different places. The duo also allegedly threatened to beat MM if he notified anyone of their heinous activity, it was said. Prosecutors urged the bench presided by Judge Mohamed Jamaal to hand down the death penalty in the case. The case was adjourned until June 19 to authorise a lawyer for AA.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Russian General Warns Finland About NATO

Joining alliance would constitute a “military threat” to Russia, Makarov says

Russia’s efforts to re-establish its great power status and to increase its influence in great power politics are manifesting themselves on a concrete level in policy toward Finland. Moscow has made note of Finland’s defence and security policy decisions, and the Russian government is becoming more open in attempts to influence those decisions.

Perhaps the bluntest message in recent history came when General Nikolai Makarov, the commander of the Russian armed forces, offered a fusillade of views concerning Finland at an event organised by the Finnish National Defence Course Association at the University of Helsinki.

In previous years Russia’s official stance was that it is up to Finland to decide whether or not to join NATO. However, this view now seems to have changed quite radically. Makarov warned directly that possible NATO membership for Finland would constitute a military threat against Russia. Russia is also concerned about closer military cooperation between Finland and NATO.

General Makarov mentioned as examples the military exercises held in Northern Norway earlier this year, as well as the manoeuvres held in the Baltic Sea in 2010. Even defence cooperation among the Nordic Countries was seen by Makarov to be a military threat to Russia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: At Least 23 Killed in Kandahar Suicide Attack

At least 23 people have been killed and dozens more wounded due to a suicide motorcycle bomb in Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar.

One suicide bomber detonated his motorbike filled with explosives first. Then, as people rushed to assist the casualties, another suicide bomber on foot walked up to the area and blew himself up, said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for Kandahar province. He said the death toll stood at 23 and that 50 were wounded. All the dead were civilians, he said. “All casualties are civilians — not a single military person,” he said, describing most victims as drivers, their assistants and workers. The Kandahar Air Base is the largest NATO military base in southern Afghanistan, which has been a flashpoint for Taliban insurgents over the past decade. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the explosion, which occurred near small shops in a parking and waiting area for trucks that supply logistics to Kandahar Air Field, a massive military installation run by the U.S.-led coalition. Suicide attacks are a common Taliban tactic, along with roadside bombings that often miss their military targets and kill civilians.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Distrust Fuels Anti-Muslim Violence in Myanmar

SITTWE, Myanmar — An eruption in religious tensions in Myanmar has exposed the deep divisions between the majority Buddhists and the country’s Muslims, considered foreigners despite a decades-long presence. The violence threatens to overshadow reconciliation efforts in the country formerly known as Burma, where there has been a series of dramatic political reforms since almost half a century of military rule ended last year. The trigger for the latest surge in sectarian tensions was the rape and murder of a woman in western Rakhine state, which borders Bangladesh, for which three Muslim men have been detained, according to state media. On Sunday a mob of hundreds of people attacked a bus, believing the perpetrators were on board, and beat 10 Muslims to death.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India: Muslim Girl Can Marry at 15 if She Attains Puberty: HC

Ruling that a Muslim girl can marry as per her choice at the age of 15 years if she has attained puberty, the Delhi High Court has held the marriage of a minor girl valid and allowed her to stay in her matrimonial house. “This Court notes that according to Mohammedan Law a girl can marry without the consent of her parents once she attains the age of puberty and she has the right to reside with her husband even if she is below the age of 18…,” a bench of justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India: Has Skin Whitening in India Gone Too Far?

By Rajini Vaidyanathan BBC News, Mumbai

For centuries Indian women have been raised to believe that fairness is beauty, and this has given rise to a vast and ever-growing skin-whitening industry — which is now encouraging women to bleach far beyond their hands and face.

It all began with a YouTube video a friend sent me. You need to see this, she said, trying to contain her shock and laughter. And so I pressed play.

It was an advert. A couple sits on a sofa. The husband reads a paper ignoring his beautiful wife: her face, a picture of rejection.

What could this be selling? I wondered, as I watched.

Moments later, this scene of spurned love turned soapy when the leading lady was seen taking a shower.

But — she wasn’t using any ordinary shower gel. No, she was using a skin lightening wash, which, as the graphic which then popped up on screen informed the viewer, would lighten her genitals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Headscarf Law Provokes Criticism

Jakarta, 6 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — The planned enactment of a law making it obligatory for women to wear headscarves in the Indonesian city of Tasikmalaya has drawn criticism from activists and a lawmaker but a hard-line Islamic group has given its support.

Hemasari, a women’s rights activist from West Java province, considered the bylaw biased because “it is not based on practical social values”.

She said the municipal administration, which is trying to gain Tasikmalaya the status of a “religious city”, should have prioritized sharia laws on business and education rather than regulating dress codes.

The city passed the rule in 2009 and is now awaiting the administration’s regulations for its enactment. It will require Muslim women, including visitors, to wear headscarves.

Hemasari said the requirement would not be relevant in the administration’s efforts to change people’s behavior. “Women may wear the scarf while in the municipality but will simply take it off when out of town,” she told The Jakarta Post in Bandung on Tuesday.

Hemasari, who hails from Tasikmalaya, doubted that the bylaw would be effective in curbing the escalating crime rate or violations of Islamic norms as sought.

She told the administration to reflect on a previous bylaw banning alcoholic drinks. She said the bylaw had failed to curb death rates caused by alcohol.

Hemasari, a former member of Bandung Law Aid Foundation (LBH), joined a seven-day strike by four senior high school students in Garut in 1980 in protest at the school’s refusal to let students wear headscarves.

“In the past, we were banned from wearing the headscarves, now we are forced to wear them. Let wearing a headscarf be an exclusively private matter for every Muslim woman,” she said.

She told the administration to first implement Islamic business and education systems well so that wearing headscarves became desired instead of enforced.

“If they prove they can benefit from sharia implementation, people will feel self-obliged to follow sharia law,” she said.

Other than requiring women to wear headscarves, the bylaw also outlines 15 additional offenses, including corruption, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, drug use and trafficking, consuming alcohol, looking at pornography, thuggery, promoting cults and abortion.

Criticism also came from Syaful Harahap, an NGO activist caring for HIV/AIDS victims. He wondered why abortion was categorized as violence, citing an Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) fatwa allowing abortion for fetuses under 40 days in emergency situations.

He said he doubted whether municipal sharia-monitoring personnel could detect that someone was a homosexual or lesbian. “The matter might become complicated if a gay person arrested turns out to be transgendered,” he said.

In Jakarta, Eva Kusuma Sundari, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle

(PDI-P), said the draft regulation was unconstitutional and amounted to “discrimination against women”.

“Local council members should oppose this kind of regulation. I also urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi to curb local politicians who are challenging our Constitution,” Eva said.

Tasikmalaya city secretary Tio Indra Setiadi previously said that preparations were expected to be completed and the bylaw on Community Values Based on Muslim Teachings would be enacted soon.

The bylaw has been applauded by the Islam Defenders’ Front (FPI), saying that the bylaw was accordance with Tasikmalaya’s Islamic values.

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

Myanmar Muslims Protest Over Mob Killings

YANGON, Myanmar: Scores of Myanmar Muslims held a rare protest in the country’s biggest city on Tuesday to demand justice for nine pilgrims killed by a Buddhist mob in an attack that has stirred communal tension. The demonstration at a mosque in central Yangon was peaceful and ended by early evening, but at least six trucks loaded with police close by.

Some demonstrators showed pictures of the bloodied and beaten bodies of the nine Muslims who were killed on Sunday in Taunggoke in western Rakhine state, when anger erupted over the reported rape and murder of a Buddhist woman by a gang of young Muslims.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

Australian Minister Heightens Security in China

Australia’s defense minister says he left his delegation’s laptop computers and cellphones behind before flying to mainland China in order to protecting the confidentiality of government communications.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported Wednesday that Defense Minister Stephen Smith took extraordinary precautions against Chinese espionage by leaving computers and phones in Hong Kong before flying to Beijing for a goodwill visit. His staff were given fresh phones in China with new numbers.

Smith declined to tell Australian Broadcasting Corp. television from Beijing whether he had been hacked on any previous visit to China. But he said he had taken such security measures before.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Anger Over Proposal to Ban Child Killers Having Kids

The New Zealand government has sparked anger among some MPs and rights activists with a suggestion convicted child killers be ordered not to have children.

The government is drafting a discussion paper on tougher measures to prevent child abuse.

Social development minister Paula Bennett says one possibility is to enact legislation or empower courts to remove babies at birth from parents who are convicted child killers or abusers.

Ms Bennett says last year nearly 150 children were taken away from their parents within a month of birth due to safety fears.

She says each case required a separate court order.

Ms Bennett says the discussion paper will look at other options.

“If you have killed or seriously abused a child, maybe we should tell them that any future children will be removed at birth,” she said.

“That they can’t work with or be in a house with children.”

She says the government is not considering forced sterilization.

Peter Dunne, leader of United Future — one of the government’s support parties — says the idea harkens back to the days of Nazi Germany and has no place in a democratic society.

The Green Party and a poverty action group say courts already have the power to take children out of dangerous situations.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Crescent Unveils First Sharia-Compliant Fund

MUSLIM Australians will be able to stash their cash with today’s launch of Crescent Wealth’s first Islamic cash management trust, which hopes to attract up to $100 million during the next few years.

Managing director Talal Yassine said he expected much of the money to come from Australian mosques. “Islamic Australians and institutions have had little choice so far but to put their cash reserves in non-compliant cash trusts,” he said. Funds will be passed to HSBC Amanah Malaysia Berhad, which is partnering the product with Crescent, and will be invested in Australian-dollar denominated Islamic term deposits. Because paying interest is prohibited under Islamic law, the sharia-compliant trust instead pays a fixed profit, expected to be the equivalent of 3 per cent to 4 per cent a year. The fixed return to Australian investors will stem from palm oil trading profits, where HSBC’s Malaysian subsidiary will bear the trading risk.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Army Kills 16 Members of Boko Haram

(AGI) Abuja — Sixteen Boko Haram terrorists died in a big Nigerian army operation in Maiduguri, in the northeast. The operation uncovered weapons, explosives, and ammunition. “No soldier reported any type of injury during the raid,” said Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, head of the Maiduguri ‘JTF’, the special task force composed of the best units in the Nigerian security forces, to which the central government has entrusted the task of restoring law and order in large parts of the north of the country devastated by the Islamic fundamentalists. Boko Haram (whose name means ‘everything that isn’t Islam is sin’) is fighting for the imposition of Sharia (Islamic law) in the country, both in the Islamic majority north and the Christian south. Since the start of its campaign of violence in 2009, the group has murdered more than 1,200 people and has also claimed a series of attacks on Christian churches (the most recent last Sunday on a Pentecostal church in the northern state of Bauhi, where 21 people died).


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tanzania: Muslim Clerics Call for New Census Team

A SECTION of Muslims has asked the government to form an independent commission before August 2012 that will oversee the population and housing census. Various Islamic leaders said the commission should consist of representatives from all religions including atheists to take part in the organization, gathering and presentation of the 2012 population statistics. The leaders were addressing Muslims in Dar es Salaam yesterday on the state of the nation including recent protests in Zanzibar and drafting of a new constitution.

According to the Secretary of the Council of Islamic Organizations in Tanzania, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, failure to form an independent commission will make Muslims in the country lose faith in the exercise and fail to participate.”If the government does not take an action by June 20, this year, Muslims all over the country will not participate in the August population and housing census,” he said. He said the current commission consists of more Christians, making Muslims not to believe that the census would be free and fair. Sheikh Ponda said that an independent commission should be tasked with establishing the exact population of Muslims, Christians and atheists in the country.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Barack Obama’s Unwelcome Jubilee Present to Britain: Washington Reaffirms OAS Resolution Calling for Falklands Negotiations With Argentina

by Niles Gardiner

Barack Obama was all smiles in his carefully scripted message of congratulation to Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee. But at the same time as he recorded his message, his administration was actively undermining Great Britain at the annual meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS), held in Bolivia. The OAS General Assembly, which includes the United States, has just re-adopted the 2010 “Declaration on the Question of the Malvinas Islands,” which backed Argentina’s call for negotiations between London and Buenos Aires over the Falkland Islands.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


UK: Gangmasters Caught Running Illegal Labour Teams Escape Prosecution

Hundreds of gangmasters caught running illegal migrant labour squads are avoiding prosecution, it can be revealed.

Gangmasters provide labour to farms, food processing plants and factories, which often supply big high street names. Many operate perfectly legally under licence but ministers say unscrupulous gangmasters have links to organised crime and are responsible for tax evasion and people trafficking as well as abusing workers and committing safety violations.

MPs say rural communities are being blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour committed by gangs of itinerate migrant labourers who are poorly paid and housed. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority was set up in 2004 to combat so-called modern-day slavery and license gangmasters following the Morcambe Bay disaster of 2004 in which 23 people drowned while cockle picking. New figures show 205 people have been identified as operating as illegal gangmasters but have only been given ‘warning notices’ since 2008. Of these 122 were in 2011 alone. This is despite the maximum sentence for being a gangmaster without a license is ten years in prison.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]