News Feed 20120621

Financial Crisis
» Debt Crisis: Markets Bet Germany Will be Dragged Down With Everyone Else
» Ahmadiyya Islam’s Khalifa to Head 64th Annual U.S. Convention, 10,000 Expected to Attend
» CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Hate Blogger’s Call to Destroy Fla. Mosque
» ‘Four Hours of Hell’ For New York-Bound Jet
» Instructor Sacked Over Anti-Islamic Class
» Report: U.S. Mosques ‘Healthy and Growing, ‘ Active in Interfaith and Outreach Activities
» Feeding Local Families
Europe and the EU
» Bulgarian Mayor Defends Imam Against Radical Islam Charges
» DM’s Kelvin Mackenzie Advocates UK Veil Ban
» Norway: Anders Behring Breivik Trial Nears End With Closing Arguments
» Sweden: Terror Alert as Explosives Found Near Nuclear Power Plant
» Swiss Professional Footballer ‘Philippe Senderos’ Converts to Shia Islam
» UK: 1D’s Zayn Branded a ‘Pimp’ For Islam
» UK: Couple ‘Planned to Bomb Manchester Jewish Area’, Court Hears
» UK: Face of the Fiend Who Ran Child Sex Empire: Father Convicted of 30 Rapes
» UK: London? We’re Just an Offshore Colony of the UAE
» UK: Muslim Pair Accused of Planning Jihad Bomb Attack on Jews in Britain
» UK: Mothers Stage Sit-in at Stockwell Primary School Over Poster on Girls’ Mutilation
» UK: Terror Accused Shasta Khan Denies Jihad Plan at Oldham Home
North Africa
» Tunisia Arrests Official After Riots Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art
Israel and the Palestinians
» 5 Million Palestine Refugees Are Registered in Total in 2012
Middle East
» Cheating Widespread at Kuwait University
» Erdogan the Misogynist
» Lebanon: Freed Islamists Slam Their Detention Without Trial
» Review: Islam and the Arab Awakening [Tariq Ramadan]
» UAE’s Cultural Chasm May Benefit Islamists
» US-Backed Rebels Committing Christian Genocide in Syria
South Asia
» Afghanistan Expects $4 Billion in Aid Pledges at July Conference
» India in Race to Contain Untreatable Tuberculosis
» Suicide Attack on Checkpoint in Eastern Afghanistan Kills 3 US Soldiers, 18 Afghans
» Asylum-Seeker Boat Carrying 200 Capsizes Off Australia
» UK: Bogus Immigration Adviser Muhammed Shakoori Charged £700 for Two Letters
» UK: Theresa May Accused of Unacceptable and Regrettable Behaviour by Judge

Financial Crisis

Debt Crisis: Markets Bet Germany Will be Dragged Down With Everyone Else

by Jeremy Warner

Nobody ever got rich shorting Japanese government bonds, it is often said. Are those now aggressively shorting German bunds about to fall into the same trap?

To investors who think the ever more mountainous size of Japan’s national debt is eventually bound to end in fiscal disaster, shorting Japanese bonds has long seemed the closest thing to a certain bet the international capital markets are capable of. Yet J-bonds continue to defy the bears; just when you think yields can go no lower, they fall even more. However apparently illogical and damaging to economic redemption it might seem, government debt has remained the asset class of choice for the land of the setting sun.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Ahmadiyya Islam’s Khalifa to Head 64th Annual U.S. Convention, 10,000 Expected to Attend

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the fifth Khalifatul Masih (the successor of the Messiah) for the world’s tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims, will deliver keynote addresses over three days to an expected crowd of 10,000 Ahmadi Muslims during the Community’s 64th annual U.S. convention in Harrisburg, Penn. The three-day event will be held Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 1.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Hate Blogger’s Call to Destroy Fla. Mosque

(SOUTH FLORIDA, 6/20/12) — The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFL) today called on the FBI to investigate a call by Pamela Geller, the leader of an anti-Muslim hate group, to demolish a mosque in that state. Geller, who appears as a regular guest on FOX News, posted an article on her blog, titled “Obama’s DOJ secretly drops terrorism charges in Taliban Case,” calling for a Florida Mosque to be demolished. This comes after the Department of Justice dropped charges against Irfan Khan, one of the defendants that was recently arrested and indicted on terrorism support charges.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘Four Hours of Hell’ For New York-Bound Jet

LAS VEGAS, NV — A mechanical failure sent a JetBlue plane careening wildly through the skies, sparking panic among the 155 people aboard the Las Vegas to New York flight.

Passengers said the plane lurched from side to side after its hydraulic system failed during “four hours of hell” on Sunday and described hearing a mechanical screeching shortly after takeoff.

Tom Mizer, one passenger, said, “People were getting sick. Some people were throwing up. There were a lot of people getting nauseous.”

He said one member of the crew walked down the aisle trying to keep passengers calm.

“[She said] Look at me — I’m smiling. If I was scared, you would know it. If I’m not scared, you don’t need to be.”

One of the pilots declared an emergency and radioed Las Vegas controllers that they were dealing with “quite a few things, but the initial thing is… we’ve lost two hydraulic systems.”

The plane was loaded with five hours’ worth of fuel. Because the A320 is incapable of dumping excess fuel, the pilots circled the area south of the Vegas Strip until it burned enough to allow the crippled plane to land safely.

Travis McGhie added, “The plane kind of felt out of control. It wasn’t able to balance itself, and the air was choppy.”

The side-to-side weaving was likely a sign that the pilots had lost lateral control, said Dave Esser, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.

An Airbus manual describes a double hydraulic failure as “improbable in operation.”

Esser said an Airbus has enough backup systems that the passengers were not in serious danger. “Even if everything failed, there would have been a way to manually land the aircraft,” he said.

The runway was closed for about 30 minutes until the aircraft was towed off the runway.

A replacement Airbus took got the passengers to New York eight hours late.

JetBlue confirmed the incident. The FAA is investigating.

[Return to headlines]

Instructor Sacked Over Anti-Islamic Class

The US military said on Wednesday “poor judgement” allowed an instructor to present inflammatory anti-Islamic material in a course for senior officers. The instructor has been removed from his teaching job at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, and the elective course will be redesigned, officials said, citing the results of a review ordered by the US military’s top officer, General Martin Dempsey. The course, entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism,” had “portrayed Islam almost entirely in a negative way,” said Dempsey’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Lapan.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Report: U.S. Mosques ‘Healthy and Growing, ‘ Active in Interfaith and Outreach Activities

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The second installment in a series of reports based on the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 released today indicates that Islamic houses of worship are “healthy and growing” and are engaged in a high level of educational, interfaith and outreach activities. A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations sponsored the comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States from which the latest report, titled “The American Mosque 2011: Activities, Administration and Vitality of the American Mosque,” was compiled. To view the entire report, go to:


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Feeding Local Families

Local mosque celebrates five years of food bank program

The B.C. Muslim Association’s Al-Salaam mosque is celebrating five years of feeding local families. The association has been running a food bank out of the mosque on Canada Way since 2007 and is expected to distribute 42,000 pounds of food this year. “It’s amazing because when we started, it was only five families,” said Imaad Ali, the mosque’s community outreach director.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bulgarian Mayor Defends Imam Against Radical Islam Charges

Mustafa Alikanov, Mayor of the southern Bulgarian town of Sarnitsa, has defended a local imam, who, alongside 12 other people was charged Monday with preaching radical Islam.

According to Alikanov, the accusations against Said Muutlu are unfounded and will have a negative impact on the tourist season in Sarnitsa. The Mayor of Sarnitsa told journalists Tuesday that the alleged head of the Bulgarian branch of the Al Waqf-Al Islami foundation was still delivering lectures and sermons at one of the three mosques in the town.

He said that Muutlu had always observed permissible limits, preaching the translated Quran. Alikanov stressed that officials from the US Embassy and of the Bulgarian Chief Mufti’s Office had visited Sarnitsa over a month ago to examine the case and had concluded that it was all about attempts at defamation. The Mayor insisted that the residents of the southern Bulgarian town stood firmly behind the imam and his sermons.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

DM’s Kelvin Mackenzie Advocates UK Veil Ban

Saturday’s Daily Mail carried a short piece by columnist Kelvin MacKenzie in which he described the veil ban in France as a ‘great success’, framing the garment as a choice tool for criminals, and suggests that a 2015 Conservative manifesto clause in support of a UK ban on the face veil would be a vote winner.


A recent study by researchers at Queen Mary College found that the criminalisation of face-veils in Europe had been set against the context of a “‘backlash’ against multiculturalism” and the place of Islam in Europe. MacKenzie’s rhetoric is indicative of this backlash and the excuses used by Europe’s political class to prohibit Muslim women from covering their faces with no regard for the irony of citing ‘liberty’ as a defence for the bans. Moreover, a study published last month by Irene Zempi of the University of Leicester found that the banning of the face veil in France had led to an increase in hostility towards veiled Muslim women in the UK. It is such rhetoric by the likes of MacKenzie that contributes to the climate of mistrust, fear and hostility towards Islam to which veiled Muslim women are increasingly exposed.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Norway: Anders Behring Breivik Trial Nears End With Closing Arguments

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, enters the final stretch on Thursday with the prosecutors’ call for him to be sent either to prison or to a mental hospital.

Prosecutors Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh are to begin presenting their much-awaited closing arguments at 1000 GMT, when they will reveal whether they want the court to find Breivik responsible or not for his actions. They will base their request on psychiatric evaluations of the 33-year-old right wing extremist which have sharply contradicted each other.

In the formal indictment presented in March, in which Breivik was charged with “acts of terror”, the two prosecutors called for him to be committed to psychiatric care but left the door open to change their minds if new information were to surface about his mental health.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Terror Alert as Explosives Found Near Nuclear Power Plant

Sweden has raised the security level at its nuclear power plants after explosives were found on a truck at the south-western Ringhals atomic power station. The government forensic agency said the “explosive materials”, which had no igniting device, were found during a routine check at an industrial site near the power plant yesterday. Police spokesman Tommy Nyman said today that they were investigating possible sabotage but had no suspects. Sweden has 10 nuclear reactors providing about half of the country’s electricity. There are four reactors at Ringhals, which is controlled by energy companies Vattenfall and E.ON.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Swiss Professional Footballer ‘Philippe Senderos’ Converts to Shia Islam

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — The Swiss professional footballer, Philippe Senderos who plays as a defender for the British Premier League club Fulham has embraced Islam and converted to the Shia Muslim religion. He declared his faith in Islam in the English city of Manchester, in an Islamic center dedicated to propagating the Islamic religion and the teachings of the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them). Philippe Senderos formerly played for English football giants, Arsenal, and now plays for his country’s national team, Switzerland.

Philippe, a theology graduate, showed much interest in world religions and spent most of his time outside football reading up on religious matters before he embraced Islam. “I am very interested in world religions and read a lot of books about that subject”, Senderos once said in an interview with Arsenal Magazine. If I wasn’t playing football, I would probably have become a priest”, he added. Senderos has finally sought knowledge to his benefit and found guidance in the religion of Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: 1D’s Zayn Branded a ‘Pimp’ For Islam

ONE Direction star Zayn Malik has been accused of “enticing jihad” and “pimping Islam” to young female fans in an outrageous online attack.

Right wing blogger Debbie Schlussel warned parents to “keep their daughters away” from the British boyband, currently on a sell-out US tour. The American claimed Zayn, 19, had posted tweets for fans about Ramadan and Allah.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Couple ‘Planned to Bomb Manchester Jewish Area’, Court Hears

A court has heard how a husband and wife “were in the early stages” of preparing bombs allegedly to blow up Manchester’s Jewish community. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, pleaded guilty to planning terrorist attacks against Manchester’s Jews at an earlier hearing, which could not be reported for legal reasons. Now, Mohammed’s wife Shasta Khan, 38, from Oldham, is facing the same charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism and three counts of possessing information linked to al Qaeda likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Face of the Fiend Who Ran Child Sex Empire: Father Convicted of 30 Rapes

Shabir Ahmed, 59, led child sex exploitation ring of nine men who targeted vulnerable young girls in Rochdale and Oldham

He was jailed for 19 years last month following an 11-week trial

Ahmed — known to his victims by the nickname ‘Daddy’ — could not be named as he was awaiting trial on separate child rape charges

This is the leader of a child exploitation ring which befriended vulnerable teenage girls, plied them with alcohol and raped them.

Shabir Ahmed, 59, was jailed last month but can only now be identified, after he was convicted of 30 more horrific rapes in a separate trial.

The divorced father-of-four, known as ‘Daddy’, was the ringleader of a group of men who preyed on dozens of young girls in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and then passed them around for sex.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: London? We’re Just an Offshore Colony of the UAE

by Richard Godwin


London? We’re just an offshore colony of the UAE

A curious detail has appeared on the Tube map. A diagonal line in the bottom right indicates that passengers (or customers, as they are now known) will soon be able to move from Emirates Greenwich Peninsula to Emirates Royal Docks by taking the Emirates Air Line. Thanks to the largesse of a well-known air carrier, also a soulholder in one of our football teams, London has a new cable car, £3.20 each way with an Oyster card, open from June 28.I say largesse. Mediumesse might be a better word. When Boris Johnson first mooted this dangling trans-Thames appendage, he promised it would be funded “entirely from private finance”. Emirates will contribute £36 million over 10 years of publicity. Only, at £60 million, this is the most expensive cable car ever, which is almost impressive when you considering cable cars are usually built on steep, snowy mountains rather than flat, drizzly cities. Johnson has had to apply to the European Union to make up some of the £24 million difference. The rest comes from the taxpayers of Emirates London.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Pair Accused of Planning Jihad Bomb Attack on Jews in Britain

Mohammed and Shasta Khan ‘driven by al-Qaida propaganda, took steps to mount terror attack with home-made explosive’

A Muslim couple were assembling components of a home-made bomb to attack Jewish neighbourhoods after becoming radicalised by al-Qaida propaganda on the internet, a court heard on Wednesday. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, and his wife, Shasta, 38, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device to launch a terrorist attack after carrying out visits to potential Jewish targets in Manchester, the city’s crown court heard. Bobbie Cheema, the prosecutor, at Manchester crown court, said: “Perhaps it can be summarised this way: it was jihad at home. Between them they acquired substances, common or garden, that can be purchased in supermarkets, equipment and information of use that would help them to make explosives, and began the process of assembling an improvised explosive device.” The couple also carried out “multiple reconnaissance” trips to Jewish areas of Salford or Manchester, it was alleged. Behind their “apparent normality of daily life”, Khan, an unemployed car valeter, and his wife, a hairdresser, planned to carry out “jihad at home”, Cheema told the court. The couple were only stopped by chance after a minor domestic row led to police being called to their home in Oldham.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Mothers Stage Sit-in at Stockwell Primary School Over Poster on Girls’ Mutilation

A dozen women are staging a sit-in at a primary school in a row over an advice poster warning about the dangers of female genital mutilation. Lambeth Women’s Project is rejecting demands to leave the listed building, part of Stockwell Primary School and Children’s Centre, and is today on the sixth day of its occupation. Its action comes after relations with school chiefs and Lambeth council broke down over a loan — and accusations that it had left “sexually explicit material” lying around in areas where it could be seen by children. But the women say the material is actually a police-sponsored poster for services to help London girls at risk of female genital mutilation.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Terror Accused Shasta Khan Denies Jihad Plan at Oldham Home

An Oldham woman whose husband admitted planning terrorist attacks has been accused in court of trying to carry out “jihad at home”.

Shasta Khan, 38, has denied being involved with her husband’s plans to attack Bury’s Jewish community. At Manchester Crown Court, Mrs Khan denied engaging in preparation for terrorism and possessing information useful for terrorism. Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing. Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema told the court the couple had become “radicalised by material found on the internet such as an al-Qaeda magazine called Inspire”.

‘Spill the beans’

“The aim [of the magazine] is to encourage Muslims to carry out violent holy war or jihad by mounting attacks in their own countries independent of any outside direction or association with any other person,” she said.


[JP note: BBC Manchester — not sufficiently important for the BBC’s national news.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia Arrests Official After Riots Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art

Tunisian authorities have detained the court officer who denounced an art exhibition as offensive to Islam last week and triggered a wave of riots by hardline Islamists, the official TAP news agency said. Mohamed Ali Bouaziz was arrested late Tuesday on charges of disrupting public order, the agency said, quoting a justice ministry official. He is accused of posting pictures of the paintings on Facebook and “breaching professional secrecy by declaring them an insult to Islam, triggering acts of vandalism and violence in several parts of the country.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

5 Million Palestine Refugees Are Registered in Total in 2012

Official statistical data estimated the Palestinian refugees’ numbers until January 1st, 2012 about 5.1 million refugees, according to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) records. On the International Day of Refugees, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) released a statistical review on the current status of Palestinian Refugees, in which it revealed that “the Palestinian registered refugees totaled 5.1 million on 1/1/2012, of whom 40.0% in Jordan, 23.8% in Gaza Strip, 17.1% in the West Bank, 10.0% in Syria and 9.1% in Lebanon.”

PCBS stated that “the percentage of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territory of 2011, about 44% of the total population in the Palestinian territory, distributed about 30% in the West Bank and about 67 % in Gaza Strip.” The data indicated that 66 % of the Palestinians who were living in occupied Palestine in 1948 have been exiled, pointing out that the UN estimates in 1950 emphasized that the Zionist gangs had displaced and expelled about 957 thousands Palestinians from the territories controlled by occupation forces on the eve of 1948 war. PCBS also added that “the Palestinian Refugees are characterized as young population where 41.7% of them are under the age of 15 years for Palestinian refugees in Palestinian territory”, while “35.9% of Palestinian refugees in Jordan in 2007, and 33.1% for Palestinian refugees in Syria in 2009, while 30.4% for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon in 2010.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cheating Widespread at Kuwait University

KUWAIT: Sixty two percent of Kuwait University students admitted having previous experience in cheating, while 93 percent say that they had witnessed classmates cheat during exams, says a recent study published by the research department in the students affairs’ deanship. The study which is based on results of a survey featuring 158 students selected randomly from all of the KU’s faculties indicated most of the students believe that cheating is widespread. “Finding radical solutions to this problem requires several steps that include studies and other efforts to increase awareness regarding the importance of exams”, the head of the research department Tariq Dashty said.

Cheating incidents happen despite the fact that 86% of students are aware of the regulations and penalties as the survey shows. The study recommends seminars to discuss the negative effects of cheating on students’ collective studying process both on the short and long terms, as well as showing no tolerance in taking punitive measures against cheaters. Other solutions the study recommends include avoiding pop quizzes “which encourage unprepared students to cheat” as well as select questions that require students to use analytical skills in answering.

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]

Erdogan the Misogynist

Turkish Prime Minister Assaults Women’s Rights

For weeks, thousands of women have been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 58, after he announced his intention to crack down on abortions and Caesarean section births. Since then, a debate on the role of women in Turkey has erupted — but not for the first time.

‘I Don’t Believe in Equality’

It’s hard to say when exactly Erdogan threw away his opportunity to gain the support of the women’s movement.

In 2008, he gave a speech in the provincial city of Usak to commemorate International Women’s Day, in which he advised his “dear sisters” to have at least three, preferably five, children. After the speech, a Turkish daily suggested that perhaps Erdogan would like to see International Women’s Day renamed “International Childbirth Day.”

In 2010, he invited representatives of women’s organizations to the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul and confessed: “I don’t believe in equality between men and women.”

A year later, on International Women’s Day in 2011, Erdogan talked about violence against women and statistics stating that so-called honor killings had increased 14-fold in Turkey from 2002 to 2009. But that, said the premier, was only because more murders were being reported, and that there are basically few acts of violence against women.

A member of the audience says that she was “incredulous.” Erdogan’s speech was “simply misogynistic” and “intolerable window dressing,” she says. [..]

Take, for example, education. “We will raise a religious generation,” the prime minister said in the spring, just as his government was approving a new education reform. It increases compulsory school attendance from eight to 12 years, but this only seems progressive at first glance. Under the reform, parents can move their children to vocational schools, a category which also includes the religious Imam Hatip schools, after only four years. In fact, the last four years of compulsory education can even be completed in the form of correspondence courses.

Erdogan’s “religious generation” can already be pleased about a well-established infrastructure of faith today. His party, the AKP, has transformed the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, into a massive agency. Its €1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) budget is larger than the combined budgets of Turkey’s European Union, foreign, energy and environment ministries combined. There is now one mosque for every 350 people in Turkey — and one hospital for every 60,000.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Freed Islamists Slam Their Detention Without Trial

ROUMIEH, Lebanon: Some of the seven Lebanese Islamist detainees released Tuesday blasted judicial authorities for holding them for several years without trial. The detainees, who were released on bail, were arrested for alleged ties with the Al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam group which fought a deadly battle against the Lebanese Army in the summer of 2007 in the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. Fourteen men were originally scheduled for release Tuesday but some foreigners among them were referred to the General Security for further processing, after which they will be released. Some other Lebanese due to be released Tuesday are also facing other, unrelated charges.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Review: Islam and the Arab Awakening [Tariq Ramadan]

Tariq Ramadan is a Professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University, and the Director of the Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Doha, Qatar. He is not an uncontroversial figure, particularly in the U.S., where nothing related to Islam is without controversy, but he is without a doubt well-informed on issues relating to modern Islam and its relationship to Western culture. His new book, Islam and the Arab Awakening, attempts to make sense of the uprisings that began in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in late 2010.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UAE’s Cultural Chasm May Benefit Islamists

The show had everything Madonna’s fans could have wished for: erotic dancing, provocative outfits, a giant cross, bare-chested monks and a Hebrew prayer.

But for many Muslim Emiratis, the Queen of Pop’s first performance in the Gulf region earlier this month was just too much. “After Madonna, what next? The UAE’s reputation has been sullied, the people’s feelings were ignored and the call to respect our values were taken lightly,” wrote Twitter user Rashed Alshamsi, one comment in a rare public outpouring of criticism against the authorities for allowing the performance.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

US-Backed Rebels Committing Christian Genocide in Syria

Christians are being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community. According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

French Bishop Philip Tournyol Clos, a greek-Catholic Melkite Archimandrite, traveled through Syria and, according to the Holy See’s press agency, reported back that Western press was spreading disinformation about the real nature of the uprising in Syria and thereby prolonging and deepening the conflict. Reported Bishop Clos:

In Homs, “opposition forces have occupied two areas, Diwan Al Bustan and Hamidieh, where there are all the churches and bishoprics. The picture for us is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside. A priest was killed and another was wounded by three bullets.”

Mother Agnes Miriam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, was interviewed (MP3) on Irish Radio this week where she confirmed that the opposition rebels in Syria were terrorizing Syria’s Christian community.

Asked whether it was the Free Syrian Army that was telling Christians to get out, Mother Agnes Miriam answered “yes…it was commander on the ground Abdel Salam Harba who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians.” She said that Christians are being targeted because they are refusing to back the rebels and instead prefer to keep out of either side of the conflict. She said that the rebels are specifically targeting government troops in Christian areas and are taking Christians as human shields.

Shockingly, the once Catholic-friendly National Review, which to its credit broke the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung story that the Houla massacre was carried out by the rebels, published a piece by writers affiliated with Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and the Israel-based GLORIA Center ridiculing the Catholic Mother Agnes Miriam as an Assad propagandist.

These “journalists” attacked Mother Agnes for asserting that the rebels were carrying out a foreign backed conspiracy to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. Should we wait for these two neo-conservatives to ridicule and attack the Wall Street Journal, which reported this week that:

“…the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department—working with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other allies—are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training.

“U.S. officials also are considering sharing intelligence with the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, to allow the rebels to evade pro-Assad forces…”

As we have seen elsewhere where the US and its NATO allies have intervened to change regimes in the Middle East, Christians are the first to be targeted. Yet many US Christians have swallowed the propaganda that these “democracy promoting” coups and invasions are somehow part of the glorious and positive march of history. They should look more closely, beyond the mainstream propaganda, and inform themselves better. Otherwise the blood will at least partly be on their hands — a stain that may perhaps mark their eternal souls as well.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan Expects $4 Billion in Aid Pledges at July Conference

(Reuters) — Donor nations are likely to pledge a total of $4 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan at an aid conference in Japan next month, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday in a national speech aimed at curbing corruption in his country. “Such an amount, more or less, will be pledged for the Afghan economy at the Tokyo conference,” Karzai said during a specially convened session of parliament, indicating the support would come after most foreign combat troops left in 2014.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India in Race to Contain Untreatable Tuberculosis

MUMBAI—India’s slow response to years of medical warnings now threatens to turn the country into an incubator for a mutant strain of tuberculosis that is proving resistant to all known treatments, raising alarms of a new global health hazard. “We finally have ended up with a virtually untreatable strain” of tuberculosis in India, said Dr. Zarir Udwadia, one of the country’s leading TB authorities. In December, Dr. Udwadia reported in a medical journal that he had four tuberculosis patients resistant to all treatment. By January, he had a dozen cases, then 15. A government backlash began immediately.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Suicide Attack on Checkpoint in Eastern Afghanistan Kills 3 US Soldiers, 18 Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed 21 people including three U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint in a packed market in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday — the third assault targeting Americans in as many days.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Asylum-Seeker Boat Carrying 200 Capsizes Off Australia

An asylum-seeker boat carrying a reported 200 people has capsized off Australia’s remote Christmas Island.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the ship issued a distress call mid-afternoon saying it had capsized 120 nautical miles north of the Indian Ocean territory, some 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) off the Australian mainland. “There is a capsized vessel 120 nautical miles north of Christmas Island, there’s believed to be approximately 200 people on board,” an AMSA spokeswoman told AFP.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bogus Immigration Adviser Muhammed Shakoori Charged £700 for Two Letters

A man who ran an immigration advice service illegally has escaped jail despite being caught breaking the law for a second time. Muhammed Shakoori, 61, was fined £500 in June 2010 for running an immigration business illegally from his home in Rusholme. But he continued to work as an immigration adviser even though his licence had been removed in October 2009. The father wrote two letters charging £700 and offering services to a Jamaican national, Alphonso Bartley, who had been refused a visa to remain in Britain.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May Accused of Unacceptable and Regrettable Behaviour by Judge

Theresa May has been accused of “unacceptable and regrettable behaviour” by a judge as she became only the second Home Secretary in history to be found guilty of contempt of court.

Mrs May ignored a legal agreement to release an Algerian robber from immigration detention in a decision that lawyers say risked throwing the whole system into confusion.

As a result, Judge Barry Cotter, QC, made the extremely rare ruling that the Home Secretary was in contempt of court. He said there has been the “most regrettable and unacceptable behaviour” of the Secretary of State leading to an “intentional breach” of her previous undertaking to free the foreign criminal, Aziz Lamari. The judge said he recognised the seriousness of her failure to obey the deal, and said that a clear message must be sent that it must not happen again. However because the Home Secretary eventually released the prisoner, she escaped sanctions which could have included a fine or even imprisonment.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120620

Financial Crisis
» Fed Extends Effort to Lower Long-Term Interest Rates
» Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Barred From Courtroom Over Beard
» Is Anti-Muslim Bias St. Anthony’s Issue?
» Islamic Terrorist Ties to Michigan Public School Sale
» Kane County Delays Decision on Mosque
» Local Muslims Hope for a Home
Europe and the EU
» France: Toulouse Bank Gunman ‘Detained’
» France: ‘Al-Qaeda Militant’ Takes Four Hostages in Toulouse Bank
» France: Grand Mosque of Marseille Gets Green Light After Court Case
» France: Man Claiming Al Qaeda Ties Takes Hostages in Toulouse, France
» France: Suspect Confesses to Double Police Murder
» France: Marseille Mega-Mosque Gets Go-Ahead
» Islamic Mediators and Germany’s ‘Two Legal Systems’
» Man Claiming Al Qaeda Link Takes Hostages in France
» Netherlands: Dutch Upper House Rejects Ban on Ritual Slaughter
» UK: Asked to Make a Statement on His Departmental Responsibilities, Michael Gove Replies: “Today is the Birthday of Britain’s Greatest Living Poet”
» UK: King’s Church Manchester to Host Cleric Who Thinks Converts to Christianity Deserve Death
» UK: Safe Stolen After Raid on Blackburn Mosque
» UK: Thieves Steal Cash From Mosque Safe
Middle East
» Lebanon: Landmark Christian-Muslim Peace Summit Opens in Beirut
South Asia
» Admin Discipline Recommended for Troops Involved in Quran Burning
» Afghanistan: NATO Troops Among Casualties in Afghan Suicide Bombing
» India: Kosi Kalan is a Tinderbox Ready to Ignite Anytime
» Violence Spikes Across Southern Afghanistan
Far East
» Philippines: Muslims Oppose Move to Ban Religion in Government
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ghana: Hohoe: Council to Impose Strict Residency Conditions on Muslims
» Mozambique: 22 Held Over Moz Muslim Kidnappings
» Nigeria: Reprisal Attacks: Muslims Demonstrate in Kaduna
Latin America
» Hugo Chavez Helps Assad Slaughter Syrian Civilians

Financial Crisis

Fed Extends Effort to Lower Long-Term Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday a modest increase in its efforts to reduce borrowing costs for businesses and consumers by extending its existing “Operation Twist” asset-purchase program through the end of the year.

[Return to headlines]


Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Barred From Courtroom Over Beard

Bell County Sheriff’s Dept./TimeHOUSTON — On Tuesday, a Texas military judge barred former Fort Hood Army psychiatrist — and alleged shooter — Maj. Nidal Hasan from court because he appeared with a beard.

Hasan is preparing to stand trial in connection with the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, about 70 miles northwest of Austin.

Judge Gregory Gross told Hasan on Tuesday that he will have to attend hearings via closed-circuit video until he shaves. Earlier this month, Gross had warned Hasan that his beard violated Army policy.

Hasan was removed from court Tuesday and had to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television from a nearby room.

Hasan’s lead defense attorney, Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, told The Associated Press that Hasan grew his beard as a “deeply sincere” expression of his Islamic faith and because he had a premonition that he would soon die.

Poppe also released a statement on Hasan’s behalf stressing that he is no longer represented by former attorney John Galligan and that “any comments made by Galligan about this case are for his own purposes and not on behalf of Hasan.”

Defense attorneys indicated Tuesday that they plan to seek a writ of prohibition and a stay of the proceedings from the Army Court of Criminal Appeals based on the judge’s ruling that excludes Hasan from the courtroom.

Other motions argued and considered by the judge include: a request for a further continuance; resolution of discovery issues; whether the government should pay for Hasan to be evaluated by a neurological expert; a request to compel production of documents used in selecting the jury; and a request to allow the defense to interview a commanding general and his military attorney.

The judge granted the defense request for an expert neurologist, and is expected to rule on other motions at the next hearing, scheduled June 29.

Hasan faces the death penalty in connection with the shooting that killed 13 people at the Army base. His trial is scheduled to start Aug. 20.

[Return to headlines]

Is Anti-Muslim Bias St. Anthony’s Issue?

U.S. Attorney’s review welcome after Islamic center rejection.

Eight months ago, the St. Anthony City Council denied a Christian congregation’s proposal to move to a building in an area zoned for light-industrial use. Last week, the council struck down an attempt to locate an Islamic center in a similarly zoned area. City leaders say their actions were consistent, based on land-use issues and not religious discrimination.

But supporters of the center wonder whether discrimination was a factor in the council’s rejection, and they point to the hateful comments directed at the Muslims by a few residents at a recent council meeting.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islamic Terrorist Ties to Michigan Public School Sale

Terrorism Ties? Grand Jury Sought to Investigate Allegations of Corruption In Michigan Public School

ANN ARBOR, MI — The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that it submitted a letter to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asking that he conduct a grand jury investigation into the Farmington Public Schools sale of Eagle Elementary School to the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA), which has ties to terrorist organizations.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Kane County Delays Decision on Mosque

A McHenry County-based Muslim organization spent the past 10 years renting halls and borrowing public school classrooms for its worship gatherings. Now it will spend at least another 30 days waiting to see if it can use a more permanent space in Kane County. The American Muslim Community Organization already cleared Kane County’s Zoning Board last week. The group’s plan calls for converting a home just west of Carpentersville, near Huntley and Boyer Roads, into a mosque. With a 750-foot addition, group leaders believe the home could accommodate as many as 80 people.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Local Muslims Hope for a Home

Editor’s note: Lake County Commissioners last March denied a rezoning request needed by the Islamic Center of Clermont to build a two-story, 25,000 square-foot mosque and community center on 4.8 acres at 15128 Lost Lake Road in Clermont, citing the neighborhood’s insufficient infrastructure. The center, which wanted the new building to serve a growing Muslim population in South Lake, will have to make due with its current facility — a double-wide manufactured home on the property — which Daily Commercial Staff Photographer Keri Rasmussen has visited several times since that rezoning denial. Her observations follow.

KERI RASMUSSEN | Staff Photographer

Rules of a photojournalist: show up early, stay late and always anticipate your moment. I browse event calendars, press releases and public announcements daily looking for stories. When I read the Lake County Commission agenda for a re-zoning hearing regarding a request to build a mosque by the Muslim community in Clermont I knew I had a story.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Toulouse Bank Gunman ‘Detained’

A man who seized four people in a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse has been detained, reports say.

Officials say the gunman first demanded money. When he was refused, a shot was fired and hostages taken.

The man, saying he was linked to al-Qaeda, demanded to speak to the elite Raid police unit that killed Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah.

He released two women hostages and later, after gunfire was heard, French media reported that he was in custody.

The gunman is said to have been wounded but his two remaining hostages are not thought to have been harmed.

‘Religious reasons’

The man went into the branch of the CIC bank at 10:10 local time (08:10 GMT), taking the manager and three other people hostage.

The area around the bank was cordoned off and two nearby schools were closed.

Special police units from the GIPN (Groupe d’intervention de la police nationale) arrived from Marseille and Bordeaux.

A police union source told the regional newspaper Ouest-France it was not clear whether the man’s claim about al-Qaeda was “serious or a fantasy”.

More than four hours into the siege, police said a woman hostage had been freed in exchange for food and water. A second woman was released some time afterwards.

Public prosecutor Michel Valet told reporters that the man “wishes to let it be known that he is not acting for money, but for religious reasons”.

The hostage-taker was believed to be around 30 years old and known to the authorities, Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported. He was from Castres, to the east of Toulouse, and one source told the paper he was a schizophrenic who had broken off his treatment.

The bank is a few hundred metres from Merah’s flat, in an area adjacent to the barracks where Raid police were based during the March siege.

No officers from Raid — which has its headquarters north of Paris, about 600km (400 miles) from Toulouse — have been deployed to the scene.

           — Hat tip: Seneca III [Return to headlines]

France: ‘Al-Qaeda Militant’ Takes Four Hostages in Toulouse Bank

A man claiming to be a member of al-Qaeda has taken several hostages in a bank in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.

Tensions have been higher than usual in Toulouse since March, when a gunman whom police said claimed links to al-Qeida killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the area. Those were France’s worst terrorist attacks in years. Thursday’s [Wednesday] hostage-taking began about 11 a.m. (0900GMT) at a CIC bank branch in central Toulouse, a Toulouse police official said. The official said a single shot was fired but no injuries have been reported so far. The official could not confirm the report on France’s BFM television that the hostage-taker claimed ties to al-Qaeda. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. The neighborhood around the bank was cordoned off. Calls to the CIC bank branch went unanswered. BFM also reported that four hostages were inside — the bank branch director and three others — and that the hostage-taker wanted the elite RAID police force to come and negotiate with him.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Grand Mosque of Marseille Gets Green Light After Court Case

PARIS — A French court on Tuesday gave the green light for the construction of a mega mosque in the city of Marseille, following years of delays caused by challenges from residents and local businesses. The Grand Mosque of Marseille is set to be France’s biggest, with the capacity for 14,000 worshippers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The cornerstone was laid in a pomp-filled ceremony in spring 2010 but the project quickly ground to a halt after a group of businesses and residents in the Saint-Louis district, where it is being built, challenged the construction permit. Butcher Pierre Metras, who led the campaign against the mosque, said the project threatened the economic and social fabric of the neighborhood. In October 2011, Marseille’s administrative tribunal invalidated the construction permit, citing concerns over its failure to provide adequate parking. On Tuesday an appeals court overturned that decision on the advice of an independent magistrate, after the city approved the construction of a car park. Several large mosques are planned around France, which has Europe’s biggest Muslim community, estimated at between 5 million and 6 million people, but which is critically short on purpose-built mosques. Many Muslims currently pray in makeshift mosques in garages and basements or in rented rooms.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Man Claiming Al Qaeda Ties Takes Hostages in Toulouse, France

A man holding four people hostage in a Toulouse bank is demanding to speak to police about their fatal shooting of a French Muslim man who attacked a local Jewish school in March.

A man claiming ties to Al Qaeda has taken four hostages in a bank in Toulouse, France — the same area where Mohammed Merah killed seven people earlier this year before being shot dead by police.

After firing a shot, the hostage-taker demanded to speak to the elite police unit, RAID, behind Mr. Merah’s death. Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent who also claimed ties to Al Qaeda, killed three children and a rabbi at a local Jewish school and three French soldiers in a nearby town in March. He was killed by police in his apartment after a 32-hour siege.


Little is known about today’s hostage-taker at this point, but if he turns out to be a member of France’s Muslim community, whether a native or an immigrant, it will shine an unwanted spotlight on a community that often feels unwelcome and under siege for the actions of a small number of radical individuals, as The Christian Science Monitor reported following the March attacks.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Suspect Confesses to Double Police Murder

A man is being held in police custody after confessing to the murder of two female police officers at the weekend.

Le Parisien newspaper reports that Abdallah Boumezaar will be charged over the deaths of Audrey Berthaut and Alicia Champion. The two women were killed late on Sunday night when Boumezaar opened fire in the southern town of Collobrières. He fired two shots at 35-year-old Audrey Berthaut after seizing her weapon. He then chased 29-year-old Alicia Champion down the street and fired a further six shots. Boumezaar was with a 20-year-old woman who got involved with the initial argument with her officers. She is also being held in connection with the murders.

New interior minister Manuel Valls visited Collobrières on Monday and met the families of the two women. “The country will have the opportunity in the next few days to pay its respects to these two officers and to show its gratitude,” he said. A ceremony will take place on Friday with the minister attending. The suspect’s brother told journalists on Monday that Boumezaar was “out of control.” “He killed police officers but he could have killed my mother, my sister or me,” he said. “He’s someone who has spent a lot of time in prison. I spoke a lot to him, tried to get him back on track. I tried to spend a good chunk of time with him when he came out of prison to stabilise him.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Marseille Mega-Mosque Gets Go-Ahead

A French appeals court approved Tuesday the construction of a large mosque in the city of Marseille, home to an estimated 250,000 Muslims. The mosque, seen as a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France, has attracted national controversy.

AFP — A French appeals court granted permission Tuesday for the building of a mega-mosque in the southern city of Marseille that has been touted as a symbol of Islam’s growing place in France. The court overturned an October ruling by Marseille’s administrative tribunal that cancelled the project’s construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements. A community association led by a local butcher had filed a complaint against the building permit, saying the mosque project did not fit with the surrounding urban environment.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islamic Mediators and Germany’s ‘Two Legal Systems’

by Joachim Wagner

For years, Islamic mediators have been stepping in to solve family disputes and marital problems among Muslims in Germany. A new book takes a closer look at how their reliance on elements of Sharia law, to the detriment of German law, affects Muslim women.

Demir furniture store in the western German city of Recklinghausen is the go-to place for people in need of either inexpensive furniture or, for some Muslims, advice on how to handle a disobedient daughter. In his 400-square-meter (4,300-square-foot) warehouse-like shop, Haj Nur Demir, a 61-year-old Lebanese man, sells items like used desks, washing machines and armchairs from estate sales. The furniture dealer is tall, slim, gray-haired and sports a mustache. He also exudes authority. It’s a good trait to have in his second profession. Demir estimates that he has settled more than 2,000 conflicts in Muslim families in Germany and Lebanon since 1972. Sometimes Demir merely provides information on the phone, and at other times he practically has to throw himself between the parties to prevent them from coming to blows.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Man Claiming Al Qaeda Link Takes Hostages in France

(Reuters) — A man claiming to be a member of al Qaeda has taken several hostages in a bank in the south-western French city of Toulouse, a police union source said on Wednesday.

The source said the man had fired a shot and could be holding up to four people. The Interior Ministry was not immediately available to comment.

In March, an al Qaeda-inspired gunman shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse. The man was later shot dead by police after a standoff at his home in the city.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Dutch Upper House Rejects Ban on Ritual Slaughter

Dutch lawmakers vote down bill that caused uproar in Jewish, Muslim communities. Rabbi: Victory for tolerance, common sense

The Dutch upper house, the Senate, on Tuesday rejected a bill that would have banned the ritual slaughter of animals and had been criticized by both Muslim and Jewish groups. The bill, proposed by the small Party for the Animals, stipulates that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered, contrary to Muslim halal and Jewish kosher laws, which require animals to be conscious. The lower house of parliament passed the bill a year ago, leaving a loophole saying religious groups could continue ritual slaughter if they proved it was no more painful than other methods of slaughter.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Asked to Make a Statement on His Departmental Responsibilities, Michael Gove Replies: “Today is the Birthday of Britain’s Greatest Living Poet”

Hansard records the exchange as follows:

Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): Today is the 80th birthday of the Oxford Professor of Poetry, Professor Sir Geoffrey Hill, our greatest living poet. I am sure that the whole House would like to join me in wishing him a very happy birthday, and thanking him for the fantastic work that he has done. Sir Geoffrey was knighted in the new year honours. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) was knighted in the recent Queen’s birthday honours, and I am sure that the whole House will also want to join me in congratulating him on his well-deserved elevation.

Sir Tony Baldry: I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his kind comments. Is he aware of the work being done by the Oxford diocesan board of education in setting up a unit to give full support to Church of England primary schools that wish to become academies, and does he share my hope that other diocesan boards of education will do likewise?

Purists will say that Mr Gove was taking a view of his responsibilities that was both narrow and wide, but I believe that we should make the most of the Education Secretary while we have him. Wide, narrow, both or neither, he was certainly right about Sir Geoffrey (ambushing Sir Tony — congratulations again — in the process). He is indeed our finest living poet. Nick Pearce of the IPPR has a good short piece on Sir Geoffrey here. And below is a film in which the Professor of Poetry declares his imperishable admiration for Ken Dodd.

[JP note: And Ken Dodd, arguably Britain’s greatest living comedian.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: King’s Church Manchester to Host Cleric Who Thinks Converts to Christianity Deserve Death

This Saturday, King’s Church Manchester will be hosting Muhammad Musa Al-Shareef, a Saudi cleric who believes that Muslim converts to Christianity should be killed for abandoning Islam, and that human rights are an invention of “the Christians, the atheists and the fornicators”.


[Reader comment by Jurek Molnar on 19 June 2012 at 10:50 pm.]

It is one of the most astonishing aspects of modern Islamic thought that it is in its entirety an intellectual disaster. There is not one argument, not even one concept which passes any intellectual test. […] It is a relativism that even doesn’t know it is one. It is a war against thinking as such and any philosophical concept of reality because it denies even to recognize its most inner contradictions. It is the totalitarian threat of the 21st century.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Safe Stolen After Raid on Blackburn Mosque

MONEY, marriage certificates and financial documents were stolen in a raid at a mosque. Burglars stole a large safe con-taining the money and documents, from Sajedeen mosque, in Plane Tree Road, Blackburn, over the weekend. Now police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them. The mosque was burgled between 11.45pm on Saturday and 3.15am on Sunday. Police said thieves broke into the mosque from the back and made their way to the office.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Thieves Steal Cash From Mosque Safe

Cash has been stolen from the town’s mosque after thieves entered the building through an unlocked door and forced open the safe. The incident on Havelock Street took place overnight at some time between 11.50pm on Thursday and 4.15am on Friday. PC Julie Price, investigating, said: “There was no sign of a forced entry and so it is suspected that a door may have been left unlocked to allow thieves entry. “A man visited the mosque earlier on the Thursday, who had not attended the mosque before and we would like to speak to him. He is described as black, around 6ft 3ins, medium build, around 35, clean shaven with a shaved head. “He was wearing a black jacket, navy blue polo shirt and navy blue trousers.” Call police on 101.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Landmark Christian-Muslim Peace Summit Opens in Beirut

[Episcopal News Service, Beirut] The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, a former Episcopal bishop of Washington and four Iranian Shi’ite Muslims, two holding the rank of ayatollah, are among the religious leaders who’ve traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, for the second Christian-Muslim peace summit organized by Washington National Cathedral. The three-day conference, which opened June 18, is taking place against a regional backdrop that includes the conflict spilling into Lebanon from nearby Syria, the chaotic Egyptian elections, the threat of nuclear strikes between Israel and Iran, and following the 45th anniversary of the 1967 war that ended in the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Admin Discipline Recommended for Troops Involved in Quran Burning

Up to seven U.S. troops will face administrative punishment-not criminal charges-as a result of the military investigation into the February Quran-burning incident in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press. While none of the recommended punishment decisions are final, it is believed that one Navy servicemember and six Army soldiers will receive “nonjudicial disciplinary actions” for the incident that touched off deadly protests and caused President Obama to apologize to Afghans.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: NATO Troops Among Casualties in Afghan Suicide Bombing

(Reuters) — – A suicide bomber struck a security checkpoint in Afghanistan’s city of Khost on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and wounding 30, police said, the latest attack to raise questions about stability in the volatile eastern region bordering Pakistan.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the casualties included foreign troops, but declined to say how many and whether that meant deaths or injuries.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India: Kosi Kalan is a Tinderbox Ready to Ignite Anytime

Under curfew exists feeling of insecurity, a spark can give the situation another direction, says a fact-finding team of law students from AMU

By TCN News

Mathura: At present there exists an uncertain peace under the shadow of PAC rifles but situation is tense. Various rounds of negotiations have proved futile. Markets are still closed. Both communities are blaming each other for the impasse and trying to take revenge, say two law students of Aligarh Muslim University after visiting the riot-hit Kosi Kalan town of Mathura district. The riot erupted over a petty issue. A Hindu boy, after urinating, had taken water from a drum kept for Namazis near the local mosque on Friday (1st June 2012). There were some exchanges of filthy words from both sides. Muslims went to offer Juma prayer, meanwhile Jat community with the help of VHP and MLC and a former agriculture minister unleashed the fury on the homes and shops of Muslims. The incident ended with the death of four persons and twenty five others from both sides were wounded.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Violence Spikes Across Southern Afghanistan

Violence spiked in southern Afghanistan as militants stormed a NATO military base and attacked a police checkpoint Tuesday, a day after gunmen wearing police uniforms killed a U.S. soldier. The heaviest fighting in Afghanistan this summer has been in the south and east where Afghan forces are increasingly taking charge of security from their international partners. That could signal a rocky transition as foreign combat troops are due to withdraw by the end of 2014. Most of the attacks over the past two days occurred in the southern Kandahar province, the Taliban’s birthplace. Insurgents attacked a NATO base before dawn Tuesday in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kot district, the U.S.-led coalition said. Fewer than 10 U.S. troops were wounded and officials believe coalition forces were able to kill seven or eight insurgents, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippines: Muslims Oppose Move to Ban Religion in Government

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos in Cebu is asking the lower House to dismiss House Bill 6330 or the Religious Freedom in Government Services Act that wants all religious symbols to be removed from government offices. Aldin Pangarungan, head of the Cultural Affairs Division of NCMF, said the proposed law violates the rights of people living in a democratic country. Pangarungan said that although Muslims don’t believe in the religious images, they respect the belief of Catholic Christians and their effort to keep their faith strong. Putting the images not only in their homes but also in offices is just one way of keeping their faith alive, he added. Pangarungan also said that the display of the images and the Bible is part of the Filipino culture. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Hohoe: Council to Impose Strict Residency Conditions on Muslims

Hohoe Traditional Council to impose strict residency conditions on Muslims returning after last week’s deadly violence

The Gbi Traditional Council in Hohoe says Muslims who fled the Volta Region town in the wake of last week’s deadly violence cannot return without first agreeing to a set of conditions the council will impose on them. The Council Tuesday announced it is setting up its own committee tasked with the responsibility of formulating strict conditions based on which the Muslims will be allowed back into the community. The council issued its latest edict during a media interaction in Hohoe. Togbe Agyeman the fifth spoke on behalf of the council. “We are not entirely refusing to admit them in our community but their continuous staying in our community would be under strict conditions. Abide by such conditions, we believe they can live with us.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Mozambique: 22 Held Over Moz Muslim Kidnappings

Police in Mozambique have detained 22 people implicated in at least 14 kidnappings of wealthy Muslims for ransom since last year, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. Deputy interior minister Jose Mandra said all the people were rounded up in the capital Maputo, according to O Pais daily newspaper. Some are behind bars while others have been freed, said Mandra. It is unclear if any have been charged. Authorities claim at least 14 people — most from the wealthy Muslim commercial class — have been kidnapped since late last year. Gangs target unsuspecting victims in public, then claim thousands of dollars in ransom for their release.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Reprisal Attacks: Muslims Demonstrate in Kaduna

Nigerian Muslims took to the streets in Kaduna on Tuesday, firing AK-47s, burning tyres and destroying at least one church, two days after rioting by Christian youths killed several people, witnesses told Reuters. Multiple gunshots were heard across the city where at least 52 people were killed on Sunday in retaliatory violence after suspected Islamist suicide bombings of three churches in Kaduna State that killed 19 Christians. Religiously mixed Kaduna is near the volatile “Middle Belt”, where the mostly Christian south and largely Muslim north meet and the city has sometimes been a sectarian flashpoint. “They are out on the streets, burning tyres and shooting. They burnt a church,” said a witness, who only gave his first name, Suleiman, for fear of reprisals…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Hugo Chavez Helps Assad Slaughter Syrian Civilians

By Otto J. Reich

Originally published in

The world has witnessed, through the eyes of courageous videographers and journalists, how Bashar al-Assad mercilessly targets Syrian women, children and other civilians for annihilation. Assad’s Russian-made tanks and weapons have been seen obliterating entire neighborhoods and towns. But we know little about the enablers who provide Assad the weapons, the ammunition and the fuel that facilitates the Syrian genocide.

Recently, US Secretary of State Clinton pointed to the Russians as the source of some of the weapons. International intelligence has exposed the fundamentalist Iranian regime as a provider of arms and ammunition.

Now we have evidence that Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has been sending millions of gallons of diesel fuel to his good friend al-Assad, whom he calls a “humanist” and a “brother.” Venezuelan state-owned ships have been transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of diesel fuel to the ruthless Syrian Army.. Assad’s killers move around the country assassinating civilians in vehicles fueled by Chavez.

At this very moment the Venezuelan oil carrier “Negra Hipolita” is being loaded in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, with more than 9 million gallons of ultra-low sulphur diesel bound for Syria’s port of Banias. Soon this fuel will move the tanks and artillery that will pulverize innocent beings, adding to the 12,000 already cold-bloodedly exterminated by Assad “the Humanist.”

Chavez uses his own vessels because no self-respecting international shipping firm will transport fuel to Assad’s killing machine. There is another advantage, however: since he controls the entire voyage, from dock to dock, Chavez may be sending Assad military materiel hidden in the ships.

Just this month Chavez boasted that Venezuela is manufacturing thousands of the latest model of the iconic Russian AK-47 assault rifle, the AK-103. Where are those weapons going? Could it be that Chavez’s ships (that, incidentally, also call on U.S. ports carrying oil) are additionally transporting narcotics?

Narcotics trafficking has reached the highest levels of Chavez’s government; for example, Venezuela’s top military officer and Defense Minister, Henry Rangel Silva, has been designated as a Drug Kingpin by the US Department of Treasury, as have six other key generals and civilian officials of the government. Western intelligence sources point to Chavez’ brother, Adan, the governor of the state of Barinas, as the head of the government-sponsored drug cartel in Venezuela. Washington sources speculate that Adan Chavez is close to being designated by Treasury as the next Venezuelan drug-kingpin.

Chavez’s support for Assad comes as no surprise to anyone who knows his malevolent friends.

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120619

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Europe and the EU
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» Europe: Hotbed of Islamophobic Extremism
» France: Two Female Police Officers Shot Dead
» Stockholm Terror Trial: Bomber’s Wife Had Money Wired to Her, Court in Glasgow Hears
» Stop Giving Foreign Criminals a Right to Stay in the UK, Say MPs Following Landmark Vote
» UK: A Ban on Bangers: Hundreds of School Pupils Denied Pork Because of ‘Religious Reasons’
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» UK: One Direction Singer Zayn Malik: Global Pop Star, And Muslim
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» UK: Top Doctor’s Chilling Claim: The NHS Kills Off 130,000 Elderly Patients Every Year
North Africa
» Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Life Support After Being Declared ‘Clinically Dead’ By His Doctors
» Muslim Brotherhood Accused of ‘Vanishing Ink’ Trickery at Polls — Islamists Rumored to Have Distributed Pens With Disappearing Ink to Those Who Would Vote Against Them
Israel and the Palestinians
» How I Became an Irish Zionist
Middle East
» Positive Changes in the Arab World
» UAE: Muslims Can Spray on Perfumes Containing Alcohol: Grand Mufti
» World’s Most Powerful Imam to Rise? — Middle East Invites Islamist Billionaire to Return From Exile
» Muslims Lash Out at Ban on Religious Books
South Asia
» Burma: Death Sentences for 2 Muslims in Murder Case That Set Off Myanmar Unrest
» Seven Killed in NATO Base Attack in Afghanistan
» U.S. Soldier Dies After Men Dressed in Police Uniform Turn Guns on Him in Afghanistan
Far East
» China Police Begin House Searches in Restive Xinjiang
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘Bombed Kaduna Churches’
» Nigeria: Kaduna Violence: Doctors Confirm 66 Dead, 140 Hospitalised
» Nigeria: 2000 Jihadists Storm Southeast, Says CAN
» Australia: the Asylum Seeker Visas for Hostile Detainees
» UK: Face of the Failed Asylum Seeker Who Bludgeoned Father to Death in Front of His Family as He Headed for Work
Culture Wars
» Fabianism in Education
» Esposito Speaks on New Book Islamophobia
» Proposed International Trade Rules Would Give Corporations the Power to Overrule Governments
» UN Warns of Global Collapse Due to Pesticides; Agenda 21 is Pushed as Solution


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Funding Research Into Bracelets That Track Mental, Emotional Responses

(NaturalNews) Pushing vaccines on the entire world is apparently not the only goal of the infamous Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is reportedly now funding research into human tracking bracelets capable of gauging both emotional and physical responses to various stimuli. According to The Washington Post (WP), the Gates Foundation has already quietly spent more than $1 million on research into the biometric bracelets, which could forever alter the way students learn and teachers teach.

In a controversial move that was only recently brought to light, the Gates Foundation allegedly forked over about half a million dollars to South Carolina’s Clemson University late last fall, and another more than $600,000 to the National Center on Time and Learning (NCTL), a group dedicated to improving student achievement. Both grants were intended to fund test studies on the effectiveness of the “galvanic skin response” bracelets, which assess the physiological responses of students to learning material.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Educating Conservatives About Sharia’s Threat

An ignorant column spurs much-needed discussion.

Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor at First Things, wrote an essay titled “Fears of Creeping Sharia” that was published at NRO on Wednesday, June 13.

The piece was striking in its willful ignorance about:

  • the intrinsic nature of Sharia itself;
  • the frequency and intensity of efforts by mainstream American Islamic organizations to promote Sharia in America (and we now know these are Muslim Brotherhood appendage organizations, who unfortunately do seem to represent the masses as per the only available polling data we have);
  • the legal basis for American Laws for American Courts (ALAC)

Schmitz compounded this fundamental ignorance by maliciously spraying charges of “anti-Muslim bigotry” at those who confront Sharia encroachment. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann were specifically condemned for their alleged role in “dignifying the disreputable anti-Sharia movement.”

My rebuttal pieces addressed Schmitz’s uninformed views on Sharia itself, and the copious evidence of Sharia encroachment.

I summarized, for Schmitz’s edification, the liberty-crushing, dehumanizing nature of Sharia: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties — including freedom of conscience and speech — enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.

Refusing to acknowledge Sharia’s ugly, living essence, Schmitz instead made a factually challenged, immoral equivalence between totalitarian Islamic law — a form of state governance — and modern Church canon law, which is deliberately confined to religious affairs, even glibly asserting: “Surely Catholics would love to see canon law cover the globe.”

I also pointed out what Schmitz steadfastly ignored: ominous polling data from U.S. Muslims; jihad funding trial revelations and the content of more banal Muslim litigation proceedings; mosque surveillance reports; analyses of Islamic education institutions and their Muslim schoolchildren’s textbooks; the issuance of obscurantist “fatwas” (Islamic legal rulings) by the respected, mainstream Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America; and an open declaration by one of America’s largest mainstream Muslims organizations, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), in its 2010 ICNA Members Hand Book, which calls for the (re-)creation of a global Muslim Caliphate and the imposition of Sharia in America.

But the coup de grace in debunking Schmitz’s diatribe was supplied by David Yerushalmi, who corrected Schmitz’s mischaracterization of American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation (such as Kansas’s recently passed law), elucidated a legal case study cited in the Center for Security Policy analysis I had referenced as part of my rebuttals to Schmitz, and reminded us all that the earliest of these laws (now passed in Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona, and Louisiana) have been in effect for several years without being challenged, let alone overturned.

Yerushalmi also provided a clear, didactic example of the need for ALAC-style laws. He described in brief an appellate court decision from Maryland, cited in the Center for Security Policy Study, where:…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

EPA in Huge Power Grab to Control All Ditches and Gullies on Private Land

(NaturalNews) As the federal Leviathan becomes ever larger and all-powerful, its Executive Branch tentacles reach further and further into the American fabric as it seeks to exert authority and control over more and more of our lives.

The latest power-mad grab can be attributed to the not-so-illustrious Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is using (misusing, actually) the Clean Water Act (CWA) to control all ditches, gullies and other ephemeral areas by trying to say they are navigable waterways. Sure — like the ditch in front of your home can support barge traffic or a U.S. Navy warship.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Holder, DOJ File Lawsuit Against Florida Despite Proof of Illegal Voters

The Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t going to allow his legal problems get in the way of Department of Justice officials announcing their intention to sue Florida over its so-called “purge” of the state’s voter rolls. The DOJ lawsuit announcement occurred the same day that Florida’s government announced it was suing a different federal agency over the same purge.

So far, Florida officials have identified over 180,000 registered voters who may not be U.S. citizens. Their list doesn’t include the names of deceased Floridians still listed as registered voters nor does it include convicted felons.

When Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department demanded that the State of Florida — considered a vital electoral state — stop checking voter records in its probe of illegal voter registrations, Democratic Party operatives swarmed broadcast media outlets and echoed the assertion that illegal voting is not a problem in the United States.


However, a major research project [url] completed earlier this year suggests that the United States is fast approaching the status of Third-World Nation when it comes to the integrity of local and national elections and voter fraud is far from being a few isolated incidents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Islam Navigates the Shoals of Extremism

by Cathy Young

Which is the more serious problem today: Islamic extremism or anti-Islamic bigotry?

The latest contribution to this debate comes from The Nation, the leading magazine of America’s left, in its current special edition on “Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic.” Its articles address a real and serious issue — but they also illustrate the pitfalls of ignoring its other side. There’s no doubt that virulent rhetoric depicting all Islam as inherently evil and violent, and virtually all Muslims as potential jihadists, has gained alarming currency on the right. Such Muslim-bashing is not simply demeaning but can lead to violence, harassment and infringements on the fundamental liberties of Muslim Americans. The New York Police Department has been criticized for overly broad surveillance of ordinary Muslims. Recent years have seen a wave of attempts to block construction of mosques and Islamic centers across the country. Bills seeking to outlaw the use of Shariah law in American courts — already illegal if it infringes on citizens’ constitutional rights — could interfere with private contracts rooted in religious law.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Lance Armstrong Named in Massive 12-Year Doping Conspiracy

(NaturalNews) Former professional road racing cyclist and Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is the target of a new investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which alleges Armstrong engaged in a “long running doping conspiracy” between 1998 and 2007. Armstrong has already been barred from competing in upcoming Ironman triathlons as a result of the accusations, and if found to be guilty of the charges, he could also lose all seven of his Tour de France titles.

The Washington Post (WP) reports that a 15-page letter issued by USADA accuses Armstrong of taking performance-boosting drugs such as erythropoietin (EPO), getting blood transfusions, and supplementing with human growth hormone (HGH) during his glory years — and the group says it has convincing proof to back its claims. The letter also accuses Armstrong of distributing and administering performance-enhancing drugs to other cyclists between 1998 and 2005.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

More From DHS Insider

“Before we get into the grit, I want to make sure you’re clear about what we talked about before, especially about the economy. You know there’s talk at the highest levels about a coming financial meltdown. When I say the highest levels, I mean the highest. But certain information is being compartmentalized, and almost no information is being sent to out-of-the-loop law enforcement agencies about why things are about to get ugly. They’re getting bigger and better equipment and loving it — not questioning it beyond what they’re told. But here’s what you need to make sure everyone understands when you write about our talks: Despite the fact our economy is on life support, DHS will be budgeting another trillion dollars in surveillance measures and equipment for police state tactics for two reasons.The first is to protect the politicians and the elite who are concerned about their physical safety, and rightfully so. This is why you hear no meaningful objections from either party, because both sides are benefiting, at different levels, from the controlled economic meltdown. They are all in the pockets of the big banks, along with the regulators, and so on. They are paranoid. Even the few who aren’t neck deep in graft — just knee deep. When everything starts to unravel, they will be exposed as complicit, so they have been reminded not to object to the increase in police state tactics,” said my source.

“Secondly, everything is preemptive. The power elite are enabling the looting process by oppressing the truth, so they need to monitor everything. If the top can’t stop the details from getting out, and I’m not talking about news from [expletive deleted] MSNBC or the MSM news, but real news, they figure it’s going to get real ugly. DHS is not just being used as the controlling mechanism to stop people from seeking revenge against the people in power who caused the financial ruin or simply allowed it to happen, but to control information through surveillance, intimidation, and force if necessary,“ stated my source.


“Why do you think DHS added a bunch of silly domestic threat categories to their list, like people overly concerned with the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Reserve, and so-called conspiracies that in any world except their global financial shell game, makes absolutely no sense,” my source asked rhetorically. “Just make sure you emphasize that there is a degree of urgency at DHS over this that’s coming right from the top.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Unmasked

No one in the mainstream media has performed the essential function of exposing the details of Barack Obama’s sordid political history pre-dating his 2004 run for the United States Senate. Virtually every other President in modern time has had his life’s history investigated in detail and published, but not Barack Obama, the darling of the liberal media. Barack Obama’s background remains, for most Americans, a mystery. With the publication of former New York Times Magazine editor Edward Klein’s biography, The Amateur, as well as select pieces in other publications, including The Washington Times, National Review, and World News Daily, we can now see that Obama’s education in politics and political affiliations took him not to the far left but beyond, to those who view America as an evil colonial power that has to be humbled economically and politically before it can become part of a grand international community of socialist states.

Klein’s book is filled with details recording Obama’s radical political affiliations…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

When the Power Grid Goes Down, All Grid-Tie Solar Systems Will Go Down With it

(NaturalNews) A lot of people believe they are becoming “power independent” by installing grid-tie solar systems, but what many don’t realize is that virtually all such systems are designed to actively go offline when the power grid goes offline.

A “grid-tie” solar system is one that ties into the power grid, pulling electricity from the grid when needed, then pushing excess electricity back into the grid when the local customer isn’t using the full capacity being generated by PV panels (photovoltaic). As long as the grid stays up, it’s a clever solution because it reduces or even eliminates the customer’s electric bills while generating “clean” energy.

Because of the very fact that these systems are tied into the power grid, however, they all have a safety feature that disconnects them from the grid when the grid goes down. In other words, if the power grid goes offline, your entire grid-tie solar array becomes instantly useless and you can’t power a laptop computer even if you have $100,000 worth of solar panels sitting on your roof. In a grid-tie system, they all are instantly shut off.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain Stops Russian Ship Carrying Attack Helicopters for Syria

A Russian ship believed to be carrying helicopters and missiles for Syria has been effectively stopped in its tracks off the coast of Scotland after its insurance was cancelled at the behest of the British government.

The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed. “We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria,” the company said in a statement. “We have already informed the ship owner that their insurance cover ceased automatically in view of the nature of the voyage.” British security officials confirmed they had told Standard Club that providing insurance to the shipment was likely to be a breach of European Union sanctions against the Syrian regime. They said they were continuing to monitor the ship, which has been the subject of a fierce international row since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week revealed it was adding to the arsenal of weaponry available for Mr Assad to use against rebellious Syrian towns.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe’s on the Brink of Probably the Gravest and Most Frightening Tumult of Our Lifetime

by Max Hastings

We spent most of yesterday on a beach in Devon — the family and me, that is. The sun was shining, the sand golden; gentle surf washed the shore against a backdrop of soft woods and green fields rising from the shore. I mention these holiday scenic details only to make the point that our world yesterday — and yours, too, I expect — looked pretty much the way it did the day before and, for that matter, in years gone by. Because this is so, because no bombs are dropping, nor Viking hordes sacking villages nor dinosaurs roaming city streets, it is difficult for us all to get our minds around the notion that hell is a’popping; that Europe is in the early stages of what will probably prove its gravest and most frightening tumult of our lifetimes.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe: Hotbed of Islamophobic Extremism

Europeans are not threatened by a Muslim minority. It’s the other way round, Gary Younge points out.

How’s this for the fashion police? In late May, in a suburb of Brussels, a Muslim woman was arrested for wearing aniqab — the garment worn by a tiny proportion of Muslim women that covers all of the face but the eyes. In the subsequent melee, the woman broke an officer’s nose while being frisked. Her arrest sparked clashes between Muslim youth and police in the area. A week later, the hard-right Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang offered a 250 euro bounty to anyone reporting veiled women to the police.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Two Female Police Officers Shot Dead

French police say a man has confessed to killing two female paramilitary gendarmes who were shot dead with a gun belonging to one of them.

The officers, who were aged 29 and 35, were killed in the village of Collobrieres, in the Maures mountains near the southeastern town of Toulon.

It is believed to be the first time two female gendarmes have been killed in the same incident in France.

And Toulon prosecutor Xavier Tarabeaux told a news conference that a suspect — who he said had recently completed a six-year stretch in prison — had confessed to the killings.

The man matching the description of the killer — aged 30, tall, well built and with a shaved head — was arrested in the village after a manhunt involving 300 people.

A police spokesman for the local Paca region said the force was “deeply shocked.” The elder victim, Audrey Berthaut, had two daughters aged five and 13 while the other, Alicia Champlon, was another gendarme’s partner.

The pair had reportedly intervened in an argument involving an alleged burglar.

The attacker — who investigators say appeared to be drunk — apparently knocked one of the police officers over, took her gun and shot her, before pursuing the other gendarme and killing her in a nearby square.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Stockholm Terror Trial: Bomber’s Wife Had Money Wired to Her, Court in Glasgow Hears

THE wife of a man who blew himself up in a busy Stockholm street had money wired to her by an accused conspirator to further her husband’s terrorist aims, a court has heard.

Taimour Abdulwahab died in the explosion on December 11 2010 in the Bryggargatan area of the Swedish capital.

Nasserdine Menni, whose age is unknown, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow charged with conspiring with Abdulwahab and others to further terrorist aims, which included the use of explosive devices in the commission of an act of terrorism directed against members of the Swedish public, with intent to murder them.

Abdulwahab’s wife, Mona Thwany, 29, gave evidence at the trial today and said that in the weeks following her husband’s death, she left the family home in Luton, Bedfordshire, with her three children after it was searched by police.

She stayed with a friend, Hemel Tellis, a 29-year-old science teacher also from Luton, for about two weeks before looking for a new place, Mrs Thwany told the court.

During that time, Menni, who Mrs Thwany said she only knew as Azzedin, sent £1,000 to her through Mrs Tellis’ bank account, she said.

Mrs Thwany told the court she did not know Menni personally but that she had seen him around and had probably heard her husband mention him.

She said: “It is a cultural thing that when someone passes away, you ask the family if they need anything.”

The court heard that Abdulwahab’s parents and sister lived in Sweden.

Mrs Thwany also told the jury that her son had changed his name from Osama but would not say what he had changed it to.

At one point during her evidence, trial Judge Lord Matthews gave Mrs Thwany a warning after she refused to answer certain questions.

As she took to the stand, she told the Advocate Depute Andrew Miller: “I am here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to assist with the case concerning Mr Menni.

“As you know, previously I have had contact with the police, so I am respectfully asking you to ask questions which are relevant to this case please. I wouldn’t want to incriminate myself.”

Lord Matthews said: “It will be for me to judge what questions are and are not relevant, so you just answer them.”

Later in the proceedings, Mrs Thwany refused to say her email address out loud over fears for her privacy, but the judge told her: “Whether you like to or not, you will just have to give us it.”

She eventually wrote the email address down and it was handed around the jury.

Menni is also charged with transferring money to or for the use of Abdulwahab, in the knowledge it would be used for the purposes of terrorism.

It is alleged he conspired with Abdulwahab and others from addresses in Glasgow, Luton, Bedford, Syria, Iraq and Sweden between January 1 2003 and March 8 2011.

He denies all of the charges against him.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Stop Giving Foreign Criminals a Right to Stay in the UK, Say MPs Following Landmark Vote

In a landmark vote, MPs last night ordered judges to stop granting foreign rapists and killers a ‘human right’ to stay in Britain.

The motion — the first of its kind — was passed after the Commons heard the horrifying scale of the way overseas convicts are abusing Labour’s controversial Human Rights Act.

According to Home Office figures, 1,888 overseas offenders played the legal system by lodging appeals under the legislation last year.

Of these, 409 were allowed to stay — 185 of them because the criminal had a right to a ‘family life’ here under Article 8 of the Act.

This is despite the fact that, in many cases, the convicts destroyed British families by their actions

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: A Ban on Bangers: Hundreds of School Pupils Denied Pork Because of ‘Religious Reasons’

Roast pork and sausages have always been a staple of British diets. But now hundreds of school children will be denied them for school lunches because of ‘religious reasons’. Pork, which is not eaten by devout Jews or Muslims, has been banned by councils across the country to satisfy the needs of staff and pupils who are not allowed contact with it. However, it is thought many schools do not serve halal or kosher meat, so Jewish and Muslim children would not be able to eat it anyway.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Bangers Ban in Hundreds of Schools

Pork is being banned from school dinners even where the majority of parents have no religious objection to it.

Head teachers are deciding for “cultural” and “religious” reasons to drop traditional sausages and ham from children’s lunches. One council has issued “best practice” advice to all schools in its area to “ban all pork products in order to cater for the needs of staff and pupils who are not permitted contact with these for religious reasons”. The guidance, issued in Haringey, north London, does not specify what proportion of a school’s intake should object to the meat — which is not eaten by devout Muslims or Jews — before it is dropped.

The policy was criticised last night by MPs and farmers’ leaders, who accused head teachers of depriving other children of a choice and pointed out that all schools already offer vegetarian options. Pabulum, a school caterer in south-east England, said that around 20 of the 48 primary schools it supplied chose only non-pork lunches. Most serve no halal or kosher meat, however, so many Muslim or Jewish pupils would not be able to eat the dishes anyway.

In Luton, 23 out of 57 schools which contract their dinners from the local authority have a “no pork” policy. In Bradford the figure is 24 out of 160; in Newham, east London, it is 25 out of 75; in Tower Hamlets, east London, it is 85 out of 90. In Haringey’s infant, junior and primary schools, 37 out of 47 serve no pork. At Cypress Junior School, in Croydon, south London, Nicky Godetz, the head teacher, announced in this month’s newsletter that the school had opted for a pork-free menu “as a result of pupil and parental feedback”.

“The sausages served will now be chicken rather than pork,” she added. Muslim and Jewish pupils are in a minority at the school, where most of the intake are of white British, black Caribbean or black African heritage. Other pork-free schools include Cranford Park Primary School in Hayes, Middlesex, and Dog Kennel Hill Primary, in East Dulwich, south London, both with pupils from a wide range of ethnic minorities. Muslim and Jewish leaders said they had never asked for schools to ban pork.

In its most recent report on “meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools”, the Muslim Council of Britain asked only for halal and non-halal meat to be handled separately, to avoid contamination, and for clear labelling. Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “This is simply not an issue. Jews of a certain level of observance would not eat in non-kosher restaurants or dining halls. Children at mainstream school who are bothered would probably have packed lunches. Children who are comfortable with using the same cutlery and crockery as everyone else would choose their dishes from the options available. It is live and let live — we are certainly not calling for this.”

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, who has campaigned for clear labelling of halal and kosher meat in shops and restaurants, described the pork bans as “misguided political correctness”. “Whilst I very much agree that pupils should be able to choose not to have pork, I believe it is totally wrong for schools to in effect force all pupils to abide by the religious beliefs of some by denying them the opportunity to choose to have pork,” he said. “This is the type of misguided political correctness which builds up resentments which otherwise would not exist, and I very much hope these schools will change their stance and allow pupils a much more free choice.”

Stewart Houston, the chief executive of the National Pig Association, which represents commercial producers, also criticised the bans. He said: “It is disappointing that schools can not be sufficiently organised to give children a choice of meat. Sausages and roast pork are staples of a British diet and children enjoy eating them. If products can be labelled with warnings that they contain nuts and vegetarian dishes can be made and kept separate from meat dishes, I don’t see why the same can’t apply to pork.” Healthy eating rules on school meals mean sausages can only be served once a fortnight. Many schools across the country already supply halal meat either as an option or exclusively. Some have been criticised for not informing parents or consulting with them about the decision to switch to a fully halal menu.

[Reader comment by RecklessProcess on 18 June 2012 at 05:16 PM.]

Let’s outlaw the local culture of London going back hundreds of years in order to accomadate Muslims who hate London and London Culture while straining to impose Sharia law on London. There is no reason that the Leftist Totalitarians can see that they should not outlaw local culture to accomadate a primitive and barbaric culture of death.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Exorcising Enoch Powell’s Ghost

Mohammed Amin is Vice Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum. He is writing in a personal capacity.

When I wrote “Winning Muslim Votes” for the Tory Reform Group magazine “Reformer”, I asked why:

“Muslim business owners and professionals who, if they were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) would be expected to vote Conservative but who actually vote Labour despite their wealth and socially conservative attitudes.”

I decided the key reason was a form of collective memory:

“As someone who has lived in the UK for over 50 years, I still remember the Labour Party as the promoter of the Race Relations Act while the Conservative Party had Enoch Powell making speeches about “Rivers of blood.”

I made a similar point in my piece “Hard-edged but inclusive” written for the book “Are we there yet? A collection on race and Conservatism” published by DEMOS and the Runnymede Trust:

“As Conservatives we can be proud of our party’s early pioneering of racial equality by selecting a Jew, Benjamin Disraeli, as our party leader and then prime minister. At the same time we need to be objective and recognise that our party produced Enoch Powell, who I regard as a racist; while Ted Heath sacked him from the shadow cabinet he was never expelled from the party and instead left voluntarily over the European Economic Community.”

After I wrote these pieces, some of my younger Party friends accused me of being an old fogey, and were incredulous that Enoch Powell could still be relevant to voting patterns today. Accordingly I had a feeling of quiet vindication when I read “Degrees of separation — Ethnic minority voters and the Conservative Party” by Lord Ashcroft. If you search the full report, Enoch Powell gets five mentions. The focus groups organised by Lord Ashcroft and his team show that Enoch Powell’s ghost still haunts us, and is costing us votes.


[Reader comment by Paul Harris on 18 June 2012 at about 1 am.]

It might be a surprise to know, Mr Amin, but most people I know do not want Britain invaded by millions of Third World immigrants. Try thinking how you would feel if it were your country. However much social engineering you spend out of our tax money to try and paper over this issue, it is not going to go away, just like the Third World settlers in this country, who are disproportionately responsible for much of the serious crime. We want our country back. We never agreed to this in the first place and we do not agree to it now, and we never will.

[JP note: See piece below on shutting down the Conservative Muslim Forum.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: It’s Time to Shut the Conservative Muslim Forum Down

The Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF) was founded in 2005, as part of the Conservative Party’s ‘modernisation’ strategy, the group was formed “when the Conservative Party recognised that it needed to do more to appeal to Muslim voters“. The group uses an ‘’ e-mail for all official correspondences. The CMF could have played a progressive part in enticing Muslim voters towards the Conservative Party. That has not happened. Instead, the Conservative Muslim Forum appeases and bids for Islamists within the Conservative Party.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: One Direction Singer Zayn Malik: Global Pop Star, And Muslim

As the British-Irish boy band One Direction soared in the pop charts, making teen and tween girls around the world swoon and scream, band member Zayn Malik tweeted a message that would perplex a large segment of his fans, while being immediately recognizable to millions of others. “La ila ha ill lalla ho muhammed door rasoolalah.” The 47-character tweet is a common declaration of faith among Muslims: “There is no god but God and Mohammad is the prophet of God.” It was one signal from Malik that as part of his public persona he would embrace a religion that is often feared and reviled in the West, while otherwise acting the traditional teen idol alongside his four floppy-haired band mates in One Direction.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Owen Jones, The Justin Bieber of the British Left

by Dan Hodges


In the immediate aftermath of Anders Breivik’s Norwegian massacre, I wrote a piece for the New Statesman critical of those who in my view had attempted to appropriate those horrific events for political ends. In particular I singled out Owen’s statement that “working class Norwegians have just been slaughtered”. “Of the dead and dying of the Norwegian middle and upper classes there was no word”, I pointed out. Again, the fury from Owen’s acolytes could scarcely have been more vituperative if I’d actually endorsed Breivik’s murderous rampage. But as I’ve written before, this is how the self-styled elements of Britain’s radical elite conduct their politics. It’s not just that a particular alternative viewpoint is deemed to be wrong. The mere fact of forming an alternative viewpoint is itself viewed as an outrage.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman Accuses Daily Mail of Telling Porkies

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman has refuted allegations that the borough has banned pork sausages from being served in schools.

Mayor Rahman responded on his blog to an article in the Daily Mail which claimed the council has banned sausages due to “religious reasons.” The article stated that 85 out of 90 schools in Tower Hamlets do not offer pupils a pork option, a figure which Mayor Rahman attributed to a lack of demand. He wrote: “The facts are that pork sausages are available to the minority of schools where there is a continuing demand for them. However, it is the case that in a majority of our schools there isn’t any demand for them. Clearly there is no demand for pork sausages for Muslim and Jewish school pupils, but that is hardly a new development. At a time when there are severe pressures on local authority budgets, why should our council be obliged to waste money on unwanted pork sausages?”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Top Doctor’s Chilling Claim: The NHS Kills Off 130,000 Elderly Patients Every Year

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.

Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country.

It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.

It can include withdrawal of treatment — including the provision of water and nourishment by tube — and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.


Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated.

He said this showed that claims they had hours or days left are ‘palpably false’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Life Support After Being Declared ‘Clinically Dead’ By His Doctors

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is being kept alive by life support after he was rushed from a prison hospital to a military one in a rapidly worsening condition, officials said.

The 84-year-old ousted leader’s health crisis added a new element of uncertainty just as a potentially explosive fight opened over who will succeed him.

The state news agency Mena said Mubarak was ‘clinically dead’ when he arrived at the hospital and that doctors used a defibrillator on him several times. It initially said the efforts were not successful.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslim Brotherhood Accused of ‘Vanishing Ink’ Trickery at Polls — Islamists Rumored to Have Distributed Pens With Disappearing Ink to Those Who Would Vote Against Them

CAIRO (AP) — Rumor had it a devious conspiracy was afoot: Egyptians voting for a new president Saturday were being tricked into using pens with disappearing ink so their choice on the ballot would vanish before it was counted.

“Is this the right pen?” an old man in a traditional galabeya robe shouted, holding one up to the judge supervising at a polling station in Giza, the sister city of Egypt’s capital, Cairo.

There was no concrete evidence for the rumors, but some voters in polling stations around the city were clearly concerned as they marked their paper ballots. Talk of a plot just deepened Egyptians’ worries that the dirty tricks rife in elections under authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak were still in play and that powers greater than them still manipulate the system, even after a revolution last year aimed at bringing transparency.

The claim seems to have emerged two days before the vote. A right-wing, Rush Limbaugh-style TV host, Tawfiq Okasha, known for his backing of the ruling military, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of importing 180,000 disappearing-ink pens from India. He proclaimed that they intended to distribute the pens outside polling stations to voters they believed would vote for Ahmed Shafiq, the former Mubarak prime minister running against the Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi.

“I warn everyone. I warn the Shafiq campaign. I warn all voters,” Okasha shouted on his show on the satellite channel he owns. “The voter will make his mark on the ballot with it and four hours later the mark disappears. The vote counters will open the ballot and find it blank.”

A Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, denied the claims…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

How I Became an Irish Zionist

By Nicky Larkin

Summer 2012 — An Israeli flag proudly flies outside the front of a Dublin city centre pub. An insignificant event perhaps in other parts of the world — but not in Ireland. Six months previously Dublin city council allowed a day-long enactment of mock executions of “Israelis” by “Palestinians” on our main shopping thoroughfare, organized by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Being anti-Israel has somehow become part of our Irish national identity — the same way we are supposed to resent the English.

I was no different. My interest in the Israeli-Arab conflict had been sparked by Operation Cast Lead. I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue, in a gesture of solidarity. While I never had any notions of “Throwing The Jew Down The Well,” as Borat might have it, I had definite opinions on Israeli foreign policy. The Irish papers were full of stories of Israeli aggression every day that summer — between flotillas and bombings it didn’t look good. You can’t polish a turd.

But I wanted to go and see for myself. I wanted to see just how nasty these Israeli’s actually were. I wanted proof that I was right.

Several months later, I arrived in Ben Gurion Airport expecting all sorts of security checks. We were Irish, and we were filmmakers — therefore we were not to be trusted. Thankfully, we cleared security without the involvement of latex gloves or free prostate exams.

But suspicion followed us everywhere we went in that first week in Israel. Once we told people we were Irish it was harder to get interviews, and people were more reluctant to speak on camera. I understood why.

After that first week in Israel we crossed over into the West Bank. Being Irish wasn’t a problem on this side of the divide. Everyone was our friend. IRA graffiti adorned The Wall; tiny German flags affixed to car number-plates. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks, the neon crucifixes punctuated only by posters of martyrs.

I was confused by the constant Palestinian repetition of the mantra of “non-violent resistance.” Why put up all the posters of martyrs, if you advocate non-violent resistance? I was supposed to understand all this somehow because I’m Irish. But even the IRA didn’t blow themselves up … at least not on purpose.

I was also frustrated by the unquestioning attitude of the foreign activists. Anything seemed acceptable in the name of the Palestinian cause. No questions asked. But would these war-tourists apply this same liberal attitude if it was happening at home in their own country? If buses were exploding in their own home cities? If they weren’t out here on holidays in their summer playground?

My opinions didn’t change overnight. I spent seven weeks in the area, the time divided equally between Israel and the West Bank. Then I spent several months trawling through hundreds of hours of the interviews we’d filmed. I’d spoken to everyone from Ultra-Orthodox Settlers to Marxist Palestinians. Everybody had an opinion, and everybody was sure that their opinion was right.

The problem began when I resolved to come back with a film that showed both sides of the coin. Actually there are many more than two. Which is why my film is called Forty Shades of Grey.

But only one side was wanted back in Dublin. My peers expected me to come back with an attack on Israel. No grey areas were acceptable.

Beginning in March I published a series of articles in The Sunday Independent, Ireland’s most widely circulated Sunday paper, detailing my political shift.

The fallout from the articles has been quite spectacular. I’ve been called everything from a Protestant to an agent of Mossad. Letters to the editor have been flying in every Sunday since, like rockets from the Strip.

But unlike the rockets from Gaza, not all the letters have been sent with spleen.

I expected hate mail. And I got it. But I didn’t expect the support from a largely silent group of people — Irish people. It seems there are true liberals out there. People prepared to listen to both sides of the story.

Since my initial article in March, a multitude of other Irish writers have been questioning our automatic anti-Israel bias in several national newspapers. For the first time ever Irish people are starting to think about the Israel issue in a rational light. There is a genuine sea-change taking place.

I opened a previously closed debate, and I would like to think that the Israeli flag now flying in Dublin city centre has more than a little bit to do with me.

Nicky Larkin will be presenting his film, Forty Shades of Grey, and answering questions Monday at Library & Archives at 7 p.m. (

           — Hat tip: JLH [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Positive Changes in the Arab World


Many key players in the political movement like non- Muslim citizens and professional women have not been given their due share of appreciation. I feel very disappointed at the situation in prevailing in the region. I feel that the Islamic groups are hungry for power, and that worries me. This is because most of us want to live in a liberal atmosphere to exercise their freedom of choice and beliefs. If a new system, Islamic or not, assume power with the aim of oppressing people, the situation will be akin to replacing one tyrant with another.

Right now, many people in several Arab countries, including Kuwait, are having second thoughts about supporting the Arab Spring. They fear that this issue will spill over into their region, threatening their lives and security! Now, there are many people who ask how much we have benefited from the Arab Spring? Has it made life easier for the poor? Are women more empowered today? Is human rights and freedom being observed? Is there more tolerance and flexibility in accommodating all non-Muslims who live in our countries?

If no marked changes have taken place, it is time to think and reflect on the damage created. Has a plan been charted out on dealing with the West today, aside from making calls to wage a war against devil West? The French Revolution reshaped the public mind. It is time for some introspection. Are we trying to learn from others’ experiences and history? Are we using our senses to rebel against leadership? Is it eye for eye and what lives by the sword only ends with the sword? How can we control the damage?…

           — Hat tip: RR [Return to headlines]

UAE: Muslims Can Spray on Perfumes Containing Alcohol: Grand Mufti

However, if a Muslim wants to be cautious, he can use oil-based perfumes

It is permissible for Muslims to use perfumes containing alcohol, according to Dr Ali Ahmed Mashael, Grand Mufti at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai. He said this fatwa is based on the fact that the proportion of alcohol in perfumes is small and thus does not affect the purity of a Muslim’s prayers. However, if a Muslim wants to be cautious, he can use oil-based perfumes which are alcohol-free, he added.


[JP note: Get the little things right and the rest will surely follow.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

World’s Most Powerful Imam to Rise? — Middle East Invites Islamist Billionaire to Return From Exile

In a stunning move, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for Fethullah Gülen, the reclusive imam of arguably the most powerful Islamist movement in the world, to return home to Turkey from his self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania.

Erdogan’s appeal to Gülen came after he received an award during the closing ceremony of the Turkish Olympics.

“We want this yearning to come to an end,” the prime minister said. “We want to see those who are abroad and longing for the homeland to be among us. … Absence from home is loneliness. We have no tolerance for loneliness. We are saying that this absence from home [of Gülen] should end. To be honest, I understand that this is also what you all expect. So, let’s say the absence should be ended. As the child of an ancient civilization, I am extending my thanks to the ones who call on us and the entire world tonight in Turkish, the language of a rich culture. This is what I am saying, let’s put absence from home and longing for the homeland to one side.”

Although Erdogan did not use Gülen’s name, his comments were widely understood by the Turkish audience and media to refer to Fethullah Gülen. This invitation represents the first time that Erdogan has ever publicly reached out to the man that many consider to be Erdogan’s spiritual mentor and the most dangerous Islamist in the world.

But according to the Turkish media, Erdogan’s comments “received a lengthy standing ovation from the huge crowd that had jam-packed the over 50,000-seat Türk Telekom Arena.”

Others prominent Turkish leader’s joined in Erdogan’s calls…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]


Muslims Lash Out at Ban on Religious Books

The Russian Council of Muftis has voiced its protest against banning some Muslim religious books in the country as extremist. “We consider the prohibition of religious literature as an attempt at the revival of total ideological control,” the body said in a statement published on its website. “Such practice is unacceptable in a democratic society…and is an alarm signal for Russian citizens,” the council pointed out. The Islamic scholars’ anxiety followed a ruling made earlier by a district court in Orenburg which banned 65 religious and historic books issued by “almost all Islamic publishers in Russia.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Burma: Death Sentences for 2 Muslims in Murder Case That Set Off Myanmar Unrest

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — A court in western Myanmar has sentenced two Muslim men to death for robbing, raping and killing a woman last month, a case that provoked sectarian clashes in the area that left at least fifty people dead. The two men — named Mamed Rawphi and Khuchi — received the sentence Monday at the Kyaukpyu District Court in Rakhine State, the government-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported on its website. A third man, Htet Htet, who had also been charged in relation to the killing, hanged himself using his clothes while in detention on June 9, the newspaper said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Seven Killed in NATO Base Attack in Afghanistan

Seven attackers were killed today after storming a base of the Nato coalition in Kandahar province of southern Afghanistan. The attackers breached the outer security of the base in Shah Wali Kot district, but were then killed by guards at the compound. Initial reports suggested that at least one foreign worker was killed and two other foreigners were wounded, but this was not confirmed. Earlier, Afghan officials said three Afghan policemen were killed when their checkpoint was attacked in Kandahar city. US and Afghan officials said three individuals dressed in Afghan police uniforms turned their guns on coalition troops in Zhari district of Kandahar province yesterday, killing one Nato service member and wounding several others.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

U.S. Soldier Dies After Men Dressed in Police Uniform Turn Guns on Him in Afghanistan

A U.S. soldier was killed and several others injured on Monday when men dressed in Afghan police uniforms turned their guns on them in southern Afghanistan. The three Afghan shooters fled after what is thought to be an insider attack and authorities are searching for them.

Although they were dressed in police uniforms, it was not yet certain if the men were actually Afghan police or were just wearing the clothing.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

China Police Begin House Searches in Restive Xinjiang

Authorities in China’s western-most Xinjiang region have launched house-to-house searches after a clash at an Islamic school left 12 children injured, police and a rights group said Tuesday.

Xinjiang is home to around nine million mainly Muslim Uighurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities — a claim the government denies — and the region is regularly hit by unrest. The US-based Uyghur American Association (UAA) said police were stepping up a crackdown on underground Islamic schools after the June 6 clash in Xinjiang’s Hetian city and were threatening to break down doors if locals did not cooperate.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria’s Boko Haram ‘Bombed Kaduna Churches’

Radical Islamist group Boko Haram has said it was behind Sunday’s suicide bombings of three churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna.

The blasts were in revenge for what it said were previous Christian “atrocities” against Muslims, the group said in an email sent to local media. At least 50 people were killed in the bombings and reprisal killings, the Red Cross says. Boko Haram has carried out a series of deadly attacks in the past two years.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Kaduna Violence: Doctors Confirm 66 Dead, 140 Hospitalised

SIXTY-SIX persons have been confirmed dead following Sunday’s bomb attacks on three churches in Kaduna State. Red Cross officials also told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Kaduna that 140 victims of the attacks were taken to various hospitals for treatment. Two churches were bombed in Zaria and one in Kaduna on Sunday. They are Christ the King Catholic Church (CKC), located at Yoruba Road, Sabon Gari, Zaria; ECWA Church, situated at Wusasa, Zaria and Shalom Church of God at Tirkania area of Kaduna metropolis.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: 2000 Jihadists Storm Southeast, Says CAN

Enugu — THE Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Southeast chapter, has placed Christians in the zone on red alert over reports that about 2000 youths have been deployed from the North to the region ahead of a planned jihad. Addressing journalists yesterday after an enlarged caucus meeting of the Christian body yesterday at the All Saints Church, Enugu, the CAN chairman in the zone, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, disclosed that information at their disposal showed that apart from the 2000 jihadists in the region, about 2500 and 2000 were in the south-south and south-west respectively for the same purpose. Alluding to the bombing of churches on Sunday by suspected Boko Haram members, Chukwuma who is also the Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese expressed dismay that despite assurances from the Federal Government, the killings had continued unabated. ‘From the information we have gathered, it is pure jihad. Already a good number of them, about 2000 have arrived the Southeast. It is a form of jihad; they want to make sure that Nigeria is frustrated and Islamised’, the CAN leader stated.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Australia: the Asylum Seeker Visas for Hostile Detainees

FAILED asylum seekers who have been abusive and threatened to destroy property in detention are being released on bridging visas while they appeal to stay permanently.

It comes as the government has revealed it cost $185,000 to fly asylum seekers from Cocos Island to Christmas Island this month after four boats arrived direct from Sri Lanka.One 30-year-old who was taken to Silverwater jail after the Villawood Detention Centre riot in April last year has been granted a visa.

He was later cleared by police over the riots but an Ombudsman’s report noted the man was involved in “two incidents of aggressive or abusive behaviour including threats to destroy property.”

Release is being considered for another 30-year-old long-term detainee who has been involved in several fights, escaped detention and who has been abusive to staff.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

UK: Face of the Failed Asylum Seeker Who Bludgeoned Father to Death in Front of His Family as He Headed for Work

A hard-working father was bludgeoned to death with a brick by a stranger as he left for work. Umesh Choudhari, 41, was repeatedly hit over the head with a brick in front of his wife, children and neighbours by a failed asylum seeker with an electronic tag. Mr Choudhari was working 70 hours a week at two jobs to support his family but now his wife says she will not be able to send their children to university. Rostam Ahmadi, 23, was bailed to the same street six days earlier, accused of robbery offences, despite objections from police. One of the conditions was an electronic tag, monitoring a curfew in the evenings.


[Reader comment by IanA, Stirling on 18 June 2012 at about midnight.]

It is about time the law was changed. Any immigrant legal or not should realise that if they commit any crime; with a custodial sentence that they will be deported without right to appeal following completion of their sentence.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Fabianism in Education

Recently, a colleague referred to the current capitulation to multilingualism as creeping Fabianism. Not certain what he meant, I did some research. I learned that the Fabian Society was a British organization whose members sought to extirpate existing societal and cultural norms by advancing the principles of democratic socialism through gradual processes rather than revolution. They adopted their name from the Roman general Fabius, nicknamed “the delayer,” whose dilatory strategy brought about Hannibal’s defeat.

Fabianism brings to mind the theory that a bullfrog, placed in tepid water, won’t notice a one-degree-at-a-time increase in the water’s temperature until it’s too late, and will succumb to death by boiling. As a college teacher, I have observed a sort of one-degree-at-a time Fabianism in education, as academic standards succumb to ideas that work against this country’s most valuable resource: its young people.

Obeying the mutual outcome mantra and promoting diversity and multiculturalism, many schools have lowered academic minimums to levels approaching irrelevancy, and as a result, some incoming students disregard as idle threat what I say on the first day of class:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Esposito Speaks on New Book Islamophobia

John Esposito’s latest work draws out the role of Arab dictatorships in exaggerating the image of political Islam before the West

Questions have arisen across the Arab Spring where the rise of political Islam has left the West wondering about the nature of the Arab revolutions. John Esposito stands among the handful of Western scholars able to take a deeper look at the scene and resist the tide of Islamophobia, about which he has written a book in cooperation with Ibrahim Kallin and published recently. Esposito attended the Nyon Process discussions in Tunisia and gave his insights to Ahram Online, shedding light upon the possible futures of the Arab Spring.

Esposito is professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Proposed International Trade Rules Would Give Corporations the Power to Overrule Governments

(NaturalNews) As long and as hard as some nations (especially the United States) have fought through the years to achieve and maintain independence, it’s mind-boggling to think they would ever voluntarily surrender that sovereignty. And yet, many seem willing to do just that, according to newly exposed international trade rules that would give transnational corporations the kind of rights once reserved only for governments.

According to a report from the Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC), a “national coalition of environmental, labor, consumer, family farm, religious, and other civil society groups founded in 1992 to improve the North American Free Trade Agreement,” transnational corporations would be given unprecedented authority to resolve trade disputes.

Under the rules, which were drafted by a collective of nine nations working to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which — according to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Web site is “an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values” — international corporations would have “special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems,” the CTC said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UN Warns of Global Collapse Due to Pesticides; Agenda 21 is Pushed as Solution

(NaturalNews) The United Nations (U.N.) Environment Program has released a 525-page report in conjunction with its upcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable development that warns about “sudden, irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes” that will occur in the world if drastic measures are not taken to stop them. In correctly identifying pesticides and other chemicals as one of the primary causes, however, the U.N. also tacks on the global warming myth in an attempt to push for a centralized, world government.

The Associated Press (A.P.) reports that the U.N. manifesto correctly pinpoints out of control pesticide and herbicide use as a major global problem that is polluting rivers, streams, and waterways, and contributing to ecosystem destruction. But it also highlights the typical scare scenarios often associated with global warming as well, including melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and a so-called excess of greenhouse gases.

This crafty mixture of truth and lies appears to be the U.N.’s latest attempt at garnering more support for its global governance agenda, which includes things like establishing a global internet police force [url], and setting up a global taxation system for imposing things like mandatory vaccinations in developing countries [url]. The U.N.’s goal, in other words, is to centralize as much power for itself as it possibly can.


Under the guise of “sustainable development” and saving the planet from destruction, the U.N. is pushing what is known as Agenda 21, a plan to collectivize private property globally, reeducate the world into a single, globalist mindset, and eventually depopulate the world. And one of the ways the U.N. is ushering in Agenda 21 is through the vehicle of global warming and environmental destruction, two issues that it says must be addressed globally.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120618

Financial Crisis
» German FM Says Greece Voted to Go Ahead With Reforms
» Italy’s Billion-Euro-a-Day Ministries
» Why the Young Should Welcome Austerity
» Christian Missionary Group With Pig’s Head Taunt Arab-Americans at Dearborn Festival
» Conservatives for Shariah
» Muslims Marching Toward Victory in USA Conference
Europe and the EU
» Germany: British Suspected Islamic Terrorist Arrested in Germany
» Greece: As Beggars Fight for Scraps, Even Police Flirt With the Neo-Nazis, Writes Andrew Malone in a Special Dispatch From Athens
» Ireland: ‘Undriveable’ Car Sees Case Dismissed
» Italy: Male Models Says ‘Ruby’ Offered Him €4k for Sex
» Italy: Grillo Calls for ‘Nuremberg Trial’ For Italian Parties
» UK: ‘Serious Weaknesses’ In Care System
» UK: Baroness Warsi and the ‘Extremist’ Who Went to Downing Street
» UK: Faiths to March in Show of Unity
» UK: How the BBC is Dragging Its Feet on Bias
» UK: Islamic Scholars Reject Machine Slaughter
» UK: Outrage at Hussain ‘Promotion’
North Africa
» Mohammed Morsi Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Wins Egyptian Presidency
Israel and the Palestinians
» And Now it Begins: Attack From Egypt Signals Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas Jihad Against Israel
» Israel Kills Two Islamic Jihad Activists in Gaza
» One Israeli Killed as Gunmen Attack From Across Egypt Border
» Shmuel Katz: “Hearing is Believing” On Israel’s Peace Treaty With Egypt
Middle East
» Iranian Muslims Pay Tribute to Prophet Mohammad
» Turkey: Eight Arrested for ‘Al-Qaeda Ties’
» UAE: Islamic Golden Age Remembered
» Yemen: Government Forces Recapture Al-Qaeda Strongholds
South Asia
» India: Rajasthan: Married Off at 9, A 24-Yr-Old Woman Wants Her Marriage Annulled
» India: JI in IHK Denounces Desecration of Mosque, Holy Quran
» Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
Australia — Pacific
» Fiji: Mosque Committee Member Charged
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Court Declares Islamic Banking in Nigeria Illegal
» Dozens Killed in Bomb and Retaliatory Attacks in Northern Nigeria
» Ghana: Muslim or Christian: The Dead Deserve Dignity and Peace
» Ghana: NDC Has Kept Faith With Muslims — Ofosu-Ampofo
» Ghana: Return Home; Fleeing Hohoe Muslims Urged
» Series of Bombings Hit Nigerian Churches
» Judges Who Allow Foreign Criminals to Stay in Britain

Financial Crisis

German FM Says Greece Voted to Go Ahead With Reforms

(AGI) Berlin — German Finance Minister Schaeuble said the Greeks voted to go ahead with large-scale economic and fiscal reforms. Wolfgang Schaeuble said the outcome of today’s elections in Greece proves that the country is willing to implement much-needed economic and budget reforms. Schaeuble went on to say that the German government interprets the result of the vote in Greece as “a decision by the Greek people to go ahead with the implementation of large-scale economic and fiscal reforms”.

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

Italy’s Billion-Euro-a-Day Ministries

Half of €283 billion annual spending goes on administration

ROME — Ministerial expenditure has again come under pressure to ensure the success of the first stage of the spending review. The campaign should now guarantee savings of €5 billion instead of €4.2 billion. The adjustment, needed to respond to earthquake damage in Emilia, is set to be approved at Monday’s [today’s — Ed.] meeting of the interministerial committee, chaired by the prime minister, Mario Monti.

The session will draft guidelines for the decree law to come into effect at the end of the month. Experts hope to avoid October’s — at least — one per cent increase in VAT rates, which provides resources for earthquake reconstruction. Where will the money come from? Through cuts of €5 billion to public spending between June and September 2012, the equivalent of roughly €8.5 billion in structural savings from 2013. Three billion euros is expected to come from spending cuts being drafted by special commissioner Enrico Bondi and the rest will be clawed back through further cuts to ministries’ current expenditure. The Senate’s budget service has analysed all items of ministerial spending, which represent €283 billion (including salaries) out of Italy’s €779 billion total expenditure. Half of those resources, some €108 billion, are required merely to keep the ministerial machinery running, in comparison with the €36 billion that goes into the capital account.

Senate analysts highlighted the largest allocations at each ministry in proportion to the total 2012 budget. For example, the €79 billion spent by the economy ministry includes transfers to publicly owned companies: €1.8 billion to the railway, ANAS (road management) and ENAV (air traffic control) enterprises; and €4.4 billion to INPS (social security) to cover the deficit of the railway pension fund. There is an odd-looking transfer of €1.1 billion to “religious denominations”. Operating expenditure includes substantial amounts set aside to bolster the fight against tax evasion: €1.4 billion to the financial police and €2.6 billion for suppressing fraud and tax offences. The development ministry costs €7 billion and devotes €6.6 billion to capital account expenditure. The report focuses on a number of operating expenses: €17 billion in transfers to the competition and markets watchdog; €122 million to the foreign trade institute, ICE; and a capital injection of €158 million to the new technology, energy and environment agency, ENEA. The ministry of employment has a budget of €100 billion, spending as much as €98 billion on social policy while €300 million keeps local offices operating. Some €3.2 billion of the justice ministry’s €7 billion goes on keeping the courts working but the €848 million spent on electronic eavesdropping comes under the microscope. Out of €1.7 billion spent by the foreign ministry, €579 million keeps offices abroad ticking over and €461 million goes in contributions to international organisations…

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

Why the Young Should Welcome Austerity

by Niall Ferguson

Governments should be more honest about the size of their debts and young voters would be wise to get politicians to pay them off as soon as possible, says economic historian Niall Ferguson in the first of his BBC Reith Lectures. The critics of Western democracy are right to discern that something is amiss with our political institutions. The most obvious symptom of the malaise is the huge debts we have managed to accumulate in recent decades, which — unlike in the past — cannot largely be blamed on wars. According to the International Monetary Fund, the gross government debt of Greece this year will reach 153% of GDP. For Italy the figure is 123%, for Ireland 113%, for Portugal 112% and for the United States 107%. Britain’s debt is approaching 88%. Japan is the world leader, with a mountain of government debt approaching 236% of GDP — more than triple what it was 20 years ago.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Christian Missionary Group With Pig’s Head Taunt Arab-Americans at Dearborn Festival

Tensions flared Friday evening at the annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn as members of some Christian missionary groups — including one called the Bible Believers — taunted Arab Americans with a pig’s head and signs that promoted hatred of Islam. “You’re gonna burn in hell,” one missionary shouted at a group of young Arab-American boys listening to him speak on Warren Avenue, where the festival takes place. The festival continues today in Dearborn, but the members of the Bible Believers won’t be there because they’ll be protesting a gay festival in Ohio, said Arab Festival organizers.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Conservatives for Shariah

by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East has caused many Americans to reflect on that group’s stated ambition to impose worldwide the totalitarian,supremacist Islamic doctrine known as shariah. Particularly unsettling is evidence of the group’s goal in America, namely of “destroying Western civilization from within,” as documented in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas in 2008.

But for some prominent conservatives, such facts are not just inconvenient. They — and any who point them out — must be denied, ignored or suppressed.

The latest examples involve a pair of articles published in two of the Right’s most prominent online outlets: Townhall and National Review Online. The former recently distributed an essay by Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman ( He was joined on June 13 by Matthew Schmitz in NRO ( Both caricatured the “bogus” threat of “creeping shariah” as a figment of the superheated imagination of its American opponents…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Muslims Marching Toward Victory in USA Conference

Hizb Al-Tahrir America, held a Conference In Illinois today, titled Revolution: Liberation by Revelation, Muslims Marching to Victory. This group, Advocates Jihad, Says Iran And Saudi Arabia Are ‘Modern Non-Expansionist Nation States’ And Have Thus Abandoned ‘The Definitive [Islamic] Obligation Of Jihad’ As Stipulated In The Koran

Hizb Al-Tahrir America is a branch of Hizb Al-Tahrir Al-Islami, an international Islamist group that advocates the message of jihad in order to re-establish a Khilafah Rashida (a righteous caliphate). It has scheduled a June 17, 2012 conference in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, raising concerns about its ideological campaign in the U.S., especially among American Muslims.[1]


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Germany: British Suspected Islamic Terrorist Arrested in Germany

A major German security operation targeted “dangerous” Islamist extremists in dawn raids by 850 police officers on 70 mosques, schools and homes across Germany.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, Germany’s interior minister, banned one Salafist network, Millatu Ibrahim, for “working against our constitutional order and against understanding between peoples”. He also announced an investigation into two other networks, Dawa FFM and “The True Religion”, with a view to a seeking additional bans. “We are ready to defend freedom and fundamental rights in this country and I hope this is understood by those who are of a different opinion,” he said. The Daily Telegraph understands that the raids followed a discussion of the risk posed by a pan-European network of Salafist Islamists at an EU meeting of interior ministers, including Theresa May, the Home Secretary, last week. Last month, the G6 group of interior ministers from the EU’s biggest countries met in Munich to discuss “suspicious patterns of movement”.

Secret intelligence gathered by police and anti-terrorism officers across Europe gave “cause for concern” in Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Austria, said an official.

According to leaked documents, the German interior ministry decided to launch the raids and to ban Millatu Ibrahim, based in the western town of Solingen, after an explosive vest was found during a search of premises in Berlin last month. “The vest is a further sign of the organisation’s underlying aggression,” the document said. At the beginning of May, German authorities opened investigations into 44 members of the Islamic Salafist sects and 37 others after violent clashes with police in Solingen. A 23-year-old man from Birmingham was also arrested in the raid under a European Arrest Warrant in an unrelated matter. He is wanted for failing to appear in court on fraud charges and is now awaiting transfer back to the UK, a spokesman for West Midlands Police said.

The ultraconservative Salafists, with origins in Saudi Arabia want to establish Sharia law in Europe and came to the attention of the authorities with a drive to convert non-Muslims by handing out 25 million copies of the Koran in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Previous police investigations have found audio and video messages in which the Salafists proclaimed war against democracy and threatened “unbelievers”. Ralf Jaeger, the regional state interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, hailed a “decisive step by the security services in the fight against dangerous extremists”. “Today’s operation shows that we’re turning up the pressure on the Salafists,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Greece: As Beggars Fight for Scraps, Even Police Flirt With the Neo-Nazis, Writes Andrew Malone in a Special Dispatch From Athens

Basking in the sun as Greece went to the polls yesterday, Dimitri Panaglos sipped a cold beer and gave a personal — and very cynical — insight into how his tiny country could ignite global financial meltdown and leave the cradle of civilisation in economic ruins.

Widely travelled, with family in London where he studied for a degree in fine art, the 40-year-old smiled grimly and told me: ‘We Greeks are all thieves. People didn’t know it when we had the drachma. But you soon knew when we joined the euro. We borrowed and spent without ever planning to pay it back. That’s just the Greek way.’

Now selling hand-drawn cartoons to tourists, having lost his studio and home, he added: ‘We are Greeks, not Europeans. That’s why we have always had two prices in every cafe — one on the sign that’s for foreigners and local cheap rates for Greeks.

‘Europe has never understood Greece — it’s a country where you take from foreigners, not give.’

Many of his countrymen would fiercely dispute his words. What cannot be denied, however, is that the good life seems to be coming to an emphatic end for the Greeks.

With Europe demanding austerity measures in return for keeping the country afloat — more than 240billion euros has already been provided by Europe’s taxpayers — Greeks were last night effectively voting on whether to accept the deal or plunge into chaos and possible bloodshed.


The EU has said that the conditions of the latest 130billion-euro bailout deal must be accepted fully by a new government or funds will be cut off, driving the country into bankruptcy.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, warned that Greece will not be allowed to dodge its austerity agreement and ‘lead everyone else through the arena by the nose ring’.

Many businesses are already pulling out of the country, with Carrefour, the French supermarket giant, the latest to announce it is quitting. This is against a background of fears that Greece is about to descend once more into the political dark ages almost four decades after the end of the country’s military dictatorship.

Germany’s biggest newspaperBild, summed up the mood of taxpayers there in an open letter to the Greek people this weekend. It said: ‘Your cash machines continue to give you euros only because we put them there, the Germans and the other nations that have the euro.

‘Yet you still call us “Nazis”. If the elections are won by parties that want to put an end to austerity and reform — breaching every agreement — we will stop paying. You will choose between painful logic and complete disaster. And we are very much afraid that you don’t get that yet.’

Already, in a chilling portent of what may lie ahead, some hospitals were yesterday running short of medicines…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Ireland: ‘Undriveable’ Car Sees Case Dismissed

(Not ‘Mechanically Propelled’)

A MAN who was almost three times over the drink driving limit when he crashed his car into a telegraph pole had the case against him dismissed because the car was so badly damaged it could no longer be considered a mechanically propelled vehicle.

Damien Kierans (25), Chapel Road, Clogherhead, was charged with being drunk in charge of an MPV at the Chord Road on September 23 last.

Garda Ursula Clarke told the court Gardaí had received a report of a single vehicle collision on the Chord Road at 6.05 a.m. on the date in question. She attended the scene and saw the vehicle had impacted with a telegraph poll just off the right hand lane.

She said there was one person in the driving seat of the car, the engine was running, the lights were on and the keys were in the ignition. She spoke to Damien Kierans, who was in the driving seat, and he was awake and responsive.

Garda Clarke said Kieran’s speech was slurred and there was a strong smell of alcohol on his breath. The defendant was brought to Drogheda Garda Station where a subsequent intoxiliser test gave a reading of 84mg/100ml of breath.

She said the vehicle was removed from the scene by a recovery company as it was undriveable. It had been severely impacted by the accident, she said.

Defence barrister Irene Sands said a question arose as to whether the vehicle was an MPV because it was so badly damaged. She said the Garda had given clear evidence that the car was not driveable and by law, if this was the case, then it could not be considered a mechanically propelled vehicle since it was not capable of being mechanically propelled because of the amount of damage.

Inspector Brendan Cadden said the evidence given was that the motor was running which meant it was still mechanically propelled.. ‘A severe impact doesn’t mean it isn’t driveable, it is mechanically propelled if the engine is still running,’ he said.

However, Ms. Sands said the Garda had twice agreed that the vehicle had not be driveable following the accident.

Agreeing, Judge Flann Brennan said: ‘If it wasn’t driveable then it wasn’t an MPV, that is the law,’ before dismissing the case.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Italy: Male Models Says ‘Ruby’ Offered Him €4k for Sex

Milan, 15 June (AKI) — A male model told former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘bunga bunga’ sex trial he was offered 4,000 euros by the teenage Moroccan nightclub dancer ‘Ruby’ to have sex with her.

“Ruby, who I put up for two nights at my home, offered me said she’d give me 4,000 euros if I had sex with her,” Antonio Passaro told a Milan court on Friday.

In the case, 75-year-old Berlusconi is on trial for having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office over his relations with Moroccan-born ‘Ruby’ whose real name is Karima El Mahroug.

Passaro, who met El Mahroug in 2009, denied knowing about her alleged encounters with Berlusconi in May 2010, when she was 17.

“I only learned of this from media reports,” Passaro told the court.

Passaro, a former dancer whose stage name is ‘Manuel’, told prosecutors how he met El Mahroug in a Milan nightclub and how she allegedly became obsessed with him.

When they met, El Mahroug told Passaro she was 25 and was a belly-dancer from the northern Egyptian port city of Alessandria, he said.

“I didn’t believe a word she said,” Passaro stated, claiming he had to move house to escape her unwelcome attentions that included bombarding him with phone-calls.

“I didn’t report her for stalking though, as she was clearly needy and I felt sorry for her,” Passaro said.

El Mahroug and Berlusconi deny they had sex, but Michelle Conceicao, a Brazilian model who attended the parties and witness in the trial told Italian weekly Espresso that Berlusconi definitely had sex with El Mahroug and paid her 5,000 euros for this.

Conceicao also claimed that Berlusconi telephoned her as recently as in May and asked her to lie about his encounter with El Mahroug when she appears in court later this month.

Dozens of show girls and aspiring starlets received cash and other gifts for taking part in sex games at Berlusconi’s Milan home and other residences, according to prosecutors.

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

Italy: Grillo Calls for ‘Nuremberg Trial’ For Italian Parties

(AGI) Rome — Beppe Grillo calls for a “Nuremberg trial” of italian parties. “A public trial of the political class is necessary. No violence is needed, we are a civic people. A people that has been frauded, abused, derided, crushed, yet civic”, the leader of the 5 Stelle movement wrote on his blog.

“Nobody can think they can replace the magistracy or repeat episodes such as the hanging of Mussolini. Sain Just and Robespierre are not examples to be followed, even because they too ended up on the cart that took them to the guillotine. The trial must be moral, collective. Every citizens must have the right to ‘virtually’ spit against them”.

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

UK: ‘Serious Weaknesses’ In Care System

“Serious weaknesses” in England’s care system have been revealed by a report that follows the recent case of sexual exploitation in Rochdale. The findings come a month after the conviction of nine men in Rochdale for sexually exploiting young girls. One of the girls was in care at the time and all were said to have been known to social services at some point.

The leader of Rochdale Borough Council, Councillor Colin Lambert, recently said children should no longer be sent to care homes in the borough because their safety “is not being guaranteed”. An investigation by MPs found placing youngsters far from home could encourage them to abscond. Much of the criticism by the all-party parliamentary groups on children in care and on runaways and missing people focuses on homes where about 5,000 of the 65,000 of those in care are looked after. The report says the system of residential care is “not fit for purpose” for children who go missing.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Baroness Warsi and the ‘Extremist’ Who Went to Downing Street

by Jason Lewis, Investigations Editor

A man who had once been a prominent activist in Hizb ut Tahrir, a group which wants Britain to be run under stritct Islamic law, shook hands with David Cameron in the drawing room of 10 Downing Street.

It was a moment that, for Abid Hussain, must live long in the memory. He was standing in the drawing room of No10 shaking the hand of the Prime Minister. It was an extraordinary turn of events for a man who had once been a prominent activist in Hizb ut Tahrir, a group which wants to overthrow Britain’s democracy and replace it with a state run under strict Islamic law. He was introduced to David Cameron at an event to celebrate the festival of Eid which had been organised by Downing Street with the help of Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party co-chairman, and her office. Whether it was the Cabinet minister who put his name on the guest list for the event in November 2010 is unclear, but what was not known at the time was that Mr Hussain was actually Lady Warsi’s business partner: they are the joint owners of a company.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Faiths to March in Show of Unity

FAITH and friendship will be celebrated in Oxford tomorrow as people from all religions join a peace walk through the city centre. The annual friendship walk, which sees hundreds of worshippers from more than nine different faiths taking to the streets, starts from the synagogue in Richmond Road, Jericho, at 6.15pm. Walkers will say prayers before setting off for St Giles’ Church. From there they move to Radcliffe Square, where Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh prayers will be said for the first time in the walk’s eight-year history. The walk will finish with more prayers and a meal at the Central Mosque in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road. Rickshaws are being provided to help people with mobility difficulties take part and the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson and the Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage are set to attend.


[JP note: We know what Islam is and either accept or reject it in its totality.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: How the BBC is Dragging Its Feet on Bias

Despite sterling efforts by BBC Four, the broadcaster still betrays a liberal-Left leaning, writes Dennis Sewell.

I think the BBC should be biased. As its chairman Lord Patten told the Commons culture committee last year: “It should be biased in favour of tolerant, civilized pluralism.” But Conservatives tend to believe that the corporation displays other, less wholesome biases. Some say it is less than impartial in its reporting of Israel-Palestine and the European Union. Others point to a seeming readiness to pick up and run with the Labour Party’s chosen talking points.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic Scholars Reject Machine Slaughter

UK — Leading Islamic scholars have unanimously rejected the automated slaughter of halal poultry using machines with rotary blades, insisting each animal must be killed with a hand held knife.

According to, some 35 scholars attended a debate on religious slaughter and all rejected the mechanisation of the procedure under halal law, according to the meeting organiser, Naved Syed, a member of Eblex’s halal steering group. The issue is controversial, however, with some halal organisations reported to take a more pragmatic view and apparently agreeing to automated slaughter under certain conditions. It is also a delicate matter for enforcement authorities aware of the highly sensitive nature of religious slaughter.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Outrage at Hussain ‘Promotion’

The news that Labour councillor Aftab Hussain has been ‘promoted’ to Chairman of the Pennines Township Committee has been unpopular amongst the people of Rochdale. Hussain gave a positive character reference for Abdul Qayyum, who was later convicted of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Both Hussain and former mayor Zulfiquar Ali, who stepped down, appeared as character witnesses for Qayyum. Ali has since called his decision as a “silly mistake”. Hussain, however, remains in his role as a Labour councillor in the Firgrove and Smallbridge ward, and is now chairman of a Township committee.

When asked their thoughts on Hussain’s position, the people of Rochdale were unanimous. A Harris, who works in the town centre, said: “It’s just Rochdale all over, it’s an absolute joke. He should have been sacked, never mind standing down. It infuriates me.” Richard Brockley said: “I don’t think he should have kept his job, and I don’t think he should be earning any more either. I think it’d be the same though in any other town.” A resident who did not want to be named said: “He should have been out of the job the moment he wrote the letter. This town only protects certain people, and we can’t do anything about it. Have the police just turned a blind eye?”

One of the integral roles of a councillor is that of a corporate parent, a role that gives responsibility to all councillors for the welfare of the town’s children. Jean Ashworth is an ex-councillor. She said: “Corporate parenting is one of the most important roles a councillor undertakes. It involves protecting, supporting and being there for all vulnerable children.

“Councillor Hussain should have known better than to support a suspect. Is an apology enough? At the end of the day the man was convicted — Hussain has gone against this poor girl.”

[Reader comment by Streetshack on 16 June 2012 at 11:29:59.]

Another blindingly poor decision by Rochdale Labour Council. There should be a public enquiry into all aspects of this matter with sackings in the Council the Social Services Child protection team and the police initially involved made as the bare minimum response to this sad catalogue of errors rather than the usual “whitewash” of inconvienient truths we have all become accustomed to for too long. You can hear George Galloway MP thumbing through his A-Z of electoral wards.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Mohammed Morsi Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Wins Egyptian Presidency

While the world media breathed a sigh of temporary relief about the results of Greek elections, yesterday with little impact on the crises in the Euro Zone, the EU and world trade, they have yet to focus on the Presidential victory by Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi. His election to Egypt’s Presidency follows the High Court ruling declaring illegal the Parliamentary elections over the period from November 2011 to January 20102 . The Muslim Brotherhood party took nearly half the seats in those parliamentary runoff elections. The Muslim Brotherhood Peace and Freedom Party has protested the court ruling. That supposed ‘soft coup’ by the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) didn’t boost the voter interest in their preferred candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last Prime Minister. Further Christian Copts, a significant minority in Egypt, have good reason to be concerned about a future Egyptian government led by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood with support from fundamentalist Salaist preachers and Qatar-backed tele preacher, the anti-Semitic Yusuf al Qaradawi. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri urged fundamentalist Egyptian Muslims to vote for Morsi. Moreover conservative Egyptian Muslim women came out in droves to cast a ballot for Morsi. Morsi’s election will also throw in doubt the 33 year old cold peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The SCAF might seek to maintain the treaty via veto power over whatever Constitution emerges from a new Parliament. President Obama has cozyed up to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa region as witnessed by attendance of key State Department Muslim Ummah outreach officials and National Security advisors at a recent Saban Center for Middle East Policy US World Islam Forum in Qatar in late May. CGiven this situation, domestic exhaustion and further tensions should be expected both within Egyptian civil society but also at a political institutional level. Indeed, following the SCAF statement questions remain over whether the armed forces will fall under the ultimate authority of the executive branch and/or whether they will actually obey presidential orders. Civil rights activists claim that SCAFs declaration rendered the scheduled handover of power to a democratically elected executive meaningless. From a regional context, the events of the last week in Egypt could be read as a proxy war between two Gulf Arab powers: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The former backs the Muslim Brotherhood through funding, clerical consultations and massive media coordination, while latter has backed SCAF and its favoured candidate Shafiq.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

And Now it Begins: Attack From Egypt Signals Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas Jihad Against Israel

By Barry Rubin

A well-organized, well-equipped group of terrorists has attacked Israel from Egyptian territory Monday morning, possibly the second such Egyptian-assisted assault in a week.

An armed squad of two men—said to be Hamas, though this is not confirmed—crossed the border after travelling 30 miles from the Gaza Strip through Egyptian territory. They wore flak jackets, camouflaged uniforms, and carried a large amounts of explosives. Members of their support team remained on the Egyptian side of the border. The two men hid by Israel’s highway 12, near an area called White River Lake. When two vehicles came by, carrying workers finishing up a security fence to guard against just such attacks, they set off a bomb that had been placed on the roadway and fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Both missed but bullets from a Kalashnikov hit one of the vehicles which flipped over. One Israeli, an ethnic Arab labor contractor, was killed, two or three terrorists have been shot dead.

Within minutes, Israeli soldiers arrived and fired on the terrorists. Their bullets blew up a suicide vest being worn by one of them, killing two of the attackers.

This event follows a report in Haaretz newspaper, attributed to Israeli security officials, that the Muslim Brotherhood had asked Hamas to attack Israel. According to the story, an Egyptian Bedouin unit was given the job of firing a rocket, which landed in open ground in southern Israel. This story was not picked up by other Israeli newspapers, suggesting either that it was wrong or that it had been a security leak which the army had then stopped.

So far this year, 280 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. This has prompted no international concern or action. The new fence along the Egypt-Israel border is mostly complete but due to difficult terrain the last portion will only be finished late this year.

At any rate, we are now at the beginning of Egypt’s involvement, directly or indirectly, in a new wave of terrorist assault on Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt, a likelihood made less probable perhaps by the military’s dissolution of parliament, this offensive will enjoy official support.. Even if the army remains in control, the Brotherhood and Salafists will use their considerable assets to back this new insurgency war.

The ultimate scenario would be if Hamas decided to renew a large-scale offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip using rockets, mortars, and attempted cross-border attacks…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Israel Kills Two Islamic Jihad Activists in Gaza

Israeli air strike kills two members of Jihad hours after gunmen mount deadly ambush on Egyptian border.

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike on north Gaza on Monday, medics said, just hours after gunmen mounted a deadly ambush on the Egyptian border, killing an Israeli. “Two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike targeting a group of people east of Beit Hanun,” said Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for the Hamas-run emergency services. A spokesman for the Israeli military confirmed the strike but refused to say whether it was connected to the early-morning attack along the Egyptian border. “I can confirm there was a targeted attack a while ago against two terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip,” he said. Witnesses identified the two men as members of the radical Islamic Jihad movement and said they were riding a motorcycle near the Israeli border at the time.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

One Israeli Killed as Gunmen Attack From Across Egypt Border

One Israeli was killed as gunmen from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula attacked workers constructing a border security fence with small arms and explosives, an Israeli Defense Ministry official said. The Israeli was a civilian contract employee, the official said, speaking anonymously as he was not authorized to comment on record. At least two of the gunmen were killed after Israeli forces returned fire, an army spokesman said, speaking anonymously in accordance with military regulation. The attack, which followed rockets fired from Sinai into southern Israel over the weekend, raised concerns in Israel about security on the border with Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state more than three decades ago.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Shmuel Katz: “Hearing is Believing” On Israel’s Peace Treaty With Egypt

Don’t count on the survival of the 33 year old Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. The likely Presidential victory of Mohammed Morsi , the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt may not be stopped by the ‘soft coup’ of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Cairo. Just look at the recent Sinai terrorist attack on the work party building a barrier along Israel’s southern border with Egypt. Three terrorists and one Israeli contractor were killed, while another Israeli was wounded. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted in a Jerusalem Post article set against the backdrop of Egypt’s Presidential runoff elections: We expect the President to take responsibility for all of Egypt’s international commitments including the peace treaty with Israel and to ensure security arrangements are in place in the Sinai to stop these kinds of attacks. There are a lot of Israel’s supporters, myself included, who viewed the Egyptian Peace Treaty, negotiated between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter at Camp David in 1979 as a capitulation of Israel’s strategic depth. The Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai is ill equipped to monitor increasing al Qaeda and Palestinian terrorist activity. If SCAF fails to survive or checkmate a Muslim Brotherhood regime, you can bet on who loses the strategic high ground. Therefore Israel will proceed with completion of the security fence between the two countries.David Isaac of Americans For a Safe Israel reminds us of someone who opposed his friend Israeli PM Menachem Begin’s conclusion of the 1979 Camp David Accords, Shmuel Katz (1914-2008). Katz had been a personal advisor to Begin, but publicly broke with him over the Peace Treaty with Egypt.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Muslims Pay Tribute to Prophet Mohammad

Iranian Muslims are out celebrating Eide Mabas. Eide Mabas occurred on August 10, 610 CE when Mohammad received the 1st revelation. Iranians explained to Press TV the importance of this momentous occasion. Muslims have no discrepancy on the importance of this time of the year. It is when all Islamic entities celebrate this occasion. Angel Gabriel came to Mohammad and descended upon him the 1st revelation of Allah or God. It was after this event that Muhammad became a prophet of Allah. Then on the 21st of the holy month of Ramadan the Qur’an began to be revealed to him in full. Muhammad was nearly 40 years old at the time, when angel Gabriel came and asked him for three times to read the holy scriptures, Mohammad who did not know how to read and write at the time was then able to read in full and began to teach others the holy words of God.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Eight Arrested for ‘Al-Qaeda Ties’

Ankara, 15 June (AKI) — Turkey on Friday arrested eight people for allegedly having ties with Al-Qaeda.

The suspects arrested in the western Bursa Balikesir provinces are accused of training in terrorist camps and recruiting militants, the Turkish Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey has stepped up its fight against Al-Qaeda after two Jewish synagogues and the British consulate and the UK’s HSBC Bank were bombed in November 2003 killing around 100 people and wounding more than 1,000.

Seven people in 2007 were found guilty of carrying out the synagogue attacks and given 67 consecutive life sentences.

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

UAE: Islamic Golden Age Remembered

Did you know that ancient Arab scientists were pioneers in the field of ophthalmology? The contributions of scientists, inventors and thinkers who lived during the Islamic Golden Age, a period ranging from 750 CE (Common Era) to 1257 CE goes largely unrecognised, opined nine young students. “The Arab world played a very important part in the development of science,” said Malvika Vijayan, 14, and a student of the Delhi Private School, Sharjah. With the aim of developing a scientific temper and spirit of enquiry among youngsters, the JSS Private School and the Science India Forum (SIF) organised an Inter-School Science Exhibition and Knowledge Fair at its campus on June 14.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Yemen: Government Forces Recapture Al-Qaeda Strongholds

Sanaa, 15 June (AKI) — Yemen’s military on Friday recaptured the southern city of al-Shaqra, considered a stronghold by Al-Qaeda militants.

It was the third city retaken from militants who captured them more than a year ago.

Among the retreating insurgents was Jalal al-Baleidi, also known as Abu Hamza al-Zinjibari, the leader of Ansar al Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) in Abyan, seeking refuge in tribal areas, Reuters reported.

The United States has helped the government offensive that started more than a month ago, taking back militant strongholds of Jaazr and Zinjibr.

Yemen said its soldiers killed 40 militants in fighting on Thursday.

The United States has used drone strikes and military training to help Yemen combat Islamist militants.

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

South Asia

India: Rajasthan: Married Off at 9, A 24-Yr-Old Woman Wants Her Marriage Annulled

State High Court orders government to protect Shobha Choudhary and her family after village authorities threaten them. The young woman is finishing a university degree, whilst her husband is semi-illiterate. “I cannot accept such a marriage,” she says. Child marriage in india is illegal but widespread.

Jaipur (AsiaNews) — A 24-year-old woman from the village of Rajwa (Rajasthan) has asked the state’s High Court to annul her marriage, which was celebrated when she was nine. In view of the situation, the court ordered the government to protect Shobha Choudhary and her family since her local Khap Panchayat (caste assembly) issued threats against them. Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called her decision “courageous”, a tool against “a blight on Indian society.”

“My husband is semi-illiterate and can barely write his name,” said Shobha Choudhary who graduated from school and is currently in university. “I’m working as well as completing a Bachelor of Education. It was not my decision to get married; I was only nine. I cannot accept such a marriage.”

She found the strength to rebel after a court ruling made Indian legal history. Back in April, a court in Rajasthan annulled the marriage of 18-year-old Laxmi Sargara, who was married off at the age of one.

Although a 1929 Indian law bans child marriages and imposes stiff fines on those involved, such a practice has survived. In many parts of the country, like Rajasthan but also Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, mass child marriages are performed.

“There are many ways to get around the law,” Dr Carvalho said. “Once they are done, they cannot be annulled. Not only are such marriages a violation of human rights, but they are the worst kind of exploitation and abuse.”

According to the US-based International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), 50 per cent of all Indian women are married before they are 18.

In addition to domestic (and often sexual) abuse and psychological problems, they are often infected with the HIV virus by their husbands. Post-partum mortality is also a major cause of death for women 15 to 18.

The High Court has set a hearing for 4 July. “I hope the court will annul the marriage to send a message to all the young men and women who want a better life for themselves and rid us of the tradition of child marriage,” Dr Carvalho said. “Although this practice is waning in some parts of the country, we still have a long way to go before we eliminate it from society for good.”

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

India: JI in IHK Denounces Desecration of Mosque, Holy Quran

Srinagar, June 17 (KMS): The Jamaat-e-Islami of occupied Kashmir has strongly condemned the desecration of mosque and holy Quran in Badirpore by the workers of an Indian construction company. The Jama’at spokesman in a statement issued in Srinagar said that use of brute force by Indian troops and police personnel against the people protesting peacefully in Bandipore was unjustified. He demanded strict action against those involved in the desecration of mosque and holy Quran. Meanwhile, the spokesman also expressed serious concern over the ill-treatment meted out to the illegally detained Hurriyet leaders and activists at Kot Bhalwal and Amphala jails in Jammu. He also demanded immediate unconditional release of all illegally detained Hurriyet leaders and activists languishing in different jails of India and the occupied territory.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

A 25-year-old combat engineer from Flint has been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan. Sgt. 1C Joseph Lilly was part of the 18th Engineer Company from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. Lilly’s aunt Martha Alexander said her nephew was on patrol Tuesday when he was injured by an improvised explosive device. She said he died Thursday on a medical flight from Afghanistan to Germany. Lilly was a graduate of Carman-Ainsworth High School and was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. Alexander said her nephew also served a tour in Iraq. He is survived by a wife and 3-year-old son.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Fiji: Mosque Committee Member Charged

Police have laid charges against a committee member of a Suva based mosque for inciting to commit an offence of assault. CID Police Director, SSP Vakacegu Toduadua said that they will question more people in relation to the matter. He added that the alleged incident is a result of a rift between some of the committee members.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Court Declares Islamic Banking in Nigeria Illegal

A federal High Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, has declared the non-interest financial institution operating under the principles of Islamic jurisprudence as illegal and unconstitutional. Justice Kolawole Friday held that but for the plaintiff, Godwin Sunday Ogboji, who, he said, lacked the locus standi to institute the action, the licence issued to the Jaiz International Bank PLC to carry out Islamic banking in the country would have been nullified.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Dozens Killed in Bomb and Retaliatory Attacks in Northern Nigeria

Several churches in Nigeria’s Kaduna State were bombed on Sunday. Dozens of people were killed in the blasts and interreligious riots that followed. Analysts say this latest spat of violence undermines President Goodluck Jonathan’s promise to eradicate the Boko Haram islamist group by June. A church was targeted in the state capital, also called Kaduna, and blasts ripped through two churches 30 kilometres away in the city of Zaria in coordinated bomb attacks. At the Christ The King Catholic Church in the Gari district of Zaria, thirteen people were killed when a suicide bomber attempted to drive through a barricade at the entrance. The death toll could have been higher had it not been for security measures in place. “If they had succeeded in entering only god knows what would have happened. I probably wouldn’t be alive,” George Dodo, the reverend of Christ The King Catholic Church told RFI. Both the Christ The King’s Catholic Church and ECWA Church (ECWA) are situated close to a Nigerian Army barracks. No group has claimed responsibility, although last week the Islamist group, Boko Haram, said it carried out attacks on two churches in the city of Jos that killed seven people.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ghana: Muslim or Christian: The Dead Deserve Dignity and Peace

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

It is increasingly becoming clear that the Mills-Mahama government of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) is fast losing control of our national security apparatus, with the National Security Advisor, Brig.-Gen. Joseph Nunoo -Mensah, preferring to fruitlessly engage in a sideshow over whether Nana Akufo-Addo’s free-education up to SHS campaign promise is either feasible or even desirable, than purposefully hunching down the trenches and helping to keep the peace in an increasingly volatile nation caught in the grips of interethnic and religious conflicts. In the latest of such incidents, at least two residents of the Hohoe municipality, in the Volta Region, were reportedly killed in clashes between the Ewe youths of Hohoe and their counterparts in the Muslim community (See “Hohoe Muslims on Rampage over Exhumation of Imam” 6/11/12). The story itself is rather sketchy and about the only agreement that all the media reports on the incident have in common is the fact that the Paramount Chief of the Gbi Traditional Area, which includes the Hohoe municipality, is smack behind the conflict.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ghana: NDC Has Kept Faith With Muslims — Ofosu-Ampofo

Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, has said that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has kept faith with Muslims. He said the NDC Government had instituted holidays for the celebration of the two important Muslim festivals, Eid-ul Adha , and Eid-ul Fitr. The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of the Adjei Kojo branch of the Zongo Caucus of the party over the weekend. He said the NDC had established the Islamic Education Unit to ensure that Muslim children benefitted from quality education.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ghana: Return Home; Fleeing Hohoe Muslims Urged

Fleeing Muslims in the Volta Region town of Hohoe have been asked to return home. The area is enjoying relative calm after days of violent attacks between indigenes of the Gbi Traditional area and some aggrieved Muslim youths who were angered by the exhumation of their Imam. Two people lost their lives and properties including the palace of the Gbi Traditional Council were vandalized. Several thousands of people were displaced most of who were Muslims. The Muslims fled to neighbouring towns following threats by the Council that the Muslims had 48 hours to return stolen regalia from the palace or face the consequences. With a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed and a thorough peace process led by the Regional Security Council in the Volta Region, military as well as the presidency, calm has returned to the area. Regional NADMO coordinator Simon Kaba told Joy News Hohoe is now safe and the Muslims can now return home. According to him over 6,041 had fled to neighbouring towns, adding, the number of fleeing Muslims has stabilized. He said it is now time for them to go back home. The Volta Regional Minister, Ford Kamel says security officials in Hohoe will provide maximum security even as the Chief, Togbui Gaabusu visits the community tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Series of Bombings Hit Nigerian Churches

A series of apparently coordinated bombings targeting churches in northern Nigeria yesterday killed at least 17 people and provoked reprisals against Muslims by mobs of angry Christians.

Explosions hit churches in four cities in Kaduna state in the latest in a series of attacks on Sunday congregations in the majority Muslim north of the country. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Nigeria’s al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terror group Boko Haram has carried out at least 10 similar strikes so far this year. Authorities in Kaduna imposed a 24-hour curfew ordering everyone to stay indoors after gangs of young men blocked a major highway heading south out of the state capital and dragged Muslims from their cars. There were unconfirmed reports that several were killed, and that the attacks were to revenge the bombings earlier in the day. Four children playing outside a church in Zaria were among the first victims of yesterday’s blasts, at the Evangelical GoodNews Church in the city’s Sabon-Gari district.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Judges Who Allow Foreign Criminals to Stay in Britain

Three senior immigration judges have allowed 26 foreign criminals to stay in Britain because of their “right to family life” in the past year, while ruling that only seven should be sent home.

An investigation into decisions by the country’s highest immigration court has revealed how some judges rule far more often than others in favour of offenders seeking to avoid deportation. While one judge backed claims by 11 criminals and ruled against only two, another ruled against all nine criminals whose cases he heard. Among cases heard by the three judges who allowed the most appeals — Richard McKee, Kate Eshun and Jonathan Perkins — one saw a man permitted to stay in Britain after serving a nine-year sentence for manslaughter. The killer won his case in front of Miss Eshun, partly because of his right to a “family life” with his brother who was also jailed for the same killing. Others among the 26 allowed to stay in the country included a man who punched an 84-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer in the face, and a motorist who killed a woman while driving at 60mph in a built-up area.


Miss Eshun, another senior immigration judge, heard 13 cases during the period, in which she ruled in the criminal’s favour nine times — including two on the grounds that they were European Union citizens — and in the Home Office’s favour four times. Criminals she let stay in Britain included:

  • Nuno Jesus Ramos, 26, a Portugese national who the Home Office tried to deport for his role in the manslaughter of 47-year-old Joao DaCosta Mitendele, who was robbed in his own home, tortured and left to suffocate.
  • A Mauritian man, Peter Derek Anil Gokhool, 41, who was given a hospital order after he admitted assaulting an 84-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer, whom he punched twice in the face after encountering him in the street.
  • Mohammad Farooq Khan, from Pakistan, who had been convicted of 71 offences over 28 years, including drug possession and racially or religiously aggravated harassment. The judge upheld his “family life” claim even though he lived with his brother and not with his wife and children.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120617

Financial Crisis
» Egypt: Fitch Downgrades Rating to B+ Amid Uncertainty
» Elections: Europe Trembles as Greeks Decide
» Greece: Tsipras Speaks Softly But Syriza Has Many Currents
» Greece: Healthcare Problems, Operations and Medicine Cuts
» Greeks Head to Polls in Critical General Election That Could Rattle Europe
» IMF: Spain: Outlook Uncertain, Unprecedented Recession
» Italy: Anti-Austerity Protesters Clash With Police at House
» Italy: Alitalia and Other Italian Airlines at Risk, Enac
» Italy: I Hope Greece Wants to Remain in Europe and Eurozone, Monti
» Monti: Italy Out of the Crisis by Itself
» Spain: Almunia Meets Rajoy After Bank Row
» Symbolic Cyprus, Country on the Edge to Lead Europe From July
» Thousands of Unionists Protest Against Austerity in Rome
» Conservative Bloggers Taking Precautions Over ‘SWAT-ing’ Attacks
» Hausman on Obama and American Jews: Eyes Wide Open But Shut on Israel
» Rodney King Dead at 47
» Syrian Rebels Went to Washington Asking for Weapons
» White House Adviser Rebuffs Questions on Leak Probe, Amid Warnings of Security Risk
Europe and the EU
» Finland: “I Will Try to be as Wise as King Solomon’, Quips Possible Presidential Candidate Soini
» France: FN in Parliament, Young Le Pen Ready to Return
» French Socialists Win Absolute Majority in Parliament
» Greece: Golden Dawn in Difficulty, Will Not Repeat Success
» Greece: A Fire Threatens Athens, Hundreds of Firefighters in Action
» Italy: Anarchist Suspects’ Arrest Hailed as Victory for State
» Italy: Fiat CEO Said Company Will Cut Europe Investments
» Italy: Maroni: Sack the Abusive and Disastrous Government
» Italy: Bossi: Sooner or Later We Will Begin Road Towards Secession
» Italy: Maroni Vows Padania to Care for Displaced Workers
» Nearly 2,000 Tons of Fake Organic Soy Seized in Italy
» Pope to Irish: Child Abuse by Clergy ‘A Mystery’
» Soccer: Croatia Fans ‘Threw Banana at Balotelli’
» UK: Why Try to Take Baby From EDL Mother But Not From ‘Terrorists’?
» US Deserter in Sweden Steps Forward After 28 Years
» Woman Killed by Pack of Wolves in Swedish Zoo
» Kosovo: Serbs Protest Against New Number Plate Law
North Africa
» Imam of Tunis Mosque, Blasphemous Artists Must Die
» Libya Deploys Troops to Stop Clashes in Western Region
» Sahara: CEN-SAD: Meeting in Rabat, Fight on Terrorism Priority
» Serbia: Treatment for Injured Libyans at Military Hospital
Middle East
» Cover-Up Campaign Hits Gulf Streets: Activists in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates Encourage Expatriates to Dress Modestly and Respect Local Culture
» Kuwait: Labour Minister Resigns, More Could Follow
» Saudi Arabia Wants More German Tanks: Report
» Syria: Russian Military Ship En Route to Tartus
» Russian Opposition Parties Form United Front Against Putin
Far East
» Chinese Exports Crushing German Solar Industry
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Several Victims as Blasts Hit Two Churches in Nigeria
» Austria: Immigrants Fight Beggars in Salzburg
» New Attack Against Immigrants in Israel Causes 1 Injured

Financial Crisis

Egypt: Fitch Downgrades Rating to B+ Amid Uncertainty

Negative outlook, insecurity over political transition

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, JUNE 15 — The international ratings agency Fitch has cut Egypt’s rating to B+ from BB-, with a negative outlook. A statement claims that the downgrade reflects growing uncertainty over the political transition after the decision by the Constitutional Court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Elections: Europe Trembles as Greeks Decide

Neck and neck between Syriza (left) and Nea Dimokratia (right)

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Once again, in just over a month, decision time has come to Athens. This Sunday, around 9.7 million Greeks will decide which road their country should embark upon. To some extent, they are also deciding for the whole of the Euro Zone.

From the Greek result much of the well-being of the single currency over the coming months will depend: a victory for those parties that intend to fulfil the undertakings made with the international community — even with some toning down — or a victory for Syriza, the radical left party that wants to delete, or at least re-write, the so-called Memorandum.

The photo finish being predicted by some unofficial polls will be between Nea Dimokratia, the centre-right grouping of Antonis Samaras, and Syriza, led by the rising star of Greek politics, 37-year-old Alexis Tsipras. Despite their support for the technocrat government of Lucas Papademos, the conservatives are hoping for a clear victory that will enable them to re-negotiate the most unpopular parts of the Memorandum signed by the Papademos government: such as the cuts to minimum wages in the private sector, pension cuts, the end of collective wage bargaining. Their hopes come from what has been happening in Spain, a country that has received support without having to impose draconian austerity measures.

At the other end of the political spectrum is Syriza, seen as the nemesis by international financial circles and by many European governments. Although he has moderated his language over the latter stages of campaigning, Mr Tsipras basically wants to scrap the Memorandum and replace it with a national growth and development plan. This strategy would cancel most of the austerity measures. It is a plan that appears to ignore the emptiness of the nation’s coffers. Many fear that if Europe were to suspend payments of the loan guaranteed by the Memorandum, these coffers would empty out completely, making it impossible to pay public-sector wages and pensions. This would lead to a paralysis of public services and an explosion of social tensions. In this scenario, Greece would be bankrupt and would face exit from the euro.

But in his last election rally, Mr Tsipras promised that the country would remain “in Europe and in the euro”. Just as on the eve of the inconclusive poll on May 6, uncertainty is the order of the day. Come what may, and international pressures to one side, Greece will decide its own fate, while Europe looks on nervously.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Tsipras Speaks Softly But Syriza Has Many Currents

A dozen movements from pro-EU ‘moderates’ to ‘hawks’

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 15 — Syriza, Greece’s left-wing party that saw a quadrupling of its share of the vote in the May 6 elections, presents itself for Sunday’s vote with a position that is not just paradoxical, but frightening too, given the danger it represents for Greece’s continued membership of the euro zone. What is now the second-largest political force in Greece, led by Alexis Tsipras — a young political leader at just 37 — claims that it wants Greece to remain in the EU and within the euro, but is not willing to take on the burdens entailed by the two Memorandums signed by previous Athens governments. In the 2009 elections, Syriza attained just 4.60% of the votes and 13 MPs. In the May 6 vote, where it was still standing as the Coalition of the Left parties and not as the present single party, it obtained 16.78% of the vote and 52 members of parliament.

Over recent days, Mr Tsipras has moderated his position on the Memorandum substantially, and now comes down in favour of Greece’s membership of the euro area. He no longer supports the scrapping of the agreements, but will call for their terms to be revised. A demonstration of this new position is seen in market reaction to an article he penned for the Financial Times, in which he stated that the modifications he intended to make to the Memorandum will be conducted in a European context. Various local observers, however, are not optimistic about the possibility that Tsipras could enact Syriza’s programme and point out that there are at least twelve (maybe thirteen) component parts of his party. Between these the deepest political and ideological rifts exist. The most important of these fringes is the Ecological Renewal and Communist Left, perhaps the only party within Syriza having a Euro-Communist stance. This fringe derives from Greece’s old Interior Communist party as it used to be called during the Colonels’ Regime. Then there is Energi Polites (Active Citizens): this is the component calling for unity among the whole of the Greek left. Its leader, Manolis Glezos, is a symbolic figure of the Hellenic resistance against German occupation during the Second World War. Anentakti Aristeri (Left Independents) is made up of a group of people who do not belong to any other Syriza component. Then there is DEA (Internationalis t Workers’ Left), an internationalist and Trotskyist organisation, and Kokkino (Red). But there are also Maoist trends in Syriza, called KOE (Communist Organisation of Greece). To all of these various trends, the group that emerged from the socialist Pasok party has to be added, including some former government ministers. The chances of an electoral victory by Syriza — and therefore fears of Greece’s exit from the euro zone has over recent days induced many Greeks to run to their banks and transfer their savings abroad. Others have opted for safety deposit boxes or hidey holes in their homes. Despite all of this, there are many who have voted for, and will continue to vote for Syriza on June 17.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Healthcare Problems, Operations and Medicine Cuts

Pharmacists to be paid at end of the month

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 15 — Greek healthcare, which was not exactly a model of efficiency even before the crisis, can no longer hold up to the strain: cuts to medicine supplies, restrictions on non-essential operations, healthcare materials becoming scarce and doctors struggling to cover their shifts.

This is a brief glimpse of a healthcare system which not only has to deal with economic difficulties affecting the entire Greek society, but also a freeze on the few available funds due to political deadlock. The crisis of Greek public finance has prompted large pharmaceutical producers to draw up plans in order to prevent an interruption in supplies if Greece should go bankrupt and leave the eurozone, with a resulting, devalued drachma.

In any case, some good news did come in today: by June 25 the Greek national healthcare service EOPYY will have paid off what it owes pharmacie, the radio station SKAI was told by EOPYY chairman Gerasimos Voudouris. Over the past few months, the suspension of medicine on credit to beneficiaries by pharmacies (which are owed some 762 million euros, and which have repeatedly staged forms of protest) has also given rise to problems regarding tourism, since many foreigners have called off trips to Greece out of concern that if they were to suffer health problems they would not be able to buy any medication to treat them. The Greek healthcare system (where it is common practice to slip a few bribes — ‘fakelakia’ in Greek — to personnel to ensure good treatment) had until the crisis still been “generous” enough to welcome in all, despite widespread problems with its administration and the almost exclusively political appointments at the managerial level of the 133 public hospitals. Now many ill people are at risk of losing their lives, since the lack of funds is affecting healthcare services. In Chaidari (Athens suburb), hospital personnel report a lack of cotton, catheters, gloves and paper sheets to cover operating tables: and so the latter are reused, with serious risks for the resulting hygienic conditions. Meanwhile, examinations are growing shorter, since the lines are longer and doctors are forced to take on ever more gruelingly long hours. And some may not get the care they need in the time they need, or not be examined with the necessary care for a correct diagnosis. IMF recommendations are partially to blame for this: healthcare spending must remain under 6%, compared with the current 10%.

And how to do it involves not spending as much on medications, the costs of which have risen steadily over the past decade. The IMF claims it is necessary to cut 2 billion euros from the amount spent in 2010. Those critical of this hard-line stance say that lacking overall reform of the healthcare system, these cuts will only mean less medicine for those who need it. And amid the crisis and surging unemployment levels, many are not even able to pay the contribution required of them (which has risen to 20% of the cost of the medicine). Yet once more the Greek crisis has shown its true face: not the figures which remain at the abstract level in terms of finances and debt, but the real-life suffering of those who (the vast majority) are in no way to blame for the crisis but are being hit hard by it.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greeks Head to Polls in Critical General Election That Could Rattle Europe

Greeks voted Sunday for the second time in six weeks in what was arguably their country’s most critical election in 40 years, with the country’s treasured place within the European Union’s joint currency in the balance.

The political turmoil sparked by a two-year financial crisis has roiled markets across the world, with fears that victory by parties that have vowed to cancel the country’s international bailout agreements and accompanying austerity measures could see Greece forced out of the euro.

That in turn would likely drag down other financially troubled countries and rip apart the euro itself.

The last opinion polls published before a two-week pre-election ban showed the radical left Syriza party of Alexis Tsipras running neck-and-neck with the conservative New Democracy party of Antonis Samaras. But no party is likely to win enough votes to form a government on its own, meaning a coalition will have to be formed to avoid yet another election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

IMF: Spain: Outlook Uncertain, Unprecedented Recession

Market confidence weak; ahead with reforms

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, JUNE 15 — Spain faces a “very difficult” outlook. The economy is in the midst of a new recession that is “without precedent, with an unemployment rate already at unacceptable levels, public debt rapidly rising and a financial system in need of recapitalisation”.

“Despite its reforms and efforts,” in Spain “market confidence remains weak” and has to be revived by continuing along the road of reforms, the IMF continues in its article on Spain, which stresses how Madrid “has urgent need of growth in employment and further gains in terms of competitiveness”. Spain needs to do more to reduce its debt and its deficit.

According to the IMF, “despite its considerable efforts, the ambitious target of a 5.3% deficit in 2012 will not be met. “The outlook for Spain will be helped by further progress at a European level. There is an immediate need for the euro area to ensure sufficient funds to its banks and to prevent contagion.

But a lasting solution of the crisis will require persuasive and concerted action in the direction of a stronger monetary union”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Anti-Austerity Protesters Clash With Police at House

‘Penalty’ soccer balls kicked against police cars

(ANSA) — Rome, June 14 — An officer was injured when police clashed with protesters demonstrating in front of the House against worsening labor conditions and austerity measures on Thursday. Some protesters said they were clubbed and struck by officers as roughly 40 demonstrators approached a police barricade in front of the House entrance. A number of demonstrators responded by throwing smoke bombs and hurling street cobbles at police. Many identified themselves as part-time or temp workers, upset with Labor Minister Elsa Fornero and disgruntled by abysmal work opportunities in a country with a 35% youth-unemployment rate. Calling itself ‘Occupy Fornero’, the group at one point kicked soccer balls against armored police cars in defiance of government austerity programs, or ‘rigore’ in Italian, the same term used for a penalty kick in soccer. “We are against Monti’s austerity, we cannot pay for the crisis,” they said, waving banners that called for a “general strike”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Alitalia and Other Italian Airlines at Risk, Enac

Foreign low cost wins, Riggio; Doomed to disappear, Ragnetti

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 13 JUNE — For Italian airlines, the increase in the number of passengers (+6.5% in 2011) was not a harbour in the tempest of the financial crisis. The ENAC Chairman Vito Riggio warned that Italian airlines risk “disappearing” due to competition on prices, which continue to decrease steadily. For traditional airlines “the profit is cut”, while low-cost airlines “become stronger”. In Italy, the market was conquered by the Irish company Ryanair and by the English company Easyjet. The Alitalia CEO spoke out against the obstinacy in imposing “taxes and duties”; “sooner of later,” Ragnetti said,” Alitalia will either disappear of change its owner”.

The debate draws inspiration from the 2011 ENAC report: the number of passengers in Italian airports totalled 147.9 mln passengers, nearly 9 mln more than the previous year. However, “there are still critical issues in property, financial and economic terms”, a “general state of difficulty” for Italian airlines. “They are all suffering losses,” Riggio points out; regarding the crisis, the Alitalia CEO detected “further signals of loss in the first four months of 2012”.

The government is due to react with two long-awaited measures.

The national plan on airports is due to be launched by the end of the summer (the plan is aimed at making the airport network more rational, after the “actually excessive” increase in the number of small, non-competitive airports); by the end of this year, the remaining plan agreements with two airport management companies (Venice and Rome, the agreement on the Fiumicino airport is of a strategic nature) are due to be signed. This will allow the issue on tariffs to be solved and, therefore, significant investment plans encompassing the possible entry of foreign investors would be unblocked. The Minister of Development and Infrastructures, Corrado Passera, stated this, urged by the Chairman of Assaeroporti and ADR, Fabrizio Palenzona, who reminded the Minister that other times in the past a solution had seemed to be close but later ended up “lost in the labyrinth of an anti-Italian bureaucracy”. A letter from the Ministry of Infrastructure allegedly containing the first signs of openness arrived yesterday to Fiumicino; for the Leonardo Da Vinci airport, this could pave the way to an intermediate solution on airport fees over the EUR 3 per passenger increase required by Adr. According to experts working on the report, such solution might make all parties happy.

Also Riggio pointed his finger against the extra-costs, a real burden for airlines: the halt to State’s aids for ENAV’s services, for example, might cost Alitalia EUR 50 mln in 2013.

The airline’s CEO, Ragnetti, talks about irrational obstinacy.

“In the past two months, Alitalia had to face a sudden EUR 100 mln increase in structural extra-expenses and I can assure you that it is hard for us to understand the rationale behind them.

It appears to be mere obstinacy,” Ragnetti said. The CEO warned: “It’s hard to think about aggressive expansion plans, requiring significant investments, when you spend your time fighting against new taxes and duties.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: I Hope Greece Wants to Remain in Europe and Eurozone, Monti

(AGI) Bologna — “I hope that in tomorrow’s elections in Greece there will be a a vote in favour of strong relation of Greece with Europe and of the permanence of Greece in Eurozone”, as Mario Monti said during his intervention at the public debate “Repubblica delle Idee”, in Bologna. As the premier underlined, on the table is the “hypothesis to renegotiate softer conditions, which is something that should seem common sense, but it is already agitating the spirits of Ireland and Portugal: they are asking, why ‘yes’ to them and ‘no’ to us”.

“I am not saying that Europe should give in, but there is a modification of the Greek society, though imperfect, that normally would require a generation — he claimed — this brings me to the conclusion that Europe is extraordinarily good in improving people and states”.

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

Monti: Italy Out of the Crisis by Itself

(AGI) Bologna — Mario Monti proudly said that Italy is coming out of the crisis by itself. “We asked the country a major effort, but we will make it by ourselves” the Prime Minister during a visit in Bologna. The PM added: “We will make it, we are doing everything by ourselves. Obviously we gave up a part of our sovereignty a few years ago, just like France and other European countries did, but we have not been forced to act by a Troika”. Then, he told political forces: “I have to go to the EU council with a passed labour market reform in my hands otherwise Italy loses grounds”. The Prime Minister talked about the counter-corruption draft law that will “be passed very soon”.

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

Spain: Almunia Meets Rajoy After Bank Row

EU Commissioner accused by PP of betraying Madrid

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 15 — The Deputy President of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, has today met Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy on the day after the Partito Popolare called for the resignation of the European commissioner for betrayal of Spain. In a reference to three of the country’s nationalised banking institutes: Catalunya-Caixa, Novagalicia and Banca di Valencia, Almunia yesterday stated that “one of the three, in accordance with the intentions of the Spanish authorities, is heading for liquidation and not for maintenance following its restructuring as a company”.

Greece, Spain and debt pressures were just some of the items on the agenda for the meeting between Mssrs Rajoy and Almunia. On leaving Spain’s government offices, they noted that the premier had not referred to the requests for resignation stamming from certain PP figures. Deputy Premier Soraya Sanz de Santamaria, in her usual press conference following a Cabinet meeting, also refused to comment on the matter. She did however make an indirect reference to the Mr Almunia: “Each one of us, in carrying out our jobs, has the duty to be responsible and prudent in our statements,” Ms Sanz de Santamaria observed.

The Deputy Premier stressed the “positive tone” of the meeting between Rajoy and Almunia, which addressed “all of the themes we are following this week,” concerning financial markets, the tough times for the Spanish economy and the escalation in the bonos-bund ratio. Ms Sanz de Santamaria insisted that “Spain will get out of” it troubles. “We shall continue to carry out the reforms that have been positively assessed by the Euro Group and by the EU,” she added.

From Brussels, the spokesperson for the European Commission, Pia Ahrenkilde has been cited by Europa Press as today saying that the community’s executive “is an independent institution that does not act according to the wishes of national governments,” defending Mr Almunia and his remarks about the Spanish bank.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Symbolic Cyprus, Country on the Edge to Lead Europe From July

After rating cut, talks with Russia and China over 4 bln aid

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Cyprus is in talks with Russia and China to obtain credit lines worth around 4 billion euros, a sum that it is denied by the international markets.

Therefore Cyprus could soon become the fifth eurozone country to request financial assistance from the EU.

The small Mediterranean island with a population of just over a million is the perfect metaphor for the political and economic crisis in which the European Union finds itself. After being divided in 1974 by a Turkish military invasion, the country is now on the verge of credit bankruptcy, but on July 1 will begin its 6-month period at the head of the EU’s rotating presidency and at the end of the year will have responsibility for the European agenda.

The chances of Cyprus following in the footsteps of Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal in resorting to European aid have risen dramatically following the decision by the international ratings agency Moody’s to cut the country’s rating by two notches, from BA3 to BA1, with a negative outlook that increases the probability of further downgrades in the future.

The growing risk of a Greek exit from the eurozone has had particular impact for Cyprus, which has very strong links with Greece. Cypriot exposure towards Greek banks is estimated to be around 23 billion euros, more than the value of the entire national economy, which totals around 17.3 billion euro. The country’s banks are on the verge of collapse and are in urgent need of an injection of fresh capital, but access to international credit markets has effectively been frozen for over a year.

Moody’s says that the rating cut is the result of new considerations of the amount that Cyprus will have to fork out to support its banking sector. Estimates suggest a contribution superior to what was previously predicted, a figure put at between 5 and 10% of GDP.

“For now the Cypriot authorities have not made any request for aid to Europe,” according to Amadeu Altafaj, the spokesperson for the EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. As far as talks between Nicosia and Russia and China are concerned, Altafaj said only that the Commission “does not interfere in any way in the trade relations of a member state”.

The International Monetary Fund has also denied that Cyprus has requested its financial assistance. “No request for aid has arrived,” said the director of the IMF’s external relations, Gerry Rice. However, it is only a matter of time.

“All of the options are on the table,” the Cypriot Minister for European Affairs, Andreas Mavroyiannis, told the press, refusing to rule out that financing could come from a variety of sources, which as well as the “troika” of EU, IMF and ECB, could also include help from Beijing and Moscow.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Thousands of Unionists Protest Against Austerity in Rome

Italy’s prime minister has warned that he is fending off economic disaster just as tens of thousands of unionist protesters take to the streets of Rome to oppose austerity measures.

Prime Minister Mario Monti on Saturday warned of a looming financial crisis in Italy, while tens of thousands of unionists took to the streets of Rome to protest his austerity plans.

“We stepped away from the precipice before, but the hole is growing bigger and it may swallow us up. We are again in a crisis,” Monti said on Saturday in Milan.

Monti took over from discredited former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011. What he inherited, however, was a recession-plagued nation. To avoid a Greek-style default, Monti has passed a tough austerity package.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Conservative Bloggers Taking Precautions Over ‘SWAT-ing’ Attacks

Conservative bloggers are on heightened alert following a string of so-called “SWAT-ing” incidents and are taking precautionary measures to ensure they don’t fall victim to the potentially dangerous prank as the political blogosphere prepares for a heated election season.

“SWAT-ing” refers to a hoax in which an anonymous prankster falsely reports a violent crime at an unsuspecting person’s home, prompting a police team to respond to the location believing a dangerous situation is at hand.

The illegal practice has in recent months targeted well-known conservative writers and commentators, including Erick Erickson, founder of the blog — who claims he was eating dinner with his family in May when a SWAT team surrounded his home following such a false 911 call.

The growing trend, which some say could one day prove deadly, had conservatives on edge at the annual RightOnline conference of right-wing bloggers and activists in Las Vegas this weekend.

“What they’re clearly trying to do is dampen down free speech, but it goes beyond that — it’s putting people’s physical safety in jeopardy,” said Ali Akbar, who heads a group called the National Bloggers Club made up of conservative online writers.

Akbar told that he believes he is a target after he claims his mother’s home address in Texas was posted on various Internet sites to “incite someone crazy on the fringe left to do something absolutely awful to one of us for what we’re talking about.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Hausman on Obama and American Jews: Eyes Wide Open But Shut on Israel

Last week, the Gallup organization released poll results on a drop in support by American Jews for President Obama in the November 6th election. Support for Obama dropped 10 points to 64% among American Jews, while Governor Romney the presumptive GOP captured support of 29%. To Matthew Hausman this is still delusional given the facts of how President Obama’s policies have isolated Israel, the Jewish state. To his reckoning, more American Jews should have abandoned their traditional attachment to the Democratic party. Are they equivalent of people who have their eyes wide open but shut on Israel when it comes to American Presidential preferences? In an Israpundit article, “To Obama: Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me”, Hausman presents the evidence of Obama’s isolation of Israel. That raises the question of why American Jews still support President Obama. Hopefully this piece might change some minds.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Rodney King Dead at 47

Los Angeles (CNN) — Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was caught on camera and sparked riots after the acquittal of the four officers involved, was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday, authorities and his fiancee said. He was 47.

Police in Rialto, California, received a 911 call from King’s fiancee, Cynthia Kelly, about 5:25 a.m., said Capt. Randy DeAnda. Responding officers found King at the bottom of the pool, removed him and attempted to revive him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital, DeAnda said.

There were no preliminary signs of foul play, he said, and no obvious injuries on King’s body. Police are conducting a drowning investigation, DeAnda said, and King’s body would be autopsied.

“His fiancee heard him in the rear yard,” he said, and found King in the pool when she went outside.

Kelly was a juror in King’s lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles in 1994.

[Return to headlines]

Syrian Rebels Went to Washington Asking for Weapons

(AGI) London — Last week, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) met in Washington with high ranging officers of the Obama administration. According to Web site of the UK paper Daily Telegraph, the White House is under increasing pressure to authorize shipments of weapons, including the surface-to-air Stinger missiles, to fight against Bashar al Assad’s regime.

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

White House Adviser Rebuffs Questions on Leak Probe, Amid Warnings of Security Risk

A top White House official clammed up Sunday under questioning about the extent of President Obama’s involvement in investigating his administration’s security leaks — even as officials warned the leaks are so severe as to potentially trigger a cyber-attack by Iran.

Further, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., on “Fox News Sunday,” put added pressure on the administration over the leaks by breaking with the president and calling for a special counsel to investigate.

The two U.S. attorneys chosen from the Justice Department to investigate, Lieberman said, are “not enough” to avoid “any appearance of conflict of interest.”

The investigation — along with bipartisan concerns about that investigation — is getting underway going into the height of campaign season. To that backdrop, White House adviser David Plouffe claimed on “Fox News Sunday” that the back-and-forth amounts to a “game of distraction.”

He urged lawmakers to let the current Justice Department investigation run its course. Yet Plouffe also declined to answer two keys questions about that investigation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Finland: “I Will Try to be as Wise as King Solomon’, Quips Possible Presidential Candidate Soini

Interview with a rising star in Finnish political firmament

Nobody can deny that rather bad news for the Pope and the Vatican have been coming from Ireland for some time, a country that normally used to be known as a bastion of Catholicism. But this time here is a good news: a leading Finnish politician, Perussuomalaiset or (lit.: True) Finns Party’s chairman Timo Soini, started his path to conversion to the Catholic faith precisely in Ireland in 1987. Soini is on record for the exceptional surge of his party during the last general elections in April 2011, winning 39 seats (19%) as against their previous five on a platform based on “the right” for all members of society “to a life of human dignity”, as proclaimed in the English resume of the parliament’s official website. “We are an independent, nationally minded party that presents an alternative and serves as a counterweight to non-criticism of the EU”, the resume goes on, “standing on a foundation of Christian-social values”. But Soini is a bit more specific in his Finnish blog, when he says that he needs “nobody’s permission to be pro-life” and that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”. No wonder that his party’s overwhelming success has revolutionized Finland’s political scenario, in the short term by virtually forcing an “unholy alliance” between the social democrats and the traditional right wing conservative Kokoomus National Coalition Party for Soini to be kept out of government, and in the medium term with regard to the January 2012 presidential elections, whose most polled candidates are at present Kokoomus Sauli Niinistö (60%) and Timo Soini himself (11%). For the first time, therefore, it would seem that no socialist candidate will have a chance to successfully stand for the 2012 presidential election.

Timo Soini kindly acceded our request for an interview.

Q. Are you a cradle or convert Catholic? And if you are a convert, can you tell something about the circumstances of your conversion?

A. I am a convert. I converted, or started my path to conversion, in Ireland in 1987 while I was interrailing there. I had an experience in a Church in the south east part of Ireland and after that I came back to Finland. But I had been thinking about conversion earlier, because John Paul II was very brave to talk of the sacredness of human life and against abortion. After this Irish connection I attended an eight month course here in Finland and was taken into full communion with the Catholic Church in May 1988.

Q. How is your Catholic faith impacting or influencing your political activity in a predominantly non-Catholic, Lutheran , secularist or even atheist context? Is it a facilitating factor or a hindrance?

A. No, it has not actually been an obstacle, or a hindrance as you say. Although we are only some 10 000 Catholics here and I have been openly Catholic and everybody knows where I stand on these moral issues, that I am against euthanasia and abortion, but it does not matter, because people think that if you are genuine in your faith, they don’t care.

Q. What implications, if any, is having the Norwegian tragedy on the Finnish political milieu?…

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

France: FN in Parliament, Young Le Pen Ready to Return

Disobedience by Socialist favours blond Marion

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — Half a century after the entry of a far-right MP into France’s lower chamber, by the name of Jean-Marie Le Pen, granddaughter of the grand old man of the right, Marion, could revive the family’s political traditional association with the Front National, France’s far right party.

In a vote that appears to ensure a comfortable majority for the left with the Socialist party verging on 289 seats, and with them the absolute control of the National Assembly, all eyes are on the party that, after its 35 MPs granted by proportional voting in 1986 — this time round could have just three seats in Parliament. Polls say that the Front National could get between nought and three seats. The three candidates in question are the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, controversial lawyer Gilbert Collard and the very young, smiling blond Marion.

Her aunt, who beat sworn enemy of the far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, forcing him to give up, could not have done better.

Despite her 42.2%, the candidate faces the challenge of Socialist Philippe Kemel, in whose favour Mélenchon withdrew in a bid to win votes from across the left. The challenge facing Marine is a tough one, but not mission impossible, like that of lawyer Collard. Having come from the first round with smaller lead than that of his party leader, he is now wedged in a tight three-cornered race against Ump candidate, Etienne Mourrut, who could drain his support.

But the road ahead of the young Marion Maréchal-Le Pen seems to be free: she faces a three-cornered fight of her own in the South, in Vaucluse, but against an outgoing Ump MP, Jean-Michel Ferrand, and Catherine Arkilovitch, a Socialist candidate who refused to stand down as her leadership called for, in favour of a ‘republican front’. Ms Arkilovitch has confirmed herself for the second round, disobeying party bosses. The result can be seen in the most recent polls, that put Marion Le Pen as favourite. A final attempt by the Secretary of the Socialist party, Martine Aubry, to convince her candidate to step down, has failed today. 22-year-old law student Marion, who has a feisty character, is the daughter of Marine’s elder sister Yann and of Samuel Maréchal, a former Front Youth leader. Over recent years she has cut her political teeth at local elections in Saint-Cloud, the family power base on the outskirts of Paris, moving on to regional politics. But this is her debut on a national scale: “I have been in the Front National since I was 17: I can remember how they used to spit at me at school and lock me in the toilets” she recalls. Although very keen to distinguish herself from her family and show her independence, her ‘parachuting’ onto the family’s political patch has aided her task, while in the Carpentras constituency, which is part of Marion’s the Front beat its national record on April 22 in the first round of the presidential elections, with 31.5%. The road back to the lower house seems like a smooth one.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

French Socialists Win Absolute Majority in Parliament

French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies won an absolute majority in the National Assembly, exit polls showed, paving the way for them to pass legislation without the aid of other members of parliament. The Socialist bloc won 320 out of the 577 seats, pollster CSA said, with 289 needed for a majority. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement party and its allies have 221 seats, CSA said, and the anti-euro National Front won two seats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Golden Dawn in Difficulty, Will Not Repeat Success

Neo-Nazis got 21 seats on May 6, too many incidents since

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 15 — On Sunday the Greek far-right party Chysi Avgi (which translates as “Golden Dawn” and which many consider to be explicitly pro-Nazi) is unlikely to achieve as much success as it did in the May 6 elections, when it raked in 6.97% of votes and 21 seats in Parliament. Over the past month, Chrysi Avgi has been behind such a large number of attacks and bullying that it has alienated much of the support it had seen in the last elections.

This is the opinion held by a number of Greek analysts and political commentators, who say that the unexpected success of Golden Dawn came after what has been called the “elections of rage”, in which — as a reaction against traditional parties — voters opted for more extremist parties out of spite. For example, Chrysi Avgi surpassed by a wide margin on the right the party Laos (considered a bastion of the most reactionary right in Greece), which did not get past the 3% threshold to make it into Parliament, where in the 2009 parliamentary elections it had obtained 15 seats. The extreme, hard-line stance against crime, illegal immigration (with proposals to bury mines along the country’s borders) and the forced expulsion of clandestine migrants undoubtedly initially helped to attract to Chrysi Avghi’s lists the votes of a tired and confused electorate, and above all one angry with the parties seen as those which brought the country to collapse, whether out of incompetence or corruption. Dressed in black and with shaved heads and their Swastika-style logo, Golden Dawn militants collected their votes through patient and daily work in the areas of the city where criminality spreads undisturbed and inhabitants are exasperated.

For weeks they handed out food, clothes and shoes to the poor, sending a message based on security and cleanliness. However, the violence inherent in their ideology exploded immediately after the elections. On May 17, the group’s 21 MPs elected went into Parliament in military formation with their leader Nikos Michaloliakos in the lead. A few evenings before, pro-Nazi militants had thrown pamphlets on the sidewalks of the Athens neighbourhood of Gazi, where there are a number of clubs frequented by the capital’s homosexual community, with threatening messages to gay people. In an interview, Golden Dawn secretary general Stavros Theodorakis said that homosexuals are “a sick and abnormal part of Greek society.” A few days later, serious incidents broke out in Patras (a port city in western Greece) between policemen and inhabitants of the zone, where a 29-year-old Greek man had been killed by three clandestine immigrants of Afghan origins. Members of Chrysi Avgi blocked the entrance of an abandoned building where immigrants had sought refuge, throwing stones and other objects at the police who tried to disperse them. And on June 7, during a live television broadcast on the private TV station Antenna, Chrysi Avgi spokesman and MP Ilias Kasidiaris threw a glass of water at Rena Dourou, Mp from the SYRIZA party (radical left), and then slapped and punched Liana Kanelli, an MP from the Communist party. The footage was seen around the world via the internet, and all of Greece’s political world condemned the incident. The violent MP then — who immediately after the act of aggression had fled in order to avoid being arrested and sentenced in a summary trial — went on to file a report against his victims, saying that he had been defamed by them during the television broadcast.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: A Fire Threatens Athens, Hundreds of Firefighters in Action

(AGI)Athens-Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers are trying to extinguish the flames of a huge fire that is threatening Athens. The fire has already destroyed an extended part of countryside around Athens. Greece turned to Italy to ask for a reinforcement of fire-fighting aircraft and made the same requesto to France and Croatia. The flames are menacingly close to the capital where crucially important elections are being held today, like in all other Greek cities. The fire has already reached the suburbian district of Pallini, where it destroyed a school.

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

Italy: Anarchist Suspects’ Arrest Hailed as Victory for State

Big operation targets two extremist groups

(ANSA) — Rome, June 13 — Italian police on Wednesday arrested a number of people suspected of involvement in a series of attacks by anarchists in recent years in an operation that was hailed as a victory for the State.

Investigators said the big operation targeted the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) and another leftist group called the International Revolutionary Front (FRI).

They said eight people were arrested in Italy and two people already being detained abroad were also served arrest warrants.

The arrested people are suspected of involvement in numerous attacks, including letter bombs sent last year to Italian tax-collection agency Equitalia, Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and the Greek Embassy in Paris.

The FAI also claimed responsibility for the May 7 shooting in the leg of Ansaldo Nucleare CEO Roberto Adinolfi in Genoa, an attack which sparked fears Italy risked seeing a return of the political violence it endured in the 1970s.

However, the investigators said that, for the moment, none of the 10 arrested people are suspected of involvement in that shooting.

“It (the operation) represents an important achievement for the State against the anarchist-insurrectionist threat obtained thanks to the precious investigative work of the police and magistrates,” said Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri. The minister added that she had called the police to congratulate them on a “brilliant operation”.

Her comments were echoed by the policeman in charge of the Perugia-based operation.

“It is a response from the State to the anarchist-insurrectionist aggression,” said Giampaolo Ganzer. He said that the investigation had uncovered the brains behind the attacks and the people who actually carried them out.

He added that officers had seized material that could be used to make explosives during searches of a number of homes.

He said the arrested people were suspected of belonging to a group that had the same “organisational nature” as the one behind the Adinolfi shooting, but stressed that the investigations were separate. The foreigners served warrants were a Swiss man already in jail in his homeland and a Spaniard being held in Germany. Ganzer said the investigation has uncovered strong links between Italian and Greek anarchist extremists. He said 24 people in addition to the 10 arrested were under investigation, including six Greeks who are already in custody.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Fiat CEO Said Company Will Cut Europe Investments

Madrid, 15 June (AKI) — Fiat, the Italian carmaker which controls Chrysler, is cutting investments in Europe by 500 million euros on expectations that the region’s auto market won’t recover in the second half.

“The capital expenditure reduction is about half a billion euros from what we planned last year for 2012 in Europe,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said late Thursday in an interview in Madrid, where he’s heading the annual gathering of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA. A recovery in Europe “depends on many factors: first Greece, then the way in which the Euro currency will continue and what Europe will do to sustain growth.”

Fiat, which owns 58.5 percent in Chrysler, has stopped additional investments and postponed the introduction of new models in Europe. Marchionne, who also runs Chrysler, plans to eventually merge Fiat and the American carmaker in a bid to increase sales to more than 100 billion euros by 2014 and reduce the Italian manufacturer’s reliance on Europe.

Marchionne said that the new Grande Punto model, which was originally scheduled to be built beginning in 2013, “is one of the projects we are reconsidering in line with the changes” of the market in Europe. Fiat is discussing partnerships “with several people, and in some cases our architectures, including the one for the Punto, are involved in the talks,” he said.

European carmaker CEOs meeting in Madrid haven’t made any progress on a common plan to address the region’s overcapacity issues, Marchionne said.

“I think my proposal will just remain a Marchionne idea,” he said. “If there’s no coordination by the European Union,” every carmaker in Europe will “do it by itself,” he said before a gala dinner with the other executives.

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

Italy: Maroni: Sack the Abusive and Disastrous Government

(AGI) Verona — Roberto Maroni said the Lega Nord wants to ‘sack’ the Monti government, which is abusive and disastrous.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ‘No IMU day’ held by the Lega in Verona, he explained: “They should be fired starting with Fornero. We want to dismiss this government. We are not afraid of early elections, because the people, the sovereignty of the people, is always right.” Maroni said that the government “is abusive, disastrous, and is pillaging the north and is only interested in Salerno-Reggio Calabria.” This is a government that should be immediately removed,” he added, launching an appeal “to all northern MPs of the other parties to fight together with us against this government of lies and social disaster.” .

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

Italy: Bossi: Sooner or Later We Will Begin Road Towards Secession

(AGI) Verona — The Lega Nord party and citizens of northern Italy will soon set out on the road towards secession, the party leader, Umberto Bossi, has said to around a thousand supporters attending the “No IMU day” (a reference to the newly introduced property tax) in Verona. Bossi suggested a new motto — “I remember” — borrowed from activists in Quebec.

“Napolitano, Monti, we will all remember you,” Bossi said, explaining that “your shoddiness will not be forgotten” and that “nothing will be permitted to those who colonise the north”. Bossi continued: “These people say ‘secession will never happen’ but sooner or later we will all march together, me at the front and the others behind, and we’ll see whether or not it happens”. The Lega Nord leader then revealed that “you will receive big news in the next few days”, but refused to reveal what this would entail. “We’re not giving it to you today because there are journalists here and they don’t know how to write,” he said.

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

Italy: Maroni Vows Padania to Care for Displaced Workers

(AGI) Verona — Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto will carry out a common action to support the 330,000 displaced workers. This will constitute the proof that “the macro-region of Padania exists”. The announcement came from Roberto Maroni, speaking from the stage of “No IMU Day” with two governors, Luca Zaia and Roberto Cota present as well. “The regions will take on their load, that of these 330,000 families which the Monti government has put out on the street, either by mistake or perhaps because of a precise decision which is worse, because it is a social crime,” Maroni attacked. “We will take on the task, Padania will assume the job, the three regions together, the macro-region of Padania which is there and proves its existance with this initiative,” he added, explaining that, “the Northern League is the only force able to face and resolve these problems.” Continuing on the matter of displaced workers Maroni added that, “we have already sent a letter sacking Fornero, a no-confidence vote which will be discussed in the next few days,” but the League hopes that all of the government, “goes home, because they are dunces, not professors.” ..

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

Nearly 2,000 Tons of Fake Organic Soy Seized in Italy

‘Contaminated’ products contained twice the limit of GMOs

(ANSA) — Ravenna, June 14 — Police on Thursday seized over 1,700 tons of genetically modified soy that was advertized in Italy as organic. The products, which police said came from Eastern Europe, had twice the limit of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) reccomended by food authorities. Roughly 500 tons of what police called contaminated soy were found in the northern city of Ravenna, while 1,200 tons were seized elsewhere in the sweep.

Ravenna prosecutors said 12 people were under investigation for fraud, mainly in the northern Veneto and Lombardy regions. Italian farmers’ association Colidiretti advised consumers to “buy organic products directly from producers, from wholesale stands and farmers’ markets with the Campagna Amica mark, which guarantees the food’s national origin”. In the past 12 years, organic sales have tripled in Italy, up from one billion euros in 2000 to more than three billion today, growing at a rate of 9% per year, according to Colidiretti.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pope to Irish: Child Abuse by Clergy ‘A Mystery’

Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics on Sunday it is a mystery why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care, undermining faith in the church “in an appalling way.”

By describing the decades of child abuse in Catholic parishes, schools and church-run institutions and parishes in Ireland as a “mystery,” the pontiff could further anger rank-and-file faithful in Ireland.

Benedict commented on the scandals of sexual abuse and cover-ups by church hierarchy in a pre-recorded video message for an outdoor Mass attended by 75,000 Catholics, many from overseas, in Ireland’s largest sports stadium. Ireland’s prime minister and president attended the Mass, the final event of a Eucharistic Congress aimed at shoring up flagging faith.

The weeklong Eucharistic Congress, held by the Vatican every four years in a different part of the world, took place against a backdrop of deep anger over child abuse cover-ups and surveys showing declining weekly Mass attendance in Ireland, where church and state were once tightly entwined.

“How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?” said the pope, referring to church staff who abused children.

“It remains a mystery,” he said. “Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. It had become merely a matter of habit.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Soccer: Croatia Fans ‘Threw Banana at Balotelli’

UEFA already probing Spain fans’ racist chants

(ANSA) — Rome, June 15 — Croatia fans allegedly threw a banana at Italy striker Mario Balotelli when he was substituted during a 1-1 draw with the Croats at Euro 2012 Thursday, the international media said Friday.

A photo of a match official picking up the banana was published across the world.

UEFA, which is already investigating alleged racist chants against the Italo-Ghanaian striker during the Azzurri’s opening 1-1 draw with Spain and has said it will come down hard on racism at the championships, has yet to comment on the banana incident.

In the run-up to the tournament the 21-year-old Balotelli said he would kill anyone who threw a banana at him in the street.

He also said he would walk off the field if he heard any racist chants against him, prompting coach Cesare Prandelli to say he would pull the Manchester City man off himself.

Balotelli was also targeted by the Neo-Nazi Web site Stormfront after it emerged during the Azzurri’s pre-tournament visit to Auschwitz that his adoptive mother has Jewish roots.

A BBC documentary aired shortly before Euro 2012 claimed racism was rife among Polish and Ukrainian fans.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Why Try to Take Baby From EDL Mother But Not From ‘Terrorists’?

SOCIAL workers want to seize a baby as soon as it is born because they are concerned about the mother’s violent links to the English Defence League.

Durham County Council has told Toni McLeod she would pose a “risk of ­significant harm” to the baby. Social workers fear the child would become radicalised with EDL views and want it put up for adoption immediately.

Mrs McLeod, who is 35 weeks pregnant, is a former leading member of the EDL, in which she was notorious as “English Angel”. The 25-year-old has a string of convictions for violence, including butting and biting a police officer after an EDL march in 2010 and she has been banned from owning dogs after setting a pit bull on a former partner.

However, her cause has been taken up by Lib Dem MP John Hemming who, despite his loathing for the EDL, raised it in the Commons. He contrasts her treatment with that of the extremist Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, who was allowed to remain with his ­children when he was briefly remanded on bail earlier this year as the Government tries to deport him.

He said: “It raises a curious question as to why Abu Qatada is allowed to radicalise his children but the state won’t take the chance of allowing Toni McLeod to look after her baby in case she says something social workers won’t like.

“I am very strongly opposed to the EDL, which I believe to be a racist organisation, but I do not think we should remove all of the children of the people who go on their demonstrations, however misguided they may be.”

Mrs McLeod has posted racist abuse on social networking sites but denies being racist. She claims she is no longer active with the EDL and has never been charged with violence against children.

Social workers have told her husband Martyn he would be unable to care for his child because he is a full-time soldier just back from Afghanistan.

Mr Hemming, who chairs the Justice For Families campaign group, said yesterday: “This case is one where the ‘thought police’ have decided to remove her baby at birth because of what she might say to the baby. I wonder what the baby’s father is thinking when he fights for a country which won’t allow him to have a child because of what the child’s mother might say.

“Toni now accepts she was wrong to have gone on EDL demonstrations but freedom of speech means nothing if people are not allowed to say things that are thought to be wrong.”

Mrs McLeod wants to move to ­Ireland for the birth to avoid England’s social services. Rifleman McLeod, 31, plans to request a transfer to Northern Ireland so he can be with his child.

Durham County Council told Mrs McLeod on Friday her unborn baby was being placed on its child protection register. Last month, a judge ruled that her three other children, who have different fathers, should be permanently removed from her care.

The Sunday Express is unable to give details of the judge’s explanation for legal reasons.

Documents seen by the Sunday Express reveal social workers are worried about Mrs McLeod’s previous alcohol and drug misuse, her “aggressive behaviour” and her alleged “mental health issues” .

They concede she is no longer involved with the EDL but believe she is now involved with a splinter group, the North West Infidels. The social worker’s report states: “Toni clearly needs to break away from the inappropriate friendships she has through either the EDL or break-off group in order that she can model and display appropriate positive relationships to the baby as he/she grows and develops.

“Toni has been a prominent member of the EDL. They claim they are a peaceful group, however, they have strong associations with violence and racism.”

Mr McLeod said: “Toni would never harm a child.”

The council said it was unable to comment.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

US Deserter in Sweden Steps Forward After 28 Years

Family is overwhelmed that he is still alive

STOCKHOLM — A U.S. Air Force deserter who has lived secretly in Sweden since 1984 has revealed his identity and contacted his family in the United States who were overwhelmed to hear he was still alive, a Swedish newspaper reported at the weekend.

Dagens Nyheter said David Hemler had deserted aged 21 while serving at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, after getting involved with a pacifist church and becoming disillusioned with the policies of former President Ronald Reagan.

He hitchhiked via Denmark to Sweden where he settled down, living under an assumed name for the last 28 years and not revealing his true identity to anyone.

“I never planned on not telling the truth in the beginning. I intended to come to Sweden until I felt better (after his experience in the airforce), I expected a week or so,” Hemler told the newspaper in a video on its website.

Now aged 49, he is married to a woman from Thailand, has three children and works for a Swedish government agency, but would not let the newspaper print his assumed name.

After his desertion, he became one of the U.S. Air Force’s eight most wanted fugitives, according to the newspaper, and had expected at any time to be arrested by military police with both Interpol and Europol looking for him.

Hemler told the newspaper he had missed his parents after he deserted but went on to have a child and had not wanted to be separated from her.

He had decided to come forward after his third daughter turned two and could go to day care, so his wife would be better able to cope if he was arrested.

He first contacted his U.S. family four weeks ago, speaking to his brother Thomas who was in Massachusetts at the time on a business trip.

“I heard immediately it was David, even if he had a strange European accent after all these years,” Thomas Hemler, who lives in New Jersey, was quoted on Sunday as saying.

He said he had asked questions to confirm the man was indeed his brother David. Members of his family in the United States are now planning to visit him in Sweden.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Woman Killed by Pack of Wolves in Swedish Zoo

A female employee of the Kolmården zoo in central Sweden was mauled to death in the wolf enclosure on Sunday morning. A crisis group assembled to provide support for Kolmården’s employees, and the woman’s relatives have been notified, reported news agency TT.

The incident occurred just after 11 am on Sunday morning. According to eye-witness reports, the woman went into the enclosure, was surrounded and then attacked, wrote the Aftonbladet newspaper. Emergency services were alerted at 11.11 am, and were initially unable to approach the woman.

“You can’t just go in to a pack of wolves. Police and ambulance staff couldn’t get close to the victim until later,” said Norrköping’s emergency services coordinator Jan Tengeborg to the newspaper.

According to Aftonbladet, emergency services are currently attempting to sedate the other wolves nearby. “It’s very unusual for something like this to happen, but it has happened before,” Olof Liberg, wolf expert at Sweden’s University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet, SLU) said to TT. “Zoo animals aren’t afraid of humans and accidents can happen,” he continued.

Liberg has yet to familiarize himself with this specific case, but said that accidents like this one often occur because of a breach in routine, and notes that wolves are especially dangerous when a zookeeper goes in alone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Serbs Protest Against New Number Plate Law

‘We don’t want to live in a ghetto’

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA/BELGRADE, JUNE 15 — Hundreds of Serbs have been demonstrating today in northern Kosovo against a ban on Serb number plates on cars registered in Kosovar areas. The Pristina authorities have imposed hefty fines and the seizure of vehicles on those who continue to drive with their old number plates, which were issued by the Serb authorities for the Kosovo region. In order to comply with the regulations, cars have to be re-registered at a central office and be issued with new plates containing the letters KS or RKS (Republic of Kosovo). A convoy of around 300 cars with Serb plates travelled to the border posts with Serbia of Jarinje and Brnjak, where protest letters were handed over to the representatives of the European Eulex mission and of the NATO Kfor contingent. The cars bore Serb flags and posters with slogans such as “Stop assimilation”, “We have Serb documents; we don’t want Kosovo ones”, ‘Respect UN Resolution 1244”. All of the vehicles had Serb plates or their KS and RKS symbols were crossed through. “We want Eulex and Kfor to be our partners, but we cannot accept that the Serb community be relegated to a ghetto. Kfor closes our roads and supports the Pristina government in its assimilation of the Serbs”. The words came from Radenko Nedeljkovic, head of the municipal assembly for the northern sector of Kosovska Mitrovica, a Serb enclave.

The protest passed off without incident. Local police report that so far ten duplicates of old plates have been seized, while five million Serbs, most of whom live in the North, have registered and put the new plates on their cars.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Imam of Tunis Mosque, Blasphemous Artists Must Die

Houcine Laabidi: Their blood must flow

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — As the city of Tunis recovers amid tensions from the wave of Salafi violence of the past days, a video is doing the rounds of the web in which Cheich Houcine Laabidi, the Imam of the Zitouna mosque, the most important mosque in the Maghreb, states that artist who create blasphemous works are “infidel” and therefore should “be killed and their blood be spilled”.

The wave of Salafi violence was triggered by an exhibition in an art gallery in Marsa (a municipality in the North of the capital), of works considered to be insulting of Islam and an attack on correct behaviour. The request to kill the artists involved was reiterated three times by Mr Laabidi during a sermon he delivered yesterday.

The mosque of Zitouna has only recently been authorised to recommence its teaching activities, after its school was marginalised first by Bourghiba and then by Ben Ali.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya Deploys Troops to Stop Clashes in Western Region

The National Transitional Council has ordered the military to use “all means necessary” to end clashes in Libya’s west. Tripoli also called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and a fact-finding mission.

Libya’s transitional government on Saturday declared the west of the vast north-African country a military zone, deploying troops to impose a ceasefire on rival groups that have engaged in lethal clashes over the past six days.

The clashes between fighters from the town of Zintan and members of the El-Mashashia tribe have killed 14 people and wounded another 89 this week, the interim government reported on Wednesday. Last December, fighting between the two groups killed four people.

The tensions stem from the 2011 uprising that toppled former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was shot dead by rebels in October. While fighters in Zintan helped liberate Tripoli and captured Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, the El-Mashashia tribe chose not to join the rebellion.

“As a result of the violence in the areas of Mizdah, Sheguiga and Zintan which has killed innocent people, the interim government… orders all parties to immediately stop their fire,” Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib’s office said in a release.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sahara: CEN-SAD: Meeting in Rabat, Fight on Terrorism Priority

Organisation looking for new sponsors after Gaddafi’s death

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 12 — The absence of Gaddafi is felt these days in Rabat. After three days of talks in Morocco’s administrative capital, yesterday the community of Sahel-Saharan states (CEN-SAD) presented its new political agenda. The first point is the fight against terrorism, trans-border crime — drugs and arms trafficking in particular — and separatist movements that currently pose a risk to the stability of the entire area.

The community has also decided to form a security council as part of the African organisation. But how and where CEN-SAD will find the necessary funds to carry out its plans is an open question, where its main sponsor used to be Muammar Gaddafi.

“But now that the colonel is dead,” sources in the Moroccan foreign ministry told ANSAmed in confidence, “the question everybody is asking is, who is going to pay for this?”. The many African reporters present at the closing of the conference are skeptical, showing little faith in the re-launch of CEN-SAD. “People in Africa do a lot of talking,” said a reporter from Guinea, “but the word few people know is ‘concreteness”‘. Some have suggested that Morocco, which is trying to gain regional leadership, may become one of the organisation’s main sponsors. This idea was also suggested by the national and international press in the past days. The delegates united in Rabat have stressed the importance of the meeting in Morocco, which they see as “an important step” in the reformation of the organisation, still disoriented by the tragic death of Gaddafi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Treatment for Injured Libyans at Military Hospital

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JUNE 14- Twenty-two injured Libyans are receiving treatment at the Military Medical Academy (VMA) in Belgrade, and the protocol signed between Serbian and Libyan medical corps also envisages various trainings for doctors from the two countries.

The protocol was signed during a visit paid by the delegation of the health care administration at the Libyan Defence Ministry and military hospitals in Tripoli and talks with representatives of the Libyan medical corps.

Head of the VMA Treatment Department Colonel Stevan Sikimic said that the Serbian authorities agreed with the Libyan side to facilitate participation of the VMA professionals in the treatment and organization of Libya’s health care centers.

“The protocol covered the treatment of Libyan patients, so it was agreed that those who suffered injuries in the recent war should from time to time come to Serbia in groups so as to receive an adequate treatment,” he specified.

“In addition to this, the protocol envisages that Libyan medical corps should receive various trainings at the VMA,” he noted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cover-Up Campaign Hits Gulf Streets: Activists in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates Encourage Expatriates to Dress Modestly and Respect Local Culture

The ‘One Of Us’ campaign aims to educate expatriates living in Qatar about wearing appropriate dress

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That is the message of two campaigns started by local women in the Gulf countries of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Najla Al Mahmoud is a Qatari behind the “One of Us” public awareness push, which hopes to educate expatriates about appropriate dress. Specifically, she wants people — men and women — in her country to cover up between the shoulders and the knees. During the summer “the scene of exposed flesh increases”, Al Mahmoud said. “We are offended by this… but we are sure that people don’t know and we are sure that people will respect this. Why wouldn’t they? We want to educate them.”

Most local women in Qatar and the UAE wear an abaya, a black garment that covers most of the body. The men wear the kandura, which tends to be ankle-length and a shade of white.

The “UAE Dress Code” campaign, started by locals Hanan Al Rayes and Asma Al Muhairi, began out of disgust at the sight of foreigners dressed in what they deemed to be inappropriate attire, according to media reports. “Whether you like it or not, this country has its own culture that shd be respected & protected by its own people,” read one of their recent tweets…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Labour Minister Resigns, More Could Follow

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JUNE 13 — The government of Kuwait is hanging on a fine thread following the resignation of two ministers in just a few days and with the chance of more threatening to do the same: four months after the formation of the current cabinet, the fourth in six years following the anticipated elections in February, the Labour and social affairs minister Ahmad Al Rajib resigned yesterday. A week ago it had been the Finance minister, Mustafa Al Shamali.

Ready to follow in their footsteps, according to newspaper Gulf News, are apparently the minister of Petrol, of Water and electric resources, of Information, Commerce, Education, Communication, Justice and Islamic Affairs.

The spark which ignited this latest crisis has been the request to appear in court for eight ministers of the current parliament, in order to clear some issues regarding their work.

The requests could potentially end with a confidence vote to which as a tradition the ministers do not subject themselves to and avoid with their resignation.

The issues between legislative and executive powers, which many agree are the factor paralyzing reforms in the rich emirate, might be able to find a solution in agreeing to the opposition’s requests which dominate the parliament: to insert opposition members into the current government.

There was a failed attempt after the elections in February: while the government proposed four members in the ministers’ council, the opposition had asked for nine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia Wants More German Tanks: Report

A German newspaper has reported that a controversial Saudi-German deal for Leopard battle tanks is more than twice as big as planned. Some in Berlin are said to have misgivings.

The German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag quoted government sources as saying Saudi Arabia now wants to buy 600-800 Leopard-2 tanks from Germany.

That’s more than double the number originally envisaged. Previous reports had said the Saudis wanted around 300 tanks.

The paper said the deal for up to 800 tanks would be worth 10 billion euros ($12.6 billion). That would make it one of the biggest ever for the German defence industry.

According to the report, a deal for a first tranche of 300 tanks is ready for signing. The paper quoted industry sources as saying that Saudi Arabia wants the deal concluded before July 20, when the Muslim festival of Ramadan begins.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Syria: Russian Military Ship En Route to Tartus

(AGI) Washington- The US Pentagon is monitoring a Russian ship, Nikolay Flichenkov. The vessel left the Russian naval base of Sebastopolis in the Blask Seas on 7 June and is sailing towards the Syrian port of Tartus, the only one open to Russia in the Meditteranean. According to US intelligence, the vessels is carrying arms and a small contingent of troops.

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


Russian Opposition Parties Form United Front Against Putin

Members of the liberal opposition in Russia have entered into a political coalition to challenge President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. They are calling for the release of political prisoners and new elections.

Two Russian opposition parties joined forces on Saturday hoping to create a united front against President Vladimir Putin, in the wake of the largest anti-Kremlin protests in over a decade.

The People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS) and the Republican Party of Russia (RPR) united to create a political coalition called the RPR-PARNAS. Both parties have been the target of President Putin’s crackdown on the political opposition in the past.

PARNAS was banned from participating in the December 2011 parliamentary elections, which ignited the current protest movement over allegations that electoral fraud handed the ruling United Russia party a legislative majority again. The RPR had lost its legal status in 2007 after a long court battle and was only allowed to re-register last May.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Exports Crushing German Solar Industry

Tough competition, price pressure and dwindling subsidies — these are the woes facing the German solar technology production sector. While the outlook seems grim, some believe that things will improve.

The golden era of the German solar energy sector is over. At its peak, Germany had a 20-percent share of the global solar energy market, but now the figure stands at just 6 percent. After a rapid decline in recent months, more job cuts are expected to hit the industry.

“It has never been this bad,” said German Solar Industry Association head Carsten Körnig at the opening of Intersolar, the world’s largest solar energy trade fair, in Munich. And this despite the fact that last year, more photovoltaic systems were installed around the world than ever before.

The main reason for these losses is a dramatic price decline.

“Despite growing demand in recent years, production capacity has increased even faster, and this of course leads to huge price pressure,” Körnig told DW.

China in particular has been rapidly developing its solar industry. In March 2011 it declared solar energy a key market in its five-year economic plan. As a result, Chinese companies in this sector receive affordable state loans and special privileges for purchasing raw materials and energy. In the last 10, years the country has increased its global solar market share from virtually nothing to more than 50 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Several Victims as Blasts Hit Two Churches in Nigeria

(AGI) Kano- Blasts were reported at two different churches in Nigeria, according to the country’s authorities. The explosions, according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency, occurred in Wusasa and Sabon-Gari, in the Zaria district, locations which have recently become targets for the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. Some witnesses claim there were many victims in the Cristo Rey cathedral and Good News Church.

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


Austria: Immigrants Fight Beggars in Salzburg

Austrian police were called after a group of 20 young men all with an immigrant background and armed with sticks laid siege to an abandoned factory in Salzburg where a group of Gypsy beggars had taken up residence.

Police have not yet commented on the reason for the altercation but have confirmed that in general there is a rapidly increasing number of beggars arriving in Austria particularly from Romania.

Two people were lightly injured as the gang of young men tried to smash their way into the building and also threw stones at the windows. The Romanians all believed to be ethnic Roma attempted to stop the men getting in.

A police spokesman said they were investigating over charges of making threats, causing bodily harm and damaging property. He also confirmed that there were several Romanian beggar groups that had taken up residence around the city.

All of the men involved in the incident were from the Lehen part of Salzburg.

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

New Attack Against Immigrants in Israel Causes 1 Injured

(AGI) Tel Aviv — One person was injured in the Nth attack against African immigrants in Tel Aviv. Two people riding a motorcycle launched a powerful petard against a bar frequented by Eritreans that was already targeted last 23rd of May at the end of a protest demonstration calling for “death to Sudanese”.

Since then, the owner of the bar has been constantly threatened, including by people living in the neighborhood.

Tensions were fuelled even further by the irresponsible comments made by political officials who instrumentally associated cases of sexual harassment and rape with the presence of immigrants not holding a regular resident permit.

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

News Feed 20120616

Financial Crisis
» Greece: Social Chaos: Pensions at Risk, Surge in Unemployment
» Greek, Spanish Savings Flee Eurozone Crisis
» Italian Workers Mass to Protest Monti Cuts, Reform
» Not Worth a Continental
» Ratings Agency Downgrades Nokia to Junk Status
» Spain: House Prices Slump 12.6% in First Quarter
» Tensions High Ahead of Second Greek Vote
» ‘Bite Me’ Biden Going Rabid
» Bush, Gorbachev, Shultz and Solidarity
» Everything’s Coming Up Jihad: Muslim Lawsuits Against the NYPD
» Facebook Shareholders Sue for Losses as Employees Cash in
» Federal Attorneys Side With Mosque in Expansion Fight
» Global Warming Psychological Babble
» Jimmy Carter and World Chaos
» Niall Ferguson on How Europe Could Cost Obama the Election
» Obama Lunges Toward Global Government
» Obama Seeks US Congressional Ratification of UN Global Gun Control Treaty
» Rutherford County Commission Votes to Appeal Public Notice Ruling on Mosque
» These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America
» U.S. And Multinational Military Forces Train in South Dakota’s Black Hills
» Who is the White House Mole?
» Ottawa Airport Wired With Microphones to Record Travellers’ Conversations
Europe and the EU
» Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths From GM Corn
» Europe: The Truth About Far-Right Violence
» France: Roger Garaudy, Holocaust Denier, Dies
» French Philosopher Roger Garaudy Dies
» Germany: Banning Salafists ‘Won’t Solve Social Problems’
» Greece: Property Tax Evaders Targeted, Minister
» Italians Discover Cancer-Blocking Molecule
» Italy: Ferrari: Montezemolo Named European Manager of 2012
» The West Does Away With Itself — Islam
» UK: Business as Usual
» UK: Fasting at Olympics Will be a Joy to Behold
» UK: Lord Ahmed Cancels Far-Right Meeting
» UK: Leeds Imam Qari Asim Honoured by Queen
» UK: Muslims Urged to Quit Smoking in Time for Ramadan
» UK: New Date Set for Gang Rape Trial
» UK: The Man Who Predicted the European Tragedy
North Africa
» Film: Campaign to Save Star Wars House in Tunisia
» Morocco: Rabat Gets New Look With Gulf Funds
» Morocco: Commander of the Faithful Inaugurates ‘Mohammed VI’ Mosque in Oujda
» Tunisia: Post-Violence, Tourism Sector Fears Another Collapse
Israel and the Palestinians
» Camel Corps Gone But FCO Still Out of Touch
» Masada: Colossal Carmen by Del Monaco
Middle East
» Lebanon: A Book About the “Italian” Story of Tyres Tomb
» US Holds High-Level Talks With Syrian Rebels Seeking Weapons in Washington
South Asia
» British Soldier Killed in Operation Against Afghan Insurgents
» Ethnic Violence in Myanmar Seems ‘Neverending’
» India: Cleric Warms to Beard — Lone Clean-Shaven Kashmir Clergyman Has a Rethink
» Singapore: President Tony Tan Helps to Sell Briyani for Charity
Far East
» China Confirms Forced Abortion Case After Uproar
» Vietnam: 80-Year-Old Mosque in the Heart of Communist Stronghold
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ghana: Muslim Youth Plead More Time to Return Stolen Regalia
» Nigeria: Police, Muslim Youths Exchange Gunfire as Mosque, Houses Are Demolished in Benue
» Amnesty: Italy-Libya Deal to Stop Migrant Flow
Culture Wars
» Soccer: Cassano Sorry for Saying Hoped No Gays in Italy Team
» Swedish Left Party Chapter Wants to Make Urinating While Standing Illegal for Men

Financial Crisis

Greece: Social Chaos: Pensions at Risk, Surge in Unemployment

Funds missing to subsidise jobless people

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The worst prophecies for Greece seem to actually be taking place and every day which goes by, the situation just seems to worsen. Today it’s the turn of the national insurance, while today again, the Greek statistics institute, ELSTAT, informed that the unemployment rate has reached a new historical peak of 22.6% in the first three months of this year compared to the 20.7% of the previous quarter.

The warning on the disastrous situation of the private sector pension funds was sent by Antonis Roupakiotis, ad interim minister for Labour and National Insurance, who declared that the national insurance funds of the Greek private sector “are at breaking point” and that nobody knows whether the institutes will be able to pay the expected sums this summers. Then, he unhesitatingly added: “On the basis of the data I am in possession of, I foresee that by July the pensioners should begin to worry.” “All the finances of the national insurance funds, especially those handed out by the State budget, are in bad shape,” Roupakiotis said again, specifying that the OAED, the human resources agency (basically the employment agency) requires 260 million euros to pay the unemployment funds.

The minister also defined the unemployment subsidies as “humiliating” and pointed out that only one unemployed person out of five effectively receives it. Roupakiotis also said that about 500 union employees have spent months without salary and that the programmes of social tourism, which give the workers paid-for holidays, have been suspended.

There is also bad news for the state employees. Roupakiotis proposed a series of measures which concern the lowering of salaries for state employees by the body which is to release the funds, the institute for the Insurance of State Employees (TPDY). According to the proposal by the minister, from now on those who will have the right to the total salary will only be the ones with at least 25 years of service. For the employees who have between 12 and 25 years of service, the minister proposes to hand out the insurance gathered during the years worked with the addition of the interests but without the revaluation linked to inflation and other parameters.

The employees who have between 6 and 12 years of service will instead receive 70% of the insurance accumulated plus the interest. Lastly, those who have less than 6 years of service will be entitled to nothing.

The objective of this measure, according to the minister, is that of diminishing the amount of people who are owed a settlement and in this way reduce the Institute’s deficit, indebted for over 1.5 billion euros. The proposal, which no doubt will raise many controversies and anger between government and unions, will be examined by the government that will win on June 17. At the moment there are 53,000 state employees waiting to receive their settlements whereas the average time one must wait to receive their end of service allowance is of over four years.

Speaking of health assistance, Greek pharmacists have informed that they will continue their strike until the Institute for Health Services Supply (EOPYY) will extinguish the debts owed them for the period which runs until April 2012.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek, Spanish Savings Flee Eurozone Crisis

Savers across Europe are fleeing the continent’s debt crisis. In Europe’s most economically stricken countries, people are taking their money out of their banks as a way to protect their savings from the continent’s growing financial storm. Worried that their savings could be devalued, or that banks are on the verge of collapse and that governments cannot make good on deposit insurance, people in Greece, Spain and beyond are withdrawing euros by the billions — behavior that is magnifying their countries’ financial stresses. The money is being hoarded at home or deposited in banks in more stable economies.

Since the Greek debt crisis broke in late 2009, deposits have fallen by 30 percent cent, as savers have slowly pulled some €72 billion ($90.24 billion) from local lenders, with total household and corporate deposits standing at €165.9 billion ($207.94 billion) in April, according to the latest data from the Bank of Greece.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italian Workers Mass to Protest Monti Cuts, Reform

Tens of thousands of Italian workers rallied in Rome on Saturday to protest pension cuts, tax hikes and labor reforms imposed by the government of Mario Monti and to demand more stable work, particularly for the young.

The demonstration organized by Italy’s main labor unions came a day after Monti’s latest effort to stave off contagion from Europe’s debt crisis. His Cabinet on Friday approved measures worth €80 billion ($100 billion) to spur economic growth, streamline the notoriously bloated public sector and lower the national debt.

In the seven months it has been in power, Monti’s government of technocrats has pushed through painful pension cuts, labor reforms to make it easier to fire workers and tax increases that have cut into the pockets of ordinary Italians already coping with hard times and youth unemployment at a staggering 36 percent.

On Saturday, Monti said the latest measures signaled the start of “phase two” of his government program, to spur growth for an economy already deep in recession. Just last week, official statistics confirmed the economy contracted by 0.8 percent in the first quarter, the worst in three years.

At the colorful rally Saturday full of union flags and balloons, older workers lamented that their pensions don’t get them through the end of the month, particularly with new taxes on primary homes, and that their children have few work options.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Not Worth a Continental

The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was established in 1913 as one of the cornerstones of the Progressive agenda. They said it was a way to stop the boom and bust cycle which has always been a fixture of capitalist economies. The Fed is America’s third Central Bank.

The First and Second Banks of the United States were born out of Alexander Hamilton’s ideas as expressed in his famous Second Report on Public Credit in 1790. The first bank was allowed to expire and the last was ultimately killed by Andrew Jackson in 1833. Jackson believed the Bank had too great an influence politically and economically.

The United States grew to become the greatest industrial power on earth in the next eighty years without a central bank.


Helicopter Ben has already overseen two rounds of monetary inflation referred to by the mysterious name of Quantitative Easing (QE) which is a fancy way of saying the Fed floods the banks with money. The staggering size of these have only now begun to come to light showing that since the 2008 collapse the Fed has flushed more than 16 trillion dollars out of the pockets of taxpayers and into the hands of banks and corporations both foreign and domestic designated by the Federal Government as too big to fail. That is more money in four years than the entire national debt which has taken 236 years to accumulate and QE 3 is on the way.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ratings Agency Downgrades Nokia to Junk Status

US ratings agency Moody’s has lowered the credit status of Finnish phone maker Nokia to junk. It’s now reached a speculative level as the company’s business outlook remains negative despite reforms.

Moody’s on Friday lowered its assessment of Nokia by one notch to the speculative level of Ba1, citing as a reason that the company’s outlook remained negative.

“Today’s rating action reflects our view that Nokia’s far-reaching restructuring plan delineates a scale of earnings pressure and cash consumption that is larger than we had previously assumed,” Moody’s Senior Vice President Wolfgang Draack said in a statement.

Nokia, one of the world’s biggest mobile-phone makers, had shocked markets on Thursday by announcing it would cut 10,000 jobs globally by the end of 2013 as a part of deep cost-cutting measures.

The company has been undergoing massive restructuring for over a year, but says it has to implement an additional 1.6 billion euros ($2 billion) in cost reductions, especially impacting its struggling Deices & Services unit.

“A return to profitability also depends on Nokia successfully transitioning its range of smartphones to the new Windows operating system,” Moody’s said in a statement.

The ratings agency identified some positive elements at the Finnish group, noting that despite a number of serious problems Nokia had maintained a strong liquidity position and capital structure.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: House Prices Slump 12.6% in First Quarter

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 13 — House prices continue to fall in Spain, with the yearly drop of 12.6% in the first quarter of this year representing the most significant fall since the figures were first recorded in 2007, according to figures released by the national statistics institute today. The prices of new homes fell by 11.8%, with second-hand homes dropping 13.3%. The fall in prices of unused homes began in 2008 (-5.4%) and continued moderately in 2009 (-4.3%) and 2010 (-1.9%), before accelerating again in 2011 (-11.2%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tensions High Ahead of Second Greek Vote

On Sunday, the Greeks choose a new parliament for the second time in six weeks. A neck-and-neck race is expected between the center-right pro-European New Democracy party and the radical left Syriza coalition.

If the last election was about the voters teaching the major parties a lesson, this time the central issue for the mainstream parties is the question of whether Greece will remain a member of the eurozone — a dilemma that the leftists reject vehemently.

Surveys suggest that about 75 percent of the Greeks support membership in the euro, but are against the austerity measures in their present form. All the parties are trying to capitalize on this seemingly contradictory mood. The traditionally pro-business conservatives see themselves as the guarantor of the country’s ability to retain the euro, but have also suggested they will tone down the austerity measures.

The far-left Syriza party said the program of cuts is null and void, but that Greece should keep the euro. Nikos Chountis, a former secretary of the party executive and member of the European parliament, is certain: Just like the last election, the vote is a matter of giving the old parties a resounding slap in the face.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


‘Bite Me’ Biden Going Rabid

How else to explain that the Vice President in Obama’s regime believes that all the great cities are located in China and not America?

“If I blindfolded Americans and took them into some of the airports or ports in China, and then took one of them to any of your cities in the middle of the night just so that they could see it,” Biden said. “If I said, ‘which one is in America and which one is in China,’ most Americans would say, ‘That great one is in America.’“ (Rush Limbaugh June 15, 2012)

In other words, Biden mocks Americans who would likely think all the great cities are in the United States, when, according to him they are all, in fact, in smog challenged, Communist China.


No matter how many miles he’s put in globetrotting, Biden has gone no further than his adulating school boy desk in the infamous ‘Drool School for China’, master minded by anti-American UN Poster Boy Maurice Strong.

With millions in his bank account from his self-claimed status as ‘Father of the Environment’, Godfather of the failed Kyoto Treaty and main carny huckster of the upcoming Rio+20, (Rio de Janeiro’s Global Earth Summit 20 years later) Strong has dedicated his lifetime to advancing China as the super power to replace an America he disses in drivel.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bush, Gorbachev, Shultz and Solidarity

These alliances reflect the new perspective that motivates our globalist leaders to set aside the old rules of involvement and chart a new course for the world. From their point of view, the old-fashioned national sovereignty (or independence) is out, and global solidarity (or interdependence) is in. Now it’s up to the media and our educational “change agents” to persuade the masses to accept their view of the earth as a global village.


Shultz’s friendship with Gorbachev dates back to his years as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration [9] — a time when many of us simply trusted the Republican cabinet to represent American families. In the early eighties, few of us realized that Shultz and David Hamburg, President of the globalist Carnegie Corporation, were using their authority to negotiate a binding international agreement with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.[10] Its terms required that we trade our sophisticated education and data tracking technology for the brainwashing strategies used to indoctrinate Soviet children, modify behavior, and monitor the masses to ensure compliance with Soviet ideology. [11]

To see what George Shultz did to undermine our American education system, rewrite history, change values, and prepare America to accept a new role in the “international community,” ponder the following quotes from The Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin:


In the new paradigm, the old absolutes based on the Bible and the Constitution must be reinterpreted or discarded. So when Bush spoke of “old notions and ideologies” and a “revolution in American education”, he had already prepared his plan for changing the minds of America. The management system had been designed by UNESCO, and the psycho-social strategies for altering our children’s beliefs and values had been promoted by UNESCO but imported from the Soviet Union.

In other words, everything that had made American education the envy of the world was now obsolete. In the ashes of the old ways would arise the UN plan for global education, tested in the Soviet Union, and designed to mold compliant servers for the 21st Century “sustainable communities.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Everything’s Coming Up Jihad: Muslim Lawsuits Against the NYPD

June has been a banner month for Muslim lawsuits against the NYPD. First “Muslim Advocates” filed a lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of some New Jersey Muslims attending mosques that the NYPD had assessed as a potential terrorism risk. The “Muslim Advocates”, like every other Muslim “civil rights” group, has a history of covering up and defending terrorism

The media is full of sympathetic interviews with Muslims, who are baffled as to why the NYPD might be surveiling mosques and Imams. Farhoud Khera, the head of Muslim Advocates, complains, “There was explicit reference to the fact that they weren’t targeting Syrian Jews or Iranian Jews or Egyptian Christians, but really, the focus was on Muslims.”

The extensive Coptic Christian and Persian Jewish terrorism sprees aside, the goal here is to get the NYPD to play the same “Three Blind Monkeys” game that Federal law enforcement has taken up. And the only answer is the TSAization of the NYPD, as the last remaining counterterrorism force will prove that it isn’t singling out Muslims, by surveiling Methodist churches and Chassidic synagogues for signs of terrorist sympathies.


The Arab Spring has revealed the ugly truth that, given the vote, the Farhans in Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey will vote to imprison gays, oppress Christians, suppress women and all the way down the long awful checklist of the Islamic formula for a moral society. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a fantasy in America, but it’s how most people agree things should be in the Muslim world. The media is selflessly dedicated to lying about that simple fact, no matter how many of their reporters get raped, taken hostage or killed, until the truth becomes impossible to conceal.


But what happens when a police force has a lot of Farhan Does working on it? For the answer to that, we can take a trip to sunny Dearbonistan, where Christians were arrested for “Disturbing the Peace” and “Failure to Obey a Police Order”, which as it turned out was a legalism for “Being Christian in a place claimed by Muslims”.

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad (not to be confused with Ron Haddad Jr of Illinois, charged with domestic terrorism) testified that a protest outside an area mosque should not be allowed to take place, because its Imam had told him that it would be worse than a thousand deaths. Presumably three of them would be worse than September 11.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Facebook Shareholders Sue for Losses as Employees Cash in

The fallout from Facebook’s botched initial public offering is moving to the courtroom as shareholders sue for losses. Many of the social network’s employees became millionaires after the market debut.

Facebook’s chief technology officer resigned his post on Friday to begin a new startup with money earned from the company’s initial public offering, while dozens of shareholders have filed lawsuits against the social network for losses sustained during its hyped market debut.

Bret Taylor, who oversees the social network’s main platform and mobile business, said he would leave Facebook this summer to start a new company with a friend. Taylor did not mention what kind of company he was interested in starting.

“I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m excited to be starting a company with my friend Kevin Gibbs,” Taylor said. “While a transition like this is never easy, I’m extremely confident in the teams and leadership we have in place.”

Many Facebook employees made millions from the company’s $16-billion (12.6 billion euro) initial public offering (IPO) on May 18. But dozens of shareholders are suing the social network for losses they incurred in the aftermath of the company’s lackluster debut. Facebook has lost a fifth, or $20 billion, in value from the IPO stock price of $38. Some 40 state and federal lawsuits have been filed against the company as a consequence.

Some of the suits claim that Facebook and its main underwriters — Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs — only informed preferred clients about lowered profit forecasts prior to the IPO. The social network has been struggling to sustain its advertising revenue as many users move to mobile devices.

In a motion filed on Thursday, Facebook said that federal regulators do not require companies to include revenue or profit forecasts in IPO documents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Federal Attorneys Side With Mosque in Expansion Fight

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – In court filings this week, United States Department of Justice attorneys conclude the city of Alpharetta may have discriminated against a mosque by denying its plans to expand. The Islamic Center of North Fulton wants to tear down its existing facility to build a much larger one on its Rucker Road property. “They’re in a very inadequate facility,” attorney Doug Dillard told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “They don’t have adequate facilities for them to bathe properly before they worship, to pray properly, for them to listen to the imam.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Global Warming Psychological Babble

The global warming alarmists have become so desperate in light of ever-increasing numbers of skeptics that they are trying to tie everything to global warming. Take for instance the Congressional Report Service paper prepared specifically to inform members and committees of Congress (“SEC Climate Change Disclosure Guidance: An Overview and Congressional Concerns,” Gary Shorter, May 24, 2012)

The Securities and Exchange Commission published a document, describing how publicly traded companies should apply existing disclosure rules to the risk that climate change developments may have on their businesses. (“Commission Guidance Regarding Disclosure Related to Climate Change,” January 27, 2010)

In response to this resource-wasteful guidance, Senator John Barrasso and Representative Bill Posey of the 112th Congress introduced similar bills, S. 1393 and H.R. 2603, prohibiting the enforcement of the SEC’s climate change disclosure guidance.


The most egregious stretch of manufactured global warming effects is a 55-page report published in February 2012 by the National Wildlife Federation titled, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”

Prepared by a forensic psychiatrist and an attorney who adapted in 2006 Al Gore’s book and film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” into a training course curriculum, the lengthy psychobabble, a “national forum and research report,” chastises Americans for “the adolescent-like disregard for the dangers we are warned of, driving green house gases up with only casual concern.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Jimmy Carter and World Chaos

Every President has a library built in his honor. Most Presidents have some exhibits showing their accomplishments. What would Jimmy’s be? He sold peanuts. He helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Yes, I think that must have been his best positive accomplishment. But then there are all the negatives. He sold out the Shah of Iran, one of our staunchest Allies, while at the same time subjecting the good people of Iran to a wave of terror to rival Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s Worker’s Paradise.

But his greatest claim to fame (or should I say infamy) is that he opened the flood gates of Godless Islam to destroy the lives of millions all over the Middle East and Africa and to challenge and perhaps finally destroy the mighty United States. Only Hussein Obama has done more damage to the world than Carter. And that is because he had Carter’s legacy to build on.

For thirty years, in some cases more, the Islamic countries have been ruled by strong leaders who kept the violence and insanity of Islam under control. Some may call them tyrants or dictators, and it is certainly true that some of them were insane and brutal and enemies of the free world. But at the same time they kept the Islamic revolutions in each country from joining with those in other countries to form a grand coalition against us.


It is not my contention that the Muslim leaders who have been dethroned or are about to be removed are, or were, men of perfect culture, justice, or morality. I simply make the point that things are far worse now in the individual countries and for the world since the world encouraged their ouster. And the worst part is that very soon those mobs will join together to try to destroy Israel and the United States.

Let us take a moment to look at some of the Islamic leaders who were holding the lid down in their countries.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Niall Ferguson on How Europe Could Cost Obama the Election

Could Europe cost Barack Obama the presidency? At first sight, that seems like a crazy question. Isn’t November’s election supposed to be decided in key swing states like Florida and Ohio, not foreign countries like Greece and Spain? And don’t left-leaning Europeans love Obama and loathe Republicans?

Sure. But the possibility is now very real that a double-dip recession in Europe could kill off hopes of a sustained recovery in the United States. As the president showed in his anxious press conference last Friday, he well understands the danger emanating from across the pond. Slower growth and higher unemployment can only hurt his chances in an already very tight race with Mitt Romney.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Lunges Toward Global Government

One of the biggest issues in the November election is whether we will continue or stop President Obama’s move toward restricting U.S. sovereignty and rushing down the road to global governance. One would think that the obvious failure of the European Union and disdain for the euro would put the skids on global integration, but no such luck.

Obama has such delusions of his own power that he thinks he can do by executive order whatever he cannot get Congress to approve, even Harry Reid’s Democratic Senate. Obama’s most recent executive order starts off with the extravagant claim that it is issued “by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America.”

On the contrary, the President is not vested with the authority asserted in Executive Order 13609, which locks us into a worldwide regulatory system and thereby gives up a huge slice of U.S. economic and environmental sovereignty. The proclaimed purpose is to globally harmonize regulations on environmental, trade, and even legislative processes.

This Executive Order is larded with globalist gobbledygook about the obligation of our regulatory system to “protect public health, welfare, safety and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.” Those pie-in-the-sky goodies are designed to benefit “an increasingly global economy,” rather than the United States.


The next step of the global governance lobby is likely to be a push for U.S. acceptance of the United Nations’ demand for a global tax on all financial transactions “to offset the costs of the enduring economic, financial, fuel, climate and food crises, and to protect basic human rights.” That’s on the agenda for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro this month known as Rio+20.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Seeks US Congressional Ratification of UN Global Gun Control Treaty

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State has announced that the Obama administration is working with the United Nations (UN) to approve, through the US Congress, the Small Arms Treaty (SAT).

Clinton affirmed that the US would facilitate talks with the UN in the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, as long as it “operates under the rules of consensus decision-making. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.”

This global gun control scheme, concocted by the UN, is called the International Arms Control Treaty (IACT). Disguised as a way to combat terrorism, insurgents and international criminals, this document endeavors to secure the world’s citizens cannot defend themselves.

The IACT will empower the UN to literally force the US government to:

  • Enact internationally agreed licensing requirements for Americans
  • Confiscate and destroy unauthorized firearms of Americans while allowing the US government to keep theirs
  • Ban trade, sale and private ownership of semi-automatic guns
  • Create and mandate an international registry to organize an encompassing gun confiscation in America

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Rutherford County Commission Votes to Appeal Public Notice Ruling on Mosque

Chancellor voided mosque’s site approval because of inadequate notice

MURFREESBORO — The Rutherford County Commission voted 15-6 Thursday night to appeal a court ruling that voided approval of a mosque. “I just can’t imagine an appellate court would agree we should discriminate,” Commissioner Trey Gooch said before the vote.

County Attorney Jim Cope estimates that the legal fee cost to appeal will be in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. While waiting for the appeal to work its way through the courts, Chancellor Robert Corlew’s Wednesday ruling banning the county from issuing a certificate of occupancy to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro will stand unless it’s overturned or he dissolves it, Cope added.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

These 6 Corporations Control 90% of the Media in America

This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. And Multinational Military Forces Train in South Dakota’s Black Hills

The Rapid City Journal reports today that the Golden Coyote training exercise is underway in the Black Hills of South Dakota:

Here for the Golden Coyote training exercise, military units are working to re-create the stress of combat and mixture of civilian, tourist and wildlife populations soldiers encounter in war theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan, all while training with foreign soldiers.

In addition to military units from six countries and 17 states, the exercise includes units from the United Kingdom,Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Suriname.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Who is the White House Mole?

There has been a series of leaks of classified information from the White House in an effort to portray President Obama as a tough American foreign policy leader, but no official has resigned from the administration or the Obama campaign in disgrace or protest. This suggests the betrayal of state secrets is being condoned or ignored at the highest levels. Not surprisingly, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is resisting the appointment of a special or outside counsel to probe the scandal.

If it is so easy to turn over national security information to the media, it may be just as easy to turn the state secrets directly over to the enemy. Either way, our adversaries benefit.

Starting with Obama and then moving through Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and on to campaign adviser David Axelrod, we have individuals who could not pass a basic FBI background check.


Congress is part of the problem and got us into this mess to begin with.

Congress gave Panetta a pass when he became CIA director and then Secretary of Defense, despite his long record of associations with identified communist Hugh DeLacy, who had connections to the Chinese government. Not surprisingly, the Soros-funded Media Matters came to Panetta’s defense, accusing conservatives of a “smear” for raising the inconvenient facts about his record, including opposition to President Reagan’s anti-communist defense policies. Media Matters has White House connections and specializes in intimidating the media when they dare to question the White House line.

Fortunately, the facts, including some of a personal nature, were included in a column by the courageous Diana West, who commented that the evidence showed that Panetta had “a cordial, long-term relationship in the 1970s and 1980s” with Hugh DeLacy, a Communist Party USA member elected to one term in Congress while pretending to be a Democrat in 1944. Incriminating “Dear Hugh” and “Dear Leon” documents were obtained by researcher Trevor Loudon at the University of Washington.


Another suspicious Obama associate, David Axelrod, is a former Chicago Tribune reporter who became Obama’s chief strategist and appears regularly on television as the face of the campaign. He once worked closely with David Simon Canter, a communist operative investigated by Congress as an agent of the Soviet Union. Axelrod was “within the extreme orbit of the old Chicago CPUSA [Communist Party] apparatus,” writes Professor Paul Kengor, author of a forthcoming book on Frank Marshall Davis and his Chicago and Hawaii networks.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Ottawa Airport Wired With Microphones to Record Travellers’ Conversations

Sections of the Ottawa airport are now wired with microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is nearing completion of a $500,000 upgrade of old video cameras used to monitor its new “customs controlled areas,” including the primary inspection area for arriving international passengers.

As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths From GM Corn

In a riveting victory against genetically modified creations, a major biotech company known as Syngenta has been criminally charged for denying knowledge that its GM Bt corn actually kills livestock. What’s more is not only did the company deny this fact, but they did so in a civil court case that ended back in 2007. The charges were finally issued after a long legal struggle against the mega corp initiated by a German farmer named Gottfried Gloeckner whose dairy cattle died after eating the Bt toxin and coming down with a ‘mysterious’ illness.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe: The Truth About Far-Right Violence

A shocking new report documents patterns of far-right violence across Europe.

As concerns mount about the violence of elected far-right politicians in Greece, and Sol Campbell warns black and Asian football fans against travelling to Poland and the Ukraine for Euro 2012, the Institute of Race Relations reveals that the problem of far-right violence is not confined to a few European countries. On the contrary, a new geography of racism is fast developing as extremists set up shop in rural areas, towns and city neighbourhoods in every country of Europe.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

France: Roger Garaudy, Holocaust Denier, Dies

PARIS, June 15 (UPI) — Roger Garaudy, a longtime Communist who fought in the French resistance in World War II but became a Holocaust denier in old age, has died. He was 98. Garaudy’s death was announced by the Web site Egalite et Reconciliation. He died Wednesday at his home in a Paris suburb, Chennevières-sur-Marne. His career was marked by feuds. His dispute with another philosopher, Michel Foucault, led him to change universities, Radio France Internationale reported, and he even turned on the Muslim cleric who converted him to Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

French Philosopher Roger Garaudy Dies

Controversial French philosopher Roger Garaudy has died at the age of 98.

An ex-member of the communist party, he converted to Islam in the 1980s. His 1996 book The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics denied that the killing of Jews by the Nazis constituted genocide. He was given a suspended jail sentence for Holocaust denial in 1998. During the war Garaudy joined the French Resistance and later wrote more than 50 books — mainly on political philosophy and Marxism. He was expelled from the French Communist Party in 1970 after criticising the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Born into a Catholic family, he initially converted to Protestantism before rejoining the Catholic Church and eventually embracing Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germany: Banning Salafists ‘Won’t Solve Social Problems’

German authorities carried out a major crackdown on radical Salafist Muslims on Thursday, raiding properties and banning an organization. German media commentators welcome the moves but warn that bans aren’t enough to change how extremists think.

The debate on Salafists, members of a fundamentalist strain of Islam who are suspected of having close ties to Islamist extremists, has been raging in Germany for months. Following a number of recent violent incidents, including the stabbing of police officers in Bonn, there have been growing calls for the government to act.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Greece: Property Tax Evaders Targeted, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 14 — Greece’s tax authorities are going after the more than 500,000 property owners who refrained from paying the special tax tagged on to electricity bills last year, while official figures put revenues from the tax at over 2.2 billion euros. The Finance Ministry, as daily Kathimerini reported, is more than satisfied with the collections from the special tax, imposed last year for the first time and set to continue for this year. If tax authorities do get to collect the money due by the half a million owners who have not paid, receipts will exceed 3 billion euros. Although there is a caretaker in the minister’s chair, he has reportedly exercised particular pressure on the tax collection mechanism in a bid to increase revenues, and has enjoyed a degree of moderate success in that field, as tax offices have been reporting increased revenues over the last few days. Minister Giorgos Zannias held a meeting with the other top ministry officials on Wednesday and discussed the results of the first five months as well as the prospects for the summer, which promises to be a particularly difficult period. The meeting heard that cross-checking is bearing fruit, while receipts from overdue debts are constantly increasing. It was also confirmed that the disposable cash in the public coffers amounts to 2 billion euros, which will only serve state needs until July 20.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italians Discover Cancer-Blocking Molecule

Possible breakthrough in fight against melanoma

(ANSA) — Rome, June 15 — Italian researchers have discovered a molecule that may be a breakthrough in the fight against melanoma, or skin cancer, a report said Friday.

Scientists at Rome’s Catholic University have found that the molecule HINT1 both blocks the growth of tumorous cells and prevents the mutation of healthy ones in cases of melanoma.

Alessandro Sgambato headed the research team with collaborators from Columbia University and Harvard University in the United States. “We have shown that HINT1 is frequently deactivated in melanoma cells in humans, and its reactivation reduces the growth and the malignity of the tumor,” said Sgambato. The team, which published the findings in Cell Cycle magazine, believe the discovery may lead to life-saving pharmaceuticals, both against melanoma and perhaps other forms of cancer as well. Melanoma is a very aggressive type of tumor that represents the world’s leading cause of death in cases of skin cancer. Cases of melanoma have increased more than any other tumor in recent decades due to the growing popularity of tanning salons and heightened sun exposure, doctors say.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Ferrari: Montezemolo Named European Manager of 2012

European Business Press award for ‘outstanding work’

(ANSAmed) — BOLOGNA, JUNE 15 — Ferrari President and Chairman Luca di Montezemolo has been named European Manager of 2012. He was given the award by European Business Press, an organisation of the major European economic dailies, during the group’s annual meeting in Como. Ferrari’s website states: Montezemolo has been recognised for his “outstanding work” in the management of Ferrari, which contributed to making it one of the most famous brands in the world”, as well as his work in the NTV group and the Charme fund. European Business Press (EBP), which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is an organisation composed of 48 European economic newspapers and magazines from 27 countries. Members include The Wall Street Journal Europe, Handelsblatt, Les Echos and Milano Finanza. The European Manager of the Year award received by Montezemolo for the year 2012 has existed since 1991 and the winner is chosen in a vote by the editors in chief of the publications that are members of the organisation. During the awards ceremony, the association spoke about how between 1991 and today Ferrari has “completely renewed its product line” under Montezemolo, returned to “victory on the Formula One circuit” and “achieved incredible commercial results, increasing its turnover tenfold while maintaining its exclusiveness”. EBP also mentioned another of Ferrari’s achievements under Montezemolo: the “geographical expansion” which makes Ferrari present in 60 countries worldwide. Montezemolo’s commitment to improve the quality of life of workers at the factory in Maranello, which “has become a worldwide symbol of excellence and attention to individuals”, was also cited.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The West Does Away With Itself — Islam

In 2010, former German Bundesbank-Vorstand and Ex-Senator of Berlin, Thilo Sarrazin, published his book “Deutschland schafft sich ab: Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen.” The title translates, more or less, to “Germany does away with itself: how we gamble with our country.”

Sarrazin’s Core Message

Immigrants from Islamic countries fail to readily integrate with their adopted societies.

In turn, that failure includes the corollaries:

1. The rise of Islam within Europe 2. The current socialistic/Marxist path of Europe

My own perception is that most of the western world is going down the same path of slow but steady self-destruction. The Rise of Islam

The rise of Islam in the western world has been well documented. Numerous articles by Daniel Greenspan and Alan Caruba published at Canada Free Press can serve as references. If I may summarize, the underlying tenet is the incompatibility of a religious belief (Islamic claims) with its secular desires (Islamic facts) to dominate the world.


One basic tenet of Islam is to present itself to non-believers solely as a religion. Most people of other faiths fall for that ruse. In the rare event that anyone asks some inconvenient questions they are quickly explained as ‘it’s all due to some erratic elements within the Islamic community, wrong interpretations of the Koran by some of its teachers, misunderstandings by outsiders, and so forth. ‘

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Business as Usual

A legal observer examining the policing of a February English Defence League (EDL) demo in Leicester, describes how its members were protected by the police whilst counter-protesters were ‘kettled’ and harassed.

You had to wonder at and yet be extremely concerned about mass kettling and the suspension of rights to free assembly and movement on 4 February 2012 in Leicester. The police used their extensive public order powers to limit the right of people to protest against the EDL marching through the centre. From where I stood (kettled) EDL marchers could wander without hindrance in the city centre, making gestures of defiance and enjoying the protection of the police. This was business as usual in Leicester; the EDL free to march and the new mayor and Leicestershire Constabulary acquiescing to its demands and allowing its members free rein to march through the city. In contrast, Leicester United Against Fascism (UAF), independent anti fascists and groups of young Muslim people were tightly controlled.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Fasting at Olympics Will be a Joy to Behold

by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

My Olympics tickets arrived this week. I was originally down on the Games — with the looming transport difficulties, risks of terrorism and possible disease pandemics — but now I’ve decided to ditch my British gloominess and embrace the occasion.

But there’s a challenge to negotiate: it will be Ramadan, and I’ll be fasting. When the Olympics were first announced for London during July, there was immediate uproar about its conflict with the holy month. How would the many Muslim athletes from around the world combine their desire to fast with one of their great sporting moments? Was the timing inconsiderate, perhaps even a deliberate slight?


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Ahmed Cancels Far-Right Meeting

The controversial peer Lord Ahmed has cancelled plans to host members of an extreme right-wing group at the House of Lords this week. Lord Ahmed, currently suspended from the Labour Party for allegedly offering a “bounty” for the assassination of US President Obama, was due to chair a meeting at the Lords on restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. He said he had not been informed about the background of the participants. According to anti-fascist campaigners Searchlight, the event organiser was Ministry of Peace founder Dr James Thring, an anti-Zionist activist who has been vocally supported by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Leeds Imam Qari Asim Honoured by Queen

A mosque leader who has worked “tirelessly” to build bridges between communities in Leeds since the 7 July terror attacks has been appointed MBE.

Qari Asim is recognised in the Birthday Honours list for services to inter-faith relations and the community. The 34-year-old solicitor, who is Imam of the Makkah Masjid mosque, said he felt “incredibly humbled”. He held an open day at his Hyde Park mosque after the London bombings to try to enhance community relations.


[JP note: Absurd.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Urged to Quit Smoking in Time for Ramadan

MUSLIMS are being urged to quit smoking in time for Ramadan. The religious event, which takes place around July 20, is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar. Muslim adults refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours, and this includes smoking and using other tobacco products such as hookah or shisha. Janet Walton, NHS East Lancashire head of public health development, said: “We are encouraging people to plan ahead and contact the stop smoking service in order to be quit in time for Ramadan.”


[JP note: The NHS should also urge Muslims to quit raping white girls.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: New Date Set for Gang Rape Trial

A NEW date for the trial of six Brierfield men accused of sexually exploiting and abusing a 14-year-old girl has been set. The jury at Burnley Crown Court was dramatically discharged by the judge yesterday and the case has been adjourned until March 13th, 2013.

Mohammed Imran Amjad (25), of Halifax Road; Haroon Mahmood (21), of John Street; Mohammed Suleman Farooq (22), of Berry Street; Omar Mazafer (21), of Halifax Road; Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad (24), of Halifax Road and Shiraz Afzal (25), of Mansfield Crescent, all of Brierfield, are accused of various sex offences against the victim.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Man Who Predicted the European Tragedy

by Ed West

In 1959 the Conservative Government was embroiled in a scandal after 11 inmates were clubbed to death by guards at the Hola camp in Kenya. The authorities had tried to cover up the incident, and then to downplay it. But Harold Macmillan’s government was shamed by a Conservative MP who denounced the inhumanity in Parliament, calling it a “fearful doctrine, which must recoil upon the heads of those who pronounce it”. It was a stirring speech on behalf of the doctrine that Africans should be treated equally. That man was Enoch Powell, who was born 100 years ago today.

To a later generation, Powell became the bogeyman in a multicultural paradise, a sinister Victorian throwback whose inflammatory words had terrorised defenceless immigrants. Such is the notoriety and “brand toxicity” that in 2007 a Conservative candidate was forced to resign after suggesting that Powell’s immigration warnings were correct. And yet, 14 years after his death, Powell should now be recognised as the prophet of an altogether different post-war experiment — the European project. As Jean Monnet’s dream turns to tragedy for millions, Powell’s assertion that “Europe can never be a democracy because there is no European demos” has proved completely true.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Film: Campaign to Save Star Wars House in Tunisia

Briton raises USD 12,000 for restoration

(ANSAmed) — TUNISIA, JUNE 14 — It was Skywalker’s house in the Star Wars series, but after George Lucas’s cast wrapped up the shooting at the end of 2000 it has been more or less abandoned and may soon fall into utter squalor in the desert zones near Matmata in southern Tunisia, where there are also the remains of prehistoric homes.

This is heart-wrenching news for the millions of Star Wars fans, and a 35-year-old British insurance agent, Mark Cox, has decided to stop this scenario from coming into being. The latter has begun raising funds for its renovation and restoration, starting from the distinctive rounded roof which in the film series was supposed to have been located on the planet Tatooine. Through word-of-word over social networks, Cox has already rounded up USD 12,000 through 425 donations to be used for restoration. The plan is to make the Skywalker House in Matmata into a “film cult” place of pilgrimage for Lucas’s fans, perhaps with a small museum bringing together what is left of the film footage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Morocco: Rabat Gets New Look With Gulf Funds

Abu Dhabi funds “citadel” of luxury in Moroccan capital

(ANSAmed) — RABAT0- >From the mausoleum of Mohammad V, one of the most famous monuments in Rabat, it is impossible not to see it: an immense building site along the edge of the Bouregreg river, between Morocco’s administrative capital and its twin city Salé. The project aims to change the face of Morocco’s capital by building by the end of 2012 a residential and holiday complex called Bab El Bahr, the “gate to the sea”.

From the giant level ground of red earth seen today, lodgings for over 10,000 people will be built, with two hotels, a hostel, and a cultural district including seven museums, two seafront areas and 300 shops. A surface area of 61,000 square metres will be set aside for offices and even a school building is planned: a de facto “citadel” connecting Rabat and Salé, which is taking shape thanks to funding from Abu Dhabi. Six airlines from the Gulf emirate backing Al Maabar, a company investing beyond the nation’s borders and which is putting up 50% of the funds for Bab El Bahr in Morocco. The other 50% is instead from the coffers of the Moroccan state agency Agence Bouregreg, for a total cost of about 600 million euros. One of the seafront areas is already at an advanced stage, and a small section of the luxury flats being built will be handed over during the coming weeks to the first purchasers, 10% of whom are represented by “investors from the Gulf who love Morocco and Rabat”, as has been said on numerous occasions by the head of sales and marketing of Agence Bouregreg, Jaouad Dadi. The latter percentage may rise further: the Bab El Bahr project was hugely successful during the most recent edition of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, one of the most important international events for the real estate sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Morocco: Commander of the Faithful Inaugurates ‘Mohammed VI’ Mosque in Oujda

Oujda — HM King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, inaugurated, On Friday in Oujda, the “Mohammed VI” mosque, wherein His Majesty performed the Friday prayer. Stretching over a surface area of 12,000 square meters with a hosting capacity of 3000 faithful, the new religious monument was completed for a total cost of 60 million dirhams funded by the Ministry of Endowments (Habous) and Islamic Affairs. The new mosque, one of the largest in the Kingdom, houses two prayer halls for men and women, accommodations for the Imam and the Muezzin, a library and a hall for the teaching of the Koran.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Post-Violence, Tourism Sector Fears Another Collapse

But ministry reassures, few cancellations this year

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — Just when the tourism sector in Tunisia thought that it managed to put last year’s disastrous season in the past following the dramatic days of the Jasmine Revolution, the sector is dealing again with the uncertainty that the country’s security situation is creating in foreign markets. The season seemed to start off on the right foot because a good number of tourists had returned, mainly flooding into the villages and sites in the south, which has always been a cornerstone of the sector. This is the effect of several factors: established quality of what the country offers at prices that are still extremely low compared to the competition; assurances from the government regarding the domestic situation; an intense communication campaign directed at foreign markets (focusing on traditional markets like Europe, and emerging markets such as Russia); the confidence expressed by the big airline companies, as well as low cost carriers, which, by upping the number of flights and lowering prices, contributed to making the country an attractive destination once again. But this was all ruined by an explosion of violence in the capital and across the country which has received widespread coverage in the international press, especially in the countries that are sources of tourists. Now everyone is gearing up for another difficult situation with one concern in mind: tourism is the only positive sector in the beleaguered Tunisian economy and every blow to its image translates into a series of negative reactions in the markets. Yesterday, Tourism Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh, wanted to provide reassuring messages, stating that since the start of the year the rate of cancellations was only 5%, a near-normal figure in a predictable market like tourism, which is still volatile at the same time because it is sensitive to security issues, such as those that have recently been raised by the events in Tunisia. Basically, the minister is doing his job, but he certainly cannot predict whether or not the disorders from the beginning of the week will have further repercussions. Officials in the sector, including tour operators, travel agencies, hotel owners, and workers, have decided to make their concerns public and will hold a protest tomorrow in Tunis, calling for the government to work harder on the country’s security issues. In the document that they addressed to the government led by Hamadi Djebali to announce their protest, they simply called for the law to be respected. The protests will take on a national character because tomorrow vehicles will arrive in Tunis from across the country in order to underscore that the problem is hitting the entire nation. And, so as not to leave room for interpretation regarding who is the real recipient of their requests, tomorrow morning the protest will begin at the Tourism Ministry and end in front of the Interior Ministry.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Camel Corps Gone But FCO Still Out of Touch

by Martin Bright

This week I came to the conclusion that the Foreign Office genuinely believes it is in tune with mainstream Jewish opinion in this country. The convention of background briefings to journalists means that I can only state that I “understand” this. I cannot identify or quote my sources. But, believe me, I do understand this to be the case. The FCO is under the distinct impression that most reasonable UK Jews are opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on settlement building, that William Hague is right to express his deep concern, and that present Israeli government policy is damaging the chances of restarting the peace process.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Masada: Colossal Carmen by Del Monaco

Bizet opera under fatal heat of rock, stage surpasses singing

(ANSAmed) — MASADA (ISRAEL), JUNE 12 — The rock plateau of Masada has been turned blood red in recent days. This is not the blood of the sect of rebel zealots who killed themselves (and their women and children) to avoid surrendering to the Roman legions 2,000 years ago, but rather the result of a sumptuous illumination in an unusual production of Carmen, which is distinguished by the “colossal layout” of Giancarlo Del Monaco, the globetrotting opera director and son of the great Mario Del Monaco.

Bizet’s masterpiece was the crowing glory of the third edition of the Masada Festival, which ended today with a fifth re-run. The event, which this year received funding worth the equivalent of 8 million euros from the Israeli government, is attempting to become a yearly appointment, exploiting the adventure that the place represents.

As in previous editions of the festival, directions and stage designs took precedence over the “bel canto” and the orchestra directing of Daniel Oren. This much seems clear from reviews by the sternest of critics, which were not without negative comments in some Israeli papers concerning a show that is necessarily not to the tastes of purists. The opera was performed in a great open space, in which singers, chorus and musicians had no choice but to use microphones, as they had done during the “patriotic” Nabucco of 2010 or last year’s more controversial performance of Aida.

The surroundings were the most obvious setting for the adventure, as an exhausted but contented Del Monaco tells ANSA. Yet they also made for the most extreme of challenges, with the torrid climate of the depression of the Dead Sea, the desert isolation, the hot and sandy winds that can wreak havoc with the voices of the artists, as well as the occasional close encounter with snakes and scorpions.

Yet the public reception was positive on the whole. An average of 8,000 spectators per performance was recorded, with the arrival of enthusiasts from abroad and the attendance of the country’s establishment — the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, attended the opening night of Carmen on June 7. The ovation from the audience was directed in particular at the verve of the Italian singer Anna Malavasi, who alternated the role of Carmen with the less fortunate Spanish singer, Nancy Fabiola Herrera (whose voice gave way, forcing her to be replaced halfway through the premiere by the promising Israeli understudy, Nahama Goldman) and at the Croatian singer Lana Kos, in the role of Micaela.

But there was even greater applause and surprise at the choreography of the 30-strong Spanish dance group and at the majestic scenes dreamed up by Del Monaco junior and William Orlandi. The Italian director, who has decades of experience as artistic director in Germany, France, Spain and other countries outside of Europe, managed to obtain unprecedented permission temporarily to strip part of the archaeological site and transform it, after almost three months of excavations, into a natural stage at the foot of the Masada rock plateau. The extraordinary visual effect, heightened by the huge lighting installations, could not be rivaled by the artificial sets of Nabucco and Aida. The open-air theatre was the stage for 300 appearances (with around 3,000 costumes), with the most spectacular scenes (such as the quadrille of the toreador) the cue for chariots and real horses and donkeys.

“It was a challenge and in some ways an obstacle course, but the financial commitment of the Israeli authorities was exemplary and the result went down well with the public, and that’s the main thing” said Giancarlo Del Monaco, suitcase in hand and ready for his trip to China for another performance, before returning to Italy on August 2, for the concert event in Macerata — which features great names from lyric opera and singers of the standing of Al Bano or Francesco Renga) — marking the 30th anniversary of the death of Mario Del Monaco.

Giancarlo’s brother, Claudio, himself an opera director, is also hoping to be there, but is still recovering from a knife attack and near family tragedy of Jesolo a few months ago.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: A Book About the “Italian” Story of Tyres Tomb

Roman monument restored on Cooperation’s initiative

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, 11 JUNE — From the day in May 1937 when it was discovered, to the day in 1939 when it was taken to the National Museum in Beirut; from the dark days of the civil war, when it was covered in water in the basement of the building hit by shelling, to the day of its rebirth, when its frescoes were brought back to their original splendour thanks to restoration works funded by the Italian Cooperation: this is the amazing story of Tyres’ tomb, a tomb originally built nearby the same location in Southern Lebanon during the Roman Empire. The book about the tomb’s adventurous story has been presented today by Lebanon’s Minister of Culture, Gaby Layoun, and by the Italian Ambassador, Giuseppe Morabito.

The tomb (whose base is 6.30×5.40 mt. and whose maximum height at its highest top is 3.40 mt.) dates back to the Second century AD and used to belong to an aristocratic family that was never identified; the tomb contained approximately twenty skeletons when it was discovered by chance by a shepherd in the Burj el Shemali area. “In Tyres, where Rome left its indelible track, there are still several examples of Roman art; however, this is certainly one of the most spectacular monuments ever found out in Lebanon”, Minister Layoun said.

The entire tomb, with its walls are covered in frescoes on Greek and Roman mythology and its locula underneath, was taken to Beirut before World War II by a team led by the English architect Henry Pearson. However, in the 15 years of Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), the Museum ended up exactly on the “green line” of the front dividing East Beirut from West Beirut and was partially destroyed. The Tyres Tomb, which had been placed in the basement, was covered by water and, subsequently, frescoes were seriously damaged by dampness. In 2009, Lebanon’s General Antiquities’ Directorate asked the Italian Embassy to help it develop a restoration project, which was approved later the same year and received funds worth EUR 256,000 by the Italian Cooperation. Works were carried out during three stages of two months each under the management of Giorgio Capriotti, with the cooperation of Italian and Lebanese restorers. Restoration works literally “brought back to life” the frescoes, which portray several myths of the afterlife, from Achilles returning Hectors’ body to his father Priam; from Pluto kidnapping Proserpina, to Hercules in its 12th labour, with his club and Cerberus on a leash. Restoration works were accompanied by a museographical project by architect Antonio Giammarusti, carried out in the area in front of the tomb’s entrance in cooperation with the Museum’s curator, Anne-Marie Maila Afeiche, a narration of the monument’s story. “Tyres’ Tomb art and its story,” Ambassador Morabito said,” are now here to be admired and respected. Our past is closer to us today and conveys a very important message both to us and to future generations: culture and art are the heritage of the whole human kind.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

US Holds High-Level Talks With Syrian Rebels Seeking Weapons in Washington

Syrian rebels have held meetings with senior US government officials in Washington as pressure mounts on the US to authorise a shipment of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles to combat the Assad regime, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

A senior Free Syrian Army representative met in the past week at the US State Department with the US ambassador to Syria. Robert Ford and Frederick Hoff, special coordinator for the Middle East, sources have confirmed. The rebel emissaries, armed with an iPad showing detailed plans on Google Earth identifying rebel positions and regime targets, have also met with senior members of the National Security Council, which advises President Obama on national security policy. FSA representatives in Washington have compiled a “targeted list” of heavy weaponry, including anti-tank missiles and heavy machine guns that they plan to present to US government officials in the coming two weeks.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

British Soldier Killed in Operation Against Afghan Insurgents

A British soldier has been killed during an operation targeting insurgents in Afghanistan.

The soldier, whose family has been informed, was from 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. He was killed in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province on Friday. The Ministry of Defence is expected to release his name on Saturday. He is the 419th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. His death was the second in Afghanistan this week — it was announced just hours after the MoD named a soldier killed in a grenade blast on Wednesday as Lance Corporal James Ashworth from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. L/Cpl Ashworth was killed in a grenade blast while on patrol in the north of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ethnic Violence in Myanmar Seems ‘Neverending’

Sectarian violence has engulfed Myanmar’s frontier state of Rakhine in recent days, with clashes between Buddhist and Muslim ethnic groups. Tension between the two groups is not new and there are few solutions in sight.

The cycle of revenge attacks between ethnic groups in the border state of Rakhine is posing a new challenge to Myanmar’s reformist government, with the repercussions now rippling across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

The latest surge in sectarian unrest began with the rape and murder of a Rakhine Buddhist woman, allegedly by three Muslims, late last month. Within days, the response had turned more brutal, with at least 10 Muslims killed when they were pulled off a bus in the Taungup township.

Last Friday, Muslims belonging to the Rohingya ethnic minority are alleged to have run amok in the town of Maung Taw, burning down hundreds of houses and killing seven people.

By Monday, many Rohingya were taking flight, with groups of men — apparently ethnic Rakhine Buddhists — roaming the streets of the state capital Sittwe carrying sticks and knives.

Announcing a state of emergency in the region on Sunday, President Thein Sein warned of the possible terrible outcome, with security forces drafted into the area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

India: Cleric Warms to Beard — Lone Clean-Shaven Kashmir Clergyman Has a Rethink

Srinagar, June 14: Kashmir’s lone clean-shaven Islamic cleric is poised to grow a beard, partly because of increasing calls from fellow clergymen for him to do so. Mufti Nasir-ul Islam, 53, is the son and deputy of Kashmir’s mufti azam (grand mufti or chief jurist) Mufti Basher-ud-din. His family has for generations held the hereditary office that is recognised by the state government. Islam, who recently led a campaign against alleged conversions of some Valley Muslims to Christianity, has been assisting his father since 2000 but took on a more pro-active role after he was designated his deputy last year.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Singapore: President Tony Tan Helps to Sell Briyani for Charity

SINGAPORE: Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Saturday joined members of the Malay-Muslim community to raise funds for the President’s Challenge. Over 50 volunteers were at Khalid Mosque located in Joo Chiat selling packets of briyani, with the president pitching in to put the final touches to the dish. The dish was prepared by Chef Allaudin Mohamed, who is also chairman of the mosque.

Each packet costs S$10 and will go to the President’s Challenge Fund for various charities. Organisers said sales were so good that orders for the dish were placed even before the charity coupons were printed. The event also involved Singaporeans from other ethnic groups.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

China Confirms Forced Abortion Case After Uproar

BEIJING — Chinese authorities confirmed Thursday that a woman was forced to abort seven months into her pregnancy, several days after her plight came to light when images of her baby’s corpse were posted online.

Rights groups have blamed authorities in north China’s Shaanxi province for forcing Feng Jianmei to abort her pregnancy because she failed to pay a hefty fine for exceeding China’s strict “one-child” population control policy.

The Shaanxi provincial government said in a statement that a preliminary probe had confirmed the case was “basically true”, and the investigators have recommended action be taken against the perpetrators.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Vietnam: 80-Year-Old Mosque in the Heart of Communist Stronghold

‘Masjid Al Moslemeen’ tells the story of minority Muslims in a country of 90 million people

Ho Chi Minh City: A nearly 80-year-old mosque lies in the heart of this communist stronghold. Its minarets stand next to the tall, modern buildings. “Masjid Al Moslemeen”, which means “The Mosque of Moslems”, narrates part of the history of the neighbourhood and the life of the minority Muslims in the predominately Buddhist and socialist state. There are nearly 80,000 muslims in Vietnam, a country of 90 million people.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Muslim Youth Plead More Time to Return Stolen Regalia

The Gbi Traditional Council says it will not extend its 48-hour ultimatum given to the Muslim youth of Hohoe to return regalia stolen from the Togbe Gaabusu Palace when they attacked and vandalised the palace. The President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV has been talking to the Gbi Traditional Council headed by the Togbe Gaabusu to consider its 48-hour ultimatum it issued to Muslims to return the regalia.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Police, Muslim Youths Exchange Gunfire as Mosque, Houses Are Demolished in Benue

Makurdi — There was exchange of gun fire between police and Muslim youths at the Wadata riverside area in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, yesterday following the demolition of a mosque and houses by the Urban Development Board (UDB). Residents of the area said they were taken unawares by the board, which they alleged did not give any notice before carrying out the exercise. It was gathered that shortly after the General Manager of the Board, Alhaji Musa Ujor Suleiman led a detachment of police to the area for the demolition exercise, the inhabitants, mostly Muslims allegedly started shooting into the air to scare the police.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


Amnesty: Italy-Libya Deal to Stop Migrant Flow

NGO claims in report, agreement violates human rights

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Italy has signed a “secret” deal with Libya’s National Transitional Council to “limit the flow of immigrants”, according to a report entitled “SOS Europe” published today by Amnesty International, which says that the agreement violates human rights. The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Amnesty says that it was signed on April 3 and allows the Italian authorities to intercept asylum seekers and put them back in the hands of Libyan soldiers. The organisation believes that the deal violates obligations undertaken by Italy as part of the European Convention on Human Rights as it does not feature measures to protect the rights of immigrants. “At best, Italy has ignored the terrible situation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. At worst, the country has shown that it is ready to tolerate human rights violations in order to satisfy national political selfishness,” Amnesty says. The organisation says that asylum seekers from Eritrea or Somalia, who have been forced to return to Tripoli, are at risk of abuse and torture. Libya currently has no policy on asylum, while migrants, most of whom come from sub-Saharan Africa, are treated with disregard. Last February, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for turning migrants back at sea, the report points out, adding that the verdict concerned the enforced return to Libya of 11 Somalians and 13 Eritreans (and 200 others) on board Italian boats in 2009. Italy claimed that the incident was a rescue operation, but failed to warn the migrants that they were about to be sent back to Libya, adding that the bilateral agreements with the country had precedents in international law.

However, the report continues, the European Court stated that anyone boarding an Italian boat must be subject to the Convention on Human Rights. The Italian government accepted the ruling and has committed itself to “the absolute respect of human rights and the safeguarding of the lives of men at sea”. Amnesty says that the April 3 agreement represents a violation of this commitment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Soccer: Cassano Sorry for Saying Hoped No Gays in Italy Team

‘I’m not homophobic’ Italy forward tells ANSA

(ANSA) — Krakow, June 13 — Italy forward Antonio Cassano has apologised after causing a furore by saying he hoped there were no gay players in the national team. “Gays on the team? That’s their problem, but I hope not,” he said at Italy’s Euro 2012 base after being asked to respond to suggestions by gay TV presenter Alessandro Cecchi Paone that not all players in the national team were straight.

The comments sparked an angry reaction from gay rights groups, with some calling on the player to be dropped from the Azzurri squad.

Cassano, who is famous for being as temperamental as he is talented and whose career has been dogged by discipline problems, said he was sorry soon after.

“Homophobia is a sentiment that does not belong to me,” the striker told ANSA.

“I didn’t want to offend anyone and I absolutely do not want to question people’s sexual freedom…

“I only said that it’s a problem that doesn’t concern me. I don’t allow myself to express judgements about other people’s choices, which should be respected”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swedish Left Party Chapter Wants to Make Urinating While Standing Illegal for Men

Take a stand — and sit down for what you believe in.

Male representatives on the Sormland County Council in Sweden should sit rather than stand while urinating in office restrooms, according to a motion advanced by the local Left Party.

Known as a socialist and feminist organization, the party claims that seated urination is more hygienic for men — the practice decreases the likelihood of puddles and other unwanted residue forming in the stall — in addition to being better for a man’s health by more effectively emptying one’s bladder, The Local reported.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120615

Financial Crisis
» 82% of Total ECB Credits for Eurozone to Spain Banks
» Bank of Spain: No Institute Near Liquidation
» Central Banks Ready to Face Panic After Greek Polls
» Cyprus Snubs EU as it Turns to Moscow, Reports
» Euro Exit Threat Hangs Over Greek Election
» Fresh Round of Ratings Cuts Hits France, Netherlands
» Greece: Social Security Funds Crumbling, Minister
» Greece: Elections: Whoever Wins it Will be Very Tough
» Greece: Tsipras Promises Stay in EU and Eurozone
» Italy: Government Passes New Growth Bill
» Spain Warns Germany, Consequences for All
» Spanish Borrowing Cost Jump
» The Great Flight of Capital
» UK Floods Banking Sector With Cash
» Communist Defector Speaks Out on America’s Marxist Future
» Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native American’ Claims: If She Was a Republican, The Media Would Call Her a Racist
» Fear and Loathing of Islam
» Find Out Why China Owes Americans $1 Trillion
» Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic
» Ponzi Scheme Billionaire Handed 110-Year Jail Term
» Romney, Rubio, McCain and Natural Born Citizen
» Ronald Reagan’s PR Director
» The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate
» Who is Grover Norquist, Part 2
Europe and the EU
» Athens Dearer Than Berlin for Expatriates, Report
» Bulgaria: Nationalists Rally Against Sofia Mosque Loudspeakers
» Islam in Germany: “Germany Does Away With Itself”
» Italy: Police Make Mega-Seizure of Fake Organic Soya
» Italy: Lombard Health Probe: 30 Investigated, Hospitals Searched
» Italy: Man Jailed for 20 Months for Stealing Two Crates of Tomatoes
» Italy: Anti-Corruption Bill Approved by House
» Italy: Finmeccanica Shares Fly on Buffet Rumours
» Norway: Experts Defend Breivik Schizophrenia Diagnosis
» Swiss Hold Referendum Referendum
» Together at Last: Pam Geller and the English Defence League
» UK: Crackdown on Suspected Internet Paedophiles
» UK: Do You Know These Men? Police Release Pictures of Gang Who Attacked Students on 142 Bus in Withington
» UK: Jury Discharged in Brierfield Child Sexual Grooming Case
» UK: Man and Woman From Burnley Arrested for Online Sex Abuse
» UK: Police Plan Operation for EDL’s Bristol March
» UK: Paedophile Ring ‘Held Sex Parties at Country Farmhouse’
» UK: Standing Up for the Queen’s English
» Venice’s Eternal Battle Against Water
North Africa
» Court Dissolves Egyptian Parliament; Army Takes Over; Civil War?
» Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions
» Tunisia: UGTT Secretary Demands Intervention of Armed Forces
» Tunisia: Only 5% Cancellations From Abroad, Ministry
» Tunisia: Interior Ministry Authorises Police to Shoot
» Tunisia: Government Bans Islamist Marches
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: Dreamy Foreign Policies
» IDF Radio Host: ‘Islam is the Most Terrible Disease in the World’
Middle East
» 75mln New Jobs Needed by 2022, Study Reveals
» France: Talks With Russia on Post-Assad Era in Syria
» Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law From the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World
» UAE Considers Crack Down on Skimpy Dressers
South Asia
» India: Are Young Muslim Girls Children of a Lesser God?
» India Protest Over ‘Unfair Targeting of Muslims’
» Tens of Thousands Flee Myanmar Unrest
Far East
» Japanese Police Arrest Last Gas Attack Fugitive
» With the New Asia Strategy Comes a New Sense of Modesty
Australia — Pacific
» Climate Change or Tectonic Shifts?
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ghana: Man Defiles Girl at Mosque, Jailed 15 Years
Culture Wars
» Euthanasia Rivals Slam Mercy ‘Propaganda’
» Soccer: Cassano Apologises for Anti-Gay Remarks

Financial Crisis

82% of Total ECB Credits for Eurozone to Spain Banks

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 13 — The Spanish financial system’s dependence on the European Central Bank (ECB) is growing. The net debt owed to the monetary organisation by Spanish banks reached 287.813 billion euros in May, a 9.2% rise compared to April. The amount is the outstanding balance that Spanish banking organisations must return to the ECB, according to figures from Spain’s central bank. Net financing provided by the monetary organisation in May to Spanish banks accounted for 82.9% of the total in the eurozone, a total that stood at 347.195 billion euros. The growing difficulties for Spanish banks in financing themselves with other banks on the markets is illustrated by the fact that the amount of credit requested from the ECB increased fivefold compared to May 2011, when 53.134 billion euros were requested.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Bank of Spain: No Institute Near Liquidation

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 14 — The Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB) “has not provided for any tenders to be held or the liquidation of any credit institute under its administration or control,” reports a statement released by the Bank of Spain today in response to what was said yesterday by European Commission Vice President and Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who claimed that he could “see at least one of the nationalised banks headed for liquidation”. In reference to the three financial agencies put under the external administration of the Spanish government — Catalunya Caixa, Novagalicia and Banco di Valencia — Almunia was quoted as saying that “one of the three, in line with the Spanish authorities’ intentions, is oriented towards going into liquidation and will not be held onto after the company restructuring set in motion.” The auctions of the three savings and loans institutes have been put on hold for the moment while awaiting for the results of the audit on stress tests requested by the Spanish government for the two banks from two independent companies. The results of the tests will be released on June 21, confirm the economy ministry sources quoted. “If the liquidation costs are lower for taxpayers than those of a bailout and restructuring, then liquidation should be chosen,” Almunia said. “We must not save all banks if not absolutely necessary,” he added. However, FROB released a denial today: “In line with the regulations for which it was created,” the statement notes, “FROB will continue to carry out the orderly restructuring of these banks, and as a consequence main the regular operativeness of them.” Ahead of the G20 meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Mexico, Roland Berger and Oliver Wyman — the two independent companies tasked with the auditing — have reportedly already delivered a preliminary report to the Spanish economy minister, which in the worst case scenario estimates the aid to bail out Spanish banks at between 60 and 65 billion euros, according to advance reports today by the daily paper ABC. The amount is less than the maximum total of 100 billion euros offered by Madrid to get the financial sector back on its feet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Central Banks Ready to Face Panic After Greek Polls

Banking authorities in many parts of the world are preparing for a possible market storm or public panic after decisive elections in Greece this weekend. Central banks look prepared to pump fresh money into markets.

The world’s major economies are getting down to brass tacks to face a possible and not unlikely panic after cliffhanger Greek elections, should radical leftists win and cast doubt on the nation’s future in the 17-member eurozone.

Officials from G20 industrialized countries due to meet for a summit in Mexico next week said central banks in major economies were ready to take steps to stabilize financial markets, mainly by providing liquidity to prevent a credit squeeze.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Friday the bank was willing to support the euro area, should it be required. “The ECB will continue to supply enough liquidity to banks where needed,” he told reporters in Frankfurt.

Canada also signaled its resolve to step into action. “Canada is ready to act, if the situation takes a serious turn for the worse or if there is an external shock,” said Andrew MacDougall, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cyprus Snubs EU as it Turns to Moscow, Reports

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, JUNE 14 — The European Commission has confirmed that Cyprus has not submitted any request for any European financial assistance, as media speculation mounts the Nicosia has taken the begging bowl to Moscow, as daily Famagusta Gazette writes today. If true, Cyprus, which takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in a few weeks, will be sure to irk EU partners again by snubbing the bloc in favour of Russia. Amadeu Altafaj, Spokesperson of Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro Olli Rehn, told CNA that Cyprus has not submitted any request for financial assistance and that they are not aware of any contacts towards this direction.

Meanwhile, an assistant of Mr Altafaj, recalled in statements to CNA the speech of Commissioner Rehn, made on the 11th of June in Strasbourg, that Cyprus has not submitted any application for European financial assistance. “We have no news of contacts in this sense either”, he said. Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut its credit rating on Bank of Cyprus, and put Popular on review for a downgrade, citing the increased risks of a possible Greek exit from the euro zone. Cyprus’s third bank, Hellenic was also downgraded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Euro Exit Threat Hangs Over Greek Election

(ATHENS) — Greeks readied for their second election in six weeks with all the top candidates now calling for renegotiation of a bailout deal despite warnings that Greece must toe the line or leave the euro.

Sunday’s election will be watched around the world amid concern over the shockwaves that a Greek euro exit would send through the global economy and will play into talks by European leaders divided on how to resolve the debt crisis.

“To be or not to be in the eurozone? That is the question,” said Lucas Papademos, a former prime minister and European Central Bank vice-president, paraphrasing William Shakespeare’s Hamlet as Greece’s own tragedy unfolds.

The New Democracy conservatives and Syriza radical leftists have been running neck-and-neck in the polls for an election which was triggered by an inconclusive vote on May 6 in which no party could form a governing coalition.

Unofficial recent polls have given a slight advantage to New Democracy — a rumour that led to a 10.1-percent rally on the Athens stock market on Thursday.

That boost petered out on Friday, however with the market down 1.0 percent.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, 61, presents himself as the guarantor for Greece’s membership in the eurozone although he says he wants to renegotiate the “memorandum” — a bailout deal that has imposed harsh austerity conditions.

In return for the cut, Greece has been given an international credit lifeline — first for 110 billion euros in May 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year plus a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.

“What is at stake in this election is clear: euro or drachma, coalition government or no government,” Samaras said in one of his campaign speeches.

He has said he could lead a coalition of other centre-right parties and the Socialist Pasok party, which would broadly support the bailout deal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Fresh Round of Ratings Cuts Hits France, Netherlands

Fears of contagion from the eurozone debt crisis have led international ratings agencies Moody’s and Egan Jones to downgrade five Dutch banks and the state of France. The new French president received part of the blame.

The policies of the new French President Francois Hollande could weaken the country’s finances and increase its banks’ need for help, Egan Jones Ratings said Friday.

As a result of this assessment, the number four among the big US ratings agencies lowered France’s creditworthiness to BBB+ from A- and assigned a negative outlook that could herald future downgrades.

France’s credit ratings as granted by the big three agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poors (S&P) — are all several notches higher, but also include a “negative outlook.”

Egan Jones said it expected rising borrowing costs for France as the eurozone debt crisis continued, combined with a greater need for support in the country’s banking sector, .

In addition, French President Francois Hollande will be “under pressure to keep campaign promises which will ultimately hurt credit quality.”

In another round of ratings cuts, agency Moody’s downgraded five Dutch banks on Friday. The banks are ING Bank, ABN AMRO, Rabobank, LeasePlan Corporation and SNS Bank.

Moody’s said the banks’ business was likely to remain difficult as a result of falling house prices in the Netherlands, owing to their large exposure to mortgages and inter-bank funding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Social Security Funds Crumbling, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 14 — Greek social security funds are near breaking point, as caretaker Labor and Social Security Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said on Wednesday that he was not able to tell whether the funds would be able to pay their dues this summer. “For July I expressed the prediction that based on the data we have… pensioners should be worried,” said Roupakiotis, a former head of the Athens Law Association, as daily Kathimerini reported. “However the finances of all social security funds and especially those subsidized by the state budget are in a bad state.” He went on to say that the Manpower Organization (OAED) needs 260 million euros to pay unemployment benefits. He also dubbed the unemployment benefit “humiliating” and stressed that only one in five jobless people receives it.

Finally, Roupakiotis pointed out that some 500 employees at unions have remained without a salary for months and that social tourism programs, which provide subsidized holidays to workers, have been suspended.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Elections: Whoever Wins it Will be Very Tough

Coffers empty,coalitions fragile,post-vote scenario dramatic

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 13 — With the state’s coffers empty, a population tired and furious with austerity measures, an economy sinking without a trace and the prospect of a government based on unstable coalitions riddled with in-fighting, whoever emerges victorious from Greece’s elections on June 17 will not have it easy.

With only a few days left until Greeks head to the polls, the latest public polls (but also the reserved equivalents, which cannot be published in the two weeks leading up to the vote) have led many analysts to predict a new split vote, with no party able to govern alone. The left-wing coalition Syriza, which wants to consign the memorandum to the dustbin, and the centre-right party New Democracy, which supports it but wants to see it softened, are going head to head, at around or just under 30%. A coalition therefore seems the only way forward for any party, but given the climate of vitriol in this second election campaign, any deal between parties is at risk of lasting only a few months at most, and could fail to produce a government capable of dragging the country out of the mess in which it finds itself. Such events, of course, would not only have devastating consequences for Greece but for the whole of the eurozone. If the victors on June 17 fail to represent the conditions of the memorandym signed between Athens and the “troika” (EU, IMF and BCE), the European Union and the International Monetary Fund could block one or more tranches of the massive 173 billion euro loan that Greece desperately needs. The state machine has enough money to function only for a few more weeks and could find itself penniless at the start of July. Many say that this would herald the country’s de facto exit from the single currency, bringing unpredictable consequences for the eurozone.

The vote of May 6, from which no majority and government emerged, has meant a further month of paralysis in Greece’s reform and development programme, which is already severely delayed, from privatisations to the fight against tax evasion. The conditions of the memorandum dictate that by June 30 the Greek Parliament must implement cuts of a further 11 billion euros to public spending. The winner or winners on June 17 will have to do everything in a rush if they do not want to lose the aid. Any renegotiation of the “funds in exchange for austerity” agreement could run out of time, and the freeze on the loan could come into force at the start of July, with dramatic consequences for public finances and potentially explosive social tensions. Meanwhile, the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, said today that the conditions in Europe, with aid from Spain, make it possible to change some parts of the memorandum.

Greek electoral law assigns 50 bonus seats to the majority party. If ND were to win, it would probably do so only with enough votes to form a weak coalition with the Socialist party Pasok (in freefall in the polls), if the latter manages to finish in third place. If Syriza emerges victorious, the natural ally appears to be the small party Democratic Left. In this case, too, the majority would be very slender.

Evangelos Venizelos, the experienced socialist leader, has already called for a great coalition after the vote, claiming that any other smaller alliance “will only ensure that the absence of the government continues”. The June 17 vote, which many consider to be a referendum on Greece’s stay in the eurozone, could fail to provide a clear answer, which could be the worst outcome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Tsipras Promises Stay in EU and Eurozone

But poll in favour of rival Samaras sees Athens market surge

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the radical left-wing coalition Syriza, has promised that if his party emerges victorious in Sunday’s elections “there will be a government for all Greeks on Monday” and guaranteed that Greece would remain “in Europe and in the eurozone”.

“On Monday we will form a government for all Greeks, with Europe and with the euro and at the same time, we guarantee that we will keep Greece in the eurozone,” Tsipras said yesterday evening during his final election rally in Athens.

Tsipras’s comments co-incided with the release of a secret poll conducted by the centre-right New Democracy, which suggests that the party led by Antonis Samaras, which supports the memorandum signed between Athens and international creditors, will earn a 29% share of the vote on Sunday. The Athens stock market surged yesterday, closing up a spectacular 12.55%, the highest daily rise in 10 months.

Polls in the two weeks leading up to the elections are forbidden by law in Greece but, given its origin, investors considered the survey to be reliable. The strong possibility of a defeat on Sunday for Syriza (which is against the memorandum and intends to renegotiate it, putting Greece’s stay in the eurozone at risk) had the effect of an injection of confidence, which explains the highly positive reaction of the stock market.

“No to the memorandum of bankruptcy,” Tsipras repeated during the rally, which took place in front of thousands of supporters gathered in the capital’s central Omonia Square. “And yes to the euro and to a national plan to restore the economy that will protect the people from default”. Tsipras again claimed that he was ready to hold talks “with Europe over the possibility to renegotiate [the memorandum]”.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Socialist Pasok party, Evangelos Venizelos, said yesterday that “the people have the key to development in their own hands and it is their duty to provide an answer to the fear and lack of leadership in the country in Sunday’s elections”.

Venizelos also criticised other parties, who he believes have failed to suggest integrated government platforms and warned that “the two contenders [New Democracy and Syriza], which are deliberating creating an artificial polarization, will not be able to form a coalition government and the country will be led towards irreversible situations if governed by one of the two”. Venizelos continued: “If things remain this way, the only possible solution is for a government of co-responsibility, which is necessary both for Greece and for the continuation of the country’s European prospects”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Passes New Growth Bill

Measure opens the door to sale of 10 bln euros in state assets

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 15 — The Italian government passed a growth measure Friday that aims to incentivize new hires.

Industry Minister Corrado Passera called the bill a set of “concrete initiatives to encourage employing high-caliber personnel”. Companies that hire new employees are eligible for tax bonuses, similar to a previous law that incentivized companies to hire workers under 35. Unemployment in Italy is roughly 10%, while youth unemployment is over 35%. The package’s 61 articles also include a fund to provide food for the poor, a three-year property-tax break for qualifying businesses and a 50%-tax break for companies that restructure before June 30, 2013. Italian Premier Mario Monti said that growth was a “motivating factor in today’s decree,” referring to the package as “robust”.

The government also passed a measure that opens the door to sell state assets and free up roughly 10 billion euros to stimulate the economy. “Growing the economy and removing State burdens: these were the motivating factors of today’s decree,” said Mario Monti. The measure allows Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the Treasury’s savings and loan institute, to buy out state shares over the next four months in national industrial holding company Fintecna; the SACE agency, which insures foreign investments; and Simest, an agency that finances joint ventures with companies abroad. The CDP will then be free to sell assets belonging to those bodies, according to the bill. Junior Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli said the move should generate roughly 10 billion euros in capital. “It will have a very important impact on revenue,” he said. “The first stage will be completed within one month. (The money) will be used for debt reduction, including that which derives from the commercial debt of businesses”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain Warns Germany, Consequences for All

Foreign Minister, large European banks have invested in Spain

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Spain has pointed its finger against Germany for having fuelled the financial crisis with its banks which have benefited through the many loans handed out to the countries of Mediterranean Europe. “It’s true that some countries such as Spain have lived way beyond their means but this is because the big European banks had decided to invest in Spain to make a large amount of money,” declared Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, in an interview on Radio Onda Cero. If Berlin is going to throw a country into the shark tank, then there will be consequences for all”, he pointed out, inviting Germany “to take a long term view on things.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spanish Borrowing Cost Jump

Spain’s benchmark yield on 10-year bonds reached a new high on Thursday at 7 percent. The increase follows Moody’s decision to downgrade Spain’s credit rating to one notch above “junk” status. Spain also received a €100 billion bailout line from eurozone banks on 9 June.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Great Flight of Capital

Presseurop: Corriere della Sera

In addition to the debt crisis, the discreet but nonetheless major migration of funds from Southern Europe is contributing to the problems of the most vulnerable countries of the Eurozone. What the economist Federico Fubini has dubbed “the great flight of capital” to the North — to Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands — has dried up intra-European credit flows and adding to the difficulty of financing public debt.

“It all began in 2008, on the eve of the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in the United States”, writes Fubini in Corriere della Sera. The banks in the major European economies had several hundred billion euros of exposure to other countries in the Eurozone. The fear prompted by the crisis resulted in a race to repatriate investments, with both institutions and private individuals rushing to recover their funds —

In three years, 600 billion dollars were repatriated from Italy and Spain to Germany and France. This is the underlying context for the surge in the differentials between interest rates on sovereign debt which have since reached intolerable levels. Everyone went home with his money, while confidence in Eurozone partners all but disappeared. There were two reasons for this reaction: firstly, investors were encouraged to respond in this way by their own national authorities, and secondly, banks (and companies) decided that the euro’s days were numbered and thus sought to keep their assets and their debts within the borders of individual national jurisdictions. […] At the same time, in some vulnerable Eurozone countries, savers were worried that the state and the banks would not be able to cope with the shock, and decided they would have to move their money to keep it safe.

To break the vicious circle, Fubini calls for “an accord at the highest political level, along the lines of the one that was concluded for Maastricht in 1991”, when European leaders reached agreement on convergence criteria for joining the euro and a schedule for the launch of the single currency.

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

UK Floods Banking Sector With Cash

The UK said on Thursday it will inject £100 billion of credit into its banking system. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said the credit would provide cheap-long term funding to banks. The extra funding would encourage banks to offer more loans to consumers and businesses, said King.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Communist Defector Speaks Out on America’s Marxist Future

A top communist defector is warning of an unprecedented “alliance” between the Democratic Party and the Communist Party, reflected in the CPUSA’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president in 2008 and the party’s continued support for Democratic Party policies. But is this warning going to be too hot to handle for the media? And the Republicans?

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, says in an article for PJMedia that any doubt that the Democratic and the Communist parties had secretly joined forces was erased in 2009, “when Van Jones, part of a left fringe of declared communists, became the White House’s green jobs czar.”

Obama aide Valerie Jarrett had disclosed at a left-wing bloggers convention that “we,” apparently referring to herself and President Obama, had hired Jones for the job. However, Jones was fired when an outcry developed over his communist background, and the media quickly dropped any probes into Jones’ White House contacts.

Pacepa, who served as a top aide in the Romanian communist regime, tells Accuracy in Media, “The Democratic Party has become dangerously infected with the Marxism virus. I recognize the symptoms because I once lived through them, and I believe it is my obligation as an American citizen to help the conservative movement to prevent any further spread of Marxism in my adopted country.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Native American’ Claims: If She Was a Republican, The Media Would Call Her a Racist

by Tim Stanley

Imagine if a Republican candidate claimed, confidently, that she was part Native American. Imagine if she had actually used that identity to have herself listed as a minority at Harvard, qualifying her for special treatment and celebration as proof of how diverse and progressive her department is. Imagine if, many years later, it turned out that her claims to Native heritage were dubious and, when pressed for proof, she offered her “high cheekbones.” Oh, and she once contributed a recipe to a Native American cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow” (that may even have been plagiarised).


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Fear and Loathing of Islam

by Moustafa Bayoumi

Something’s gone terribly wrong.

In August 2007 the New York Police Department released a report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” claiming that the looming danger to the United States was from “unremarkable” Muslim men under 35 who visit “extremist incubators.” The language sounds ominous, conjuring up Clockwork Orange—style laboratories of human reprogramming, twisting average Muslims into instruments of evil. And yet what are these “incubators”? The report states that they are mosques, “cafes, cab driver hangouts, flophouses, prisons, student associations, non-governmental organizations, hookah (water pipe) bars, butcher shops and book stores”—in other words, precisely the places where ordinary life happens.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Find Out Why China Owes Americans $1 Trillion

Watch This Fox News Special Report Tonight

Over the past year we have written several times on the incredible story of how the People’s Republic of China owes $1 Trillion to more than 23,000 Americans in over 40 states debt issued by the former Republic of China that it toppled in 1949. See our most recent Iconoclast post, “Will China Pay the $1 Trillion It Owes Americans?” We have highlighted why the US government has failed to negotiate a selective debt swap deal with the PRC that only recognized its responsibilities as a successor government to the debt held by the UK government of Margaret Thatcher in 1987. . The story is also about a doughty advocate for realizing this goal, Jonna Bianco a Tennessee rancher, who created the American Bondholder Foundation. The proposed debt swap deal with China could be a win-win situation for both countries and might have significant economic impact across the US at a time of economic uncertainity. Tonight, Bret Baier’s Fox News Special Report will air a segment with Ms. Bianco by Peter Barnes at 6:00PM EDT (5:00PM CDT). Please tune in to watch the broadcast. Check your local listings for times and channels. We will be posting an interview with Ms. Bianco following tonight’s broadcast that will include archives of tonight’s Fox News Special Report segment with Ms. Bianco. Fox News will be running promos of this Special Report segment until airtime tonight. Be sure and watch this informative segment.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic

The Nation has a special issue entitled “Islamophobia: Anatomy of an American Panic” with articles examining different aspects of Islamophobia in the US.

These include Moustafa Bayoumi, “Fear and Loathing of Islam”, Jack Shaheen, “How the Media Created the Muslim Monster Myth” (subscription only), Petra Bartosiewicz, “Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims”, Laila Lalami, “Islamophobia and Its Discontents”, Abed Awad, “The True Story of Sharia in American Courts”, Ramzi Kassem, “The Long Roots of the NYPD Spying Program”, Max Blumenthal, “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate”, and Laila Al-Arian, “When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism”.

[JP note: Link to The Nation here ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ponzi Scheme Billionaire Handed 110-Year Jail Term

Former billionaire Allen Stanford has been sentenced to 110 years in prison for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Stanford has denied running the scheme, which is believed to have been one of the largest in US history.

As he handed down the lengthy sentence on Thursday, US Judge David Hittner described the Texan tycoon’s actions as “one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court.”

Stanford was found guilty in March on 13 of 14 charges for defrauding investors of more than $7 billion (5.5 billion euros) for a scheme spanning some 20 years. He was convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges for selling certificates of deposit from his bank in Antigua to 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries.

Prosecutors had asked that the former financier and cricket mogul be sentenced to 230 years in prison, the maximum sentence possible.

Calling the 62-year-old arrogant and remorseless, prosecutors said he had already spent some of the proceeds to fund a string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship of a cricket tournament.

Prosecutor William Stellmach told the judge: “This is a man utterly without remorse. He treated his victims like road kill.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Romney, Rubio, McCain and Natural Born Citizen

Simply stated, a Natural Born Citizen is a second (or more) generation citizen by birth right. None of the Founding Fathers were Natural Born Citizen as they all became first generation citizens the moment they created our nation. As a result, they had to exclude themselves from the NBC requirement, even though most of them were born on soil (aka Native Citizen), or none of them could have held the office of President.

The term Natural Born Citizen was borrowed from Vattel’s treaties The Law of Nations, based upon the unalienable rules of Natural Law. Most people understand and agree on this. Then, they begin cherry-picking their facts from there, in all cases, based upon their individual political agendas rather than a careful and complete study of the facts.

I direct you to four sections in particular…


In this regard, the United States Senate got it exactly right in their 99-0 Sen. Res. 511 clearing John McCain to pursue the office of President in 2008. Using the exact same definition used to clear John McCain, Barack Hussein Obama and Marco Rubio would fail the test. The fact that the U.S. Senate is on record getting it right demonstrates that the entire U.S. Senate is complicit in the fraudulent seating of Barack Hussein Obama in the people’s White House. It also proves it was a premeditated crime.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Ronald Reagan’s PR Director

‘Our Political System Is Basically Dysfunctional’

David Gergen, 70, media expert and communications director for former US President Ronald Reagan, fears that even a second term won’t help current President Barack Obama overcome the deep divides in Washington. The next few years are going to be tough, he says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate

by Max Blumenthal

In late April, Geert Wilders arrived in New York City to tell his quixotic tale to a rapt American audience. The far-right Dutch Party of Freedom leader—perhaps the world’s most prominent anti-Muslim populist—was poised to release Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me, a memoir just out from Regnery, the right-wing US publishing house, in which he recounts his courageous efforts to stop the “Islamicization” of Europe. On his US tour, Wilders proudly portrayed himself as a man on the run—a round-the-clock security detail guarding him against radical Muslims whose violent passions he had supposedly inflamed by his truth-telling—and as a man on the rise: the exodus of his party from the governing coalition had forced new elections in the Netherlands, throwing the country’s ossified establishment into chaos.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Who is Grover Norquist, Part 2

In 2004, at age 48, Grover married a Palestinian Muslim named Samah Alrayyes, a Kuwaiti Public Relations specialist who was formerly a director of the Islamic Free Market Institute and specialist at the Bureau of Legislative and Public Affairs at United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (USAID is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid.) The couple have two children adopted from abroad. (The Islamic Free Market Institute was founded by Norquist and Khaled Saffuri.) Grover has said he’s a “white bread Methodist,” however, a devout Muslim like Samah supposedly would not marry a non-Muslim, and of late, Grover has refrained from answering the question of his religion.

Gary Johnson, Jr., wrote, Khaled Saffuri: Where is He Now in September of 2010. Here is a portion of that article:

Grover founded the Islamic Free Market Institute (referred to as Islamic Institute) with Khaled Saffuri in 1998. The Safa Trust donated at least $35,000, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought contributed $11,000. Both organizations were alleged to be part of the so-called SAAR Network of interrelated business and non-profit entities with ties to sources of terrorism financing, and were among the subjects of a March 20, 2002 raid conducted by the U.S. Custom Service under the auspices of Operation Green Quest.


On September 26, 2001, President Bush gathered 15 prominent Muslim and Arab Americans at the White House. Bush proclaimed that “the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good.” He also stated that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” Norquist had arranged this meeting with these Islamic supremacists to get the President to show how Muslims rejected terrorism. Bush allowed this meeting because he trusted Norquist who had vouched for the Muslim leaders. Grover Norquist, is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC. The Conservative Political Action Committee was founded in 1973 and features establishment republican speakers such as Limbaugh, Reagan, Palin, etc. This would seem to be one of the top reasons Bush would trust Norquist’s judgment.

Yet, Norquist had formed alliances with prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to both the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Athens Dearer Than Berlin for Expatriates, Report

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 13 — Athens is the world’s 78th most expensive city for non-locals, among 214 cities, as daily Kathimerini reports quoting human resources consultants Mercer.

Although the Greek capital is cheaper today than in the past due to the decline in rental rates, it remains more expensive than Berlin, which ranks 106th and is seen as the most attractive among the European metropolises. A telling example of prices in Athens is that of served coffee, which in Athens averages out at 4.70 euros, while in Berlin it costs 4.18 euros. This has been affected by the increase in the value-added tax rate in Greece.

The world’s most expensive city is Tokyo, according to the Mercer list. The study is addressed mostly to multinational companies who calculate the daily costs for their employees stationed abroad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Bulgaria: Nationalists Rally Against Sofia Mosque Loudspeakers

Two Bulgarian far-right nationalist parties — Ataka (Attack) and VMRO staged Thursday the latest protest against the volume of the loudspeakers of Sofia’s Banya Bashi mosque.

About 100 activists and supporters of the parties gathered across the building of the City Hall in downtown Sofia under the sounds of patriotic songs. The meeting has official permit for the time and the location and must end by 2 pm. The municipal counselor from VMRO, Angel Dzhambazki, addressed the rally, saying the noise during the Friday Muslim prayer is challenging tolerance and public order. Ataka leader, Volen Siderov, noted that there is a petition, launched as early as 2006, already having over 30 000 signatures against the laud noise. He appealed to the City Hall to adhere to the public order decree. Ataka have also sent an open letter to the City Hall asking for a ban to use the space outside the mosque for religious rites.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islam in Germany: “Germany Does Away With Itself”

by Soeren Kern

German President Joachim Gauck recently said in a newspaper interview that Muslims living in Germany are a part of the country, but that Islam is not. The comments — Gauck is the ninth prominent German politician to voice an opinion about Islam — have sparked a new round in the on-going debate over the role of Islam and Muslim immigrants in Germany.

During a May 31 interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck was asked about a quote from the previous German president, Christian Wulff, who during a keynote speech to mark the 20th anniversary of German reunification in October 2010, proclaimed that “Islam belongs in Germany” because of the four million Muslims who now live there. Germany has Western Europe’s second-biggest Islamic population after France, with Turks the single biggest minority.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Make Mega-Seizure of Fake Organic Soya

Ravenna, 14 June (AKI) — More than 1,700 tons of soya destined to be falsely sold as organic was seized Thursday by Italian police.

The finance police said tests were able to determine the soya came from eastern Europe. The soya had twice the limit of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as allowed by food regulations.

About 1,200 tons of the soya was impounded in the eastern Adriatic city of Ravenna, while police traced and seized the rest in various Italian locations.

In December, police in Verona arrested six people accused of selling 700 thousand tons of fake organic food, corresponding to 10 percent of Italy’s market, sold for 220 million euros.

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

Italy: Lombard Health Probe: 30 Investigated, Hospitals Searched

(AGI) Milan — The General Manager of the Lombard Health Board, Carlo Lucchina, has been questioned by Financial Police. As part of a health inquiry, searches have also been carried out at the Niguarda Hospitals in Milan, Lecco, Busto Arsizio and Saronno by some seventy officers from the Special Financial Police Unit in Milan. Around thirty people are suspected of crimes such as incitement, bid-rigging, leaking confidential information and peculation. The inquiry is being coordinated by Assistant Prosecutor Francesco Greco and Public Prosecutor Carlo Nocerino.

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

Italy: Man Jailed for 20 Months for Stealing Two Crates of Tomatoes

Lecce, 14 June (AKI) — A judge in southern Italy has sentenced a man to 20 months in jail for stealing two crates of tomatoes worth 100 euros, the Gazetta del Mezzogiorno reported on Thursday.

Prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Lecce had asked for a prison term of four years for 30-year-old Daniele Carlino, who was previously known to police.

Carlino took the two crates of tomatoes from a local farmer’s van in the village of Racale near Lecce in July last year after threatening the farmer and drove off with them but was identified from descriptions by eye-witnesses.

In a failed attempt to avoid prison, Carlino sent 100 euros to the farmer during the investigation that led to his trial and conviction, the daily reported.

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

Italy: Anti-Corruption Bill Approved by House

Controversy over when bar on criminals will come into force

(ANSA) — Rome, June 14 — An anti-corruption bill that aims to keep criminals out of Italy’s political life was approved by the House amid controversy on Thursday and now passes to the Senate.

The fact that the bill does not bar people who have received a definitive criminal sentence from being MPs until after next year’s elections has sparked polemics.

Justice Minister Paola Severino has said the government will try to improve the bill during its passage through the Senate.

A number of lawmakers from various parts of the political spectrum have been embroiled in corruption cases recently.

The bill does bar people convicted of extremely serious crimes, such as involvement in organised crime and terrorism, from standing at next year’s elections. After going through three confidence votes to speed its passage, the bill passed its final hurdle in the House on Thursday with 354 votes in favour, 25 against and 102 abstentions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Finmeccanica Shares Fly on Buffet Rumours

American magnate reportedly mulling stake

(ANSA) — Milan, June 15 — Shares in Italian aerospace, defence and engineering conglomerate Finmeccanica flew up on the Milan stock exchange Friday on rumours that American magnate Warren Buffett was thinking of taking a stake along with other US investment funds.

The shares were suspended because of volatility, when they were showing a theoretical rise of 7.68%, before being readmitted to trading with a rise of 7.46%.

Trading was very brisk with 13 million shares changing hands, five times the daily average for the group and equivalent to 2.2% of its capital.

Finmeccanica, Italy’s second-biggest industrial group behind Fiat, is controlled by the Italian Treasury, which has a 32.44% stake.

It operates in seven sectors — aeronautics, helicopters, space, defence and security electronics, defence systems, energy and transportation — and has offices in 100 countries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Norway: Experts Defend Breivik Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Two experts who examined Anders Behring Breivik defended on Thursday their diagnosis that the Norwegian self-confessed mass killer is psychotic and therefore not criminally responsible for his actions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swiss Hold Referendum Referendum

Switzerland holds a referendum this weekend on whether to have yet more referendums in a country already famous for its high levels of direct democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Together at Last: Pam Geller and the English Defence League

In 2010, Pam Geller announced a “Global Freedom Initiative” of anti-Islam activists. Not much followed, but in January of this year she promised a “a new global force”, called Stop Islamization of Nations, to bring together European and American “Stop Islamization” franchises. Now, yet another umbrella organisation has been unveiled, finally cementing her stormy on-off relationship with the English Defence League


[Reader comment by QM on 14 June 2012 at 8:21 pm.]

Yet the EDL are still doing more to counter Islamic extremism than the left. No wonder their support grows.

[Reader comment by amaros on 14 June 2012 at 10:53 pm.]

“For that matter, QM, where is the evidence (ie NOT anything that *they* say) that EDL support is “growing”?? It still looks like the same old knuckle-dragging bunch of football hooligans and petty crims to me.”

The problem is that it was solely the EDL 2 years ago who started to talk about Infidel young girls being gang raped, groomed and pimped by Pakistani Muslim gangs. The police later admitted to covering it up. The media admitted (and some like the Guardian still do) to playing it safe by not identifying the perpetrators as Muslims. Today we know of these cases as some have started going to court and convictions came as a result. I am afraid that in the UK the EDL was necessary to bringing this forth. When they did they were called racist conspiracy theorists agitating for violence against the religion of peace.

If the UK State wants to end the EDL (and I do not wish for bands of fists to enact policy or to be necessary to safeguard society from enemies) they should start acting like a government instead of some multiculturalist political correctness office and defend their citizens who pay them the taxes to do so. Unfortunately they just started to drop little drops in the bucket. It took until the year 2012 that the United Kingdom made forced marriages of under aged British Citizens illegal. After decades of Sharia courts (about 80 of them) operating on British soil enforcing gender apartheid, defending and abbeiting wife beating and financial dispossession of female heirs to inheritance. No wonder that the EDL was born. DUH is the short answer.

When I studied chemistry in college I learned of the Le Chatelier Principle which states that any introduction to a system causing imbalance in that system will be met with a counter reaction by the system until balance is once again restored. Well watch the balance and defend it as otherwise EDLs will emerge in every EU state tired of its leaders who impose Muslim dogmas onto their typically poor citizens expecting no response due to their lack of influence and resources. This is what causes thuggish groups like the EDL to be born. This is why it is easy to dismiss them as brutes and thugs by those who live in wealthy white neighbourhoods dreaming about a multicultural paradise which they never have to live with beyond visiting an ethnic restaurant.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Crackdown on Suspected Internet Paedophiles

A nationwide crackdown is under way to trap child sex offenders.

West Midlands Police have raided six addresses as part of an operation co-ordinated by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop). Over the last two days 35 officers have raided properties of known and suspected paedophiles in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley. Dozens of people have been arrested and more than 20 children have been safeguarded and protected from abuse. Among those arrested were a 47-year-old man in Wolverhampton, a 37-year-old man in Dudley and a 38-year-old man in Sandwell, all on suspicion of downloading indecent images of children.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Do You Know These Men? Police Release Pictures of Gang Who Attacked Students on 142 Bus in Withington

Police have released CCTV images of a gang who viciously beat two students as they travelled on the top deck of a bus. The two men, both students, were set upon as they travelled on the 142 bus through Withington. Police believe at least one of the attackers was also a university student — and have been working with campus bosses to track them down. They have now released pictures of three attackers, all Asian men in their 20s, believed to be behind the attack. The incident happened in early hours of January 11, this year.The two victims and a friend fell into a conversation with a group of five Asian men on the late night service. But three of the men launched an unprovoked attack on the group, punching and kicking one of the victims as he lay helpless on the ground. One 22-year-old student suffered a cut on his eye and required surgery. His friend, 21, sustained a bloody nose.

Det Con Dominic Heslop, investigating, said: “We believe at least one of the offenders is a student at the Manchester Metropolitan University, based on conversations between the two groups. Although it has been several months since this incident, both victims were badly affected by what happened and our inquiries will continue until we have identified all those involved. I also want to stress that of the five involved, we believe two played no part in actually physically assaulting either victims, and in fact witnesses have told us that one of the group was overheard saying: ‘I told you not to do it’. I want to appeal to that person or person in the group directly: If you were involved in the assaults and tried to talk your friends out of it, then you need to come forward and speak to us.”

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 4221 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111

[JP note: A high Mohammed Coefficient is more than likely.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Jury Discharged in Brierfield Child Sexual Grooming Case

THE jury in the case of six Brierfield men said to have sexually exploited and abused a 14 year old girl has been discharged. Judge Beverley Lunt yesterday discharged the jury three days into a trial at Burnley Crown Court. Mohammed Imran Amjad, 25, of Halifax Road, has denied allegations of child abduction, rape, sexual activity with a child,aiding or abetting rape, aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child, aiding or abetting sexual assault, intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence and witness intimidation. Shiraz Afzal, 25, of Mansfield Crescent, has pleaded not guilty to aiding or abetting rape and aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child. Omar Mazafer, 21, of Halifax Road, has denied aiding or abetting rape and aiding or abetting sexual activity with a child. Mohammed Suleman Farooq, 22, of Berry Street, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault, sexual activity with a child and witness intimidation. Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad, 24, of Halifax Road, has denied rape and sexual activity with a child. Haroon Mahmood, 21, of John Street, has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual activity with a child.

A CPS spokesman said: “Following the commencement of the trial a number of issues arose which led to the Crown Prosecution Service asking for the jury to be discharged and a new trial date to be set. “The court granted that request and the trial will be heard at a later date.” Trial has been rescheduled for next March.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Man and Woman From Burnley Arrested for Online Sex Abuse

TWO people from Burnley were arrested as part of a national crackdown on online sex abuse involving children. On June 12th and 13th Lancashire Constabulary joined other police forces to work with Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to tackle the problem of criminals making, possessing or distributing indecent images of children. A 46-year-old man from Burnley was arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing indecent images of children and has been released on bail pending further inquiries, and a 30-year-old woman from Burnley was arrested on suspicion of distributing indecent images. She has also been released on bail pending further inquiries. During the two days of action officers executed warrants at suspects’ addresses and seized computers and other potential evidence. Nine people were arrested in total, including suspects from Blackpool, Surrey, Thornton, Cumbria, and Barnoldswick.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Plan Operation for EDL’s Bristol March

A security operation costing up to £1m and involving 700 police officers is being organised ahead of an English Defence League (EDL) march in Bristol.

The EDL will hold the march on 14 July — the same day as the city’s gay community holds its annual Pride festival at College Green in the city. Police have said their aim is to ensure both events are trouble free and there is protection for the public. EDL has said it has a right to march and that it will be a peaceful event. The police operation will involve drafting in officers from Yorkshire, south Wales and the south of England. Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Colin Port said: “The English Defence League will march and at the moment we are trying to make contact with the people who are going to protest against them. “We’re going to open meetings because we don’t know what they’re going to do, but we want them to work with them.” EDL’s demonstration is set to be at Castle Park which is less than a mile away from College Green.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile Ring ‘Held Sex Parties at Country Farmhouse’

A Household Cavalry soldier and his wife were among those at the centre of a paedophile ring that held sex parties at a country farmhouse, a court heard.

Simon Davies and his wife Fiona Parsons-Davies admitted child abuse charges along with the owner of the remote chalet, sheep farmer Nicholas Cordery, 62. Two other men, Peter Malpas and Anthony Flack, also pleaded guilty to sex offences against children at Reading Crown Court. The court heard the five had been part of a group that abused girls as young as eight at the building where police found sex toys alongside teddy bears. Childminder Joanna Gale and rail industry consultant John Connolly were also alleged to have been involved. The pair deny sex charges against children between May 2010 and December 2011. “This case is about the sexual abuse of children by a number of people who met on the internet,” said Christopher Donnellan QC, prosecuting.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Standing Up for the Queen’s English

Once upon a time there was a group of Trotskyites called the Revolutionary Communist Party. Over the years, they started sounding less revolutionary, not quite so communist and stopped being a party. Instead, they fanned-out across the chattering classes, popping up in all sorts of unexpected places. Some of the best-known names include Frank Furedi of sociology fame, Claire Fox of Radio 4’s Moral Maze and the journalist Brendan O’Neill. Oddly enough, this lot have many admirers on the right — thanks to their habit of making leftwing arguments for what appear to be rightwing causes.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Venice’s Eternal Battle Against Water

Slowly but surely, Venice is sinking. The city has battled the water ever since it was founded 1,600 years ago in a marshy lagoon. Now it’s working on a gigantic project to prevent the floods that threaten its future — but experts are divided over whether it will work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Court Dissolves Egyptian Parliament; Army Takes Over; Civil War?

By Barry Rubin

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court has just invalidated the parliamentary election there. The parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, is being dissolved. The military junta has taken over total authority. The presidential election is still scheduled for a few dozen hours from now.

In short, everything is confused and everything is a mess. All calculations are thrown to the wind. What this appears to be is a new military coup. What is the underlying theme? The armed forces concluded that an Islamist takeover was so dangerous for Egypt and for its own interests that it is better to risk civil war, a bloodbath, and tremendous unpopularity than to remain passive and turn over power. I believe this decision was made very reluctantly and not out of some lust for power by the generals. They have decided that they had no choice.

Yes, it is under legal cover, but nobody is going to see it as a group of judges — appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak, remember — looking deep into the law books and coming up with a carefully reasoned decision based on precedent. In theory, this will be seen by every Islamist — whether Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood — and by most of the liberals — who feel closer to the Islamists than to the government — as if the 2011 revolution has just been reversed. In preparation, the army prepared a new regulation allowing itself arrest anyone.

Prediction: massive violence…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice.

The developments, reported on the Web site of the official newspaper Al Ahram, further escalated tensions over court rulings on Thursday that invalidated modern Egypt’s first democratically elected legislature. Coming on the eve of a presidential runoff this weekend, they thrust the nation’s troubled transition to democracy since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year into grave doubt.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominates the Parliament, disputed the court’s ruling and its authority to dissolve the legislature. Saad el Katatni, the Brotherhood-picked Parliament speaker, accused the military-led government on Friday of orchestrating the ruling.

The timing also seemed like a transparent attempt to undermine the Islamists just as Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is set to compete in the presidential runoff election against Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general and Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister. But the Brotherhood issued a statement Friday exhorting its followers to go to the polls and “isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box.”

The authorities set up checkpoints overnight and contingents of riot police were moving around the city to prepare for any disturbances.

The rulings on Thursday by the Supreme Constitutional Court, a panel of judges appointed by Mr. Mubarak, both dissolved the Parliament and allowed the toppled government’s last prime minister to run for president, intensifying a struggle by remnants of the old elite to block Islamists from coming to power.

The military rulers did not issue a statement on the court’s decision. But the Web site of the state newspaper Al Ahram reported that the generals said the presidential runoff would still take place on schedule and that the military rulers would assume the legislative responsibilities of Parliament after the election. The rulings recalled events that have played out across the region for decades, when secular elites have cracked down on Islamists poised for electoral gains, most famously when the dissolution of Algeria’s Islamist-led Parliament started a civil war 20 years ago.

Citing a misapplication of rules for independent candidates, the court sought to overturn the first democratically elected Parliament in more than six decades and the most significant accomplishment of the Egyptian revolt. Many analysts and activists said Thursday that they feared the decision was a step toward re-establishing a military-backed autocracy, though it was not yet clear whether the military leadership was willing to risk a new outbreak of unrest by suppressing the country’s most powerful political forces.

“From a democratic perspective, this is the worst possible outcome imaginable,” said Shadi Hamid, research director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. “This is an all-out power grab by the military.”

If the ruling is carried out, whoever wins the presidential race would take power without the check of a sitting Parliament and could exercise significant influence over the elections to form a new one. The new president will also take office without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties. A 100-member constitutional assembly appointed by Parliament and including dozens of lawmakers may also be dissolved. And in any event, the ruling generals are expected to issue their own interim charter during the drafting…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: UGTT Secretary Demands Intervention of Armed Forces

For normal security situation in country, Abassi

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — The Tunisian armed forces must intervene to restore security to the country after the recent wave of violence. This is according to Houcine Abassi, the secretary of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), the country’s most important central trade union. Abassi was speaking in an interview with Radio Shems last night.

The UGTT offices were among the targets attacked by Salafists during the recent trouble, both in Tunis and in other towns across the country, with union leaders calling on senior officials and members to hold sit-ins to protect the buildings. Abassi announced that the UGTT will present a scheme to end the difficult situation, presenting it to the government, political parties and civil society.

“This initiative will allow Tunisia to continue along the road of development,” he said. “Our country needs a unifying initiative. It is a target that is certainly difficult to reach, but not impossible if all efforts are made”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Only 5% Cancellations From Abroad, Ministry

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — Since the start of the year only 5% of foreign tourists have cancelled their travel plans to Tunisia, said Tunisia’s Tourism Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh. While speaking during a TV broadcast, the minister called the figure “relatively low”. Fakhfakh also answered questions on the impact that measures such as the curfews that have been imposed (after violence flared in many Tunisian cities) may have on tourism, as soon as news of the measures arrive abroad. His remarks were clear: no one will be happy if measures are adopted that limit personal freedoms, but first and foremost the government must focus on the safety of the Tunisian people. Continuing to talk about the subject, Fakhfakh said that 99% of Tunisians are moderates who are devoted to their Arab-Islamic identity. He asked the media not to aggravate what is taking place by over-generalising.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Interior Ministry Authorises Police to Shoot

Law on weapon use modified today

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 15 — A new law grants Tunisian police greater discretion to make use of their weapons, even shooting directly at people if attacked. Since the early morning hours of today, a massive police presence has been deployed in Tunis’s main areas to coincide with the Friday community prayer. The new regulation is a modification of the 1969 law on the use of weapons by police, brought in to contrast “any cases of violence or destruction”. The new regulation establishes four different “degrees”: shooting in the air to intimidate, shooting at the ground in warning, shooting at individuals’ feet as a partial intervention and direct shots. The latter is to be used “only in the case of extreme violence or the protection of police, citizens or state institutions in imminent danger.” The decision by Interior Minister Ali Laraayedh (leading member of the confessional party Ennahdha), has come after the extremely harsh polemics which arose over the past few days on the lack of directives for the police involved in quelling rioting. The polemics had been fanned by the police themselves, who complained that at the most crucial moments of the rioting they had not acted with the necessary harshness and timeliness out of a fear of not complying with the regulations for public order. It should be taken into consideration that Fahmi Ouni, a young Salafi student who died in Sousse on Tuesday during the rioting, was killed by a policeman’s bullet after it ricocheted off the ground.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Government Bans Islamist Marches

The Tunisian government has banned a series of marches planned for today by hardline Islamists and rival groups citing concerns of possible violence in the country, which is grappling with rising religious tension as it struggles to emerge from years of secular dictatorship. The announcement by the Interior Ministry comes as Tunisians are still reeling from clashes earlier this week between police and religious youth in the capital and other cities after protests erupted over an art exhibit that hardline Islamists alleged was blasphemous.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Dreamy Foreign Policies

With her unbridled hostility towards Israel, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton provides us with an abject lesson in what happens when a government places its emotional aspirations above its national interests.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe. In recent years, nearly every government has voiced the hope of one day seeing Israel join the EU.

To a significant degree, Israel’s decision to recognize the PLO in 1993 and negotiate with Yasser Arafat and his deputies was an attempt by Israel’s political class to win acceptance from the likes of Ashton and her continental comrades. For years the EU had criticized Israel for refusing to recognize the PLO.

Until 1993, Israel’s leaders defied Europe because they could tell the difference between a national interest and an emotional aspiration and preferred the former over the latter. And now, Israel’s reward for preferring European love to our national interest and embracing our sworn enemy is Catherine Ashton…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

IDF Radio Host: ‘Islam is the Most Terrible Disease in the World’

Loonwatch draws our attention to a comment made by one Avri Gilad on a talk show he hosts on the Israel Defense Forces station Army Radio, during a discussion about the current violent racist backlash against black African migrants in Israel. Gilad stated:

… let us not forget that those knocking on our doors belong to Islam, and Islam today is the most terrible disease raging around the world. It poisons its believers and poisons every place it reaches. The people that come here, especially the South Sudanese, are very moderate people, the real beautiful face of Islam … the problem is that when you carry the virus, you don’t know when it will explode inside you … every Muslim who enters here might become the flag carrier of the global Islam … and therefore we must take care of our lives.

The right-wing anti-migrant campaign in Israel provides other examples of how Islamophobia overlaps with more conventional racism.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East

75mln New Jobs Needed by 2022, Study Reveals

Youth unemployment number one problem

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, JUNE 12 — Youth unemployment in the Arab world requires immediate action by the large entrepreneurs and employers, a report by the consulting company Booz&Company reveals.

The research shows that in the next ten years the Arab world will need to create at least 75 million new jobs with a 40% increase compared to current figures. Observers declare that social problems deriving from high unemployment rates has played a determining role in the development of the Arab Spring which crossed over into many countries in North Africa and is now going on in many parts of the Arab world including the states in the Persian Gulf.

According to the study by Booz&Co, the great firms, sometimes more so than the governments, do have the resources to create jobs. For this reason, an environment which is favourable to making business could cut down on the unemployment rates.

According to the Aon Hewitt 2012 People risk Index, Dubai (29) is the first country in the Mideast zone and North Africa (MENA) with the lowest risk for employers, followed by Doha, 42nd in the general list, Muscat (47) and Manama (49). The index risk has been valued taking into account the difficulty which the companies have to go through to sign up, employ and de-localize in 131 cities all around the world. The last names in the list are Baghdad (129), Sanaa (130) and Damascus (131).

Several factors have been taken into account, such as the government politics regarding the labour market and the ease with which one can hire highly trained professionals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Talks With Russia on Post-Assad Era in Syria

We could give “means of communication” to rebels, Fabius

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has this morning spoken of “talks with Russia on the post-Assad era” in Syria. Fabius told the radio station France Inter that his government is considering providing “means of communication” to the Syrian rebels.

Russia, an ally of Damascus, plays a crucial role in the long and bloody Syrian crisis, and has been accused in recent days by the US of providing fighter helicopters for the Syrian government, an accusation that Moscow has dismissed.

The Italian Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi, revealed yesterday that a feeling is growing in Moscow that its attitude towards Damascus must change, while the French President, François Hollande, who was visiting Rome, called for further sanctions and strengthening of the UN mission led by Kofi Annan, in the hope of finding a solution shared with Russia.

Beyond diplomatic efforts, another solution to the conflict would be “the clear victory of the opposition”, Fabius said in his radio interview this morning. “For this we have the Kofi Annan plan. His idea, which the Americans have carried out, and that we might also oversee, is to give not weapons but further means of communication [to the rebels]”.

Fabius added that the rebellion is gaining consensus among the Syrian population. “We have indications suggesting that whole significant groups of the population, who at the start were not hostile to Assad, are now becoming so,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law From the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World

Sadakat Kadri’s book looks at development of Islamic from the time of the Prophet to modern Muslim world.

There are 50 Muslim-majority states in the world; 11 of them, including Egypt, have constitutions that acknowledge Islam as a source of national law. In Heaven on Earth, Sadakat Kadri, an English barrister and New York attorney, provides a much-needed and highly readable overview of Islamic legal history and an entertaining survey of the state of Islamic law today, full of fascinating anecdotes.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UAE Considers Crack Down on Skimpy Dressers

Authorities in Abu Dhabi are considering introducing a national law that would enforce a dress code in public places within the UAE.

The debate about preventing skimpy attire being worn in shopping malls and on the streets has recently been brought to the fore by various campaign groups. The issue has also been fiercely debated in the social media. The proposed law is currently with the cabinet after a recommendation from the Federal National Council (FNC) was backed by Dr Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, on Tuesday. The politicians involved have so far agreed that expatriate residents are most likely to walk around in inappropriate clothing, rather than tourists. “In the UAE we are a conservative society. We hold on to our traditions. I speak as the head of the national tourism council and our powers are limited”, said Dr Al Owais, reported in the newspaper The National. “I agree with the idea of a federal law but it depends on the Cabinet.” The law was proposed by FNC member Hamad Al Rahoumi, who referenced the ban on the wearing of veils in France while doing so. “If these policies have no law behind them, then how are they [offenders] punished?” he asked. “In some countries they do not allow a face veil or a headscarf. We must also have laws to organise our dress code here. Gaurav Sinha, managing director of the Dubai travel-branding company Insignia, said the problem was not that expatriates disrespected the local culture but that they were unaware of the policies in place. Certain public places already apply their own dress codes for entrance.

[Reader comment by mckevvy on 15 June 2012 at 12:21 AM.]

So what you’re saying that when visiting a foreign land then respect and obey their culture — does that apply to visitors here too? Why have we got women dressed as black letterboxes here in the UK?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Are Young Muslim Girls Children of a Lesser God?

To break free from the shackles of backwardness, community leaders should question the HC judgment that legitimises a 15-year-old girl’s marriage

When the phenomenally regressive Delhi High Court judgment was passed on 9 May stating that a 15-year-old Muslim girl’s marriage was legal, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was the first to hail it. If it enthuses the AIMPLB so much that a girl, who should ideally be going to school and learning life skills, is pushed into matrimony in order to harness her fertility at the first biological opportunity, then what business does it have to complain about Muslims being backward?


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India Protest Over ‘Unfair Targeting of Muslims’

Civil rights activists in India have held a protest against the “unfair targeting of Muslims in the name of fighting terror”.

Protest organiser Shabnam Hashmi said scores of Muslim boys and men were being held in jail on false charges. Muslims no longer felt safe even in their own homes, she said.

The activists had planned a protest outside Home Minister P Chidambaram’s house, but they were detained by the police on the way to the venue. They were later released.

“We are not saying do not arrest those involved in terror activities. But do not pick up everyone. Do not pick up innocents,” Ms Hashmi told the BBC.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tens of Thousands Flee Myanmar Unrest

A senior Myanmar official has said that attacks between ethnic Buddhists and Muslims have displaced over 30,000 people in the west of the country. Some worry the unrest will stunt Myanmar’s progress toward democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East

Japanese Police Arrest Last Gas Attack Fugitive

Police in Japan have arrested the last suspect still on the run after a deadly poison gas attack carried out by a doomsday cult on the Tokyo subway 17 years ago. His arrest marks the end of a massive manhunt.

Japanese police on Friday captured the last fugitive suspected of involvement in deadly nerve gas attacks carried out by a religious cult on Tokyo’s subway in 1995.

Police and media said Katsuya Takahashi was detained near a comic-book café in the south of Tokyo. Jiji Press said he was formally arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges.

His capture brings to an end a police hunt for those behind the attacks, in which 13 people were killed and thousands injured after poisonous sarin gas was released on five Tokyo subway trains.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

With the New Asia Strategy Comes a New Sense of Modesty

Asia’s economic rise is shifting the world’s political balance. At a recent conference in Berlin, a panel discussed the implications for Germany and Europe. One thing was clear — modesty is in order.

“Politics begins with a sense of reality.” These were big words spoken by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday in Berlin. About 10 minutes later, he warned that although Germany might be important in Europe, it was comparatively less influential on the global scale.

The fact that the title of the congress spoke of “Asia’s new powers” was a sign of respect for countries that used to be categorized as “developing” — China and India, for example, but also Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

This new sense of modesty comes from the awareness not only that India and China are rapidly catching up with the industrialized world in economic terms but that they and other regional powers are becoming more influential on the global political stage.

Westerwelle cited a series of statistics: GDP per capita has tripled in Asia since 1999 and the Chinese middle class is growing by some 15 million people every year. He pointed out that the continent’s young populations meant growth was considerably more dynamic than in aging Europe.

In 1900, 21 percent of the global population lived in Europe but experts expect only 7.6 percent to be living on the continent by 2050. Europe’s share of trade and investment is also shrinking.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Climate Change or Tectonic Shifts?

The Mystery of the Sinking South Pacific Islands

Environmentalist organizations have used images from South Pacific islands to illustrate the disastrous effects of rising sea levels. But a group of French researchers has found that the problem is much more complicated: The islands are also being pulled under by shifting tectonic plates.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Man Defiles Girl at Mosque, Jailed 15 Years

A Kumasi Circuit Court presided over by Emmanuel Amo Yartey has sentenced a 42-year-old ex-convict to 15 years’ imprisonment for defiling a 12-year-old girl in a mosque. Awudu Gariba, who pleaded guilty to the charge of defilement, contrary to section 101 of Act 39/60, claimed the little girl rather unzipped him and had sexual intercourse with him. Presenting the facts of the case to the court, Police Chief Inspector P.Y Bebli said the convict used to stay with the victim’s mother in the same house at Anloga, a suburb of Kumasi. The prosecutor said a few years ago, 42-year-old Gariba was ejected from the house and he decided to stay at the Anloga Mosque…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Euthanasia Rivals Slam Mercy ‘Propaganda’

Opponents of assisted dying have gathered in Zurich to hold an alternative conference to the three-day right-to-die conference currently underway. The pro-life organization, Human Life International, has responded to the bi-annual euthanasia meeting by staging its own conference in Zurich at the same time.

Both groups maintain that the central issue in the debate is one of dignity: Human Life International, together with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, claims that “assisted suicide harms dignity”, while pro-euthanasia activists claim that assisted dying preserves dignity by giving people the right to determine their own end.

The conference of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies has attracted representatives from 55 countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Soccer: Cassano Apologises for Anti-Gay Remarks

Krakow, 13 June (AKI) — Antonio Cassano, a striker from the Italian national soccer team, apologised for making homophobic remarks.

“I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups,” said the statement released late Tuesday on the official website of the Italian Football Federation.

During a press conference on Tuesday, a reporter asked Cassano to comment on an Italian newspaper report that their were gays on the national team.

“There’re fags on the team? It’s their problem. I hope that they are not really on the national team,” he said during the press conference in Krakow, Poland.

The Italian national team is competing in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

“Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine. I did not want to offend anyone and I can not question the sexual freedom of other people,” he said in the statement apologising for his earlier remarks. “I only said that it is a problem that does not concern me and it is not for me to pass judgment on the choices of others, who are all respected.”

Cassano is more known for his temper than gaffes. His short temper led former coach Fabio Capello to coin the expression “Cassanata” meaning unteam like behaviour in soccer. Cassano, who turns 30 next month, in November underwent minor heart surgery.

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

News Feed 20120614

Financial Crisis
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» Growth Key to Stopping Contagion, Says Monti
» Italy: Tax Increases Backfire as Monti Tightens Belts
» Italy: Milan Bourse Gains: Spread Falls Despite Alarming Auction
» Merkel: Madrid Must Ask for Aid as Soon as Possible
» Moody’s Cuts Cyprus Debt Rating
» Moody’s Cuts Spanish Debt to Just Above Junk Status
» Phone Maker Nokia is to Cut 10,000 Jobs Globally
» Spain: Zara: Profits Up 30%, Global Leader Immune From Crisis
» Alaska’s Endangered Salmon Paradise
» Anti-Muslim Activists Take Aim at Haslam Hire
» CAIR Leader Dawud Walid Justifies Slaughter, Beheading of Jews
» Everything’s Coming Up Jihad
» Gene Map of Body’s Microbes is New Health Tool
» Good Times: Chicago Teachers Union Demands 30 Percent Pay Raise
» Muslims Aren’t Giving Up on Opening Islamic Center
» Obama, Romney Face Off in Ohio for Dueling Economic Addresses
» Obama Administration Refuses to Say it Will Recognise Results of Falklands Referendum
» The Real Terror at Oregon’s Largest Mosque
Europe and the EU
» Bruce Bawer: Jew-Hatred in Norway
» Cagliari President Cellino Accused of Evading 400,000 Eur
» Finnish MP Loses Committee Post After Racist Remarks on Muslims
» Germany: Police Target Salafite Suspects in Nationwide Raids
» German Police in Major Crackdown on Salafist Muslims
» Germany: Four Held as Cops Target Fascist Web Masters
» Germany: ‘Explosive Vest’ Prompts Raids on Salafists
» German Police Raid Scores of Radical Islamists’ Homes
» Greece an EU Laggard in Competitiveness, Says WEF
» Greece: Samaras Bets on Europe and New Negotiations
» Italy: Mussolini’s Granddaughter Hands Out Signed Photos of ‘Duce’ In Parliament
» Italy: Disgraced Formula One Boss, ‘Billionaire’ Owner, Says He’s Quitting Italy
» Italy: Parliament Rules National Anthem be Taught in Schools
» Italy: Lombardy Hospitals: Health Offices ‘Raided for Bid Rigging’
» Pro-Swiss Einstein Letter Sells for $180,000
» Salafist Organization Banned in Germany
» Soccer: Bare Chested Women ‘Reinforce’ Croatia at Euro 2012
» Sweden: External Airbags Could Save Pedestrian Lives
» Sweden: Gang Member Held After Malmö Hit-and-Run Drama
» Swedish Twitter Experiment Goes Awry With Jewish Comments
» Swedish Tourism Twitter Initiative Backfires
» Teen in Sweden Convicted of Child Rape
» UK: A Prophet Yet an Outcast …
» UK: Dramatic Twist in Gang Rape Trial
» UK: Edmund Burke, The Man
» UK: Radical Mega-Mosque Opposed by Muslims
» UK: Sutton Library Prayer Room Plans Stir Up Anger
» UK: The BBC’s Left-Wing Bias Isn’t in Its News Coverage; It’s in Everything Else That it Does
» UK: The Right Honourable Mr. Burke
» Vatican: Ultraconservative Breakaway Fraternity Offered Reintegration
» EU: Croatia: CEI Countries, Ratifications to Respect Timeframe
North Africa
» Algeria-Morocco: Rapper to Urge Re-Opening of Border in New Album
» Egypt’s Highest Court Says Parliament Must Dissolve
» Egypt Court Orders Entire Parliament Dissolved, Deems Election Unconstitutional
» Tunisia: Clashes: Government Accuses Fundamentalists and Anti-Islam
Middle East
» Clashes Between Army and Al-Qaeda Kill 10 in South Yemen
» Gulf: Clampdown on Sorcerers and Witchcraft
» Qatar: Top 86-Year Old Sunni Cleric Qaradawi Marries for the Third Time
» Saudi Arabia: New Petition to King for Women Drivers
» Science and Islam
South Asia
» British Grenadier Guards Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Grenade Blast
» Uzbekistan: WikiLeaks: Karimov, Arabs and Money for New Mosques
Far East
» China: DHL Chooses Shanghai for Its New Hub
» Wal-Mart Faces New Food-Safety Complaints in China
» Will China Lead the World in 2030?
Australia — Pacific
» Mt Martha Primary School’s No Contact Policy Bans Tiggy and High Fives
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Ghana: Return Stolen Regalia From Palace or …-Gbi Traditional Council Warns Muslims
» Tanzania: Bakwata Backs Sheikhs on Census
Latin America
» Falklands 30 Year Anniversary: Argentina Renews Assault at UN
» Hugo Chavez Announces Venezuela Making Drones and Kalashnikov Rifles
» Pickles Flies Falklands Flag to Mark 30th Anniversary of Liberation
» Trinidad Islamic Group Leader Faces Sedition Trial
» MEPs Block Draft Laws to Protest Schengen Reform
» Switzerland: Tough Asylum Laws ‘Contrary to Tradition’
» Tunisia-Switzerland Deal for Helping Youth
Culture Wars
» Morocco: Plague of Illegal Abortions, 600-800 Per Day
» Turkey: Majority Against Abortion Ban, Poll
» UK: Islamic Society’s Event Sparks Controversy
» UK: More on Yusuf Chambers at York

Financial Crisis

A Bailout, Quick!

Cyprus Mail Nicosia

It’s been in the air for weeks — Nicosia is preparing to apply for €3bn to €4bn in emergency funding from the EU in order to recapitalise its struggling banks, highly exposed to Greek debt. But time is running out, writes the English-language Cyprus Mail.

Now that we are no longer in denial about the possibility of applying for an EU bailout, we should perhaps give some thought to the timing which could prove of critical importance. As we have accepted that we will take the plunge, the sooner the better, even if this goes against the government’s philosophy of leaving every important decision to the last minute.

Ideally, we should have applied at the same time as Spain, as we would have been treated in a similar way. We would still have had to take measures — probably be told to cut the public sector payroll — but at least everything would have been done in a controlled and measured way.

Having missed this opportunity, the government needed to apply before Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Greece, after which the euro-zone could be thrown into chaos, as a victory for the anti bailout leftists of SYRIZA would raise the prospect of a Greek exit from the euro and wreak havoc in the markets. It is a possibility nobody can rule out as opinion polls show the contest between SYRIZA and the pro-bailout New Democracy party to be too close to call.

Government bonds have junk status

So what is the government waiting for? Everyone knows that the Laiki Bank share issue which the government has under-written will not raise anywhere near the €1.8 billion needed for the bank’s re-capitalisation. We also know that the bonds the government issued are not considered acceptable by the ECB for re-capitalisation purposes (inevitable when a government’s bonds have junk status) which means the application for a bailout by the end of the month is a certainty…

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

Barroso Warns EU Parliament of Eurozone Breakup

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has called on the EU parliament to give up its national sovereignty posture in the face of the eurozone debt crisis, and tackle the problems together.

The European commission president is watching the clock. The EU is at a “decisive moment” of crisis management, he said. High unemployment is a “social emergency” requiring both immediate steps and long-term measures, he said.

Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Barroso spoke out strongly in favor of a fiscal and banking union among the countries using the common euro currency. But many governments are opposed to both. A fiscal union would mean that member states could no longer absorb new debt independently. Their sovereignty, therefore, would be highly constrained, a fact which has met with stiff resistance from the affected national parliaments.

A banking union would make pan-European deposit insurance possible. That’s something Germany rejects, because it wants to defend itself against even more liability for weak banks and governments. Barroso appealed to the conscience of the reluctant governments: “I’m not sure if the urgency of this issue is understood in all the capital cities,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Cyprus May Seek Up to €4bn Bailout

Cyprus may seek an up to €4bn bailout and is looking to China, Russia and the EU for the best terms, reports the Cyprus Mail. “We will seek the best possible terms for the economy,” said Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades Wednesday with an EU bailout coming with austerity strings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Can’t Save Europe Alone, Merkel Says

“Germany is strong, Germany is an engine of economic growth and a stability anchor in Europe… but Germany’s powers are not unlimited,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the Bundestag ahead of a G20 meeting this weekend. Berlin is under increased pressure to make concessions on sharing debt in the eurozone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Opens Door for Crisis Solution as Spain Downgraded

Moody’s on Wednesday (13 June) was the last ratings agency to strip Spain of its A status, making it harder for the government and banks to borrow money, despite recent bail-out plans.

The US-based agency downgraded Spain from A3 to Baa3 — one notch above so-called ‘junk status’ where investors are no longer guaranteed a safe repayment on the bonds. It also warned it may soon further downgrade the eurozone country.

Moody’s is the last of the three largest ratings agencies to slash Spain’s A status. The downgrade means that the government’s borrowing costs — already close to bail-out territory — will rise even higher.

Explaining the downgrade, Moody’s said eurozone’s €100bn rescue announced last weekend for the Spanish banking sector will only increase the government’s debt and make its budget-cutting measures even more difficult and lengthy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greek Bank Withdrawals Accelerate

Greeks cash withdrawals from banks are accelerating. Up to €900 million is being taken out daily in the run-up to elections on Sunday. “There has been a deterioration in the situation in the past few days,” a senior Greek banker told the Wall Street Journal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Growth Key to Stopping Contagion, Says Monti

This month’s European Council must produce ‘credible package’

(ANSA) — Rome, June 13 — Growth is the key to ending the eurozone debt crisis, saving the single currency and averting an economic calamity for Italy, Premier Mario Monti said on Wednesday.

Monti has been among the international figures leading calls for the European Union to put greater focus on economic growth to solve the crisis ahead of a crunch European Council summit in Brussels on June 28 and 29.

These calls have met resistance from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who says the way forward is more discipline with public finances, even though austerity packages have deepened economic difficulties in many parts of Europe, and greater fiscal integration.

Monti is also pushing through a series of structural economic reforms to boost growth in recession-hit Italy, after passing a tough package of tax hikes and spending cuts to put the public finances in order in December.

But Italy’s borrowing costs have continued to rise in recent weeks amid concern of contagion because of the difficulties Spain is encountering and fears that Greece may leave the euro.

“If there’s a credible package of measures for growth at the European Council of June 28, then the Italian spread (with respect to the yield on benchmark German bonds) will decline,” Monti told the House.

“What the financial markets and the ratings agencies are worried about is the scarce growth and that worries us too.

“If there’s growth, we’ll have a lower spread, the interest rates will come down, companies will find it easier to invest and this will shelter us from contagion”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Tax Increases Backfire as Monti Tightens Belts

Rome, 13 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is facing signs that tax increases are beginning to backfire as his new levy on real estate goes into effect.

Value-added tax receipts have declined since Monti’s predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, raised the rate by 1 percentage point in September as the economy was slipping into recession, government data released June 5 showed. The amount collected fell in the 12 months ended April 30 to the lowest since 2006.

Finding the right deficit-reduction mix as Monti fights to meet budget targets is critical for Italy to avoid becoming the biggest victim yet of Europe’s financial crisis. A slump that is driving up welfare spending is adding urgency to Monti’s effort to make the economy more competitive amid a growing backlash across Europe against austerity.

“This government has raised taxes too much,” said Alberto Alesina, a professor of political economy at Harvard University. “It would be much, much better to lower spending.”

Monti testifies in Parliament today for the first time since Spain received a bailout for its banks, leaving Italy exposed as the next potential investor target. Italy is unlikely to need a bailout because its finances are in better shape than Spain’s, Fitch Ratings Managing Director Ed Parker said yesterday.

The decline in VAT revenue figures may bolster the government’s efforts to postpone a further increase in the rate after October by 2 percentage points to 23 percent. That would put Italy on par with Greece.

‘Strong Deterioration’

Monti planned to tap more than 4 billion euros of projected savings from a government spending review to put off the VAT increase, which his deputies acknowledge may deepen the recession.

“The economy shows signs of strong deterioration,” Finance Undersecretary Gianfranco Polillo told the Senate in Rome on June 6. “In light of the fall in domestic demand, betting on a further VAT increase would be incomprehensible and even wrong.”

Still, efforts to delay the increase may have been upended by deadly earthquakes in northern Italy last month that caused billions of euros of damage, as quake relief will also come from the spending review funds.

The $1.4 trillion Italian economy contracted 0.8 percent in the first quarter after slipping 0.7 percent in the last three months of 2011. Italy’s gross domestic product, the third- biggest among euro nations, will fall 1.4 percent this year, the European Commission estimates. That would be the deepest slide after Greece, Portugal and Spain among the 17 euro members.

Fostering Growth

Monti has advocated shifting to more growth-oriented policies and gained a potential ally with the May election of French President Francois Hollande, who defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy by campaigning against austerity.

Monti’s tax increases were forecast to bring Italy’s budget deficit within the European Union limit of 3 percent of GDP this year even with expectations of a 1.3 percent increase in public spending. The measures were praised by Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco, who in October succeeded European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, as an emergency stopgap that must be revisited and balanced with reduced expenses.

“This burden can be sustained only temporarily,” Visco said in a June 9 speech. “A stronger and more incisive fight against tax evasion and the implementation of spending cuts are the indispensable premises for the necessary reduction of tax rates.”

Tax Burden

Under Monti, Italy’s tax burden, the ratio of tax revenue to economic output, will rise to 45.1 percent this year from 42.5 percent in 2011, and won’t start falling until 2015.

Monti, a former university president and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) adviser, was brought to power in November to rein in bond yields and bring down debt. His 20 billion-euro austerity package raised retirement ages and was followed by measures to ease firing rules and promote competition. Increased rates on gasoline were enacted in December and on luxury goods earlier this year, while the first property tax payments are due next week.

“I don’t want to deny that we could have done more and better,” Monti said in a June 7 speech. Still, his reforms have produced results, he said.

Dodging Tax

The government had 99.8 billion euros in VAT receipts in the 12 months ended April 30 tied to internal trade, or transactions among domestic counterparties. That compares with 100 billion euro in the 12 months ended March 31 and 101.3 billion euros in the period ended April 30, 2011.

“VAT revenue does depend on growth in domestic consumption,” said Ian Roxan, director of the Tax Programme at London School of Economics and Political Science. “It is also not immune to evasion. It is certainly possible that in a time of austerity people become less willing to pay VAT.”

Italy loses more than 120 billion euros in unpaid taxes every year, according to the Equitalia tax-collection agency. The country retrieved 12.7 billion euros from the fight against evasion in 2011, up 15.5 percent from 2010.

Bond yields, which declined in the first three months of the year as Monti enacted his program, have surged since March as concerns about Spain’s finances and Greece’s future in the euro mounted. The yield on the country’s 10-year bond ended at 6.17 percent, the highest since January, and 4.7 percentage points more than that of Germany.

Above Average

The September increase in the VAT rate pushed Italy to 21 percent, which is 1 percentage point more the average among the 17 countries using the euro, according to a report last month from Eurostat, the statistics department of the European Union. VAT rates are as high as 18 percent in Spain, 19 percent in Germany and 19.6 percent in France.

Monti is showing signs of backing away from rigor even as Italians brace for the property tax, which reinstates levies on first homes. He pushed back Berlusconi’s timetable for a balanced budget by one year to 2014, and is actively trying to avoid a new VAT increase.

Total tax revenue fell 0.1 percent to 413.3 billion euros in the 12 months ended April 30, compared with 413.7 billion euros in the period ended on the same date a year earlier. Direct tax receipts, which include levies on personal and company income, fell 0.9 percent to 218.7 billion.

Total spending, including regional and local outlays, is set to rise in 2012 to 809 billion euros, or about 51 percent of GDP, according to Finance Ministry forecasts published in April. Central government spending is expected to decline by 0.4 percent as Monti cuts transfers to Italy’s regions.

The government must “reduce public expenditures drastically and quickly,” said Angelo Cremonese, an economics professor with specialization in taxes at Luiss University. “You don’t increase revenue by raising” tax rates, he said.

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

Italy: Milan Bourse Gains: Spread Falls Despite Alarming Auction

Yield on three-year Italian bonds jumped to 5.3%

(ANSA) — Rome, June 14 — The Milan stock exchange’s benchmark FTSE Mib index closed 1.47% up on Thursday and the Italian spread dropped despite the alarming outcome of a bond auction earlier in the day.

The yield on Italian three-year bonds jumped to 5.3% at a bond auction Thursday, its highest level since December.

The yield at the last three-year auction in May was 3.91% and the leap was seen as another sign of concern on the money markets that Italy could be getting dragged back to the centre of the eurozone debt crisis.

Nevertheless, the spread between 10-year Italian bonds and the German equivalent, an important indicator of investor confidence in Italy, dropped to 465 points with a yield of 6.11% after opening the day over 470 points.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Merkel: Madrid Must Ask for Aid as Soon as Possible

(ANSAmed) — BERLIN, JUNE 14 — The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has called on Spain to request aid as soon as possible. “The sooner they do so, the better,” Merkel has told the Bundestag today. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Cuts Cyprus Debt Rating

Moody’s credit rating agency cut Cyprus’ sovereign debt rating on Wednesday by two notches to Ba1. Cyprus has close cultural and economic ties to Greece. The agency said the island nation will have to pump capital into its Greece-exposed banking system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Moody’s Cuts Spanish Debt to Just Above Junk Status

The ratings agency Moody’s has cut the Spanish government’s credit rating by three points, adding to Madrid’s borrowing woes. Cyprus meanwhile dropped down deeper into junk status.

Moody’s downgraded the Spanish government’s credit rating by three points, leaving it only just one level above junk-grade status.

The New York-based agency said in a statement that Spain’s growing borrowing problems as the primary reason for the downgrade from A3 to Baa3 late on Wednesday.

European leaders announced a 100-billion-euro ($125.64 billion) loan to Spain on Sunday, which Moody’s said would increase Madrid’s debt burden.

“While the details of the support package have yet to be announced, it is clear that the responsibility for supporting Spanish banks rests with the Spanish government,” Moody’s said in a note.

The agency said it expected Spain’s public debt ratio to rise to some 90 percent of its gross domestic product this year. This was predicted to keep increasing until the middle of the decade.

Greek fears weigh heavy on Cyprus

Minutes after downgrading Spain, Moody’s reduced its rating on Cyprus, one of the smaller economies in the euro zone, by two notches, sending it further into junk territory.

The agency downgraded the bond rating of the Cypriot government by two notches to Ba3 from Ba1, citing the threat that Greece might leave the eurozone as a factor.

Cypriot banks have a high level of exposure to Greek financial institutions. A Greek exit from the euro would mean that Cyprus would have to increase its support to Greece’s banks.

Within the euro zone, Moody’s rates government debt in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus as junk status. Ireland, Greece and Portugal have already received bailouts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Phone Maker Nokia is to Cut 10,000 Jobs Globally

Finnish mobile phone producer Nokia says it is planning to axe up to 10,000 jobs by the end of next year. The company says the layoffs are urgently needed to ensure long-term profitability.

Nokia of Finland — one of the world’s biggest mobile phone makers — said on Thursday it will have to reduce its global workforce by around 10,000 by the end of 2013. Company bosses said in Helsinki that the measure was part of a massive cost-saving scheme.

“These reductions are a difficult consequence of the intended actions we believe we must take to ensure Nokia’s long-term competitive strength, Chief Executive Stephen Elop said in a statement.

The news from Helsinki will have a devastating impact on Nokia’s research and development center in Ulm, Germany, which will be shut down completely by the end of September this year, meaning a loss of 730 jobs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: Zara: Profits Up 30%, Global Leader Immune From Crisis

In 3 months 91 stores opened

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Pablo Isla, the president and chief executive of Inditex, was understandably optimistic as he presented the first quarter results in Madrid today for the company that owns Zara, the retail chain apparently impervious to the financial crisis. “I have full confidence in the future of the Spanish economy and I firmly believe that the reforms being adopted will have visible effects in the coming quarters,” Isla said. Zara, the company founded by the Galician, Amancio Ortega, Spain’s richest man, registered record net profits of 432 million euros between March and May, an increase of 30% compared to the corresponding period of 2011. The result surpassed even the expectations of analysts. Inditex recorded turnover of 3.416 billion euros, 15% more than during last year’s corresponding quarter, with EBITDA up 27% to 754 million euros. The textile company underlined the “strict” control of operational spending, which has contributed to the results.

During the quarter, Inditex opened 91 new retail outlets in 26 different markets, taking its number of stores worldwide up to 5,618 as of April 30. Spain’s most solid brand is currently present in 85 countries, after recently opening shops in Georgia and Bosnia in April and in Ecuador in May. The group’s internationalisation also continues apace. While Spain accounted for 25% of the company’s business in 2011, Asia is already closing in during the first quarter of 2012 with a figure of 18%. After consolidating its position in Europe, the United States and Japan, Zara is also due to arrive in China in September. But Zara’s position as the world’s leading fashion distribution group, ahead of the Swedish brand H&M, has been clear since the start of the year. The assembly of ordinary shareholders, which meets on July 17, will approve a total dividend corresponding to the 2011 financial year of 1.80 euros per share, the equivalent of 1.122 billion euros.

The announcement of the results provoked a rally on the Spanish stock exchange, with Inditex shares leading the positive figures, surging up 8% at around 13:00 and boosting the company’s status of highest capitalisation on the Spanish market.

For Pablo Isla, the key to the company’s success remain the same. “High quality, good design and better prices for customers,” he explained, factors that enjoy the benefits of the online sales model, which is decisive for growth.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Alaska’s Endangered Salmon Paradise

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is a unique ecosystem, home of the world’s largest wild salmon fishery. The fish management is exemplary, but the people around the bay fear for their existence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Anti-Muslim Activists Take Aim at Haslam Hire

Tea party and anti-Muslim activists are taking aim at a recent hire by the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam, targeting one of its top economic development officers based on her religion and past work experience. The Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C., organization that has frequently attacked Muslims for perceived ties to Islamist groups, and the 8th District Tea Party Coalition, an umbrella organization of West Tennessee tea party groups, have urged their members to pressure Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty to dump Samar Ali, an attorney appointed last month as the department’s new international director. The groups depict Ali as an Islamic fundamentalist with close ties to President Barack Obama. The claims are spurious and ECD has no intention of firing Ali, said Clint Brewer, a department spokesman.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

CAIR Leader Dawud Walid Justifies Slaughter, Beheading of Jews

The Council of American Islamic Relations [CAIR] may tout itself as an “organization that challenges stereotypes of Islam and Muslims,” and as group that was formed “to challenge anti-Muslim discrimination nationwide.” But in fighting the good fight against hate, at least one of its regional leaders demonizes Jews as the source of Muslims’ problems.

“Who are those who incurred the wrath of Allah?” CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid asked in a May 25 sermon at the Islamic Organization of North America mosque in Warren, Mich. “They are the Jews, they are the Jews,” he answered himself in Arabic.

Aside from being one of CAIR’s most visible spokesmen, Walid appears frequently in the media and has traveled abroad at least twice on trips paid by the State Department. During a 2010 trip to Mali, for example, he criticized treatment of Muslim Americans after 9/11, saying they “have been subjected to increased discrimination from racial and religious profiling by law enforcement.” And he cast the 2009 shooting death of a Detroit imam as unjust, even though the imam refused orders to lay down his weapon and surrender, and then opened fire first after a police dog was sent in to subdue him.

If it isn’t the Jews incurring Allah’s wrath by disobeying him, the hands of the pro-Israel lobby are undermining American Muslims and Palestinians alike, Walid claimed in his sermon…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Everything’s Coming Up Jihad

by Daniel Greenfield

June has been a banner month for Muslim lawsuits against the NYPD. First “Muslim Advocates” filed a lawsuit against the NYPD on behalf of some New Jersey Muslims attending mosques that the NYPD had assessed as a potential terrorism risk. The Muslim Advocates, like every other Muslim “civil rights” group, has a history of covering up and defending terrorism. The media is full of sympathetic interviews with Muslims, who are baffled as to why the NYPD might be surveiling mosques and Imams. Farhoud Khera, the head of Muslim Advocates, complains, “There was explicit reference to the fact that they weren’t targeting Syrian Jews or Iranian Jews or Egyptian Christians, but really, the focus was on Muslims.”

The extensive Coptic Christian and Persian Jewish terrorism sprees aside, the goal here is to get the NYPD to play the same “Three Blind Monkeys” game that Federal law enforcement has taken up. And the only answer is the TSAization of the NYPD, as the last remaining counterterrorism force will prove that it isn’t singling out Muslims, by surveiling Methodist churches and Chassidic synagogues for signs of terrorist sympathies.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Gene Map of Body’s Microbes is New Health Tool

Researchers said Wednesday they have produced the first comprehensive genetic map of the microbes that live in or on a healthy human body, laying the groundwork for possible new advances in research and in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

The accomplishment-the result of a five-year, $173 million initiative called the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health-stems from an effort to better understand bacteria and other organisms that play a critical role in processes ranging from digestion to infection.

Scientists know the body harbors trillions of such microorganisms-indeed, they outnumber human cells 10 to 1. But until now, they didn’t know what the all bacteria were, where they were and how they might differ from person to person, or from site to site on a single body.

“This is really a new vista in biology,” said Phillip Tarr, director of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and one of the leaders of the project, which involved some 200 researchers at 80 institutions.

The new genetic map should bolster research into a number of diseases whose onset is associated with a combination of genetic predisposition and changes to the body’s roster of bacteria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Good Times: Chicago Teachers Union Demands 30 Percent Pay Raise

Because working Americans are doing so well under the Obamaconomy.

It takes a lot of nerve to ask for a 30 percent pay raise. You’d better be sure you had a banner year. Yet in Chicago, where just 15 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading (and just 56 percent of students graduate), the teachers union is set to strike if the district does not agree to a 30 percent increase in teachers’ salaries.

The average teacher in Chicago Public Schools—a district facing a $700 million deficit—makes $71,000 per year before benefits are included. If the district meets union demands and rewards teachers with the requested salary increase, education employees will receive compensation north of $92,000 per year.

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, the average annual income of a family in Chicago is $47,000 per year. If implemented, the 30 percent raise will mean that in nine months, a single teacher in the Chicago Public School system will take home nearly double what the average family in the city earns in a year.

According to the union, 91 percent of its members voted for the ability to strike. That vote gives the union the ability to walk out of public school classrooms as children return to school this fall… The union argues [that] the requested salary increase would compensate them for extending the school day from 5.5 hours—among the nation’s shortest school days—to 7.5 hours.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Muslims Aren’t Giving Up on Opening Islamic Center

Advocacy group is asking for a federal review after the vote, rhetoric in St. Anthony.

St. Anthony’s rejection of a proposed Islamic center marks the first time in seven years that a new Muslim house of worship has been blocked by a local government in Minnesota.

City leaders said the decision was solely a land-use issue, but Muslim leaders expressed fears that Minnesota may be joining the ranks of other states where proposed mosques and Islamic centers have been blocked by government amid anti-Islamic rhetoric and intense community resistance. “This is the first one [in Minnesota] where we’re seeing so much anti-Muslim hate involved,” said Lori Saroya, president of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The Muslim advocacy group asked the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday to investigate allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the rejection of the proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center, planned for the basement of the former Medtronic headquarters.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Obama, Romney Face Off in Ohio for Dueling Economic Addresses

President Obama and Mitt Romney will face off on the economy Thursday, each delivering a major campaign address in Ohio in the closest they’ve come yet to a general election debate.

The two opponents will not be sharing the same stage. Obama will deliver what is described as a “framing” speech to a community college crowd in Cleveland. Romney will be at a manufacturing company in Cincinnati for a rally. They plan to speak at virtually the same time Thursday afternoon.

For Obama’s part, the president is trying to recover from a raft of bad economic news and campaign setbacks, and try to lift his campaign above the day-to-day controversies to outline the thematic differences between his vision and his opponent’s.

An Obama campaign official told Fox News that “this election offers the American people a chance to break the stalemate between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs and pay down the debt.”

Romney, the official said, stands for stripping regulations and cutting taxes in the hope that the market “will solve all our problems.” Obama, the official said, “believes the economy grows not from the top down, but from the middle class up, and he has an economic plan to do that.”

Yet even some Democrats have grown frustrated with Obama’s rhetorical approach, suggesting he’s spending too much time blaming the Bush administration and other factors for the country’s economic problems and not enough time explaining what he will do going forward to fix them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Refuses to Say it Will Recognise Results of Falklands Referendum

by Nile Gardiner

Just ahead of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falklands, the Obama presidency is still appeasing Argentina. An extraordinary exchange took place yesterday between State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and Associated Press correspondent Matthew Lee at a press conference held in Washington. Lee (and another journalist) pressed Nuland repeatedly on whether or not the Obama administration would respect the results of the forthcoming Falklands referendum. Nuland consistently reiterated the US position of “neutrality,” at no point acknowledging the right of self-determination of the Falkland Islanders. Nuland ended the briefing saying she would be “delighted to take the question” on the Falklands, but offered no further comment on it.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

The Real Terror at Oregon’s Largest Mosque

Life under the microscope is fun for no one. That seems especially true at Masjed As-Saber, Oregon’s largest mosque, situated in Portland and a draw for Muslims both foreign-born and converted here. Interest in the mosque by the Federal Bureau of Investigation stems from the arrests in 2001 of the “Portland Seven,” a group intending to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan whose members had attended mosque services. Then came the arrest of the mosque’s imam, Sheikh Mohamed Kariye, on Social Security fraud, just one year later.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bruce Bawer: Jew-Hatred in Norway

On Wednesday, June 13, during an Internet search, I ran across a left-wing Norwegian blog with which I was previously unfamiliar. The posting I stumbled upon dated back to February and was concerned with what it described as my many lies about Norway. Chief among these lies, apparently, is my claim that “there is strong antisemitism in Norway’s ‘elite.’“ The blogger claimed to find this claim outrageous. “Does he not know the labour party [sic] has historical strong ties with Israel? That a recent prime minister was a devoted friend of Israel?”

Less than an hour later, I followed a link in my inbox to a just-posted Jerusalem Post article by Benjamin Weinthal headlined “Norwegian student in Oslo burns Jewish pupil.” The story, which was originally reported on June 12 by a Norwegian Jewish blog, Med Israel for Fred (With Israel for Peace) — MIFF for short — was straightforward enough: on June 11, at an Oslo secondary school barbecue, an ethnic Norwegian student had burned a Jewish classmate with a red-hot coin, leaving “a very visible burn on the boy’s neck.” In a letter to Norway’s Minister of Justice, Grete Faremo, the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained that “this child has been the subject of anti-Semitic bullying and violence for the past two years, reportedly, because his father is Israeli,” but that “there has been no reaction by the school, the police or governmental authorities.” The Wiesenthal Center complained that “the silence of the school, the police and your government is too reminiscent of another Norway, under the WWII Nazi collaborator, Quisling.”

Vebjørn Dysvik, Norway’s chargé d’affaires in Tel Aviv, told the Post in an e-mail that he knew nothing more about the case than what had already been reported and insisted that “the Norwegian government has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying in schools.” But Dysvik didn’t leave it at that. He also took the occasion to complain that the letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center “contains several extreme statements that lack any foundation in reality. We take exception to the attempt of painting a picture of Norway and Norwegian society as being anti-Semitic. This is a gross distortion of facts for which the Center must bear responsibility.”

The very fact that Dysvik felt comfortable slapping back at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in this snotty manner reflects the Norwegian government’s exceedingly different way of responding to charges of anti-Semitism, which is a very real and escalating problem in Norway, and to charges of “Islamophobia,” that invention of the Muslim Brotherhood which, in Norway as elsewhere, is employed by the usual suspects to manipulate nervous multiculturalists. Clearly, while Norwegian officials like Dysvik are terrified of offending Muslims, they are not terribly worried about offending Jews…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Cagliari President Cellino Accused of Evading 400,000 Eur

(AGI) Cagliari — The Guardia di Finanza and the Customs Authorities confiscated a boat owned by Cagliari Club President Cellino. Having brought his boat (a 20 meter sloop) to Italy from the United States, he would have had to pay VAT and customs tarrifs for 400.000 Euros. Instead, from the findings of the investigators, he allegedly evaded these taxes which is why the President of the ‘rossoblu’ Football Culb is now accused of smuggling. Last April, the customs and excise officers had sealed off a Range Rover with a Miami licence plate owned by Cellino who, according to the charges, had evaded the payment of nearly 15,000 Euros in taxes.

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

Finnish MP Loses Committee Post After Racist Remarks on Muslims

Finnish lawmakers on Wednesday forced a member of the opposition Finns Party to resign from an influential parliamentary committee after he was fined for making racist remarks, the latest in a string of setbacks for the anti-euro party. Finns Party lawmaker Jussi Halla-aho was fined by the Supreme Court on Friday for comments posted on his personal blog in 2008 which linked Islam to paedophilia and Somalis with theft. Somalis are a major immigrant group in Finland. Members of all political parties other than the Finns Party agreed on Wednesday that Halla-aho should quit as chairman of a parliamentary committee dealing with immigration and state security. He resigned from the post, although he will stay in parliament. “Although I consider the attack against me as unreasonable … I don’t want to unnecessarily prolong the circus generated by others,” he said on his party’s website.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Germany: Police Target Salafite Suspects in Nationwide Raids

Berlin, 14 June (AKI) — Police on Thursday raided regional states across Germany as part of a crackdown on ultraconservative Salafite Muslims suspected of plotting against the state, the interior ministry said.

The raids were carried out on 70 locations including flats, mosques, schools and local associations, with the biggest operations taking place in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse, the ministry said.

Premises were also raided in Hamburg and in Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Bavaria.

Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said he had banned one of the Salafite groups called the Millatu Ibrahim, telling reporters “it works against our constitutional order.”

The raids could unearth evidence leading to two other radical Muslim groups being banned, Friedrich said, without providing any further details.

Authorities estimate there are about 2,500 Salafists in Germany.

North Rhine-Westphalia interior minister Ralf Jaeger said Thursday’s police operation was a “decisive step by the security services in the fight against dangerous extremists.”

As part of the operation, a mosque was raided in the western town of Solingen, where in early May, German authorities opened a probe against 44 Salafites and 37 others after they clashed violently with police.

Salafites have handed out 25 million copies of the Koran in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in a recent campaign to convert non-Muslims, alarming authorities

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

German Police in Major Crackdown on Salafist Muslims

German police have launched nationwide raids targeting ultra-conservative Islamic Salafists, suspected of posing a threat to public order. Searches took place early on Thursday at Salafists’ homes and meeting places in seven states, including Bavaria, Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia. A Salafist group called Millatu Ibrahim, based in the western city of Solingen, has been banned. The raids follow clashes between police and some Salafists. German authorities believe the Salafists want to create a Sunni Islamic caliphate opposed to Western democracy. In one of the raids police removed items from the home of Salafist preacher Ibrahim Abu Nagie in Cologne. The authorities have been monitoring Salafist campaigns to recruit supporters, including the distribution of free Korans. There are believed to be about 4,000 active Salafists in Germany, the state-owned broadcaster ARD reports.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Germany: Four Held as Cops Target Fascist Web Masters

Police arrested four people suspected of running an international far-right extremist website after early morning raids on 24 addresses in 11 of Germany’s 16 states — and one in Britain — on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘Explosive Vest’ Prompts Raids on Salafists

The discovery of an explosive vest at a property used by extremist Salafist Islamists in Germany prompted the ban and raids of around 70 addresses by more than 1,000 police officers, it emerged on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Police Raid Scores of Radical Islamists’ Homes

BERLIN (Reuters) — About 1,000 police raided scores of buildings across Germany on Thursday in a clampdown on radical Salafist Islamists suspected of plotting against the state.

German officials fear the Salafists, who trace their roots to Saudi Arabia and want to establish Sharia (Islamic) law in Europe, are fuelling militancy among a small minority of socially alienated young Muslims in Germany.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Greece an EU Laggard in Competitiveness, Says WEF

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 11 — Greece ranks poorly among its 27 European Union peers, only ahead of Romania and Bulgaria, daily Kathimerini writes quoting the Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

While Greece gets good marks in several areas (it ranks sixth in its supply of scientists and engineers), the debt-hit state is a laggard in terms of smart growth and socially fair development.

Greece finds itself in last place in terms of business environment because of anemic competitiveness (26th place), the low rate of entrepreneurship (25th), its poor record in terms of cooperatives (26th) and, of course, the lack of liquidity (23rd). Greece also lags in technological progress. The WEF report highlights Greece’s digital shortcomings (25th place) and the disappointing infiltration (26th) of IT and communication technologies both on a personal as well as a professional level.

Social integration is limited because of market shortcomings and obstacles to the participation of women and youth. The survey says that although the European model offers better policies for enhancing social cohesion, it is weak in creating the requisite conditions to secure profitable employment for a big segment of the continent’s populations. The spread of the crisis means government efforts are mostly focused on dealing with the immediate repercussions instead of the long-term goal of creating a competitive, sustainable and socially fair Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Samaras Bets on Europe and New Negotiations

Four days before vote race to withdraw cash goes on

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Events in Europe in recent days, in Spain and France in particular, have given Greece “the chance to renegotiate fairly” the austerity plan imposed on the country by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, this is on the condition that the centre-right party New Democracy (ND) wins next Sunday’s elections.

This is the message from the ND leader Antonis Samaras today, four days ahead of Sunday’s elections in the country. Meanwhile, the Greeks continue to be wracked with fear and are withdrawing their savings from banks and emptying supermarket shelves.

In a message to his electorate during a press conference in Athens, Samaras repeated that his party’s priorities are “to form a stable government and to keep Greece in the eurozone”. The leader of ND pointed out that European leaders are open to the possibility of renegotiating the deal with which Greece obtained international aid. “I believe that we will have something to gain from the fact that Europe is changing, and in this climate of change Greece has the chance for fair negotiation”. Samaras also said that he backed the position of the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, who is in favour of a Europe-wide guarantee on bank deposits.

Samaras’ call to electors to form a united front against the potential victory of the radical-left wing coalition Syriza — which is seen as a serious risk for Greece’s stay in the eurozone — came as sources from the Greek banking sector produced an alarming revelation. The sources claim that the amount of money being withdrawn from their accounts by Greek savers lies between 500 and 800 million euros a day. Greeks fear that a victory for the left in the elections could cause the country to exit the eurozone and bring about a return to the drachma, the old Greek currency.

In the context of such fears, numerous sources have told ANSAmed that people are rushing to hoard items such as pasta, tinned food and other non perishable goods, a phenomenon that has been reported by managers of large supermarkets for days. Many people have started hoarding food for fear that, while talks are ongoing between parties to form a new government in the aftermath of Sunday’s election, greater political and economic instability and even social tensions could occur.

A contributing factor to the already great uncertainty over the near future is a report that has gained ground in Athens today, according to which Greece has only 2 billion euros remaining in its state coffers, a figure that would be enough to guarantee the payment of the wages and pensions of public sector workers only until July 20. The Kathimerini newspaper was the first to report the news, which has as yet been neither confirmed nor denied by the Ministry of Finance, which in a statement released this afternoon, said only that “July’s pensions are not in danger”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Mussolini’s Granddaughter Hands Out Signed Photos of ‘Duce’ In Parliament

Rome, 13 June (AKI) — Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Italy’s wartime dictator Benito Mussolini, was filmed signing photos of ‘Il Duce’ and giving them to another MP during a confidence vote in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

During the vote on a government anti-corruption bill, a paparazzi snappped Mussolini signing two black and white photos of her grandfather handed to her in an envelope by the Northern League lawmaker Carolina Lussana.

In the photos published on several Italian dailies’ websites, 49-year-old Mussolini can be seen scribbling a dedication on both photos of her grandfather and handing them back to Lussana.

In the first photo, the uniformed ‘Duce’ gives the fascist salute while in the second he strikes a characteristically belligerent pose astride a tank.

Mussolini, currently an MP for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s convervative People of Freedom party, is the daughter of Romano Mussolini, fourth son of ‘Il Duce’ and Anna Maria Villani Scicolone, the filmstar Sophia Loren’s sister.

No stranger to controversy and a former glamour model and actress, Mussolini has never hidden her admiration for her grandfather. Responding to taunts by the transgender Italian MP candidate Vladimir Luxuria in 2006 that she was a fascist, she famously retorted: “Better to be a fascist than gay.”

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

Italy: Disgraced Formula One Boss, ‘Billionaire’ Owner, Says He’s Quitting Italy

Rome, 12 June (AKI) — Disgraced Formula One boss and businessman Flavio Briatore said he will close his swanky Billionaire Club in Sardinia and pledged to stop investing in his native Italy.

“I’m sick of the bureaucracy of this country,” he said in an interview Italian celebrity weekly Chi. “I’ll invest abroad.

In 1998 Briatore opened his Billionaire Club in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo, a summer destination for the word’s super rich and famous.

Briatore, 62, has come under fire for cutting corners in Italy where he has been convicted of fraud and run into difficulties with tax authorities. In other difficulties, he was in 2009 forced to resign from the ING Renault Formula One team after being banned for race fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix when he ordered his driver to crash the his car. He’s prohibited from working in Formula One until 2013.

“This government has set up a kind of social hate,” he said. “If you have a boat and you moor in a port you’re considered a bandit or a thief.

The Italian government has declared a war on tax invasion. In a high-profile campaign to stop tax cheats, police have run background checks on owners of luxury cars and yachts to see if their declared income and assets correspond.

Briatore is the owner of a 60-metre yacht. In 2010, under the prior government, he was accused of falsely registering the vessel as a charter boat as a way to avoid paying sales tax when anchoring in a European harbour.

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

Italy: Parliament Rules National Anthem be Taught in Schools

(AGI) Rome — Parliament’s Commission for Culture has ruled the national anthem should be taught in schools and has also created a “Day of national unity, the Constitution, the Anthem and the Flag” on March 17th each year. The legislative decree will now be passed to the Senate after a bipartisan vote in which only the Northern League voted nay, and is the result of the unification of proposals presented by Paola Frassinetti (PdL) and Maria Coscia (PD). This law, called “Provisions on learning about citizenship and the constitution and the teaching of the National Anthem in schools”, will be implemented in schools next year with the National Anthem taught in all classes and all schools in the country. This law also envisages that March 17th, the day on which the Unity of Italy was rocalimed in Turin in 1861, will become a “Day of national unity, the Constitution, the Anthem and the Flag” but will not become a Bank Holiday, although there will be moments of refection and in-depth analysis especially in schools.

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

Italy: Lombardy Hospitals: Health Offices ‘Raided for Bid Rigging’

Regional health boss among 30 under investigation

(ANSA) — Milan, June 14 — Police raided regional health offices and hospitals in the northern Lombardy region Thursday over alleged irregularities in awarding clinical-trials contracts. Lombardy Health Director-General Carlo Lucchina was among roughly 30 suspects under investigation, police said. Charges in the sweep include criminal conspiracy, bid rigging, disclosure of secrecy and embezzlement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pro-Swiss Einstein Letter Sells for $180,000

A letter by Albert Einstein extolling the virtues of Switzerland written has fetched far more than expected at an auction in Lucerne. The letter, which came from the word-famous physicist’s private collection, was auctioned by the Fischer Gallery in Lucerne for 174,000 francs ($182,204), significantly more than the 25,000-35,000 francs predicted.

Handwritten in 1917 on both sides of a sheet of paper, the letter was sent to German Jewish industrialist and politician Walther Rathenau, who was assassinated by a right-wing extremist in 1922, a year after he had been made minister of foreign affairs, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

In the note, German-born Einstein, who became a Swiss national in 1901, hailed the benefits of small states and cited Switzerland as an example. He thought that only small self-contained states would be sustainable, but noted that Switzerland’s cantons were too small to afford all the essential functions of a state. He pointed instead to the German district of Brandenburg as having the ideal administrative size.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Salafist Organization Banned in Germany

Some 1,000 German police in seven states raided facilities belonging to ultra-conservative Salafist organizations on Thursday, as the Interior Ministry announced that one such group has been banned. Authorities are concerned about the growing numbers of violence-prone Salafists in the country.

For weeks, German officials have focused a significant amount of attention on the country’s Salafists, members of a fundamentalist strain of Islam who are suspected of having close ties to Islamist extremists. On Thursday, they made their move, raiding Salafist facilities in seven German states and banning one of the most important Salafist groups in the country, the Millatu Ibrahim.

“The organization acts in opposition to the idea of constitutional order and multicultural understanding,” German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Thursday morning. He added that the group promotes violence in its “fight against existing constitutional order.”

In addition, Friedrich say that two other Salafist groups have now been placed under investigation in the hopes of finding enough evidence to be able to ban them as well. Some 1,000 police officers took part in the early morning raids.

Authorities estimate that some 4,000 people belong to Salafist groups in Germany, and that it is the fastest growing strain of Islam in the country. Salafists are considered by the German government to be particularly dangerous and prone to violence, primarily because of their single-minded goal of establishing Sharia in Germany and their rejection of Western values. Furthermore, authorities believe that Salafist groups have close ties to jihadist fighters in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Soccer: Bare Chested Women ‘Reinforce’ Croatia at Euro 2012

Poznan, 14 June (AKI) — Croatia’s national football team will be “reinforced” in a decisive European Championship match against Italy in Poznan by two bare-breasted women fans who have already become a hit on Internet websites, the Croatian media reported on Thursday.

The Croatian women, Jelena and Viktorija Miksa, acquired “world fame” after rooting for their team in a match against Ireland last Saturday and walking bare-breasted through the streets of the Polish city of Poznan. The two Miksas are reportedly unrelated.

Croatia beat Ireland 3-1 and media speculated the scenes will be repeated today in the match against Italy, though no one dared to predict the result. That match due to be played again in Poznan.

The women’s “performance” enlightened Croatian and even Irish fans last Saturday, but shocked Croatia’s conservative public. Jelena Miksa is an employee of Croatia’s Ministry of Culture and its ethics committee was considering sanctions against her.

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

Sweden: External Airbags Could Save Pedestrian Lives

Thousands of pedestrians die each year in road accidents, but so far few carmakers have shown much interest in developing safety features to protect those outside the car. Now Swedish auto company Volvo has produced the first external airbag — and it could save lives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Gang Member Held After Malmö Hit-and-Run Drama

A 20-year-old member of the Black Cobra criminal gang is under arrest in Malmö following a wild car chase through the city that left a 61-year-old cyclist dead and has raised questions about how police handled the incident.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swedish Twitter Experiment Goes Awry With Jewish Comments

A project that gives ordinary people control of a Twitter account representing Sweden has erupted in controversy after this week’s curator let loose a stream of posts that could be seen as offensive to Jews. Sonja “Hitler” Abrahamsson, as she refers to herself, was put in charge of the @Sweden account on Monday in the latest stage of the Swedish Institute’s Curators of Sweden project.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Swedish Tourism Twitter Initiative Backfires

An initiative intended to promote tourism in Sweden has provoked controversy after a woman controlling its Twitter account posted inflammatory messages about Jews.

The Swedish government agency responsible for tourism, VisitSweden joined up with the Swedish Institute and advertising company Volontaire in developing a plan to promote the country on Twitter. The initiative describes itself as “a public agency that promotes interest and confidence in Sweden around the world.” In an innovative move, the @Sweden account is run by a different Swedish citizen every week. Patrick Kampmann, the creative director of Volontaire, explained the thinking behind the initiative when he said recently in an interview, “Sweden stands for certain values — being progressive, democratic, creative. We believed the best way to prove it was to handle the account in a progressive way and give control of it to ordinary Swedes.” The account, which has more than 40,000 followers, has to date been controlled by a diverse spread of the country’s population, including a female priest and a lesbian truck-driver.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Teen in Sweden Convicted of Child Rape

A 15-year-old boy in Norrköping, eastern Sweden, has been charged with child rape after allegedly forcing a 13-year-old girl to sex after contacting her and her younger friend on Facebook.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: A Prophet Yet an Outcast …

by Simon Heffer

When most people hear the words ‘Enoch Powell’ they think of the phrase ‘rivers of blood’. It was Powell’s misfortune — partly self-inflicted — that his monumental contribution to political ideas should still be eclipsed by a phrase that he never uttered, misquoted from the speech that still defines him. Powell was born 100 years ago this Saturday, in a terrace house by a railway line in a suburb of Birmingham, the only child of two teachers.

In time, he would become the most brilliant classical scholar of his generation at Cambridge, the youngest professor in the British Empire, the youngest Brigadier in the Army, an MP, a Cabinet Minister and, in his re-invention as a tribune of the people, one of the most loved and hated men in Britain.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Dramatic Twist in Gang Rape Trial

THE TRIAL of six Brierfield men accused of sexually exploiting and abusing a 14-year-old girl was dramatically halted yesterday. A Burnley Crown Court jury was discharged by the judge and the case was adjourned indefinitely. Mohammed Imran Amjad (25), of Halifax Road; Haroon Mahmood (21), of John Street; Mohammed Suleman Farooq (22), of Berry Street; Omar Mazafer (21), of Halifax Road; Mohammed Zeeshan Amjad (24), of Halifax Road and Shiraz Afzal (25), of Mansfield Crescent, all of Brierfield, are accused of various sex offences against the victim.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Edmund Burke, The Man

One of the great strengths of British conservatism is its fabulous cast of unlikely heroes and heroines. Examples include Margaret Thatcher, the daughter of a Lincolnshire shopkeeper; Winston Churchill, the half-American and sometime-Liberal architect of the early welfare state; and Benjamin Disraeli, a Jewish and dandyish journalist with radical sympathies. But, perhaps, the most unlikely example of them all is Edmund Burke — born Éamon de Búrca — the unmistakably Irish Whig who spent his career railing against the stupidities of 18th century Toryism.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Radical Mega-Mosque Opposed by Muslims

by Irfan Al-Alawi

In 1996, British adherents of Tabligh i Jamaat [TJ], the Muslim preaching movement that reflects the fundamentalist Deobandi ideology of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, purchased a large tract of land in an industrial area of West Ham, in the London Borough of Newham. The property was formerly a chemical factory, but TJ proposed to erect a “mega-mosque” there, serving tens of thousands of worshippers, with extensive visitors’ and conference centres, guest hostelries, a religious school, and parking space.

Little attention was paid to the “mega-mosque” project until Londoners, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were disturbed to learn that, if realized, the TJ complex would appear adjacent to the new Stadium built for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The successful bid for London to host this year’s Olympic Games came in 2005, almost a decade after TJ obtained the parcel on which it intended to place the “mega-mosque.” The Stadium opened last month. The Games will commence on 27 July. Opposition to the “mega-mosque” has left its future unresolved.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Sutton Library Prayer Room Plans Stir Up Anger

A library could become the first in the country to open a prayer room. Sutton Council’s library service has received a request from several Muslims to open a prayer room in Sutton central library. It is now considering the proposals to open an inter-faith prayer room in its facility at Sutton Civic Centre. It is understood no other public libraries in the country have such a room. Birmingham City Council is due to open a contemplation and prayer room in a new library complex next year. Sutton considering the proposals has angered the National Secular Society (NSC), who said libraries should not be places of worship.


Census statistics from 2001 showed about 20 per cent of people in Sutton were not religious or did not state they had a religion. About 70 per cent said they were Christian, and 2.5 per cent Muslim.

[Reader comment by ColP404 on 14 june 2012 at 10:29 am.]

That was 2001. Probably 70 per cent Muslim now. And most of them are working for Sutton council. When will we learn?

[JP note: Probably easier in the long run to convert all libraries, everywhere and everywhen, into Islamic Centres.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The BBC’s Left-Wing Bias Isn’t in Its News Coverage; It’s in Everything Else That it Does

by Ed West

From time to time people in the conservative media allege that the BBC is not entirely fair in its news output. I think it would be fair to say that some time ago I became a registered bore on the subject (and you only have to read my stuff — imagine living with me). And yet a report just published by the New Culture Forum suggests that this is unfair — because BBC news and current affairs output is nothing like as biased as BBC drama, and this is far more insidious. Dennis Sewell, the author of A Question of Attitude: The BBC and Bias Beyond News, spent more than 22 years working for BBC News, but came to the conclusion that it was wider culture biases in “arts, drama, documentary and religious programmes” that really alienated what he calls “the 32 per cent”, the proportion of definite conservatives in the population.


Worst of all, perhaps was Geert Wilders — Europe’s Most Dangerous Man? (BBC Two — February 2011) which “seemed to break many of the rules that the BBC’s own news and current affairs journalists are taught to observe”.

Billed as a profile of the controversial Dutch politician, for much of the time it felt more like a character assassination. A relentless catalogue of smear, insinuation and innuendo, with a good deal of the testimony against Wilders coming out of the mouths of interviewees whose backgrounds, in some cases, do not stand up to even cursory scrutiny. What was worse, their true affiliations had been sanitized by the programme makers. Martin Smith, identified as an anti-fascist campaigner. What the BBC chose not to vouchsafe was that Smith had been, at the time the interview was conducted, the national organizer of the Socialist Workers Party. Had we been told that Smith was not just the common or garden variety of right-on do-gooder, but a Trotskyite entryist, involved in the political equivalent of a false-flag operation, we might have taken his criticisms of Wilders with a larger pinch of salt. Nor were we told that Smith had, as recently as September 2010, been convicted in the UK of assaulting a police officer — something that might have led the viewer to ponder whether Wilders (who has not been associated with any criminal violence) would even be a candidate for the most dangerous man in this film.

More than once in the film, emphasis was placed on Wilders’ supposed wish to have the Koran banned. At one point, he was accused of wanting to deny access to the text to ‘one and a half billion Muslims’. Wilders has many times explained and clarified his position on this — and indeed is briefly glimpsed in the film, trying to do so at a press conference. The truth of the matter is that, within the context of a discussion on banning the sale of Mein Kampf in Holland (a measure that was passed into law at the instigation of the Left), Wilders remarked that, if the Left were to be consistent, the logic of its arguments for banning Hitler’s book should lead it also to seek a ban on the Koran, which contains passages that it should find just as odious as the passages in Mein Kampf that were so objectionable.

The programme also included pro-Wilders contributions from extremists while omitting his many moderate supporters and sympathisers: “A fair analogy might be the BBC broadcasting a profile of Ed Miliband, slanted in a ‘Red Ed’ direction, where the only supportive content — beyond a few vox pops with Labour voters — would be a clip of a Socialist Workers Party activist addressing a ‘Stop the Cuts’ demo, and an interview with a former Baader-Meinhof terrorist. The cynical stratagem of seeking to promote guilt by association is no substitute for balance.”

Then there was the notorious Any Questions (BBC Radio 4 — 5 March 2010) broadcast from the East London Mosque, where only a month previously a speaker had called for women who use perfume to be flogged: “The BBC may have walked into an ambush with its eyes shut. The listener at home, however, might have drawn a different conclusion. The whooping, baying crowd in the hall evoked memories of the disgraceful BBC Question Time Special broadcast immediately after 9/11, during which the American ambassador, Philip Lader, struggled to hold back his tears in the face of a brutal Islamist-leftist rent-a-mob.”

Or Bonekickers (July 2008) which featured the beheading of a peaceable Muslim man at the hands of a group of Christian fanatics, which was an unusual re-imagining of a 2007 case where some Islamists in Birmingham had plotted to behead a British Muslim soldier. Almost as sick was the very first episode of BBC One’s MI5 drama Spooks in 2002, which featured pro-life terrorists, a theme that featured again in the 2009 cop drama Hunter, where anti-abortionists threatened to kill kidnapped children unless the BBC showed a video of a 24-week termination. Never mind that nothing like this has ever occurred in Britain, and even in the US, pro-life violence is exceptionally rare. Then there was Accused: Frankie’s Story, about British soldiers in Afghanistan, (BBC One — 22 November 2010). Colonel Tim Collins, horrified, said the BBC was stabbing in the back those soldiers serving in the front line, and Sewell says that many troops saw it as “defamatory and stemming from a culpable ignorance”.


[Reader comment by joestrummer on 13 June 2012 at 09:55 PM.]

The BBC, and not just its news outlets, is just the visual representation of loony Labour council policies up and down the land. Every -ism imaginable, especially the received truth of multiculturalism, are relentlessly propagated as normalised behaviour and anyone deviating from the lunacy is portrayed as a “right-wing extremist”. Anti-Americanism is rampant, except of course when the Yanks aren’t stupid anymore and they elect a Democrat President, witness the worshipping and genuflecting before the feet of both Clinton and Obama. Anti-Israel, anti-Ulster Unionism is another default position of the BBC. The organisation’s fetish for anything African is also absurd. Is there even one day when either its television or radio output doesn’t have one feature from that particular continent ?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Right Honourable Mr. Burke

by Brian Doyle

Impassioned orator, eloquent statesman, esteemed writer-but who was Edmund Burke the man?

Everyone claims Edmund Burke as his patron saint, political forefather, lodestar and compass point, ancestral bulwark against the tide of whatever seething modern ill he despises. The right wing trumpets Burke, who excoriated the murderous rebellion in France; the left wing salutes Burke, who excoriated his imperial colleagues for their overweening and rapacious greed in India and America; Christians celebrate Burke, who considered religion a crucial and indispensable pillar of civic life; the Irish savor a native son who became, as Hazlitt noted, “the chief boast and ornament of the English House of Commons”; the English honor the writer and orator of “transcendant greatness,” as Coleridge wrote, with his usual casual attention to spelling.

But Edmund Burke the actual man is faded away-the man his wife called Ned, fond of vulgar puns and lewd jokes, an ample man, thin as a lad and then never again; the chatterbox “never unwilling to begin to talk, nor in haste to leave off,” as Samuel Johnson said (probably with a tinge of self-recognition); the man whose first schooling was in a ruined castle in rural Cork, because Catholics were forbidden education under imperial law; the man who lost one son early and the other too soon; the man who would launch into such furious and vituperative speech in Parliament that his friends would have to haul him down into his seat by his coattails; the man “quick to offend [but] ready to atone,” in his own words; the man whose one refuge from politics and creditors, friends and enemies, passions and plots, was a tiny “root-house,” as he called it, a mile from his heavily mortgaged estate house through the Buckinghamshire woods-a “tea-house,” as a young friend described the place, set amid “roots of trees, moss, and so forth, with a … little kitchen behind and an ice-house under it.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Vatican: Ultraconservative Breakaway Fraternity Offered Reintegration

Vatican City, 14 June (AKI) — The Vatican said Thursday it had proposed making the hardline breakaway Society of Pius X a “personal prelature” of the Catholic Church in a bid to return it to the fold and end a 25-year-long schism.

The only group that currently has this status in canon law — equivalent to being a borderless diocese that carries out pastoral initiatives — is the conservative Opus Dei movement.

Thursday’s statement came a day after the fraternity’s superior, Bernard Fellay, met Vatican officials to hear the pope’s decision on whether conditions could be met to reintegrate the fundamentalist society.

Benedict XVI’s decree has not yet been made public and the Vatican has given Fellay “a reasonable amount of time” to consider the proposal and its demands that the group accept core doctrinal points.

“The ball is now in their court,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Thursday.

Fellay may take weeks to prepare the brotherhood’s response.

In January, 2009, Benedict provoked outrage from Jews and Catholics worldwide by lifting the excommunication of the fraternity’s four bishops, including Bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied the World War II Nazi Holocaust.

The society’s relations with the Vatican have been strained since its founder, controversial French bishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops, defying the orders of Benedict’s predecessor Pope John Paul II.

John Paul II excommunicated Williamson and three other bishops in response.

Lefebvre founded the breakaway fraternity in 1970 to reject reforms passed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s.

The reforms included a declaration which ended a church doctrine under which the Jews were held responsible for killing Jesus Christ.

Benedict has striven to heal the rift with the ultraconservative brotherhood, which wants the traditional Latin mass restored, by issuing instructions to widen availability of the ancient rite.

The Society of Pius X claims about 150,000 followers across the world, mainly in France and Brazil.

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


EU: Croatia: CEI Countries, Ratifications to Respect Timeframe

Final statement at Trieste Foreign Ministers summit

(ANSAmed) — TRIESTE, JUNE 13 — Foreign Ministers from the 18 countries belonging to the Central European Initiative (CEI) have today called for “the process of ratification by the Parliaments of the 27 EU member states to be completed as soon as possible, to allow Croatia to enter the European Union on July 1 2013”, according to the final statement from today’s summit in Trieste.

Ministers examined recent developments in the area, from the recent granting of candidate status to Serbia to progress made by Albania. They also “encouraged Bosnia Herzegovina to continue with its programme of reforms, expressed their hope that EU accession talks with Montenegro will be opened by the end of the Danish presidency of the Union, and welcomed efforts by Macedonia, which is looking to open accession talks, inviting all sides involved to resolve outstanding bilateral issues”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria-Morocco: Rapper to Urge Re-Opening of Border in New Album

Algiers, 14 June (AKI) — Algerian rapper Mohamed Lamin will release a new album of songs calling on his country to reopen the long-closed border with neighbouring Morocco, according to pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi..

Lamin,Tunisian and Moroccan rappers compiled the album in a bid to persuade Algeria’s authorities to reopen the 1,559- kilometre-long border with Morocco that was shut after a guerrilla attack in Marrakech in 1994, the daily said.

“This album aims to challenge Algerian politicians who refuse to re-open the border. I have never given up my struggle in this regard and intend to keep going,” said Lamin, who began work on the new album three years ago.

Despite repeated moves by Morocco and Tunisian mediation, Algeria remains opposed to re-opening the border. Algerian authorities closed it when Rabat imposed visas on Algerian travellers in the wake of a guerrilla attack on the Atlas Asni Hotel in Marrakech.

Morocco suspected Algeria of having a hand in the attack and thousands of Algerian residents and tourists were summarily expelled.

A song from Lamin’s new album, entitled ‘Fakhri’ includes a duet with Moroccan rapper Samid Ghilam del gruppo rapper ‘Ash Kein’ that has already been aired on Saudi radio station ‘Mbc’ and France’s ‘Rmm’.

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

Egypt’s Highest Court Says Parliament Must Dissolve

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the Islamist-led parliament must be immediately dissolved, while also blessing the right of Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister to run for president, escalating a battle for power between the remnants of the toppled order and rising Islamists.

[Return to headlines]

Egypt Court Orders Entire Parliament Dissolved, Deems Election Unconstitutional

Egypt’s highest court on Thursday ordered the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved and ruled that the last prime minister to serve under Hosni Mubarak could stay in the presidential race, twin blows to the Muslim Brotherhood that could sweep away its political gains since Mubarak’s ouster 16 months ago.

The rulings by the Supreme Constitutional Court, whose judges are Mubarak appointees, escalated the power struggle between the Brotherhood and the military, which stepped in to rule after Mubarak’s fall. The decisions tip the contest dramatically in favor of the ruling generals, robbing the Brotherhood of its power base in parliament and boosting Ahmad Shafiq, the former Mubarak prime minister who many see as the military’s favorite in the presidential contest against the Brotherhood’s candidate.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader and lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagy said the rulings amounted to a “full-fledged coup.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Clashes: Government Accuses Fundamentalists and Anti-Islam

Gvt. tries to restore strong authority. One dies in Sousse

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, 13 JUNE — Even if they still do not have a name, those who stand behind the clashes fed by the Salafis that set Tunisia on fire, causing the death of one person (a young “barbous” student in Sousse) certainly have a face: the face of fundamentalism, of those abusing Faith and of those trying to profane the sacred. The statement made by the President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki, the Prime Minister Hamadi Djebali and the President of the Constituent Assembly Moustapha Ben Jafaar, while nearly the whole country is still on a curfew, sound like a perfect synthesis between the need to protect the national interest, the need to give an answer to a 90% of Tunisians who were shocked by the events and by the political interest in not causing a break with believers.

The joint declaration came after a long preparation stage; although the declaration was announced last night, while the noise of clashes still echoed on the streets and the smell of tear gas could be smelled in several areas of the country, it was released only this morning after a three-people summit which lasted for hours. Maybe, it wasn’t easy to conciliate the three different souls of the “trojka” which is currently leading the country. “The three Presidents” , as people call them were very hard on “the extremists who are trying to lead Tunisia on the brink of a precipice”, where a role is played by members of RCD, the Party of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who are still active because, after the fall of the dictator, there were no retaliations and purges. This is the reason why some had been fearing for a long time that the former members of the RCD would be back; as the Minister of Justice B’rihi said yesterday, this is happening now. However, the joint declaration also contains words against those who make a political instrument of religion and offend Islam by abusing the sacred, which is very important for post-dictatorship Tunisians. And, by making reference to the notion of respect for the sacred, a justification is provided for the reasons, not for the actions, of those Salafi who, deeming some of the works exhibited during a art exhibition as immoral, organised a breakthrough and destroyed them. The meaning is: you are right, but your actions were wrong. This position has already been censored by some observers and analysts, according to which by stating, even indirectly, that the Salafis are right, you underestimate respect for art and its diverse expressions and endanger personal freedoms.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Clashes Between Army and Al-Qaeda Kill 10 in South Yemen

(AGI) Aden — Official sources say 2 Yemeni soldiers and 8 Al-Qaeda militants have been killed in clashes over the city of Shuqra. The Yemeni army launched a huge offensive in Southern Yemen, geared to retaking Abyan Province, which has fallen into terrorist hands. The only cities still under Al-Qaeda control are Shuqra and Mahfad.

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

Gulf: Clampdown on Sorcerers and Witchcraft

More objects seized, S. Arabia creates police unit

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JUNE 11 — In the shadow of the enormous skyscrapers in Dubai, symbols of modernity and innovation, old superstitions and black magic are still popular in the Emirate’s intricate multicultural social web. At least according to the amount of “material for witchcraft” impounded by the border police: 92 cases in one year. Witchcraft is punishable with imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates, but in other Gulf states, like Saudi Arabia, culprits can even get the death penalty. Yesterday two Asian men were arrested at the airport when some bizarre and illegal objects were found in their luggage: texts containing magic spells and rituals, talismans, animal hides and bones, containers holding blood and other liquids, strings and strange rings: 1200 objects, classifiable in 28 categories, in total. “Magic and witchcraft are dangerous practices that jeopardise society, manipulating the minds of people with problems,” commented Ali Al Maghawi, director of customs operations, underlining that people’s credulity is often used for fraud.

Women are often the easiest victims according to statistics. Islam explicitly forbids “learning, teaching and practicing magic” as well as consulting magicians, fortune-tellers, wizards and the likes because they go against the will of Allah, the only one to decide on the destiny of each individual, the Gran Mufti for Islamic Affairs, Ali Ahmad Masha’al, explains in newspaper Gulf News.

Saudi Arabia carried out two death sentence for witchcraft in 2011: a man from Sudan and an Arab woman were beheaded in a period of a few months. The year before, a Lebanese sorcerer, well-known from television, was arrested when entering the oil state. He was brought to trial and sentenced to death. The sentence was not carried out in the end because of strong international pressure.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Qatar: Top 86-Year Old Sunni Cleric Qaradawi Marries for the Third Time

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Top Egyptian octogenarian Sunni cleric and theologian, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has remarried for a third time. Al-Qaradawi, 86, married a Moroccan woman 37 years his junior in Qatar. According to Moroccan media the 49 year old women is a public employee in the capital city of Rabat. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi was born in a small village in Egypt’s Nile Delta in 1926. He studied Islamic theology at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he graduated in 1953. However, the Sunni cleric has lived and worked in the Persian Gulf littoral state of Qatar since 1961. In 1977, he founded the Faculty of Shari’ah and Islamic Studies in the University of Qatar and managed it until 1990. He has also been heading the Research Centre of Seerah and Sunna in the same university.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: New Petition to King for Women Drivers

A year after start of “I will drive my car” campaign

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT — A petition has been posted online by activists. The aim is to gather enough support to be presented to King Abdullah on June 17, the first anniversary of the launch of the campaign.

One of the signatories is Manal al-Sharif, who was arrested in May 2011 after posting a Youtube video of herself at the wheel of a car. The activist was freed a few days later while another woman, Sheima Jastaniah, who was sentenced to 10 lashes for defying the ban, was pardoned by the King in November last year.

Since then, their example has been followed by hundreds of Saudi women, dozens of whom have been arrested and freed only after being forced to sign a statement promising that they would not repeat their gesture of defiance.

The petition, which its promoters say has already gathered hundreds of signatures, asks the sovereign to support the “I will drive my car” campaign, saying that the right is recognised to women “by all religions and national and international laws”, but denied only on the basis of “customs and traditions that do not derive from God”.

As a first step, the petition asks for the right to drive to be applied to women who gained their licences in nearby countries, and for “driving schools for women” to be opened inside Saudi Arabia.

“We neither cooperate with any organisation or international body nor represent a political party or opposition and we do not want to begin a public protest,” the scheme’s promoters say. “We ask only that every woman needing to move around for her daily duties and who does not have a man to help her be allowed to help herself”.

Women in Saudi Arabia today who need to use a car must either do so with a driver or with a male relative driving for them.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Science and Islam

Theoretical physicist, Jim Al-Khalili hosts the BBC documentary series SCIENCE AND ISLAM. The series includes three episodes including “The Language Of Science” (June 13), “The Empire Of Reason” (June 20) and “The Power Of Doubt” (June 27). Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries.


[JP note: More leftwing, multicultural nonsense from the BBC.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia

British Grenadier Guards Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Grenade Blast

A British soldier from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards has been killed in a grenade blast in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said.

The soldier, who has not yet been named, was on a patrol to disrupt insurgent activity in the north of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand Province when he was caught in the blast from an enemy grenade yesterday. He died despite receiving immediate medical treatment, a spokesman said. His family have been informed. Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Ian Lawrence, said: “Sadly I must inform you that a soldier from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards has been killed whilst on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province. “The thoughts of all within Task Force Helmand are with his family and friends at this difficult time.” The soldier becomes the 418th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Uzbekistan: WikiLeaks: Karimov, Arabs and Money for New Mosques

Arab money were supposed to fund the construction of a “cultural-religious building” in place of a WWII memorial in the centre of Tashkent, but why did this project not work out?

The title of a cable sent by the then US ambassador to Uzbekistan, Richard Norland, to Washington on 7 July 2008 is “Uzbekistan: UAE To Build Cultural-Religious Center In Tashkent, Expand Investment”. The cable talks about an embassy contact’s meeting with a UAE consulate general economic specialist. The contact confirmed that Uzbekistan was planning to build a major “cultural-religious building” on the present site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the centre of Tashkent that commemorates soldiers who died in WWII. He said that the Dubai Properties Group, a UAE company, would build the building, but was not able to give more details. “Recent rumors suggested that the new building would be a very large mosque,” the cable said, adding that according to the contact, the new facility would be “more cultural than religious”.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

China: DHL Chooses Shanghai for Its New Hub

As its middle class grows, China is fast becoming the world’s largest logistics market. That’s why Deutsche Post DHL has built a new hub in Shanghai, which is set to open next month.

July is not the best time to travel to the Chinese metropolis Shanghai. Summers in the south of China are hot and humid, and the air is dense. Temperatures can rise to over 40°C (over 100°F).

Nevertheless, this is exactly the time of year that Deutsche Post DHL’s CEO Frank Appel has chosen to travel.

And he won’t be there just for a day or two — he and other managers from the German logistics company expect to spend a few weeks there.

“China has become extremely important for our business,” Appel told DW. “That’s why I want to understand how the country is developing — to see what exactly is happening there. My colleagues feel the same. We decided to go to China together and spend some time there.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Wal-Mart Faces New Food-Safety Complaints in China

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. faced new accusations of food-safety violations in China, as the retailer attempted to recover from a pork-labeling scandal that jolted its China operations last year. Beijing’s Food Safety Administration said Thursday that it accused Wal-Mart of violating food-safety standards in March by selling sesame oil exceeding standard amounts of benzopyrene and squid containing hazardous levels of cadmium. The agency’s website said the sesame oil and squid were produced by domestic companies. Both chemicals are hazardous to human consumption and can cause cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Will China Lead the World in 2030?

Nobody can see into the future, but certain experts are daring to predict the state of the world in 2030. They see China ahead of other countries. Although it is almost impossible to predict how some of the developments underway in the world right now will end up, many economists are doing their best to make forecasts, which are as precise as possible.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Mt Martha Primary School’s No Contact Policy Bans Tiggy and High Fives

UPDATE: A PRIMARY school principal has defended her “crazy” and “ridiculous” decision to ban kids from playing tiggy and giving each other high fives.

It comes after parents today stormed the offices of Mt Martha Primary School in protest after their horrified children told them about the bans.

The new no-contact policy also outlaws soccer, touching and hugging as well as basketball, football and chasey.

Principal Judy Beckworth said stood by her decision and said the ban would be in place for a week in a bid to cut back the number of injuries to students in the school yard.

“I don’t believe this is taking it too far and this is not an overreaction,” she said.

“When you have students badly injuring themselves, it would be unacceptable for me not to take action.


One student was reprimanded yesterday after putting his arm around his mate who was winded. The student had to walk the school ground with the yard duty teacher as punishment.


The mother of the young boy who was winded said her son felt bad for his mate, who was punished for coming to his aid.

“This is crazy and out of control,” she said.

“So is lunchtime and recess now for the kids to be sitting a metre apart from each other and not doing anything.”

Mt Martha has previously come under fire after it issued demands for parents to pay for toilet paper and soap and the use of the school oval.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Return Stolen Regalia From Palace or …-Gbi Traditional Council Warns Muslims

The Gbi Traditional Council has warned Muslim youth to return stolen regalia from the palace or they will advice themselves. The council gave this ultimatum during a meeting with the GOC Southern Command, Brigadier General Martin Ahiaglo. The Commander has been meeting with feuding factions- Muslims and indigenes of Hohoe- in an attempt to calm nerves and to restore order following days of clashes which have left two people dead and properties destroyed. The two groups have been engaged in series of reprisal attack culminating in a dawn-to-dusk curfew being imposed on the Hohoe Municipality. Two houses were torched, Wednesday dawn despite the curfew; raising concerns the clashes are far from over. Moslems are said to be running away from the area for fear of being attacked.

Peace brokers including the National Chief Imam, Sheik Nuhu Sharabutu as well as Brigadier Gen. Ahiaglo have been meeting the factions to attempt a peaceful resolution of the matter. Joy News Volta Region correspondent Agbeko Ben Coffie who is part of the emissaries reported the Gbi Traditional Council is unhappy with the attack on their palace. Apart from the destruction on the Palace the Council is accusing the Muslim Youth of stealing regalia from the Palace. Tobgui Keh of Gbi Wegbe said the Muslim youth have until Friday to return the stolen regalia or the Council will advise themselves. He is also cautioning the police against what he said was the continuous attacks and harassment of the indigenes or they will be forced to defend themselves. Agbeko Ben Coffie reported of angry women clad in red and in firm support of the Council’s position.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Tanzania: Bakwata Backs Sheikhs on Census

THE Muslim Council of Tanzania (Bakwata) has backed sheikhs’ move to sensitize their followers to boycott the upcoming national census, in case the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) does not include a question on an individual’s religion in its questionnaires. In a statement issued on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam by Sheikh Mussa Yusufu Kundecha and signed by 30 other sheikhs, the leaders have insisted that the omission of the question on religion would lead to continuous use of the current data which are incorrect. “We already have various data on the internet, which are widely quoted in references to the country’s population versus their religious affiliations. These data are incorrect, it is better to come up with reliable ones,” he said. Sheikh Kundecha noted that the move by Muslim leaders comes after the government last Monday reaffirmed its decision not to include the component, after a consultative meeting with religious leaders in which Muslims emphasized their case.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Falklands 30 Year Anniversary: Argentina Renews Assault at UN

Argentina said Britain has “a duty” to negotiate the future of the Falkland Islands ahead of a UN meeting on the disputed territory on Thursday’s 30th anniversary of the end of war between the two countries.

President Cristina Kirchner will lead a delegation of more than 90 Argentine diplomats and officials at the UN decolonisation committee’s annual meeting on the Falklands and 15 other territories around the world. Two of the eight members of the Falklands legislative assembly will put the case that the 3,000 population want to remain under the British flag. Britain, whose troops ended a 74-day Argentine occupation of the South Atlantic islands on June 14, 1982, has always refused talks saying the population should decide their own future. It boycotts the committee meetings.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Hugo Chavez Announces Venezuela Making Drones and Kalashnikov Rifles

President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday that Venezuela has begun to assemble Kalashnikov assault rifles with assistance from Russia and started producing surveillance drones.

Venezuela has spent billions of dollars for Russian arms and military aircraft since 2005, including 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, dozens of attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. “We are a free and independent country,” Chavez said. Army Gen. Julio Cesar Morales Prieto, president of Venezuela’s state-run arms producer, said 3,000 AK-103 assault rifles have been assembled since Venezuela and Russia signed the 2005 agreement for the construction of a Kalashnikov assembly factory. The factory has begun production, but construction of the facility has not yet been completed, Morales Prieto said. The factory eventually will have the capacity to produce 25,000 rifles annually.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Pickles Flies Falklands Flag to Mark 30th Anniversary of Liberation

Many of us have never felt more proud to be British than we did 30 years ago. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles raised the Falklands flag at the Department for Communities and Local Government in Whitehall to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the islands. The Falklands flag is being flown alongside the United Kingdom’s Union flag, which is flown all year round.

It has been decided that flags from some of Britain’s 13 other Overseas Territories be flown at different times. They cover 600,000 square miles and are home to 260,000 people — more than Nottingham or Newcastle. The Falkland Islands are made up of over 700 islands with the two largest, West and East Falkland home to around 3,000 people.

Eric says:

“Today, we pay tribute to the bravery of our Armed Forces thirty years ago in liberating the Falklands from totalitarian aggression.

“British forces put their lives on the line to defend British sovereign territory, the British way of life and the rights of British people to determine their own future. This is was a victory both for freedom and the indefatigable spirit of the Islanders.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Trinidad Islamic Group Leader Faces Sedition Trial

The leader of an Islamic group that staged a deadly coup attempt 22 years ago in Trinidad went on trial Wednesday on charges of making seditious statements during a sermon at his mosque. Seventy-year-old Yasin Abu Bakr is accused of threatening affluent Muslims he believed were not paying an Islamic tithe for the poor, telling them during a 2005 sermon that “blood could flow.” His attorney said he was not threatening anyone and simply speaking freely. “Is it that only Abu Bakr is not equal before the law and does not have freedom of thought and expression?” defense attorney Wayne Sturge asked the judge Wednesday. Legal delays and an ankle injury Abu Bakr suffered delayed the trial for years. Prosecuting attorney Dana Seetahal said the case is based on a video from a local TV news crew that recorded the sermon.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]


MEPs Block Draft Laws to Protest Schengen Reform

The European parliament blocked talks with EU nations on five draft laws Thursday to protest being stripped of a say in the running of the visa-free Schengen area, its president Martin Schulz said.

Parliamentary groups across the political spectrum, with the exception of the far right, are angry at a decision by home affairs ministers last week to change the legal basis of the 26-nation Schengen area.

The change, which removes MEPs’ right to take part in decisions on monitoring Schengen borders, has set the 752-seat assembly on a collision course with the European Union’s member states.

Some MEPs have threatened to lodge an appeal with the European Court of Justice.

Schulz said the parliament would suspend negotiations on five draft laws “in response to a far-reaching decision” by the ministers.

“This is unprecedented in the 18 years since I was elected to parliament,” he said.

Conservative Joseph Daul, who heads the largest group in the parliament, said this week that his group would boycott Denmark, which as current rotating EU president was deemed responsible for the move.

“The Danish presidency has broken a bond of trust with this parliament,” he said.

In a landmark move the same day, the ministers also agreed to empower countries to temporarily restore frontier checks in the borderless travel zone in case of a surge of illegal migrants.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Tough Asylum Laws ‘Contrary to Tradition’

Switzerland’s left-wing parties and refugee support groups have reacted angrily to a raft of measures approved by the lower house on Wednesday that will place much tougher restrictions on asylum seekers.

The lower house of parliament, the National Council, voted to block asylum seekers’ right to welfare benefits, and to provide only the minimal emergency assistance.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga spoke out against the reduction in financial support, saying that that the changes are “contrary to the humanitarian tradition of which our country likes to boast,” newspaper Tages Anzieger reported.

She also criticized the fact that the measures would be like torture for people with no home or right to work, who were already traumatized by their ordeals, online new site Le Matin reported.

The more liberal proposals of the Greens and Social Democrats were rejected in favour of proposals to tighten asylum laws.

Beat Meiner, head of the Swiss Refugee Council said the left-wing parties who opposed the move would likely force a referendum if the upper house votes to approve the legislative changes in the autumn.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia-Switzerland Deal for Helping Youth

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 13 — Opening the way for emigration towards Switzerland, on the basis of an “agreed approach”. This is the first objective of a memorandum signed in Tunis by Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, and Simonetta Sommaruga, chief of the Swiss Justice and Police Federal Department.

The agreement foresees the formation of 150 young Tunisians, for a period of about 18 months, at the conclusion of which, thanks to the attainment of a Swiss diploma, the young men will be able to carry out an internship in a Swiss firm and integrate within the job market.

The memorandum also plans to help out with accommodation in Switzerland for some Tunisian labour categories (such as businessmen and doctors). The agreement also plans to hand out a large sum (ten thousand dinars, about five thousand euros) which will be given by Swiss authorities to every Tunisian in an irregular situation and who is to be returned to his country, voluntarily or by force. The repatriating process will be carried out in small groups (2-3 maximum), “in the respect of human dignity and respecting the Bill of Human Rights.” In 2011 the Swiss authorities received 2570 requests for political asylum from Tunisia, of which only two were accepted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Morocco: Plague of Illegal Abortions, 600-800 Per Day

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 13 — Illegal abortion in Morocco is “a real tragedy”, with between 600 and 800 cases every day, causing serious complications for women’s health, some of which can prove fatal, according to the president of the Moroccan association for the fight against illegal abortion (AMLAC), Chafik Chrabi, who has been speaking during the association’s second conference.

The reasons that move women to choose such a dangerous solution are to be found in the serious social repercussions that unwanted pregnancy could bring, including being kicked out of the family home, honour crimes and suicide. The current law on regulating abortion “is not compatible with social reality in Morocco,” Chrabi said. In light of these figures, it would be “preferable, in cases such as rape, incest and foetal deformation, to proceed in good medical conditions in order to limit the consequences of illegal abortion”.

Abdelali Alaoui Belghiti, the head of hospitals and clinics at the country’s Ministry of Health, says that “the problem of abortion in Morocco not only concerns the health sector, but is a social problem that concerns a number of interested parties”.

The member of parliament and former Minister for Social Development, Families and Solidarity, Nouzha Skalli, has drawn attention to the need rapidly to bring in a new law “as part of national consensus with the aim of avoiding the social ills deriving from unwanted pregnancy”, the MAP news agency says. Skalli called for courage in debating and finding solutions to the social problem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Majority Against Abortion Ban, Poll

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 11 — Most people in Turkey are against the ban on abortion proposed by nationalist Islamic Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a survey published today by newspaper HaberTurk.

A majority of 55.5% of interviewees said no to the reform of the law, introduced in 1983, that allows abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy. By the end of May, Erdogan called abortion “murder” and announced that a new law would passed soon.

According to the Turkish press, this law will ban abortion completely or limit it to the first 4 weeks, when “life ignites” according to several Islamic thinkers. Another 44.5% agrees with the proposal. The premier’s AKP party obtained 50% of votes in the most recent parliamentary elections in June 2011. Erdogan’s counter-reform plans, which may include a ban on abortion for raped women as well according to several AKP members, has triggered sharp protests in the opposition and among women’s rights movements. According to the Islamic-nationalist premier, abortions and Caesarean births are part of a “conspiracy” aimed at slowing Turkey’s demographic growth, which he sees as necessary to keep the current economic boom going. Members of the EU and the European Council have criticised the plans of the Turkish government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic Society’s Event Sparks Controversy

YUSU has defended the invitation of Yusuf Chambers to speak at the University tonight amid controversy over the speaker’s views on homosexuality. The Islamic Society has invited Yusuf Chambers to speak at an event entitled ‘Patience, perseverance, and Final Exam’, and Tim Ellis, YUSU President, said in a blog post today that the event would go ahead.

The event has been criticised by Stand for Peace, one of Britain’s leading Jewish-Muslim interfaith organisations, who say that Chambers has in the past, “expressed the desire for homosexuals to be killed and has denied that homosexuality has any natural or genetic origins.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: More on Yusuf Chambers at York

At the top of the piece about this issue on Student Rights there has now been added a link to a statement from York’s LGBT Officer, Leon Morris. It opens:

Yusuf Chambers is a member of the Islamic Research and Education Academy (iERA). The iERA features Muslim fundamentalist preachers who advocate the criminalisation of homosexuality and even the death penalty for same-sex acts. They argue that it is necessary to execute gays to keep society pure. Indeed, Yusuf Chambers was one of the founders of this Academy and in addition to this, has been known to advocate the return of stoning adultress women and is openly against Jews. One of the biggest issues, however, that restricts any possibility of mine to stage a protest is that of free speech. I believe that the freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights that allows and permits us the capacity to be rational human beings and by the very nature of free speech, people will be offended some of the time. In developing a level of tolerance to others, we can manage those that which offend us.

I’m not at all sure about this — not being invited to speak at a university is not in itself an infringement of free speech, and neither need a protest necessarily shut down debate. What it can do is demonstrate that people find Chambers’ views repellent.


[Reader comment by Falming Fairy on 14 June 2012 at 7:59 am.]

So basically, it’s as I said — you cannot rely on university authorities or students themselves to defend LGBT students. That statement by the LGBT officer reminds me of a translation of a letter I saw once in which a German Jew was wondering how best to address his Nazified neighbours in order not to offend their new patriotism.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120613

Financial Crisis
» After Aid: Special Supervision for Spanish Banks
» Banking Crisis: Everyone Has Been Lying
» Euro Crisis Deepens: Can Italy Break Out of Its Downward Spiral?
» Germany May Demand Greek Exit to Save Euro, UK Says
» German Minister Expresses Sympathy for Ordinary Greeks
» Greece Wants Euro But Austerity May Lead to Exit, Tsipras
» Greece: Undeclared Labor on the Rise, Reports
» Greece: Ferry Firm Cancels Routes as Cannot Buy Fuel
» Greece: Samaras Says Can ‘Modify’ Debt Deal
» Italy: Passera: Europe’s Behaviour Outrageous
» Obama’s Financial Mis-Handling is Adding to Jobless Woes
» Shultz: If Greece Leaves Euro it Will Leave the EU as Well
» Spain Suffering, Debts and Thefts Rising Steadily
» Al Qaeda’s Bogus Camel Bounty
» Gatekeepers in the Digital, Networked World
» Germans Disappointed by Obama Over Attacks
» Germans Increasingly Disillusioned With Obama
» Global Warming Cash Cow in Peril
» Obama’s Lost Legacy: A New World Order
» St. Anthony City Council Rejects Islamic Center Plan
» Suburban NY Mosque Project Inches Forward
Europe and the EU
» Barroso to Unveil ‘Political Union’ Plan at EU Summit
» Bulgaria: 2 Mosques Penalized in Bulgaria’s Kardzhali for Noise Violations
» Ex-Head of Vatican Bank Has Secret Dossier on Senior Italian and Church Figures, Money Laundering, Fears Vatican Assassins
» Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho Resigns as Chairman of Parliament’s Administration Committee
» France: Police at Paris Airport Bar 3 Saudi Women Wearing Face Veil From Entering France, Citing Ban
» Gibraltar: New Tax Regime Worsens Spain-UK Relations
» Gibraltar: Huge Image of the Queen to be Projected on Rock of Gibraltar
» Islamists Shatter Quiet Belgium
» Italy: Monti: Government Redoubling Fight Against Tax Evasion
» Italy: Universities Lose Over 20,000 Temporary Researchers
» Italy: Mussolini’s Granddaughter Signs Photos of Dictator in House
» Murdoch Tried to Dictate EU Policies, Says Major
» Near-Space Tourism Balloon Runs Test Launch
» Norway: Ban Ritual Circumcision of Boys: Centre Party
» Norway: Talk With Breivik ‘Like Meeting Hannibal’
» Norway: Breivik Posed ‘To Lighten the Mood’ After Massacre
» Romania Fights Over Who Should Go to EU Summits
» Sarkozy to be Guarded by Ten Police Officers
» UK: Girl, 14, ‘Groomed and Raped at Drugs Den by Gang of Men Who Treated Her With Contempt’
» UK: MP Welcomes Formal Inquiry Into Grooming
» UK: Rochdale Grooming Case ‘Not a Specific Asian Crime’
» UK: Rochdale Grooming Case is ‘Tip of Iceberg’
» UK: The Three Faiths Forum — Helping Children Understand
» UK: Tagged — But Free to Kill: As Report Reveals Nearly 6 in 10 Tagged Criminals Break Their Curfew, One Victim Pays a Horrifying Price
» UK: Violent Dispute Between Two Rival Ice Cream Sellers
North Africa
» Clashes Between Rival Tribes in Western Libya, 14 Killed
» Morocco: Wine Producers Strike Back on Anti-Alcohol Bill
» Tunisia: Govt Cracks Down After Salafi Violence
» Tunisia: Man Dies in Salafite Clashes Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art Exhibit
» Tunisia: Salafi Violence; 162 Arrests, 62 Police Injured
Israel and the Palestinians
» Gaza Kindergartners Want to ‘Blow Up Zionists’
» Hamas, Islamic Jihad Urge the Vatican Not to Recognize Occupation
» Israeli PM Censured Over Flotilla Raid
» UN Should be Declared an Instant Heritage Site
Middle East
» Air Raids Against Al Qaeda in Yemen, 30 Died
» Assad Banking on Support From Minority Groups
» Coordinated Bombs Kill Dozens During Iraq Pilgrimage
» Iran Could Distance Itself From Syrian Regime
» Iraq Attacks Kill 56 During Shiite Commemoration
» Stay Out of the Syrian Morass
» Turkey: Van’s Kurdish Mayor Jailed on “Terrorism” Allegation
» Turkey, Iran Aim to Boost Trade Volume to 35 Bln USD
» ‘Putin is Transforming Russia Into a Police State’
» Tuberculosis is Rearing Its Head Again in Russia
South Asia
» Bangladesh: New-Age Muslims: They Embrace Modern Life But Seek Meaning in Islam
» India: Assam: Tribal Christians Beaten and Forced to Convert to Hinduism
» Indonesia: Violence in Papua: Christian-Muslim Activists Denounce Jakarta’s Inertia
» Indonesia: Order to Close 20 Aceh Churches Stokes Fears of Sectarian Violence
» Iranian Oil: US Cancels Economic Sanctions Against India
» Kazakh Exam Student Caught With 35ft-Long Cheat Sheet Containing 25,000 Answers
» Pakistan: ‘Polio Drops Are Poison and Against Islam’
» U.S. And EU Demand an End to Violence Between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims
Far East
» China Holds Key to Greenland Treasure Chest
» Corruption Spreading in China, Postal Savings Bank President Arrested
» Japan Reportedly Has Evidence North Korea Missile Launchers Came From China
Australia — Pacific
» Community Crushes Dream to Build Mosque
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Bonobo Genome Reveals More Promiscuity in Human Past
» Ghana: Hohoe Muslims on Rampage Over Exhumation of Imam
» Nigeria: Terzi: Worrying Boko Haram Attacks on Christians
Latin America
» Luis Fleischmann: Tragedy in Cochabamba
» Amnesty: Italy Signs Secret Migrant Deal With Libya
» European Parliament Lambastes Denmark Over Border Control
» Alien Earths May be Widespread in Our Milky Way Galaxy
» Giant Tropical Lake Found on Saturn Moon Titan
» Low-Metal Stars May Nurture Many Earth-Like Worlds

Financial Crisis

After Aid: Special Supervision for Spanish Banks

Reform them now, Merkel. Fitch downgrades 18 banks

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Spain may have avoided the tightening in fiscal policies inflicted on Greece and Portugal, but it will have to reckon with its highly exposed banks and with a property bubble that has not yet burst. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned today that the 100 billion euros in aid allocated to Spain “will naturally be subject to conditions”. These will include “the restructuring of its banking system to give it a sustainable future”.

Olli Rehn, the EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, explained that the credit line would impose upon Madrid a set of “specific recommendations on the supervision of its financial sector” and that “specific conditions beyond respect of European rules on state aid” would be demanded from the banks benefiting from the European injection.

So after the restructuring of its savings banks, mergers and the devaluation of its assets, upheaval is not yet at an end for Spain. The country must tackle the root of its banking system and Spain will also have a “troika” of inspectors from the EU, IMF and ECB. The controls, however, will be limited to the banking system and, as Merkel said, “these conditions are different to those imposed when an entire country has to pin its macro-economic programme on a bailout plan”.

Spain’s Finance Minister, Luis de Guindos, spoke of the European intervention as “further proof” of a desire to defend the euro. “We will see other decisions that support this,” he said.

But he burden of the bailout of Spanish banks will leave its mark on Madrid’s finances. The ratings agency Fitch says that Spain “will miss out significantly on its budget targets this year [which have already been scaled down in agreement with Brussels] and next year”. After cutting Spain’s sovereign rating and hitting the main Spanish banks, including Bankia, the agency today downgraded 18 minor banks, including Caixa and Banco Sabadell.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Banking Crisis: Everyone Has Been Lying

Jornal de Negócios Lisbon

Banks and politicians are complicit in the banking disaster bank in Spain — and citizens will have to pay for the consequences. It’s a disgrace, angrily writes the director of Portugal’s Jornal de Negócios.

Pedro Santos Guerreiro

The disaster of the Spanish banking sector shames the state. What brought it on was myth-building. The complicity between public and private in what amounts to a crime. The past profits earned by some, well out of proportion to the harm done to others. It was brought on by denials, by contagion, by lies. Everyone is lying. Everyone is lying to the same listeners: to the taxpayer…. Pardon: to the people.

Today we have the right to whisper about what happens behind other people’s curtains. The house, after all, is mortgaged — and we, the “Europeans”, are the ones who will pay for it. What difference is there, basically, between Greece, which lied about its public accounts, and Spanish banks, which lied about their balance sheets?

The Spanish problem resembles that of Ireland, in that it is a banking crisis, more closely than it does that of Portugal. In Portugal, none of the ten possible problems are crushing — but the country has all of them at once. In Spain the evil comes from an incestuous relationship between cajas de ahorro [savings banks] and regional political institutions, coupled with a housing bubble in which everyone had a hand — and from which everyone benefited: the banks from the loans, the building sector from the construction boom, real estate dealers through the buying and selling, the state through taxes, the parties — we know how they benefited — and the government from the growth in the GDP statistics.

The housing bubble and its effect have been plain to see for just under two years. But Spain has done everything wrong — the previous Zapatero government by putting off dealing with the issue, and the Rajoy government by swiftly losing its determination…

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

Euro Crisis Deepens: Can Italy Break Out of Its Downward Spiral?

After Spain, the focus of the euro crisis has now shifted to Italy, which is struggling with a shrinking economy and rising bond yields. Prime Minister Mario Monti has denied that his country will ask for an EU bailout, but optimism about Italy’s future is in short supply.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany May Demand Greek Exit to Save Euro, UK Says

Germany may demand Greek exit to save the euro, UK chancellor George Osborne told business leaders in London on Monday. Risking to stir irritation in Berlin, he suggested such a move may be needed to convince the Germans to accept “a banking union, eurobonds and things in common with that.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Minister Expresses Sympathy for Ordinary Greeks

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he feels with the man in the street who is suffering from unparalleled austerity in debt-stricken Greece. But he sees no alternative to tightening belts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece Wants Euro But Austerity May Lead to Exit, Tsipras

Growth plan for humanitarian crisis, Syriza leader tells FT

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — “Syriza is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone,” Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Greek radical party, wrote in the pages of the Financial Times. However, he warned that austerity measures “may force us out of the eurozone. The Greek population wants to replace the old and ruinous Memorandum of Understanding (signed in March between the EU and the IMF) with a national plan for reconstruction and growth. This is necessary to prevent a humanitarian crisis and to save the euro. President Barack Obama was right when he said last Friday that it is necessary to do whatever we can to grow now. This is also true of my country.

The need to grant Greece the chance for true growth and a new future is now more widely-accepted than ever before. Syriza is currently the only party which can offer economic, social and political stability. Greece’s stabilisation over the short term will benefit the eurozone, which is at a critical juncture in the evolution of the single currency. If we do not change direction, austerity measures may force us to leave the eurozone.” On Sunday, when Greece will be voting in what is considered a sort of referendum for the euro, the country will embark on a “new era of growth and prosperity”.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Undeclared Labor on the Rise, Reports

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 13 — Despite the drastic cuts in salaries and wages by at least 22% and the increase in all forms of flexible work, the number of uninsured workers in Greece is growing, as daily Kathimerini reports. The report by the Labor Inspection Squad for the year’s first four months showed that out of a sample 20,772 employees in various companies inspected, the number of those without social security came to 7,549, or more than 36%. Statistical analysis showed that 47.2% of foreign workers were uninsured, as were 32% of Greeks, while the fines imposed for undeclared labor came to 3.93 million euros in that period. The leaders in undeclared labor were restaurants and catering businesses, with 65%. Retail commerce was a distant second, on 12%. Full-time employment contracts went down to 49.9% of all new contracts, down from 58.9% in 2011 and from 79% in 2009, indicating a dramatic shift in favor of flexible labor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Ferry Firm Cancels Routes as Cannot Buy Fuel

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 13 — The shipping firm NEL Lines, of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, said on Wednesday that it was suspending all routes indefinitely due to a lack of funding to procure fuel, as daily Kathimerini reports. According to a statement by the company, it is owed 8.8 million euros by the state for running routes connecting major ports with remote islands. Sources at the firm indicated that if NEL Lines is not reimbursed, it will sue for damages.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Samaras Says Can ‘Modify’ Debt Deal

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 13 — Greek Conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras declared on Wednesday that his party’s priorities were to form a stable government and keep Greece in the eurozone, noting that an administration must be set up immediately after the June 17 polls. Echoing his rival, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras, who on Tuesday had insisted that a government must be formed on June 18 and no later, Samaras told a press conference that securing Greece’s membership of the eurozone was the crucial priority. Overhauling Greece’s debt deal, known as the memorandum, was also at the top of his party’s agenda, he said. “We will change the memorandum, the relentless recession cannot go on.” He indicated that European leaders were open to renegotiating Greece’s debt deal. “Europe is changing, Greece has a chance for a fair negotiation within this climate of change,” he said as reported by daily Kathimerini. Samaras said ND had set two conditions for joining other parties in a coalition government: securing Greece’s position in the eurozone and modifying the memorandum. Samaras backed the call of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti for a pan-European guarantee on bank deposits and condemned SYRIZA’s opposition to investments.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Passera: Europe’s Behaviour Outrageous

(AGI) Rome — Corrado Passera said it is outrageous how Europe has shown itself incapable of cooperation. The minister of economic development, in his speech to the Confartigianato assembly added: “It has often waited until the last minute to respond.” “We can not afford to be thrown into crisis by 5% -10% of the GDP of Europe. Together we are the strongest economic and social force in the world, but separate we fall into a crisis.” .

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

Obama’s Financial Mis-Handling is Adding to Jobless Woes

Direct quote from Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party after viewing the jobs market report for the month of May 2012: “President Obama is working hard to keep his job. It’s just a shame he’s not working as hard to ensure unemployed Americans can find jobs for themselves.”

This stunning truth was a result of “Market Watch” report of June 01, 2012, by Jeffry Bartash, where it was reported that the woefully weak U.S. economy generated a measly 69,000 jobs in May, 2012, “the fewest number of new jobs in a year” and making it even more miserable was the unwanted accompanying news that the “unemployment rate moved up to 8.2% from 8.1% — the first increase in 11 months.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Shultz: If Greece Leaves Euro it Will Leave the EU as Well

(AGI) — Rome — “If Greece abandons the Euro, it will then leave the EU as well”. This is what the President of EU Parliament said in an interview with Italy’s Radio Radicale. He added: “No counties can leave the Euro area unless they leave the European Union as well. I do not understand why people talk so much about Greece being forced to leave the Euro area. I think that if Greece gives up the Euro, it will then quit the Europen Union”. As to next sunday’s election in Greece and the likelihood of parties opposing the Eu-Imf-Ecb memorandum gaining ground, Shultz pointed out that “In politics you must first of all think about your country and then to your party’s interests. I hope political parties in Greece will be mindful of this”.

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

Spain Suffering, Debts and Thefts Rising Steadily

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The effects of the economic crisis are weighing ever more heavily on Spanish citizens. The high unemployment rate is only the most visible part of the situation in a country in which families have begun to lack liquidity. Payments are left unpaid, and many (159 cases every day) are losing the houses that they bought in the years of plenty through a mortgage that proved overly easy to get. A million people others have found themselves with their bank accounts dry after having invested unknowingly in “high risk financial products”.

In the capital, police are meeting with an alarming increase in petty theft: theft due to hunger. According to the figures published by Spain’s Economic and Social Council, one out of every four families is living on the threshold of poverty. The first consequences are on payments like loans and mortgages, notes the National Statistics Institute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Al Qaeda’s Bogus Camel Bounty

al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia may be up to more than mocking the new $3 million bounty on its top leaders’ heads by offering its own bounty for President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—10 camels for Obama and 20 chickens for Clinton.

By making it appear that Obama and Clinton are worth the bounty, al Qaeda’s Somalian affiliate may be working at promoting the big spin that Obama and Clinton are special terrorist targets, a hard wash for an administration who has redefined the word ‘terrorism’ as “man caused disasters”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Gatekeepers in the Digital, Networked World

Major social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become a gateway to sharing sites and apps for photos, music, and other Internet goodies. They are becoming the arbiters of your digital life.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus are why many of us spend so much time on the Internet. And for many users, sites like these have become the only way they can access other sharing sites and apps like Instagram, Audioboo, Posterous. Users log on to Instagram or Pinterest with their Facebook or Twitter accounts, without having to remember a new username and password.

“Developers get a bunch of information when you allow a new site to use Facebook Connect,” said David Pakman, partner at the New York-based venture capitalist firm, Venrock.

It’s a simple case of data exchange. The new site gets the user’s email address, activities and preferences in relation to content and that allows the service to customize itself for the new user.

Facebook or Twitter, through Twitter Connect, also get to have access to what the user does on the new service — increasing its knowledge of the user. It is data that can be sold on to advertisers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germans Disappointed by Obama Over Attacks

Germans are feeling less positive towards the United States and disappointed with their erstwhile hero, President Barack Obama, with significant opposition to the US use of drones to target and kill terrorists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germans Increasingly Disillusioned With Obama

Germans were ecstatic when Barack Obama took over the keys to the White House from George W. Bush. Now, though, a new Pew Research Center survey shows that disillusionment with the US president is widespread in Germany and that Obama has not lived up to the high expectations Europeans had of him.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Global Warming Cash Cow in Peril

Progressive liberals in lock-step consensus are not allowing the global warming cash-cow fraud to die in spite of the fact that thousands of real scientists have debunked the notion that humans, with their mundane activities, can cause the global climate to change. A whole industry of snake oil salesmen was born, waiting in the wings to get rich off the sale of carbon credits and the “green” and “renewable” energy. The renewable part is a fallacy in itself — once energy is spent, it cannot be renewed.

Always at the forefront of progressivism, California lawmakers signed into law Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) called the California Global Warming Act of 2006, a blue print of the UN Kyoto Accord of 1997.

Californians are organizing a rally in Sacramento on August 15, 2012 to protest California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the planned auction of carbon credits as a commodity on November 14, 2012.

CARB operates outside legislative oversight like the EPA. The cap and trade program will be implemented under the leadership of Mary Nichols and eleven board members appointed by Governor Jerry Brown. Businesses will pay billions of dollars and pass the cost onto hapless consumers.


President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, a skeptic of global warming, told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that he would not attend the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Klaus’ 2007 book (“Blue Planet in Green Shackles — What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?”) named environmentalism as the 21st century’s biggest threat to freedom, the market economy, and prosperity.” (Jennifer Rigby, The Prague Post)

“We have to say goodbye to unrealistic dreams of new sources of power and stop subsidizing these unprofitable sources by posing a burden on the consumer, either individual or corporate.” (President Vaclav Klaus, Energy Gas Storage Summit at Prague Castle, May 24, 2012)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Lost Legacy: A New World Order

UN’s Law of the Sea Treaty

So who cares if Obama wants, as part of his legacy, to do what Ronald Reagan refused to do and sign up the United States to LOST, the UN’s Law of the Sea Treaty? Well if you are a small government, liberty-loving American, or citizen anywhere in the free world, you should. Here’s why.

US ratification of this Treaty would effectively grant governance of the bulk of the world’s surface area, its navigable waterways and access to what lies beneath — i.e. the world’s deepwater energy riches, not only fishing rights — to an unelected, anti-US, rabidly anti-Jewish, anti-free market, anti-capitalist body; where those in the democratic West can easily be outvoted.

Sound good to you?


Currently, Senator John Kerry is operating as the administration’s point man. Kerry is holding a series of public hearings to garner further support for the US to ratify LOST. Secretary for Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (amazingly the US Navy thinks it’s a good idea) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — all avid proponents of adopting the Treaty — have all been called to give evidence.

The thinking runs that the US needs to secure its rights to the vast mineral resources on its extended continental shelf, not least in the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The fact is, however, under existing international law and US policy, America already has access to these areas.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

St. Anthony City Council Rejects Islamic Center Plan

A lawsuit could follow after St. Anthony City Council voted 4-1 against proposal, citing land use and zoning.

St. Anthony City Council members on Tuesday rejected plans to locate an Islamic center in the basement of the former Medtronic headquarters off Old Hwy. 8. The proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center had been on hold for months after some residents objected to the center and city leaders studied whether city zoning would support the facility. About 150 people attended Tuesday’s council meeting, where Muslim proponents asked the council to approve the nearly 15,000-square-foot center, which would be used for worship and assembly by the congregation of about 200. “I’m a proud American. This is home. The center will serve the needs of our community,” Sadik Warfa said. “I know this issue is very emotional for some people. We are a melting pot. We are all Americans.” Close to a dozen St. Anthony residents asked the council to deny the proposal, which they argued would reduce tax revenues, an argument Mayor Jerry Faust denied. Others contended the center would attract increased traffic in the neighborhood and create problems for those living nearby.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Suburban NY Mosque Project Inches Forward

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — An application for a suburban New York mosque and school has taken a small step forward. The New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals will set a public hearing on June 27 for the proposal by the Upper Westchester Muslim Society.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Barroso to Unveil ‘Political Union’ Plan at EU Summit

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said member states must agree to a big common budget, a future banking union and — ultimately — political union in order to save the EU. His speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (16 June) comes before an EU summit on 28 June.

Barroso, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and Jean-Claude Juncker — the head of the euro-using countries’ club, the Eurogroup — are drafting a joint paper on how EU leaders can stop the crisis. The text will be a political manifesto rather than a legal proposal, officials say.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Bulgaria: 2 Mosques Penalized in Bulgaria’s Kardzhali for Noise Violations

The Regional Health Inspectorate in the southern Bulgarian town of Kardzhali has penalized the trustee boards of two mosques over loudspeakers making noise beyond the permissible limit. According to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), the step was taken after a series of complaints of people living near the mosque in the heart of the town and the one in the Prileptsi residential district and after the intervention of District Governor Ivanka Taushanova. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Taushanova stressed that the municipal administration in Kardzhali was not part of the case because the Regional Health Inspectorate was in charge of overseeing noise levels. According to the health inspectorate officials, they had detected breaches of 10-20 dB when measuring noise levels near the two mosques. The experts said they had issued recommendations first, after which noise levels had been brought within the acceptable limits, only to witness new violations a little while after that. As a result, the trustee boards of two mosques had been issued notices of administrative offense.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Ex-Head of Vatican Bank Has Secret Dossier on Senior Italian and Church Figures, Money Laundering, Fears Vatican Assassins

In the latest twist in a scandal which has convulsed the papacy of Benedict XVI, Mr Tedeschi reportedly gave copies of the documents to his closest confidantes and told them: “If I am killed, the reason for my death is in here. I’ve seen things in the Vatican that would frighten anyone.”

One of the documents was reportedly titled “internal enemies” and contained the names of senior clergy and powerful Italian politicians.

Other emails and letters related to “money of dubious provenance” being allegedly funnelled through the Vatican bank, according to Corriere della Sera.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho Resigns as Chairman of Parliament’s Administration Committee

Parliamentary party group leaders agree he must go

Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho announced on Wednesday that he would resign from his post as chairman of the Administration Committee of the Finnish Parliament. Halla-aho’s resignation or removal from the post began to look increasingly likely on Tuesday as criticism of his comments about the Finnish Supreme Court escalated. Questions about Halla-aho’s suitability for chairing a committee that deals with immigration issues were raised already on Friday after the court found him guilty on charges of hate speech and defaming religion over a blog article written in 2008.

Halla-aho added fuel to the fire on Monday with a defiant press release in which he downplayed the significance of the ruling, dismissing it a personal interpretation of a few people, which should not be seen as a “celestial truth” of any kind. A number of MPs voiced the view that the credibility and prestige of Parliament require that Halla-aho step down from his post as committee chairman.

“He made the situation worse with his contemptuous statement in which he communicates that as a legislator he is above the courts”, said Mikaela Nylander, chair of the Parliamentary group of the Swedish People’s Party. “This is not a question of whether or not he enjoys the confidence of his colleagues — this is about the status of Parliament as an institution”, Nylander said. “I hope that the Finns Party will consider Halla-aho’s status. If they do not react in any way, it is a message to the Finnish people that the whole party and its Parliamentary group see themselves to be above the judiciary”, said Kimmo Tiilikainen, chairman of the Centre Party’s Parliamentary group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Police at Paris Airport Bar 3 Saudi Women Wearing Face Veil From Entering France, Citing Ban

PARIS — A police union says three Saudi women who refused to remove their face veils at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport have been barred entry to France. A 2011 French law bans people from wearing Islamic face-covering veils anywhere in public. An official with the SGP-FO police union said Tuesday that border police asked the women to remove their veils after they arrived Monday on a flight from Doha, Qatar. The official says the women refused, border police refused them entry in France, and they returned to Doha Monday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly for the police. Supporters of the ban say the veil contradicts France’s principles of secularism and women’s rights. Some Muslim groups say it stigmatizes moderate Muslims.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Gibraltar: New Tax Regime Worsens Spain-UK Relations

Spanish government turns to EU

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Gibraltar continues to be the source of an endless conflict between Spain and the UK. The long-lasting dispute on the waters surrounding the Rock is now joined by a new conflict: the Spanish government has denounced Gibraltar’s new fiscal regime to the European Commission. The government claims the Income Gibraltar Act 2010 is not in line with EU legislation and European treaties. The complaint was filed, according to government sources quoted by the Spanish press, on the eve of the 3-day visit by Prince Edward and his wife to Gibraltar. The visit, which starts today, is meant to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the crowning of Elisabeth II. The new tax regime, in force since January 1 2011, lowers corporate tax in Gibraltar from 22% to 10%, against 30% in Spain. The tax only has to be paid for revenues generated in or coming from Gibraltar. Therefore, Spain denounces, companies that register residence for tax purposes in Gibraltar for their activities in Spain are given an advantage. Spain filed its complaint on June 1 to the European Commission General Direction for Competition. The Spanish foreign ministry has not made this step public in order to avoid compromising the ongoing talks between fishermen active in the Bay of Cadiz and the government of Gibraltar, which refuses to let Spain fish in the waters around the Rock.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Gibraltar: Huge Image of the Queen to be Projected on Rock of Gibraltar

A huge image of the Queen will be projected across the Rock of Gibraltar this evening in the culmination of Diamond Jubilee celebrations on the disputed territory attended by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The pictures of the British monarch interspersed with images of the Union flag will be clearly visible across the border in Spain where the controversial Royal visit to the tiny Oversees British Territory has led to official complaints from the Spanish government. In what is being viewed by many as a clear act of provocation to Spanish sentiments, the north face of the vast rock, which is visible for miles across the South coast of Spain, will be lit up for several hours Tuesday night with the patriotic images. The last minute decision to include the light show in the schedule of the three-day Royal visit came a day after Gibraltar’s Chief Minister declared that residents on the Rock feel “under attack from Spain”. “We value our Britishness above all else,” Fabian Picardo, who was elected in December, told the Daily Telegraph adding that the territory would not be told be influenced by the Spanish when it came to celebrating its allegiance to the British crown. “We will not let Spain dictate when our Sovereign or her representatives can visit. She is the Queen of Gibraltar and we are very proud of that fact.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Islamists Shatter Quiet Belgium

The problem of immigrants from Muslim countries manifested itself in another European country — Belgium. Last week there were riots and attacks on police by the Islamists. The reason for that was the enforcement of the law banning Muslim women from concealing their faces.

This law was passed in the spring of 2010. However, because of the political crisis that hit Belgium, it came into force in July of 2011. Under to the law, a woman who appears on the street wearing a veil should be penalized by 137.5 euros. The fine does not seem to be very large, and only about 300 residents of Belgium wear veils. However, it was not easy. The problems manifested themselves very quickly.

In late September of 2011 the first incident occurred. A police officer approached a Muslim couple and demanded that the woman removes her veil. In response, the husband began to beat the policeman and threatened death to those who wanted to see the face of his wife. The adept of sharia law was arrested and pressed criminal charges against, and his wife got off with the above fine.

In early June of this year the severity of the confrontation has increased. In the Brussels region Molenbek, where Muslims make up over a third of the population, the police have fined a woman with her face covered. In response, people from Muslim countries staged riots. When police raided them to verify their documents, the young people, many of whom belonged to the Islamist organization Shariah4Belgium, put up fierce resistance.

On June 7 in Antwerp a leader of Sharia4Belgium Fuad Belkacem who was accused of inciting unrest was detained. “If you want to go to hell, it’s your problem, but let us live as we want to,” he said, reacting to the recent detention of a woman. Incidentally, in February he was sentenced to two years in prison for incitement of violence. However, the term was suspended. Now it has become a reality.

The story did not end there

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Italy: Monti: Government Redoubling Fight Against Tax Evasion

(AGI) Rome — “Every country is involved in the fight against tax evasion” and “Italy is not alone in having this problem,” but Prime Minister Mario Monti said “Italy is redoubling its commitment these day, already the government over the past few years and certainly we in this government have extended this commitment.” A commitment of rules whose application, as far as the law goes “upsets public opinion,” but with the objective over a long period of time “of changing the nation’s way of doing things.”

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

Italy: Universities Lose Over 20,000 Temporary Researchers

(AGI) Rome — Italian universities have in just one year lost over 20,000 temporary researchers according to a survey carried out by the PhD Association. The report observes that with the Gelmini reform many research and post-doctorate scholarships have been abolished .

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

Italy: Mussolini’s Granddaughter Signs Photos of Dictator in House

Incident took place during vote on corruption bill

(ANSA) — Rome, June 13 — Alessandra Mussolini signed two pictures of her grandfather, Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, on the floor of the House on Wednesday.

Alessandra Mussolini, who is an MP for former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, signed the images after they were handed to her in an envelope by a lawmaker belonging to the right-wing Northern League.

She then handed the pictures back.

The incident took place during vote on a government anti-corruption bill.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Murdoch Tried to Dictate EU Policies, Says Major

Former British prime minister John Major on Tuesday told the Leveson Inquiry that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch had threatened the Conservatives that unless they changed policy on Europe they would lose the support of his newspapers, the Independent reports. “He (Murdoch) didn’t make the usual nod to editorial independence.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Near-Space Tourism Balloon Runs Test Launch

A new tourist experience could be provided within five years by a huge balloon that offers stunning views of the horizon and the blackness of space. The designer tested the launch procedure last month, using a smaller version of the helium balloon and its passenger pod.

The May 29 test was halted when a wind gust damaged the balloon’s envelope. The video description of the launch test said a repeat test of the balloon, designed by the Spanish company Zero 2 Infinity, is “scheduled soon.”

The “bloon,” as the company calls it, would carry a pressurized pod for two pilots and four passengers as high as 22 miles (36 kilometers) up. That “near-space” experience would be well below the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude considered the edge of space but still high enough for passengers to see the Earth’s curved horizon, the thin blue atmosphere, and black space, even in daylight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway: Ban Ritual Circumcision of Boys: Centre Party

The practice of ritually circumcising infant boys is outdated, dangerous, and should be banned, according to Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman Jenny Klinge.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway: Talk With Breivik ‘Like Meeting Hannibal’

Interviewing right-wing mass killer Anders Behring Breivik in jail was like meeting Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal in the horror film “Silence of the Lambs”, a psychologist said at his trial on Monday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik Posed ‘To Lighten the Mood’ After Massacre

Anders Behring Breivik told an Oslo court Tuesday he had posed jokingly for the police cameras to “lighten the mood” after his arrest following his massacre on a Norwegian island last year.

During his first interrogation immediately after his arrest, Breivik had first refused to allow himself to be photographed but had then posed for the camera in his underwear showing off his muscles “sort of like a body-builder,” a police interrogator testified last month. “They asked me to take off my clothes… I flexed my muscles a little at that time as a joke to lighten the mood,” the 33-year-old self confessed killer told the court on the 35th day of his trial.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Romania Fights Over Who Should Go to EU Summits

Romania’s centre-right president Traian Basescu has rejected a decision by parliament Tuesday that he should attend EU summits devoted to security and fiscal issues only, saying it would violate the constitution. Newly elected left-wing prime minister Victor Ponta insists he will attend next week’s EU summit in Brussels.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sarkozy to be Guarded by Ten Police Officers

French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy has been allocated 10 police officers to provide security for him and his family at an annual cost of €700,000 ($880,000), a report said on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Girl, 14, ‘Groomed and Raped at Drugs Den by Gang of Men Who Treated Her With Contempt’

A 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped at a drug den by a gang of men who treated her with ‘indignity and contempt’, a jury has heard. The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken to the house in Brierfield, Lancashire, and allegedly passed around for their sexual gratification. The ‘principal defendant’, Mohammed Imran Amjad, 25, bore the ‘greatest responsibility for the corruption and abuse of the victim in this case’, said the Crown Prosecution Service.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: MP Welcomes Formal Inquiry Into Grooming

HARROWING details of child exploitation were described to MPs at a House of Commons inquiry into grooming spearheaded by Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood.

Ms Blackwood, below, said she was shocked by the allegations uncovered in the ongoing Operation Bullfinch in Oxford into a suspected child exploitation ring, and was prompted to call for the inquiry. She added: “In light of this and other sickening crimes against vulnerable children such as those revealed recently in Rochdale, I am pressing as hard as possible, both in Westminster and at a local level, for the spotlight to be firmly directed onto this problem.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Rochdale Grooming Case ‘Not a Specific Asian Crime’

The leader of Rochdale Council says he “strongly” disagrees with politicians who appear to argue that the recent child sex scandal in the town can be described as an “Asian crime”.

Labour’s Colin Lambert told MPs it was “too easy to badge a community” and there were “issues” across the country. Nine Asian men were recently convicted of abusing white girls in Rochdale. Ex-Home Secretary Jack Straw and Tory chairman Baroness Warsi have suggested there has been some targeting. Baroness Warsi said last month that a “small minority” of Pakistani men see white girls as “fair game”. Mr Straw, Labour MP for Blackburn, claimed after an abuse trial in Derby last year that some men of Pakistani origin saw white girls as “easy meat”.

‘Horrendous crime’

However, Mr Lambert told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: “If their clear statement is that the crime was committed because of the Asian community, then I strongly disagree with them, because it’s too easy to badge a crime. “It happens right across all our communities. In terms of badging it as an Asian crime, that’s wrong. There are issues in all communities.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Rochdale Grooming Case is ‘Tip of Iceberg’

Mark Stone, Sky News correspondent

The “sadistic, violent and ugly” sexual exploitation of children is happening all over the country, according to the United Kingdom’s deputy children’s commissioner.

In evidence to MPs at the Home Affairs Select Committee, Sue Berelowitz listed shocking examples of abuse she had discovered as part of an in-depth study of the problem. “What I am uncovering is that sexual exploitation of children is happening all over the country,” she told the cross-party committee. “In urban, rural and metropolitan areas, I have hard evidence of children being sexually exploited. It is very sadistic, it is very violent, it is very ugly.” Focusing on London as an example, she drew on individual cases she and her team had uncovered.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Three Faiths Forum — Helping Children Understand

For 15 years, the 3FF charity has helped children across faiths recognise and acknowledge similarities — and difference

Fifteen years ago, a Muslim scholar, a Christian priest and a Jewish philanthropist came together in London to create Three Faiths Forum (3FF), a platform for community leaders to engage with each another and break down barriers. But today, some of the most valuable work the charity undertakes is in schools, ensuring that tensions between faith communities don’t trickle down to the next generation.


[JP note: There’s a joke in there somewhere, but don’t expect the genocidal Guardian to see it.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tagged — But Free to Kill: As Report Reveals Nearly 6 in 10 Tagged Criminals Break Their Curfew, One Victim Pays a Horrifying Price

[Warning: Disturbing content.]

The full extent of how thugs on electronic tags routinely breach their curfews to commit more crimes is exposed today.

A damning report reveals that nearly 60 per cent of offenders, supposedly confined to their homes, are free to walk the streets with impunity.

Yesterday the human cost of the system’s failure was laid bare when a 15-year-old who repeatedly flouted his tagging order was jailed for killing an innocent student.

The boy is said to have ripped off his tag just days before stabbing Steven Grisales, 21, who had told him off for throwing a conker.

But the council charged with monitoring the curfew didn’t bother to recall him to court because the breach happened on the eve of the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Last night, the parents of the murdered scholarship student spoke of their horror that the 15-year-old had broken his curfew so many times but nothing was done.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Violent Dispute Between Two Rival Ice Cream Sellers

A dispute between two rival ice cream sellers which was caught on film is being investigated by police.

The film shows a fracas between Mr Yummy, run by Zeheer Ramzan, and Mr Whippy, run by Mohammed Mulla, on Palatine Road, Blackburn on 2 June.

Mr Ramzan is apparently seen breaking a window in Mr Mulla’s van who then drives into the back Mr Ramzan’s van.

Eyewitness Mobeen Yaseen, who filmed the fracas, said he could not believe what happened.

“I heard all this commotion and swearing and thought I’d film it,” said Mr Yaseen, 33, who lives on the street.

“My neighbour told me his daughter who is 12 or 13 was being served just before I started filming it when another ice cream seller started shouting he could do the same ice cream 10p cheaper and the other one got annoyed and then it turned into fracas.

“This is a really friendly and peaceful street and it’s not acceptable.

“I am just glad my sons were out at the time. I am very strict with them and that is certainly not the language you expect from ice cream vans.”

Mr Ramzan, from Halifax, has declined to comment.

But Mr Mulla, from Blackburn, said he was blocked in, suffered a panic attack and did not intend to drive into Mr Ramzan’s van.

The film has attracted more than 400,000 views on YouTube.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, which issues licences for street trading, confirmed it was investigating the incident

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Clashes Between Rival Tribes in Western Libya, 14 Killed

(AGI) Tripoli — Violent clashes broke out between rival tribes in Nafusa, western Libya. Fourteen people were killed and 89 wounded in the last two days, a spokesman of the Libyan government declared, without detailing the causes of the clashes. Other sources claim that clashes broke out in Sheguiga and Mizdah, between the Mashashia and Gontrar clans. Other clashes were also reported in Zintan, 170 km from Tripoli. . .

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

Morocco: Wine Producers Strike Back on Anti-Alcohol Bill

Wine-growers lobby with tourism sector

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, 13 JUNE — The draft bill registered in Parliament by 14 MPs belonging to PJD has already prompted some reactions. The draft bill provides for a ban on any form of direct and indirect advertising regarding alcoholic drinks and includes new forms of censorship and the ban on events and exhibitions containing alcoholic drinks. Moroccan wine-producers joined tourism operators and wrote a letter to the Parliament’s Chairman, Karim Ghellab, to the chairmen of parliamentary groups and to the Head of the Government, Abdelilah Benkirane; the letter was signed by the National Tourism Federation (NTF), by the National Federation of Restaurant Owners (FNR), by the National Federation of the Hotel industry (FNIH) and by the National Federation of travel Agents (FNAVM). As reported by Les Echos, the authors of the letter suggest starting an in-depth bi-partisan debate and asking the opinion of professionals and experts in order to “assess the impact of suggested measures on the sectors we represent”. The signatories make reference to the promises regarding openness, tolerance and respect of personal freedom made by Benkirane and maintain that opening a dialogue would reflect “what the head of the government promoted during last autumn’s electoral campaign”.

The “new lobby”‘s arguments are mainly based on preserving the nation’s wine-growing and tourism industry, a sector which is already struggling with the financial crisis affecting the tourists’countries of origin. According to the operators’ estimate, the sector would lose a further share of its appeal is such a law were to be passed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Govt Cracks Down After Salafi Violence

The Tunisian government has reacted in a hard-handed manner to the onslaught of violence which began on Monday when dozens of Salafis attacked an art gallery, destroying the works of young Tunisian artists because they held them to be immoral. Yesterday evening a curfew was imposed in the governorates of Tunis, Ariana, Manouba, Ben Arous, Sousse, Jendouba, Monastir and the delegation of Ben Guerdane (in the Médenine governorate). This is the most severe step taken for the purposes of public order since the riots which led to the ouster of Ben Ali’s regime. The curfew is from 9 PM until 5 AM.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Man Dies in Salafite Clashes Over ‘Un-Islamic’ Art Exhibit

Tunis, 13 June (AKI) — A 22-year-old Tunisian man has died from the injuries he sustained during violent clashes in the east Tuesday between police and Salafites angered by an art exhibition they claim offends Muslims, local website al-Sabeel reported.

Al-Sabeel named the Tunisian as Fahmi al-Aouni and said he died in clashes in the coastal city of Sousse that left 10 people injured. Clashes also took place in the capital, Tunis.

The riots came a day after the Spring of Arts exhibition in Tunis’s upscale La Marsa suburb sparked an outcry from some the puritanical Salafites who say it insulted Islam.

The work that appears to have caused most fury amongst hardliners spelt out the name of God using insects.

Police imposed a curfew late Tuesday after thousands of Salafites rampaged in through parts of Tunis, hurling rocks and petrol bombs at police stations, a court house and the offices of secular parties.

The interior ministry said a total of 62 people were detained and 65 members of the security forces were wounded trying to quell the riots, the worst clashes since last year’s revolt ousted autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and triggered uprisings across the Arab world.

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

Tunisia: Salafi Violence; 162 Arrests, 62 Police Injured

Organised terrorism, Justice Minister

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 12 — Initial figures already suggest that the situation is serious in Tunisia, where episodes of violence are spreading through the country. The Justice Minister, Nourredine B’hiri, says that 62 members of the country’s police force have so far been injured. So far 162 people have been arrested and B’hiri was meticulous in listing their political affiliations, which included the RCD (the party of the ousted dictator Ben Ali, which was disbanded upon the orders of the Tunisian judiciary), Salafis, left-wing extremists and activists from Ennahdha, the Islamist party to which the minister himself belongs.

B’hiri said that the incidents were orchestrated and “very organised”. The Justice Minister also said that the weapons currently possessed by Salafist forces in Tunisia are Molotov cocktails, stones and swords, a response to insistent reports that the extremists have obtained firearms from the arsenals of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Reports of violence, meanwhile, continue to flood in from a number of towns across Tunisia. The motorway leading to Hammamet (south of Tunis) was blocked for hours because of the presence of “men armed with sticks” preventing cars from passing through. In La Goulette, the port area of Tunis known for its nightlife, all bars selling alcohol have been closed for fear of attacks by Salafis.

The situation is also very tense in Sousse, where hundreds of Salafis are attempting to move towards the hotel and tourism areas of the city but are faced by riot police, albeit in vastly smaller numbers. Amid the reports of real violence, a number of false rumours are also spreading uncontrollably across the Internet. One of them, which was swiftly denied, claimed that the famous “Kahwa al-alia”, a very famous cafe’ in Sidi Bou Said, highly celebrated since the end of the 19th century and visited by thousands of tourists every day, had been attacked and burned down.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Kindergartners Want to ‘Blow Up Zionists’

Kids at Islamic Jihad kindergarten celebrate end of year by demonstrating how Palestinian prisoners are ‘tortured’ in Israel. Teacher: We educate them to love resistance, Palestine

Children attending a kindergarten in Gaza that is run by Islamic Jihad celebrated their graduation by dressing up in army attire, waving toy rifles and chanting anti-Israel slogans.

“It is our obligation to educate the children to love the resistance, Palestine and Jerusalem, so they will recognize the importance of Palestine and who its enemy is,” the kindergarten’s director said.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Urge the Vatican Not to Recognize Occupation

Press Release: Palestinian Information Center

GAZA, (PIC) — Hamas and Islamic Jihad have urged The Vatican not to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Christian areas and churches in Jerusalem. Hamas expressed concern, in a statement on Monday, over The Vatican step, describing it as a serious concession in favor of the Israeli occupation government that is daily violating the international law and going farther in its Judaization process.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israeli PM Censured Over Flotilla Raid

Israel’s state watchdog has slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his handling of a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. The operation left nine Turks dead and severely damaged Israeli-Turkish ties.

In a 153-page report issued Wednesday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss found there had been “significant shortcomings” in the decision-making process that led to the botched raid on May 31, 2010.

It said Netanyahu had not held formal discussions with top ministers about the flotilla, only holding separate, inadequately documented talks on the issue with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minster Avidgor Liebermann.

“The process of decision-making was done without orderly, agreed-upon, coordinated and documented staff work,” the report said.

Among other things, the report claimed, no plans had been made for a suitable response in case activists on board the flotilla were armed, despite warnings from Barak and the then chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed after Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, which was heading a six-ship flotilla trying to breach Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The flotilla had continued to sail towards Gaza, despite Israeli warnings that it would not be allowed through. The commandos opened fire after being attacked with clubs and metal rods when they stormed the ship.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UN Should be Declared an Instant Heritage Site

With enabling from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is being considered for inclusion on the prestigious list during its next meeting, from June 24 to July 6, in St. Petersburg.

UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific & Cultural Organization) is aiding and abetting the Big Lie from the Palestinians who claim that “Jesus was a Palestinian”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Air Raids Against Al Qaeda in Yemen, 30 Died

(AGI) Sanaa — About thirty people were killed during two different air raids against al Qaeda positions in the Shabwa province, in the south-east of Yemen, according to the military chief of the province, General Ahmed al Maqdashi. A few hours earlier, local authorities had made known that a US drone had hit a house and a car, killing nine militiamen.

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

Assad Banking on Support From Minority Groups

As the Syrian conflict escalates to new levels of sectarian strife, President Bashar al-Assad has been leaning heavily on his own religious sect for support — even though they’re a minority in the country.

Assad’s strongest supporters are the Alawites, a religious sect that includes the president’s family. They are nominally Shiite Muslims who make up just about 10 percent of the population. But the small minority sect holds outsized power in the country, occupying key posts in the military, politics and critical decision-making bodies.

It’s a policy that was pursued in the 1970s by Bashar al-Assad’s father and late President Hafez al-Assad who stocked the military and secret police with Alawites in a bid to cement his own power. Bashar al-Assad has continued with his father’s strategy.

The spiraling unrest has shaken Syria’s many overlapping religions and ethnic groups. In addition to the Alawites, other minority groups too are worried about things to come if Assad’s secular regime collapses. It’s a fear that has kept them from joining the uprising in force.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Coordinated Bombs Kill Dozens During Iraq Pilgrimage

A coordinated wave of car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and several other cities Wednesday, killing at least 65 people and wounding more than 200 in one of the deadliest days in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew from the country.

The bloodshed comes against a backdrop of political divisions that have raised tensions and threatened to provoke a new round of the violence that once pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents who frequently target Shiites in Iraq.

Wednesday’s blasts were the third this week targeting the annual pilgrimage that sees hundreds of thousands of Shiites converge on a golden-domed shrine in Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah to commemorate the eighth century death of a revered Shiite saint, Imam Moussa al-Kadhim. The commemoration culminates on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iran Could Distance Itself From Syrian Regime

In the past, Iran and Syria have been considered the strongest of international partners. But experts now think it is possible that Tehran will distance itself from its ally, as Western resistance to including Iran in a solution crumbles. Could the country help bring about a solution to the bloody conflict?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Iraq Attacks Kill 56 During Shiite Commemoration

BAGHDAD — A wave of bombings and shootings rocked Iraq during a major Shiite religious commemoration on Wednesday, killing at least 56 people and wounded dozens more, security and medical officials said. The attacks are the deadliest to hit Iraq since 68 people were killed in Iraq on January 5, and come during commemorations for the death of Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, which peak later this month.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Stay Out of the Syrian Morass

As the Syrian government makes increasingly desperate and vicious efforts to keep power, pleas for military intervention, more or less on the Libyan model, have become more insistent. This course is morally attractive, to be sure. But should Western states follow this counsel? I believe not.

Those calls to action fall into three main categories: a Sunni Muslim concern for co-religionists, a universal humanitarian concern to stop torture and murder, and a geopolitical worry about the impact of the ongoing conflict. The first two motives can be fairly easily dispatched. If Sunni governments — notably those of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — choose to intervene on behalf of fellow Sunnis against Alawis, that is their prerogative but Western states have no dog in this fight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Van’s Kurdish Mayor Jailed on “Terrorism” Allegation

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, 11 JUNE — The Kurdish mayor of Van, Bekir Kaya, a member of the Kurdish BDP party, was officially arrested on allegations of “terrorism”, as the Turkish press reported earlier today. The mayor of Van, a town counting 330,000 inhabitants, most of them Kurds, was charged of having kept in touch with the Union of Kurdish Communities (KCK), an organisation uniting autonomist groups in Turkish Kurdistan; public prosecutor’s offices of Turkish special courts consider the KCK a “terrorist” organisation, connected to the PKK armed group. Two other local representatives of BDP were arrested with Kaya. There are now 32 Kurdish mayors in jail including Kaya, the BDP’s deputy spokesperson at Ankara’s Parliament Hasip Kaplan told Hurriyet. Milliyet reports that the mayor’s arrest had “the effects of an earthquake” on the Turkish town. The region of Van, in south-eastern Turkey, was hit bu a violent earthquake which caused more than 200 victims last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey, Iran Aim to Boost Trade Volume to 35 Bln USD

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 13 — Turkish development minister said on Wednesday that they aimed to boost trade volume between Turkey and Iran to 35 billion U.S. dollars by 2015, as Anatolia news agency reports. Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz met Iranian Agriculture Minister Sadeq Khalilian in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Turkish-Iranian trade volume was 16 billion USD at the end of 2011, Yilmaz said. “There has been a great increase in the figure when compared to the past, but it should be boosted,” he said. Talks on preferential trade agreement between Turkey and Iran should be finalized as soon as possible to boost commercial ties, he added. Khalilian said that trade volume could reach 21 billion USD at the end of 2012. Turkey and Iran could cooperate in the areas of agriculture, animal breeding and forestry, he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


‘Putin is Transforming Russia Into a Police State’

Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow on Tuesday in the latest indication that President Vladimir Putin’s efforts at oppression are not having their desired effect. German commentators warn that the situation could lead to instability.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tuberculosis is Rearing Its Head Again in Russia

Experts say that as Russia’s neighbour Finland should be on the alert for TB

The Finns should not be lulled into the false idea that tuberculosis no longer exists. This is the warning expressed by Dr Tuula Vasankari, who specialises in pulmonary diseases and acts as the Secretary General of the Finnish Lung Health Association (FILHA). FILHA is a non-governmental public health organisation fighting against tuberculosis and lung diseases by implementing prevention and treatment programmes, educating health care professionals, and enhancing the networking of experts.

According to Vasankari, particularly the deteriorating situation of our eastern neighbour should be borne in mind. “The alarming fact is that drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis are increasingly common in Russia. If all drugs become ineffective, we will return to the situation that prevailed a hundred years ago, when 50 to 60 per cent of all those infected with tuberculosis died from it”, Vasankari notes. Close to 9 million people are infected with tuberculosis in the world on an annual basis. About 1.4 million of them die. “We are speaking of a major killer worldwide”, Vasankari adds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: New-Age Muslims: They Embrace Modern Life But Seek Meaning in Islam

by Mustafa Malik

A casualty of a trip to Bangladesh (and many other Muslim countries) could be the belief, or illusion, that Islam and modernity are conflicting value systems. A college classmate’s visit to my ancestral home here in Polashpur village reminded me of this illusion, which is widely shared in America. I wouldn’t have recognized Rafiqul Islam if he had not told me who he was, especially because of his sprawling gray beard, Islamic cap and long Islamic shirt. It was more than three decades since I had seen him, then a clean-shaven businessman in slacks and a short-sleeve shirt. Relishing jackfruit from a tree planted by my deceased father, Rafiq said his children had settled down, and he now had “the freedom” to devote to social service. That included campaigning for “Islamic-minded” candidates at elections and fundraising for a “modern madrassa,” or Islamic school.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

India: Assam: Tribal Christians Beaten and Forced to Convert to Hinduism

Two men and a woman from the Rabha tribe are seriously wounded. Some 40 Hindu nationalists carried out the attack. The Global Council of Indian Christians slams the systematic attacks. Two Christian families flee for fear of violence.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Some 40 Hindu radicals attacked some Tribal Christian Rabha in the village of Deuphani (Assam). After showering them with insults, death threats and beatings, they forced the victims to abjure their Christian faith.

“Such systematic attacks are no longer tolerable,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). “Christians from the Rabha tribe live in a climate of terror,” he told AsiaNews. “I call on the authorities to protect your fellow citizens,” he said.

Three Christians, including a woman, suffered serious injuries because of the attack and had to be hospitalised.

The incident began last Friday, when some Hindus met Bhageswar Rabha, a Christian who had fled Deuphani, and forced him to reconvert to Hinduism.

A few hours later, around midnight, a group of 40 of them burst into the home of Manesor Rabha, a Pentecostal, and dragged him away, his wife Mala, as well as two other co-religionists, Michael Rabha (pictured) and Prashanto Rabha.

Once outside, the attackers began insulting and proffering threats against their victims, trying to convince them to abjure their Christian faith and sign blank papers.

Faced with the victims’ silence, the attackers beat them before taking them back to Manesor’s house where they left them with a warning that they would suffer “terrible consequences” if they ever filed a complaint with the police.

On Sunday morning, Mala, Michael and Prashanto were taken to the Satribari Christian Hospital.

Following the attack, two other families (seven people in all) fled the village.

“The district administration should ensure the safety of these tribal Christians,” Sajan George said. “Religious freedom is guaranteed under Article 25 of the Indian constitution, which says that everyone has ‘the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.’“

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

Indonesia: Violence in Papua: Christian-Muslim Activists Denounce Jakarta’s Inertia

In the last two weeks eight confirmed dead, while the guilty go unpunished. The Bishop of Jayapura hosts an interfaith meeting, to restore peace in the province. Muslim activist: need to promote love and tolerance, but better to “stay home”. Authorities and separatist leader trade accusationss.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — After days of silence, dozens of Catholic and Protestant religious leaders in Papua, along with fellow Muslims, have denounced the inaction of the central government in Jakarta, unable so far to stem the tide of violence in the province. In the last two weeks alone, clashes and ambushes have killed at least eight people, but the toll is still provisional. Known as “Dutch New Guinea” in the days of colonialism, Indonesian Papua is a resource rich region, but is still underdeveloped and poor compared to the rest of the archipelago. The regioni s also plauged by tensions — which leads to violence — between the authorities related to the central government and movements claiming an ever greater territorial self-government.

The Islamic-Christian activists gathered in the offices of the Diocese of Jayapura on June 10 last year and, after the meeting, they decided to take a firm stand against the perpetrators — so far unpunished — of violence. The closed door meeting was also attended by the local bishop, Mgr. Leo Laba Ladjar, also “concerned” about the escalation of fatal accidents. The leaders of the interfaith committee also encouraged the promotion of a culture of love and respect among the different ethnic groups that characterize the province of Papua.

Other attendees included Pastor Albert Yoku, head of the synod of the churches in Indonesia, the Rev. Lipiyus Binilux, the Reverend Herman Saud and other Muslim leaders, including Abdul Dudung Koha, Jayapura section of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) . Basimo, a local Muslim leader, spoke to AsiaNews of the need to “nurture a culture of love and tolerance” but also warns that “it is better not to go out at night, unless absolutely necessary “ until that the situation will improves.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian intelligence chief, General Norman Marciano, points the finger at the “separatist groups”, he claims are leading of the wave of violence in Papua in recent weeks. Among these there is also the armed independence movement for a Free Papua (OPM). However, the group leader Lambert Pekikir rejects these accusations and claims that he does not know anything about “alleged shootings.” The tension is likely to rise in the coming weeks, the anniversary of July 1, when OPM celebrates their founding.

In 2001 the authorities in Jakarta granted a “special autonomy” for the province, but its practical application has never materialized and the indigenous people continue to report “unfair treatment”. The area was the scene of a violent military campaign in the days of Sukarno, who led the annexation in 1969 by exploiting a United Nations Interim Directive. The iron fist used by the Suharto regime between 1967 and 1998 and the massive invasion of foreign multinationals and companies in Indonesia have encouraged the emergence of a separatist movement. The current name of Papua was sanctioned in 2002 by former president Abdurrahman Wahid.

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

Indonesia: Order to Close 20 Aceh Churches Stokes Fears of Sectarian Violence

Banda Aceh, 13 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — The discovery that a local governor in Aceh ordered 20 places of worship closed in April is raising concerns that growing intolerance will trigger communal conflicts.

The closures were ordered by Aceh Singkil Acting Regent Razali AR in a letter signed on April 30 that also ordered members of the congregations to tear down the churches by themselves.

“The local administration says that if the church members refuse to comply, the administration itself will demolish the buildings,” Veryanto Sitohang of the United North Sumatra Alliance, a human rights group, said in Jakarta late on Tuesday.

“The deadline for the demolition was June 8. It has been a few days since the deadline, but nothing has happened so far,” Veryanto said.

Razali ordered the closure of 17 Protestant churches, two Catholic churches and one place of worship belonging to followers of a local nondenominational faith.

He issued the letter following a protest by members of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) at the regency office on the same day.

The group alleged that the establishments violated community agreements signed in 1979 and 2001 by Muslim and Christian leaders in the regency.

One of the affected ministers said the agreements were signed under force.

“Church officials signed the documents because they were under threat. The documents said that the Christians are only allowed to have one church and four undung-undung in the regency,” Erde Barutu, the minister of the Pakpak Dairi Christian Protestant Church in Aceh Singkil, said.

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

Iranian Oil: US Cancels Economic Sanctions Against India

Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan are also exempted. For US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, these countries have “significantly reduced” Iranian oil imports. New Delhi downplays the US decision, saying it is based on US domestic law. China could still be hit by sanctions.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The United States has cleared India from US sanctions after it “significantly reduced” its imports of Iranian oil, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a few hours before Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna arrives in Washington on an official visit. New Delhi, however, downplayed Clinton’s remarks, saying it was a “decision taken by the Obama Administration under its domestic law.” Other nations excluded from sanctions are Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan. Conversely, China could still be hit by sanctions.

In December 2011, the United States passed a law imposing economic sanctions against countries that traded with Iran. It set out a deadline of 28 June for compliance. Its aim is to increase pressure on Tehran to give up its nuclear programme.

Despite Tehran’s claims that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful, Israel and much of the international community believe Iran’s has a secret military agenda.

Last March, Clinton cancelled sanctions against ten member states of the European Union and Japan.

“This is a decision taken by the US Government under its domestic law,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

“India and the US have a growing strategic partnership. The India-US Strategic Dialogue on June 13 will once again demonstrate the strength of our relationship,” Akbaruddin added.

Crude imports from Iran have been a steadily declining share in India’s total oil imports, dropping from over 16 per cent in 2008-09 to almost 10 per cent in 2011-12.

Last Month, during an official visit to India, Clinton urged New Delhi to do more to cut oil imports from Iran.

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

Kazakh Exam Student Caught With 35ft-Long Cheat Sheet Containing 25,000 Answers

If you’re going to cheat in an exam, at least be subtle about it.

Cast a furtive glance at your friend’s answer sheet, scribble a note or two on your arm, perhaps.

Don’t, as one Kazakh student reportedly did, wrap reams and reams of answers — 25,000 to be more precise — around your body in a bizarre stunt that might have made Borat proud, but certainly not the examiners.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: ‘Polio Drops Are Poison and Against Islam’

Islamabad: A cleric in Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh has declared the polio campaign “un-Islamic” and announced at the local mosque that jihad should be carried out against the visiting polio vaccination team. According to The Express Tribune, the local polio team entered Muzaffargarh’s rural Khan Pur Bagga Sher area and asked local families to cooperate with the campaign. When a local cleric, Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti, found out about the campaign, he immediately went to the biggest mosque in the area and declared that polio drops are “poison” and against Islam. He added that if the polio team forced anybody to partake in the vaccination campaign, then jihad was “the only option”.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

U.S. And EU Demand an End to Violence Between Burmese Buddhists and Muslims

Tensions remain high in the western Rakhine State, after days of ethno-religious conflict. Activists criticize the government and call for free access for independent bodies. The United Nations move staff; Bangladesh strengthens border controls. At least 12 thousand displaced people.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The international community is calling for an end to violence in the Rakhine State — west Myanmar, along the border with Bangladesh — where in recent days at least seven people were killed in violent ethnic clashes — between Buddhists and Muslims. Washington is calling for the calm and peaceful resolution of this matter, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the situation “underlines the absolute need for mutual respect among all ethnic and religious groups.” Attention is on President Thein Sein and the Burmese army — which has often in the past violently suppressed riots and tensions — to clarify the circumstances of events. The spokesman for European Union chief diplomat Catherine Ashton said she is that certain “security forces are facing these difficult interethnic violence in an appropriate manner.”

Human rights activists and members of civil society are more critical of the Burmese government, which has allowed its troops to take control of the province. They demand that foreign journalists, diplomats and volunteers be given access to areas affected by fighting. Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) has confirmed that the violence “is getting out of hand, under the eyes of the government.” Even the UN has decided to transfer — at least temporarily — much of the “non-essential” staff from the area. And across the border, the Border Guards in Bangladesh have strengthened inspections and driven back several boats, carrying groups of refugees. The number, depending on the sources, varies from 50 to 300. According to a list provided yesterday by the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, about 12 thousand inhabitants are housed in emergency centers, located in four different towns of the State.

Meanwhile, throughout Myanmar anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya sentiments are spreading, a minority living in Burma’s border with Bangladesh, often victims of abuse and persecution in the past of a religious nature. The Rohingya activists have repeatedly demanded, without success, inclusion in Myanmar and the recognition of their full rights. On the web, however, Burmese bloggers and citizens describe members of the minority as “invaders” or “terrorists”.

The violence erupted in the Rakhine State about a week ago when a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered. An angry mob accused some Muslims, killing 10 of them, who were traveling on a bus. The capital of Rakhine State, Sittwe, is controlled by security forces. The area is a very important hub for trade, because it is the origination point of an oil pipeline and gas pipeline built by China that brings power up to Yunnan.

Myanmar is composed of more than 135 ethnic groups, and historically has always found it difficult to promote coexistence. The military junta often uses harsh repression against the most recalcitrant. Myanmar Muslims constitute about 4% of a population of 60 million people. The UN says there are 750 thousand Rohingyas in the country, concentrated mainly in Rakhine State. Another million or more are scattered in other countries: Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia. The state of emergency declared yesterday is the first to be declared under Thein Sein, President for over a year, who is attempting to lead the country from military dictatorship to at least minimal democracy.

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

Far East

China Holds Key to Greenland Treasure Chest

Emerging superpower poised to play an increasingly important role in the quest for Arctic’s mineral resources

While Denmark’s business leaders and politicians are looking forward to the commercial potential of Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit this week, some believe that the Chinese are aiming to use improved Danish relations as a stepping stone to an even greater prize: Greenland.

China’s interest in Greenland, a self-ruling overseas territory, is closely linked to the country’s significant deposits of oil, gas, copper, iron, gold and rare earths.

Chinese investors are reportedly are preparing to put 1.3 billion kroner into major infrastructure projects, including three new airports and the expansion of port facilities in Nuuk, the capital city. Berlingske newspaper recently reported that a deal might be signed during Hu’s visit.

Improvements to Nuuk’s port would be a major boon to the international oil companies already drilling in the waters off of Greenland and increased airport capacity has long been high on the wish list of Greenland’s government. The current lack of capacity stands in the way of overall economic growth, especially the expected growth in the oil and mining industries.

Greenland, whose largest export item is prawns, does not have the capital on its own needed to modernise its infrastructure or exploit its resources, so the government has been open to foreign investors bringing cash and expertise.

Among the suitors is London Mining, whose Chinese partners are prepared to invest 12 billion kroner in an iron mine in Isukasia, near Nuuk.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Corruption Spreading in China, Postal Savings Bank President Arrested

The crackdown in China’s banking sector continues. After the arrest of the deputy president the Agricultural Bank of China, the president of the Postal Savings Bank Tao Liming is placed under house arrest. He authorised too many unregistered loans with higher than normal interest rates. Party purges its Shandong branch, kicking out 102 members.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — Chinese authorities have arrested Tao Liming, president of the Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC), on suspicion of economic crimes. This is but another scandal that hits the mainland’s banking system. Two weeks ago, Yang Kun, an executive vice-president of the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) was also arrested. All this is part of a campaign undertaken by the Communist Party and the central government to eradicate widespread corruption.

The Beijing-based PSBC is the nation’s seventh-largest lender by assets. Chen Hongping, chief of an asset operation division, was arrested along with Tao. Both are said to be assisting investigations into suspected economic crimes.

Tao was placed under shuanggui, a disciplinary system for party members outside the legal system that is the equivalent of house arrest.

Sources said Tao and Chen were found to have issued illegal loans to clients to book unlawful gains and to have misused assets.

The PSBC has almost 3 trillion yuan in deposits. Its main business is extending loans to small businesses in rural areas, but it lacks a complete risk-control mechanism to ensure the safety of its assets.

Despite the crackdown, corruption in China remains endemic. Yesterday in Shandong, the Communist Party expelled 102 members for not properly registering with the party.

Of these, 68 were found to have violated the one-child policy. Rich Chinese are known to bypass this law by paying off officials.

Leaders in China’s central government and Communist Party are conscious that scandals associated with party members are one of the main threats to domestic stability.

After decades of abuses of power, ordinary Chinese are no longer passively putting up with local party officials. From petitions directly presented in Beijing to street demonstrations, dissatisfaction is growing and even turning violent.

The party has launched various anti-corruption campaigns to re-establish morality in politics, but recent arrests show that they have failed so far.

Various analysts and dissidents believe that it is “impossible” to reduce corruption as long as the government is not placed under democratic control.

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

Japan Reportedly Has Evidence North Korea Missile Launchers Came From China

Japan has evidence that vehicles capable of transporting and launching missiles were exported to North Korea by a Chinese company in possible violation of U.N. sanctions, Japanese media reported Wednesday.

China called the reports inaccurate, and denied violating any U.N. restriction.

According to the Japanese reports, four of the vehicles were shipped from Shanghai to North Korea last August aboard the Harmony Wish, a Cambodian-flagged cargo vessel. Japanese authorities tracked the ship by satellite, and searched it after it had delivered its cargo, when it transited through Japan the following month, the reports said.

Such vehicles — called TELs, for transporter, erector, launcher — became the focus of international attention when North Korea displayed what looked like several of them during a military parade in its capital, Pyongyang, in April.

They are a concern because they could give the North the ability to transport long-range missiles around its territory, making them harder to locate and destroy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Community Crushes Dream to Build Mosque

OVERWHELMING community opposition has crushed a woman’s dream to build a mosque in Henley Brook but not her desire to revive the project one day. Mosque in the Valley Foundation director Maria Marasigan said negative and retaliatory comments directed toward the current owner of the property they had intended to purchase had made her question the approach to the project, and cease preliminary planning discussions with the City of Swan. The Islamic Shi’a Community of WA’s concept plan was for a mosque with multi-purpose uses plus a number of chalets, education facilities and a cultural centre that Ms Marasigan hoped would help explain Islam to the wider community. Details of the plan, including an explanation of the foundation’s vision and a fundraising drive, remain available online.

Swan Valley Regional Network co-ordinator Sue Hurt said the community’s primary concern was that the proposed mosque and cultural centre did not fit with legislation of the Swan Valley. “It’s not about the culture, nor about the religion. It’s about another building not meeting the criteria of the Swan Valley Planning Act,” she said. “This type of building simply does not fit in with the planning objectives of Area B on the Swan Valley Planning Act.” Ms Marasigan, who moved to Perth from Sydney nine months ago, said she was unaware the proposed site was in a legislated region. “My husband and I went for a drive down Benara Road and saw the Swan Valley and thought it would be the perfect place to create this facility,” she said. “I’m disappointed. The property owner had a series of threats in the last week so we are no longer going ahead with the proposal. The concept of the facility was to address any misconceptions that people had toward the Islamic community through a cultural centre.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Bonobo Genome Reveals More Promiscuity in Human Past

We have now read the genomes of our two closest relatives. The bonobo genome is published today, seven years after the chimpanzee genome was completed.

By comparing the human genome with that of chimps and bonobos, we can find out about the last common ancestor of the three species, says lead author Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

That’s a crucial question, because bonobos and chimps live in strikingly different societies. Bonobo society is female-dominated and remarkably peaceful, whereas chimpanzee society is male-dominated and far more aggressive. Which of these is the ancestral state?

Humans split from chimps and bonobos around 4.5 million years ago, and chimps and bonobos then separated around a million years ago.

We don’t yet know what the common ancestor of humans, chimps and bonobos looked like, but we do now have an idea of how many of them there were. By comparing the levels of genetic diversity in the three species, Pääbo estimates that the ancestral population numbered about 45,000 individuals.

The bonobo genome shows no sign that genes were passed between bonobos and chimps after they separated, suggesting that the two species split completely and did not carry on interbreeding. It may be that they were cut off from each other when the Congo River formed, allowing them to evolve separately.

That’s not what happened at the earlier split, when humans broke away from chimps and bonobos. Pääbo’s analysis shows that more than 3 per cent of the human genome is more closely related to chimps and bonobos than chimps and bonobos are to each other — suggesting that our ancestors carried out interbreeding with apes for a while.

A similar result emerged from the gorilla genome, released earlier this year. The ancestors of gorillas split from the other great apes around 10 million years ago, but interbred with the ancestors of humans and chimps.

These findings add to the evidence that apes and hominins have a tangled ancestry. Modern humans interbred with at least two related species, Neanderthals and Denisovans, and it seems that, millions of years earlier, their ancestors also interbred with apes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ghana: Hohoe Muslims on Rampage Over Exhumation of Imam

There are reports of fierce clashes leading to the burning of cars and other property in the Hohoe municipality where Muslim youth have clashed with the traditional leaders of the area. The renewed clashes were as a result of the exhumation of the corpse of the Chief Imam of the area who was buried yesterday in line with the tenets of the Islam religion.

There has been simmering tension in the Gbi Traditional area for some time now. It all started when a 21 year old boy was electrocuted and rushed to the Hohoe Government Hospital where he later died. The youth of the area angered by the death of the young man vandalized property at the Hospital, accusing it of not taking good care of the young lad.

The young man was later buried and reports have it that his body was exhumed by some Muslim youth in the Zongo where he was buried.

After a series of confrontations the Paramount Chief of the Gbi Traditional Area Togbiga Gabusu issued a letter to the Zongo Chief warning that henceforth no Muslim should bury their dead on the land. It is however unclear if this order in the letter was due to the earlier exhumation of the 21 year old but upon receipt, the Zongo Chiefs pleaded with Togbiga for clemency but he refused. The Chief Imam was thereafter buried on Sunday, defying the orders of Togbiga Gabusu and in the wee hours of Monday the Chief Imam’s body had been exhumed and dumped on the Jasikan road. This led to the current unrest which is causing fear in the area. The Police who are currently on the ground have been totally outnumbered by the youth and some citizens are calling for reinforcement for the security services.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Terzi: Worrying Boko Haram Attacks on Christians

(AGI) Rome — Foreign minister, Giulio Terzi, described the barrage of attacks against the Christian community in Nigeria as “extremely worrying”. “This is terrorism directed against religious minorities and minority ethnic groups,” he told TG1.

“A very striking and worrying figure is the number of attacks against Christians. This is happening because of Boko Haram, a sect that has grown in strength over the past three years,” continued the minister. Terzi recalled how last year alone, 300 people were killed by Boko Haram. “Employing a very worrying strategy for Christians, they struck at Christian churches at Christmas, Easter and other religious holidays,” said the minister.

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

Latin America

Luis Fleischmann: Tragedy in Cochabamba

The 42nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia on June 4, 2012. Again the coming together of all the nations of the Western Hemisphere was effectively used by the Bolivarian countries to weaken the OAS Democratic Charter and reduce the influence of the United States.

As during the Summit of the Americas this past April, Venezuela and its allies in the Bolivarian alliance insisted on the inclusion of Cuba. One after another ALBA country helped put an end to the summit without any resolution. This is a continuation of the Bolivarian policy of sabotaging what they consider to be American-dominated traditional institutions. The Summit of the Americas and the OAS General Assembly belong to the same category.

Concurrently, new inter-American institutions are being created that exclude the United States and Canada.

What happened at the OAS General Assembly was another very sophisticated step. It went beyond sabotage. It is important to analyze every step in order to understand what actually happened in Cochabamba…

[Return to headlines]


Amnesty: Italy Signs Secret Migrant Deal With Libya

Italy has signed a new agreement with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) to “curtail the flow of migrants,” according to a report by Amnesty International.

Details of the pact have not been made public. But the NGO in a report out on Wednesday (13 June) says it was signed on 3 April and entitles Italian authorities to intercept asylum seekers at sea and hand them back to Libyan soldiers. It believes the agreement violates Italy’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights because it does not contain human rights safeguards.

“Italy has, at best, ignored the dire plight of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. At worst, it has shown itself willing to condone human rights abuses in order to meet national political self-interest,” Amnesty said.

It noted that asylum seekers from Eritrea or Somalia who find themselves forcibly returned to Tripoli risk abuse and even torture. Libya currently has no functioning refugee or asylum policy and migrants — for the large part from sub-Saharan Africa — are treated with contempt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

European Parliament Lambastes Denmark Over Border Control

The decision by EU ministers to allow member countries to introduce border controls left European Parliament feeling it was being sidelined

Yesterday marked the lowest point of Denmark’s six month EU Presidency after MEPs launched vicious attacks on the justice minister, Morten Bødskov, over changes to Shengen border agreement that circumvented the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The row concerned last week’s decision by European justice ministers to bypass the two EU bodies to allow member states to introduce border controls with Shengen members that persistently fail to protect their borders with non-EU states.

With Denmark chairing the negotiations, it became the target of the MEP’s attacks and allegations that they had acted undemocratically and undermined the borderless principles behind the Shengen agreement.

“You have broken the relation of trust with this parliament, and broken away from the community method, which guarantees that larger member states cannot impose their will on smaller ones,” Joseph Daul, leader of the centre right EPP group, told the parliament.

Daul called for parliament to refuse to work with the Danes for the remainder of its presidency, while others promised to legally challenge the move.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Alien Earths May be Widespread in Our Milky Way Galaxy

Small, rocky planets can coalesce around a wide variety of stars, suggesting that Earth-like alien worlds may have formed early and often throughout our Milky Way galaxy’s history, a new study reveals.

Astronomers had previously noticed that huge, Jupiter-like exoplanets tend to be found around stars with high concentrations of so-called “metals” — elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. But smaller, terrestrial alien planets show no such loyalty to metal-rich stars, the new study found.

“Small planets could be widespread in our galaxy, because they do not require a high content of heavy elements to form,” said study lead author Lars Buchhave, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Giant Tropical Lake Found on Saturn Moon Titan

An oasis of liquid methane has unexpectedly been discovered amid the tropical dunes of Saturn’s moon Titan, researchers say. This lake in the otherwise dry tropics of Titan hints that subterranean channels of liquid methane might feed it from below, scientists added.

Titan has clouds, rain and lakes, like Earth, but these are composed of methane rather than water. However, methane lakes were seen only at Titan’s poles until now — its tropics around the equator were apparently home to dune fields instead.

Now near-infrared pictures of Titan from the Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn collected since 2004 suggest a vast methane lake exists on the surface in the moon’s tropics, one about 925 square miles (2,400 square kilometers) large and at least three feet (1 meter) deep.

“Titan’s tropical lake is roughly the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah during its lowest recorded level,” study lead author Caitlin Griffith, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona at Tucson, told “Our work also suggests the existence of a handful of smaller and shallower ponds similar to marshes on Earth with knee- to ankle-level depths.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Low-Metal Stars May Nurture Many Earth-Like Worlds

ROCKY planets can form without heavy elements, suggests a survey of planets the size of Neptune and smaller. That means Earth-size planets could be found all over the galaxy instead of just round stars with plentiful supplies of “metals”, elements heavier than helium.

The first exoplanets discovered were mainly “hot Jupiters”, planets up to several times larger than Jupiter and orbiting closer to their sun than Mercury. These tug strongly on their host stars, making them easiest to detect. They tend to be found around high-metal stars, which makes sense because a proto-planetary disc full of metals would be denser and more likely to clump together into planets.

There was a problem, though. To get close to their sun, hot Jupiters must have hurtled inwards, tossing any smaller planets aside. That would make solar systems with small planets like ours very rare.

But the survey team led by Lars Buchhave of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark found that the correlation didn’t hold. They used Earth-based telescopes to look at the spectra of 152 stars harbouring 226 possible planets, identified by the Kepler Space Telescope, to determine the stars’ composition. Stars with a metal content as low as a quarter of the sun’s can host planets between one and four times the size of Earth, the team found (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11121).

That’s good news in the search for rocky, Earth-size worlds. “They could be widespread, since there’s not a particular kind of star they need to form around,” Buchhave says.

Long-time planet hunter Debra Fischer of Yale University isn’t surprised. “I had this gut feeling that the planet-metallicity correlation was a good thing for gas giants, and a bad thing for rocky planets.” She suggests that a low-metal content makes planets grow more slowly, favouring small, rocky planets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120612

Financial Crisis
» Asian Markets Drop After Euphoria Over Spain Cools and Fears for Italy and Greece Emerge
» Europe Unprepared as Euro Crisis Deepens
» Eurozone Worrying U.S., Possible Spread to Italy
» Greece: Ferry Companies Sound Alarm, Closing in 3 Months
» Greece: Lack of Medicine, Tourism and Car Sales Slump
» Italy: Household Spending Plunges, -2.4% in 12 Month
» Italy: Funding Shortfall Threatens Regional Trains
» Italy: Rome Moves Into Crosshairs After Spain
» Italy: Waning Hope Over Spain Bailout Upsets Italian Markets
» ‘Less Than Three Months’: IMF Head Warns Time Running Out for Euro Zone
» Monti Critcises Austrian Minister for ‘Inappropriate’ Comments
» Monti Dismisses Claim That Indebted Italy May Need Bailout
» No Reason to Delay Eurozone Fund Ratification: Slovak PM
» Spain: EU Rescues Banks, Not Country, Krugman
» Top Global Accounting Firm: US Debt Crisis ‘Bigger Than You Think’
» Troika to Supervise Loan to Spanish Banks, Almunia
» Aiding a Convert to the Counter-Jihad Cause: Eric Allen Bell
» Are You Overhydrated?
» Boy Band Jihad: Mega Pop Star Pimping Islam on Your Daughters
» Commander Says Navy Sending Most Advanced Ships and Planes to Pacific
» Sharia Charade
» US Holding ‘Hundreds’ of Meetings With Jihad-Linked Group
» Canadian Muslims Volunteered to Feed Needy
» Quebec Braces Itself for a Summer of Unrest
Europe and the EU
» British Mosques to Host Ramadan Iftars During Olympics
» Dutch Press Review Tuesday 12 June 2012
» Euro 2012: I Want to be an England Fan and a Muslim. Why’s That So Hard?
» France: Family of Toulouse Gunman Merah Sue Over His Death
» Gordon Ramsay: ‘I Can’t Believe How Easy Life is in British Prisons’
» Hungarian Muslims Rally Around Hurt UAE Chess Official
» UK: Anarchy in the UK
» UK: Be Truly Conservative and the Votes Will Come
» UK: BNP Child Sex Protests Outside Burnley Court
» UK: Charity Sock Puppetry: How Government Lobbies Itself for More Government, And We Pay
» UK: July 21 Failed Suicide Bombers Fight Conviction
» UK: Muslim Council Re-Elects Leader, Promotes Female Quotas
» UK: Thousands of Troops Lose Jobs Today in Biggest Redundancy Cull for Decades
» Worldwide Counter-Jihad Alliance to Launch With Stockholm Demonstration on August 4
» Macedonia: New Mosque Causes Ethnic Rift in Southwest
North Africa
» Algeria: Middle Class Rush to Snatch Up Homes in Spain
» Egypt’s Fourth Pyramid
» Tunisia: Salafis Attack Cities, 86 Arrested
» Tunis: Salafis Run Wild, Soldiers Guard Presidential Palace
» Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens of Hardliners
Israel and the Palestinians
» UK: Anti-Israel Activists Target Queen Over Jubilee Diamond
» US Ousts Israel From Counterterrorism Forum
Middle East
» Iran: Grand Ayatollah Golpaygani: Wahhabis Betrays All Religions
» Saudi Clerics Use Social Media to Funnel Funds to Syria Rebels
» Seven Countries Exempted From Sanctions Against Iran, USA
» Syrian Christians in the War Between Fundamentalists and Secularists, Sunnis and Shiites
» Turkey: Fundamentalists Forbid Girl in Shorts to Board Bus
» Turkey: Erdogan Approves Kurdish Instruction in Schools
» Turkey to Introduce Elective Kurdish Lessons
» UAE: Dubai Police Officers Cleared of Inmate’s Torture Death
» With Eye on Turkey, Israel Debates Armenia Deaths
» Thousands of Russians Protest Against President Putin
» ‘Normal’ Shooting Resumes in Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
South Asia
» Bangladesh Sends Back Muslims Fleeing Myanmar
» Burma Sectarian Violence Continues Despite State of Emergency
» India and Pakistan Reopen Talks Over World’s Highest Battlefield
» Indonesia: West Java: Tasikmalaya Authorities Impose Sharia Law and Compulsory Veil
» Indonesia: Hated Aussies Now Loved
» Indonesia: Twenty Churches Face Demolition
» Malaysia: Respect Sensitivities of Muslims, Bar Council Told
» Myanmar: State of Emergency to Stop Buddhist-Muslim Clashes
» Pakistan: DG Khan Rape Case: Three Policemen Remanded
Far East
» China’s Wuhan City Covered in Mysterious Haze
» ‘Crouching Tiger’ Actress Zhang Ziyi Sues Over Prostitution Reports
» EU Says Deal With China Key to Fight Fake Wine
Australia — Pacific
» Coroner Rules Dingo Really Did Take Australian Baby in 1980
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigeria: Al-Qaeda Blames Germany for Engineer’s Death
Latin America
» Argentine Protesters Burn British Flag
» Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges
» Danish Presidency in Firing Line Over Schengen Decision
» Israel: Iron Fist Against African Immigrants and Refugees
» Italy: Egyptian Boat With Dozens of Illegal Migrants
Culture Wars
» Intersex People in EU: Ashamed and Invisible
» Morocco: Thousands of Gay Tourists Due in Casablanca
» The Media’s Double Standard for Muslims
» Turkey: Supreme Court: Prison for ‘Unnatural’ Video Sex
» UK: Gay Laws ‘To Halt Church Weddings’, Warn Religious Leaders
» UK: It Can’t Just be on the Students: The University and Unions Must Act

Financial Crisis

Asian Markets Drop After Euphoria Over Spain Cools and Fears for Italy and Greece Emerge

Stock markets drop to almost 1%. Lack of commitment on growth. For China aid to Spain contain short-term crisis, but no safeguard to stability. On 17 June, Greece votes for or against the euro.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — The Asian markets have opened almost all dropping 1%, after the mild euphoria of yesterday, in the hope that the loans of 100 billion euros to Spain would mark a beginning of solution to European debt.

But yesterday, the Spanish treasury bonds rose by 6.5% and Italy’s 10 year bonds went to 6.032%.

Today, the Nikkei fell below 1%, that of Shanghai and Hong Kong by 0.8, 0.9 Seoul. All shares of companies that trade with Europe declined about 2%.

The fears of analysts is that the European crisis will continue to spread and that the Union is doing much to lend money to banks, but little for growth. Yesterday stock markets in the U.S. and Europe also took hits.

Adding to uncertainty is the June 17 vote in Greece, after inconclusive election last May 6, unable to produce a government to direct the country under an austerity regime following the dictates of the EU. The next Greek elections seem to be characterized by the decision of whether to stay in or exit from the euro.

China, which Europe has recently asked for financial support, but to no avail, said that the EU’s move to aid Spain serves to curb the crisis in the short term, but more decisive steps are needed to protect a more continuous stability .

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

Europe Unprepared as Euro Crisis Deepens

The weekend announcement that Spanish banks would be bailed out briefly drove up markets around the world. But optimism was short lived. The euro crisis is rapidly intensifying and Europe is not prepared.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Eurozone Worrying U.S., Possible Spread to Italy

Too big a challenge for Monti? WSJ. Huge problems, NYT

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — The eurozone crisis worrying the United States. The White house has welcomed the bailout of Spanish banks and the support the EU has promised to Madrid. But despite these interventions, concern is rising over the possibility of the crisis spreading to Italy. And of a leader who is considered to be credible and capable, Italian Premier Mario Monti, having to throw in the towel. Will Italy be the next to fall?, the New York Times wonders. The newspaper speaks of “probably insurmountable challenges” even for professor Monti, who is also dealing with “the resistance to change that characterises Italian society and politics.” It is no coincident, the prestigious New York daily underlines, that all reforms launched by the technocrat government are still on halt in Parliament, blocked by hard opposition to painful but necessary measures. “It is not clear yet if Monti will be able to keep Italy from becoming the next domino to fall”. The general fear is, that the 100 billion euros promised to Spain to rescue its banking system will not be enough, and that the fever will spread to Italy, making it the next to ask the international community for help, Bloomberg BusinessWeek underlines as well. The analysis made by the Wall Street Journal is on the same line. The Journal stresses that the challenges Italy is facing are probably “too many for a man alone, even if that man is Mister Monti”. According to the Wall Street Journal, the next crucial step is the upcoming election in Greece, which the newspaper calls the “main threat” to the future of the eurozone and beyond. The situation will be assessed at the next G20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18 and 19. In this meeting, Europe will be asked to take more concrete measures during the summit of EU state and government leaders by the end of June. Ahead of this crucial summit, U.S. President Barack Obama is “in close contact with the European capitals,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney, who repeated that “it is no mystery what we must do to deal with the enormous challenges we are facing and to revive the economy and unemployment: we must act at once. We know where the weak spots are.” The message is aimed once again at Europe, but also at the Congress, which Obama has accused of blocking his reforms meant to boost the re-launch. From an electoral viewpoint, the general feeling in the U.S. is that the Obama administration is at risk. If the eurozone crisis deepens and even economies considered to be too big to fail start to collapse, the global consequences are beyond imagination. And the chances that the first Afro-American president in the U.S. history will be re-elected would fall to almost zero.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Ferry Companies Sound Alarm, Closing in 3 Months

Fewer passengers and rising management costs cause crisis

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — High fuel and maintenance prices, together with a sharp decline in the number of passengers has brought the Greek ferry companies to their knees (those that manage the connections to and from the islands). The companies have announced that they may have to keep their ferries in port as of September. Their revenues have fallen by an average of 15% compared with the year before, while the outlook for this year is another 10% decline, much too optimistic according to many. The warning was issued again — the first time was in April, when nobody seemed to listen — by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

Leaders in the sector have pointed out that fuel prices have risen by 56.8% for normal ferries and by 63% for high-speed ships over the past two years. The price of a tonne of diesel used as fuel by traditional boats is currently 594 euros, against 480 last year and 380 two years ago. High-speed ships pay a much higher price: 783 euros per tonne, against 675 in 2011 and 480 in 2010. “Due to the sharp increase in fuel prices and their cost, representing 55-60% of a ship’s daily expenses, the future of ferry operators is not at all bright,” said the head of the association of ferry companies (SEEN), who preferred to remain anonymous. “I am afraid,” this source added, “that without the help of the government, who could change regulations allowing us to cut other costs like labour costs, very few ferries will still be in service in the Aegean Sea, not enough to cover the most elementary marine transport requirements of the country.” The running costs of a ferry on a connection to the Cyclades will rise, according to the source, by at least two million euros this year because of rising fuel prices. That means 16.7% more vehicles and 100,000 more passengers must be transported to compensate for this increase. An operator of a ferry on the Piraeus-Crete line would need 110,000 more passengers and a 37.7% increase in the number of transported vehicles to compensate for the 2.6 million euros paid extra for fuel. “One way of levelling the losses caused by the expensive fuel is to increase tariffs. But each time we have done that, like on the connections to Myconos, Samos and Icaria, we saw our revenues drop,” the source admitted. Now the companies are looking for other ways to reduce costs, like reducing the speed of traditional ferries (lowering fuel consumption) or the number of journeys per week. Or uniting several routes: “to make a journey profitable, the ship must reach at least 70% of its capacity. But this happens only in summer and during some holiday periods,” the SEEN expert concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Lack of Medicine, Tourism and Car Sales Slump

Country in deep recession seven days before election

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 11 — With only 7 days until the “elections of fear”, so-called because their outcome will decide whether or not Greece remains in the eurozone, and by extension, whether the country will be saved or face disaster, the country continues to be engulfed by a crisis that is becoming ever more profound and alarming, and one that risks becoming irreversible.

People are continuing to queue outside chemists in search of medicine that is impossible to find, while tourism sector workers are in a state of desperation, with the economic crisis and political uncertainty in the country causing a 50% dive in boat bookings compared to last year and hotel reservations down between 30 and 50% (depending on the destination) in the aftermath of the inconclusive elections of May 6. Since then, there have been a number of cancellations at 5-star hotels, while hoteliers in Athens have registered a net fall in bookings of 35%.

The latest sign of the dramatic situation is a figure that, on the surface, appears positive. Chaotic traffic on the streets of Athens has improved in recent months, while the average journey speed has increased by 11%. This is not, however, because Athenians have suddenly become more respectful of the highway code, but rather because the use of cars has dropped by 30% due to the rise in fuel costs, with the use of public transport down by the same amount.

The main reasons for the drop in the use of private cars are the rise in petrol prices (now at around 1.80 euros per litre) and the increase in other added costs such as circulation tax, insurance and maintenance, all factors that are aggravated by the rise in unemployment and cuts to wages and pensions. Growing unemployment has caused a fall in the number of people using cars or public transport to travel to and from work, while reduced economic might means that trips during free time have also become less frequent.

In the meantime, the drop in the use of public transport has means lower revenue. The company that manages the underground, electric railway (ISAP) and trams in Athens has announced that its turnover has fallen by 19%. The fall has also been caused by the increasing number of passengers who do not pay for tickets, either because they have no money or because they believe the price (1.40 euros) to be excessive.

On the precarious public health front, meanwhile, progress should be around the corner after five associations of Greek chemists sent a joint letter to Horst Reichenbach, the head of the European Commission’s taskforce for Greece, asking for an urgent financial injection of 1.5 billion euros for the Greek health service organisation (EOPYY), which would allow the body to tackle its financial obligations towards chemists, many of which are refusing to provide drugs on credit or at discounted prices. After the serious problems caused in recent days by the refusal of chemists to provide drugs for patients who enjoy EOPYY health insurance, a group that covers the majority of Greeks, expensive medicine for the treatment of serious illnesses should now be available in chemists in public hospitals across the country and in those managed by EOPYY.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Household Spending Plunges, -2.4% in 12 Month

Durable goods -11.8%; seeking to save even on food, clothes

(ANSAmed) — ROME — In the first quarter of 2012 Italian household spending dropped by 2.4% compared with the first quarter of 2012 and by 1% on the previous quarter, according to the Italian national statistics institute. Italian households are trying to save money in all areas, and durable goods have seen a double-digit decline (-11.8%). The latter include cars, furnishings, and appliances. Also dropping, however, are even non-durable goods (-2.3% in one year) and the reference point is above all that of food, though corners are also being cut on medicines, detergents, and personal care products, among other things. Over the past year Italian families have also purchases fewer services: -0.2%.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Funding Shortfall Threatens Regional Trains

‘Only thing we can do is stop service,’ says CEO

(ANSA) — Rome, June 11 — Italy’s regional train services may grind to a halt next year unless central and local government bodies come up with the necessary funding, the CEO of the Italian rail company warned Monday.

“In 2013, unless the budget is met, we just won’t have any regional service,” said Ferrovie dello Stato managing director Mauro Moretti. “I don’t know what the (transport) authority plans to do but the only thing we can do is to interrupt service.

“We’ll be reported to the courts, we’ll see how it turns out”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Rome Moves Into Crosshairs After Spain

Rome, 11 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — The 100 billion-euro rescue for Spain’s banks moves Italy to the frontline of Europe’s debt crisis, putting pressure on Mario Monti’s unelected government to avoid succumbing to a market rout.

“The scrutiny of Italy is high and certainly will not dissipate after the deal with Spain,” Nicola Marinelli, who oversees $153 million at Glendevon King Asset Management in London, said in an interview. “This bailout does not mean that Italy will be under attack, but it means that investors will pay attention to every bit of information before deciding to buy or to sell Italian bonds.”

Italy has more than 2 trillion euros of debt, more as a share of its economy than any advanced economy after Greece and Japan. The Treasury has to sell more than 35 billion of bonds and bills per month — more than the annual output of each of the three smallest euro members, Cyprus, Estonia and Malta.

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on 9 June that he would request as much as 100 billion euros in emergency loans from the euro area to shore up a banking system hobbled by more than 180 billion euros of bad assets. Mounting concern about the state of Spain’s banks and public finances drove the country’s borrowing costs to near euro-era records last month, dragging up Italian rates in the process.

Contagion Threat

“The problem for Italy is that where Spain goes, there’s always the perception that Italy could follow,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London said in an interview. ‘‘There is insufficient differentiation within the financial markets. It is clear as the light of day and has been that Spain’s fundamentals are a lot direr than Italy’s. That hasn’t stopped Italy suffering from Spanish contagion.’’

Italy is on track to bring its budget deficit within the European Union limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product this year and the country is already running a surplus before interest payments, meaning its debt will soon peak at about 120 percent of GDP. The jobless rate is less than half of Spain’s 24 percent, and Italy didn’t suffer a real estate bust, leaving its banks healthy by southern European standards. The budget deficit at 3.9 percent of GDP last year, is less than half that of Spain.

Debt Load

To be sure, a total debt more than twice Spain’s gives investors pause, especially in a country where economic growth has lagged the EU average for more than a decade. The euro region’s third-biggest economy, Italy is set to contract 1.7 percent this year, more than the 1.6 percent in Spain, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.

Diminished Interest

Debt agency head Maria Cannata last week said that fewer foreign investors were turning up at Italian auctions in recent months and that the country could still finance at yields as high as 8 percent.

The exodus of foreign buyers has left the Treasury more dependent on Italian banks, which in turn have been among the biggest borrowers in the European Central Bank’s three-year lending operations. Italy returns to markets before Spain does, selling as much 6.5 billion euros of treasury bills on 13 June, followed by a bond auction the next day.

“If Italy has a problem with accessing the markets because investors lose confidence in the Italian ability to do the right thing, the ECB will be drawn into the fire,” said Thomas Mayer, an economic adviser to Deutsche Bank AG, in a telephone interview. “That could pose a potentially lethal threat to European monetary union.”

Would-Be Savior

Given the size of Italy’s debt, only the ECB has the firepower to rescue the country and yet deploying that ammunition — through buying back bonds or making more long-term loans — may prove unacceptable to Germany and its allies in northern Europe, Mayer said.

“The ECB will probably have to restart buying bonds but there will be a lot of sellers into that of people who are worried that Spain is the next Greece and Italy the next Spain,” said Lex Van Dam, who manages $500 million at Hampstead Capital LLC in London.

There may be little Italy can do on its own to protect itself. Monti, appointed by the president to succeed Silvio Berlusconi in November when Italy’s 10-year yield exceeded 7 percent, has implemented 20 billion euros of austerity measures, overhauled the pensions system and revamped the county’s labor markets and service industries.

Monti’s efforts helped shave more than 200 basis points off the 10-year yield by February, before the turmoil in Greece and Spain’s banking woes began driving up rates. Now with final passage of some of his reforms bogging down in parliament, Monti is pressing European allies to pivot from austerity to pro- growth policies.

“Mr. Monti seems to be infinitely more concerned about what’s going on abroad than what’s going on in parliament,” Spiro said. “Understandably so, because Italy has not been a master of its own fate for a long time. He’s perfectly aware that in order to fix Italy, they have to fix the euro zone.”

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

Italy: Waning Hope Over Spain Bailout Upsets Italian Markets

Spread up to 470, bourse down 2.79%, worst in Europe

(ANSA) — Milan, June 11 — Waning hopes over a Spanish bailout deal sent the Milan bourse down and vaulted the spread and the yield in debt-laden Italy on Monday. The spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds flew up to 470 points as optimism fizzled that the weekend’s bailout deal for Spanish banks would stem the euro crisis.

The FTSE MIB index took a 2.79% hit to close down at 13,070 points, making it the worst-performing market across Europe Monday. Pundits said markets were skeptical about exactly how the up-to-100-billion-euro bailout in Spain would be implemented. The yield, another key gauge of market sentiment, rose to 6%. Yields approaching 7% are regarded as unsustainable in the long term, experts say.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Less Than Three Months’: IMF Head Warns Time Running Out for Euro Zone

As the focus of the euro crisis shifts to Italy, IMF head Christine Lagarde has warned that European leaders have less than three months to save the euro. Meanwhile top economist Nouriel Roubini has called on Berlin to drop its obsession with austerity, proposing that the German government give every household a 1,000 euro voucher to spend on a vacation in Southern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Monti Critcises Austrian Minister for ‘Inappropriate’ Comments

Italian PM Mario Monti Tuesday hit back at comments by Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter that Italy might have to get a bailout. “It is totally inappropriate for ministers to comment issues referred to other (EU) countries, and as such I won’t comment her comments,” he said, reports Dow Jones.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Monti Dismisses Claim That Indebted Italy May Need Bailout

Brussels, 12 June (AKI) — As Italy’s borrowing costs spiked on Tuesday, the country’s prime minister Mario Monti furiously rejected comments from Austria’s finance minister that Rome may follow Spain and require a financial rescue.

Monti described Austrian finance minister Maria Fekter’s assessment of Italy — the eurozones’ third largest economy — as “completely inappropriate”.

Fekter said that Italy, which has approved austerity measures to tackle its massive public debt of over 1.95 trillion euros, “will also need support, given the high rates it pays to refinance on markets.”

Fekter later backtracked, telling reporters there were “no indications” that Italy would apply for EU-backed aid.

But eurozone officials also called Fekter’s remarks deeply unhelpful.

The comments heightened investor fears that the 30-month-long European debt crisis is far from over despite a deal by eurozone finance ministers on Saturday to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros to recapitalise its banks.

Italian and Spanish government 10-year bond yields rose further above the critical 6 percent level as the Spanish bank bailout failed to ease fears about Madrid’s solvency.

Yields on Italy’s 10-year bonds reached their highest levels since 31 January, standing at 6.16 percent by mid-morning. Meanwhile the spread, or premium demanded by investors for Italian bonds over Germany’s benchmark securities, soared to 483 points from an opening level of 468.8.

Borrowing costs in Spain climbed to their highest level in about 8 months on Tuesday.

While Italy’s banks are in a stronger position than their Spanish counterparts, the country continues to be mired in recession with the economy predicted to shrink by 1.7 per cent this year according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates.

Italy’s economy will continue shrinking until the end of 2013, according to OECD.

A fresh test of investor confidence in Italy is expected on Thursday when the treasury is expected to offer up to 4.5 billion euros of fixed-rate bonds at its regular mid-month auction.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called on European leaders to make this month’s EU summit a turning point in the handling of the eurozone debt crisis amid fears that default-threatened Greece could leave the single currency.

Napolitano also urged Italy’s political parties to back Monti’s financial reforms and suggested they should stop grumbling about unpopular measures. These include higher taxes, spending cuts and making people retire later.

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

No Reason to Delay Eurozone Fund Ratification: Slovak PM

(BRATISLAVA) — Slovakia is ready to ratify the eurozone’s new rescue fund and push ahead with its own fiscal consolidation, the Slovak premier said after Tuesday talks with the EU president.

“There’s no reason to put off the ratification of the permanent fund,” newly-elected leftist Prime Minister Rober Fico said after meeting EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

“We have to show we are responsible and can do our homework,” added Fico, whose leftist Smer-SD party commands a sound majority of 83 seats in the 150-member parliament.

Slovak parliament is set to discuss the European Stability Mechanism fund at a session starting June 19.

Van Rompuy said he welcomed “the commitment of the Slovak government to swiftly complete the ratification process”.

The ESM, created to ease market pressure on indebted eurozone nations like Greece and prevent the contagion across the eurozone, will be launched in July and run in parallel with the EFSF temporary fund for one year.

A relatively poor ex-communist nation of 5.4 million, Slovakia is due to contribute 659.2 million euros (868.5 million dollars) to the ESM over five years.

After it joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009, Slovakia grew by 3.3 percent last year.

Its central bank said Tuesday it expected growth of 2.5 percent for this year, which would likely make the country the eurozone’s top performer.

Fico added his government was determined to pursue fiscal consolidation with a goal of slashing the public deficit to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 from 4.8 percent in 2011, and to less than 3.0 percent mandated by the EU in 2013.

“That’s a pledge we honour and will achieve,” Fico said.

Van Rompuy praised Slovakia for adopting the stance “not because Europe’s asking for it but because it’s in the interest of the Slovak people.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Spain: EU Rescues Banks, Not Country, Krugman

Planned bailout no solution for Spain

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — “Yet again the economy slides, unemployment soars, banks get into trouble, governments rush to the rescue — but somehow it’s only the banks that get rescued, not the unemployed.” This statement was made by Paul Krugman, U.S. winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize for the Economy, in an opinion article in the New York Times, cited today by El Pais.

The article regards the bailout of the Spanish banking system with 100 billion euros, agreed by the Euro Group and Spain.

According to the economist, the bailout is necessary, but is “not the solution Spain needs. “There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this latest bailout (although a lot depends on the details). What’s striking, is that even as European leaders were putting together this rescue, they were signaling strongly that they have no intention of changing the policies that have left almost a quarter of Spain’s workers — and more than half its young people — jobless.” Krugman complains that the European authorities “are always ready to spring into action to defend the banks, but otherwise completely unwilling to admit that its policies are failing the people the economy is supposed to serve.” He also reproaches the European Central Bank for refusing to lower interest rates.

“Unemployment in the euro area has soared,” Krugman writes, “and all indications are that the Continent is entering a new recession. Meanwhile, inflation is slowing, and market expectations of future inflation have plunged. By any of the usual rules of monetary policy, the situation calls for aggressive rate cuts. But the central bank won’t move.” The economist heavily criticises the eurozone’s paralysis and concludes: “it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don’t despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Top Global Accounting Firm: US Debt Crisis ‘Bigger Than You Think’

What is the real cost of the U.S. government’s nearly $16 trillion debt? “The debt crisis is likely bigger than you think,” a new report issued last week by Deloitte, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, concluded.

That’s because interest payments add a whole new level of fiscal pain to the country’s debt problem. Interest payments on the national debt alone, it noted, are expected to total some $4.2 trillion over the next decade.

And that number could fluctuate depending on rates.

The lead author of the Deloitte study, director Bill Eggers, stressed the way that U.S. government debt could quickly spiral out of control if investors become less willing to lend more money.

“If interest rates go up by simply 3 percent over the next decade, the additional cost to the Treasury, just for interest payments, would equal the peak combined cost of the wars in both Afghanistan in Iraq,” he said.

So what could $4.2 trillion buy instead?

Deloitte, an accounting and consulting firm that often audits government finances, says it’s enough to do any of the following:

  • build 80,000 miles of highways
  • pay tuition for every science/math/engineering college degree in the country
  • triple U.S. government general R&D funding
  • build six international space stations
  • offset 80 percent of global warming pollution in the atmosphere as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The report notes that the $4.2 trillion could also be given back in the form of tax cuts.

Not all economists are on board with the implications of the study.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Troika to Supervise Loan to Spanish Banks, Almunia

‘Deal will include conditions’, not only for financial system

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — There will “obviously be conditions connected” to the bailout of Spanish banks, because “people don’t give away money for nothing, they want to know what it will be used for.” This statement was made today by the vice president of the European Commission and EU competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, in a radio interview with Cadena Ser. Other than the Rajoy government, which has insisted on the idea that the 100 billion euros in bailout will only include conditions for the banking system, Almunia pointed out that the funds will be bound to the Stability Pact. “I don’t only mean that the loan has to be paid back, but also other types of conditions, we’ll have to see which ones,” said the EC vice president. Almunia specified that the aid itself will not be registered as deficit but as debt, while the interests will add to the public deficit. He confirmed that the loan to Spain will be supervised by the IMF, ECB and EC troika. However, the International Monetary Fund will not participate as co-financer, as it did in the cases of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Aiding a Convert to the Counter-Jihad Cause: Eric Allen Bell

It is always encouraging to see a convert to the counter-Jihad movement who once opposed you. That is the case of Eric Allen Bell, a California based documentarian who became an ‘item ‘in the midst of the Islam Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) mega-mosque controversy to confront many opponents, only to have undergone a remarkable epiphany and seen the light. Bob Smietana of The Tennessean, a staunch defender of the ICM, profiled Bell’s journey to what we believe is the right side of the controversy. In a Tennessean article published Saturday, “Murfreesboro mosque supporter switches sides, says Islam is a ‘threat’ “, Smietana noted: Back then, he was making a movie called Not Welcome, which depicted mosque critics as Southern Christian bigots. Now he says the mosque is part of a plot to destroy America. He says the mosque is “built on a foundation of lies” in a recent op-ed piece at the anti-Islam site “I want to communicate that the biggest threat to human rights is Islam,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. Mosque supporters say they feel betrayed by Bell. They even wonder if he was a fraud or has been paid off by anti-Muslim groups. Give Bell credit, in his Front PageMagazine article he gave attribution to the investigative team whose inputs we composed in the ICM background investigation Power Point presentation ultimately used by Liz Coker before a meeting of the Rutherford County Public Safety Committee in late September 2010. Below is the FPM article published by Bell. So Bell is not only a convert to the cause, but a mensch for touting the sources who created the evidence of the Hamas links to the ICM Mosque board.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

Are You Overhydrated?

You’ve heard it since you were a kid, from your parents to your gym teacher: Drink two liters (or eight glasses) of water every day. Lately, though, researchers have been questioning the tried-and-true water rule, and in fact, believe even health-minded individuals could be drinking too much H2O.

“There’s no scientific method behind those numbers,” says exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, Ph.D., a hydration researcher at Stanford University. “And the recommendation doesn’t take into account gender, environment, altitude, fitness level-factors that could affect fluid intake needs.” (Pick up Drink This, Not That! to discover the healthiest, tastiest drinks in the world.)

In fact, there’s a lot of marketing behind popular hydration recommendations, Sims says-with potentially dangerous consequences. “Drinking too much fluid can lead to hyponatremia, which is when sodium in blood becomes too diluted,” Sims says.

Symptoms include confusion, headaches, nausea and bloating-stuff that’s easily confused with dehydration. In severe cases, hyponatremia can lead to seizures, organ failure and even death.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Boy Band Jihad: Mega Pop Star Pimping Islam on Your Daughters

by Debbie Schlussel

Jihad is sneaking into American girls’ favorite pop band. If you have young daughters, then you know that the boy band, “One Direction,” is all the rage to young girls around the world, especially in the United States. As big, if not bigger than Justin Bieber. Recently, President Obama’s daughter, Malia, was photographed attending their Washington, DC-area concert. And screaming tween and teen girls greet them all over America. But, even if you’ve heard of the band, you probably don’t know that one of its members, Zayn Malik, is pimping Islam on your kids. That’s in addition to his Arabic tattoos and frequent donning of the keffiyeh, the official garb of Islamic terrorism.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Commander Says Navy Sending Most Advanced Ships and Planes to Pacific

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Monday the Navy will be sending its most advanced vessels and aircraft to the Asia-Pacific region as it builds up its presence by assigning most of its fleet there. Adm. Cecil Haney said a policy recently outlined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy 60 percent of the Navy’s ships fleet to the Pacific by 2020 is about capabilities as well as quantity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sharia Charade

by Steve Chapman

The bogus threat of Islamic law in the U.S.

In the 19th century, Catholicism was regarded by many people in this country as thoroughly incompatible with Americanism. They saw it as a hostile foreign element that would subvert democracy. Today, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic, and they are taken to be as American as Mountain Dew. We’ve come a long way in religious tolerance. Or maybe not. The belief that Catholics are irredeemably alien and disloyal has given way to the fear that Muslims pose a mortal threat to our way of life. That distrust is behind a push in state legislatures to forbid courts from applying Islamic Shariah law in any case. Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have passed these bans, though the Oklahoma law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

US Holding ‘Hundr