News Feed 20120606

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

Financial Crisis


Corruption and Crisis Linked in Europe, Says World Watchdog

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

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

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

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

A mere 10 ban anonymous political donations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Makes First Step Towards Disputed Banking Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

Q1 eurozone GDP -0.1% , Eurostat

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France Slashes Pension Age to 60 for Thousands

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Giants Spend Millions Lobbying US

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Moody’s Downgrades German and Austrian Banks

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Obama, Cameron Urge ‘Immediate Plan’ For Eurozone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Obama Calls Monti to Discuss Eurozone’s Response to Crisis

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

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

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



Possible Deal Takes Shape on Aid for Spain’s Banks

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



US Holds Conference Call With China About Euro-Crisis

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


Americans’ Heads Have Been Growing, Scientists Say

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Islamic Mosque Nearly Complete in Northern Longview

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Memorial Day With Muslims

by Peter Skerry

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



New Mosque Envisioned for Short Pump

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

[Return to headlines]



Sharia Law Should be OK With GOP

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

According to Sharia Law:

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Canada


Islamic Sharia is a Threat to Canadian Society

by Mike Harding

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Belgian Right-Wingers Offer Burqa Bounty

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Belgian Far-Right Launch New Vigilante Scheme

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Corruption Watchdog Says Business and Politics ‘Too Cozy’

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Denmark Has Fewer But Larger Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

By MELISSA EDDY / The New York Times

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out Brings Unexpected Costs

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Miracle Milk Molecule Keeps Obesity at Bay

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norwegian Far Right Says Breivik Correct to Fear Muslims

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Schmoozing With the New World Order

Green Party Leader Slammed for Going to Bilderberg

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish Teen Held for Child Rape

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swiss Man Charged With Somali Insurgency Links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

by Yasmin Qureshi and Dr Nafeez Ahmed

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK Halal Commission Launched

Muslim Council launches new halal food lobby

Will defend halal slaughter methods

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

False charges

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

by Janet Daley

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Baroness Warsi: Falling or Being Pushed?

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

[…]

UPDATE

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

by Dan Hodges

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

[…]

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Can the BBC Still be a National Broadcaster?

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Simply Dazzling

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

by Tim Montgomerie

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: This Great Diamond Jubilee Had a Missing Ingredient

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Yemen: Al-Qaeda Starts Suicide-Bomber Recruitment Drive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balkans


Serbian President Under Fire for Denying Srebrenica Genocide

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


1.4 Bln Euro Allocated for Southern Regions

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

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

North Africa


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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


German Translates Oldest Known Hebrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Jerusalem House Firebombed as Israeli Government Stokes Anti-Immigration Fervour

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Economy: Turkey and Lebanon on Way to Integration, Minister

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Qatari Bank Set to Buy Ailing UK Lender IBB

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



So, What Did the Muslims Do for the Jews?

by David J Wasserstein

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

[…]

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Turkish Muslims Slam Blasphemous Article on Yahoo News

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

[…]

[JP note: The article in question is no longer available on Yahoo news, but may be accessed here http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981376073 ]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UAE: Three Men Abuse 9-Year-Old Boy

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Russia


Russian General Warns Finland About NATO

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Afghanistan: At Least 23 Killed in Kandahar Suicide Attack

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Distrust Fuels Anti-Muslim Violence in Myanmar

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

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           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India: Has Skin Whitening in India Gone Too Far?

By Rajini Vaidyanathan BBC News, Mumbai

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Headscarf Law Provokes Criticism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Myanmar Muslims Protest Over Mob Killings

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


Australian Minister Heightens Security in China

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Anger Over Proposal to Ban Child Killers Having Kids

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

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

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

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

She says each case required a separate court order.

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

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

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

She says the government is not considering forced sterilization.

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

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

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Crescent Unveils First Sharia-Compliant Fund

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigeria: Army Kills 16 Members of Boko Haram

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Tanzania: Muslim Clerics Call for New Census Team

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Latin America


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

by Niles Gardiner

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


UK: Gangmasters Caught Running Illegal Labour Teams Escape Prosecution

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120605

Financial Crisis
» Europe’s Zombie Parties
» G7 Discussed European Fiscal Union
 
USA
» CBS News: Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Recall Election
 
Europe and the EU
» Greece: Libyans Occupy Embassy in Protest at Hospital Costs
» Italy: Former Vatican Bank Chief’s Home Searched
» Italy: Former Unicredit CEO Profumo Indicted for Alleged Fraud
» Italy: Emilia Quake: Stricken Parmesan on Sale in Bologna
» Skeletons Treated for Vampirism Found in Bulgaria
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Lawyer Sees Evangelist Plot Behind Adoptions
» Libya in Chaos: Airport Attacked, Elections Postponed
» Libya: Cyrenaica Against Tripoli, Cargo Stop From Tomorrow
» Tunisia: Crusade Against Anti-Islam Intellectual
 
South Asia
» Drone Strike Kills No. 2 Al Qaeda Leader in Pakistan

Financial Crisis


Europe’s Zombie Parties

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

European political parties are in crisis. And ideological bias aside, they now deal more in special interest groups. These include senior citizens, whose pensions they cheerfully promise to save, when for years they have been eaten away.

Dirk Schümer

The crisis, which has just begun in Europe, is no longer being limited to the currency and its devastating effect on more than one economy. One of the fundamental authorities of modern democracy has been dragged ever deeper into the whirlpool: the political party.

The fact that for over two years governments from Slovakia to Portugal have been kicked out of office in bunches and without regard to political stripe is only the earliest indication of a systemic disease. In truth, the law of democracy — democratic forces competing to offer political alternatives — has been finished off by the dictates of the economy.

That is seen most clearly in the Greece experience. The motherland of democracy is now carrying out a spectral round of voting about nothing. No party has dared to write into their election manifesto their stance on the only real decision remaining — namely, to withdraw from the euro and possibly the EU and to let Greece go bankrupt. Instead, the parties are campaigning as shadows of their erstwhile ideologies — zombies from a time when there was still something to hand out…

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



G7 Discussed European Fiscal Union

The Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers and central bank chiefs discussed Europe’s progress towards a financial and fiscal union in a conference call on Tuesday, a Canadian government spokeswoman said, echoing comments issued earlier by Washington.

“The G7 counterparts reviewed developments in the global economy and financial markets and the policy response under consideration, including the progress towards financial and fiscal union in Europe,” said Mary Ann Dewey-Plante, a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“They agreed to monitor developments closely ahead of the G20 summit in Los Cabos,” she added.

The statement was almost identical to one issued by the U.S. Treasury Department earlier on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


CBS News: Scott Walker Wins Wisconsin Recall Election

First-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker will win the Wisconsin recall election, CBS News estimates, beating back a labor-backed effort to unseat and again handing defeat to his Democratic challenger, 58-year-old Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The recall fight, prompted by Walker’s decision to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights, has doubled as a proxy fight over whether Republicans can push through spending cuts and confront organized labor — and live to tell about it.

“Wisconsin has given their stamp of approval to Gov. Walker’s successful reforms that balanced the budget, put people back to work, and put government back on the side of the people,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday night.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, candidates and outside groups spent in excess of $63 million on the recall election — an enormous figure that easily breaks the previous record of $37.4 million (set in the 2010 gubernatorial contest) for spending in a Wisconsin election. According to the New York Times, Walker and his Republican allies spent $45.6 million on the race as of May 21, while Barrett and his allies have spent $17.9 million.

Turnout had been expected to exceed 2010 total, with an estimated 2.8 people expected to cast ballots. Reports emerged from Wisconsin Tuesday of robocalls informing voters, falsely, they don’t have to vote if they signed the recall petition, among other attempts to depress turnout among Barrett voters using false information. The Walker campaign said in response to the reports that “any accusation that our campaign is making those calls is categorically false and unfounded.”

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Greece: Libyans Occupy Embassy in Protest at Hospital Costs

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 5 — A group of around 30 Libyan nationals late on Sunday occupied the premises of the Libyan embassy in Athens, taking hostage a mission employee, in protest at the suspension of the healthcare they had been receiving from Greek private hospitals in recent months. The protesters, believed to be Libyan freedom fighters injured in their country last year before being transferred to Greece for treatment, withdrew from the embassy after police negotiators won them round and secured the safe release of the employee. According to police, as daily Kathimerini reports, the protesters were demanding the embassy’s intervention to cover their costs. Last month the Greek hospitals stopped treating them due to a mounting unpaid bill. The problem began last November, when the new Libyan government took over paying the hospital bills, previously covered by Qatar.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Former Vatican Bank Chief’s Home Searched

Gotti Tedeschi not under investigation, probe not related to IOR

(ANSA) — Rome, June 5 — The home of the former President of the Vatican bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was searched by police on Tuesday.

Gotti Tedeschi is not under investigation and the search has nothing to do with his work at the Vatican bank, which is officially called the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), ANSA sources said.

The search was conducted as part of an investigation into alleged corruption at Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica. Gotti Tedeschi resigned from the IOR last month after its board passed a vote of no-confidence in him in a controversial move that hit newspaper headlines worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Former Unicredit CEO Profumo Indicted for Alleged Fraud

Current MPS chairman sent to trial with 19 others

(ANSA) — Milan, June 5 — Alessandro Profumo, the former CEO of Italy’s largest bank UniCredit, was sent to trial with 19 other people by a preliminary hearings judge on Tuesday for an alleged 245-million-euro tax fraud.

Profumo, who is now the chairman of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, another big Italian bank, is accused of defrauding the Treasury using a structured finance operation known as ‘Brontos’ that sheltered money from the tax authorities.

He is accused alongside a number of former and current UniCredit managers plus three employees of the British bank Barclays.

Profumo, who stepped down from the helm of UniCredit in 2010 after losing a power struggle with Chairman Dieter Rampl, allegedly signed off on illegal transactions on three separate occasions in 2007 and 2008 “by putting his initials on applications for investment approval”, according to prosecutors.

The bank then categorized the money as dividends instead of interest, allegedly allowing suspects to pay only 5% tax on the profits instead of 100%.

Profumo denies any wrongdoing.

The trial will open on October 1 in Milan.

Profumo, the architect behind UniCredit’s incorporation in 2007 of Capitalia, a group which included the former Banca di Roma and Banco di Sicilia, was said to have lost the confidence of the key stockholders over his management of the bank after the global financial crisis began in late 2007.

UniCredit was the most exposed Italian bank in the crisis because it had the biggest international profile, including owning Germany’s HVB group, which suffered in the subprime loan crisis that sparked the credit crunch.

Profumo is also said to have been at odds with Rampl over his management style, described by some observers as brash and autocratic, which earned him the media nickname of ‘Mr Arrogance’.

Observers said the final straw came when Profumo did not inform the chairman of Libya’s move to boost its stake in UniCredit to over 7.5%.

The Milan stock market reacted with indifference in early trading on Tuesday to the news that Profumo has been indicted.

UniCredit’s share price gained 0.38% while Monte dei Paschi di Siena’s went up by 4%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Emilia Quake: Stricken Parmesan on Sale in Bologna

Coldiretti scheme tomorrow, controller and in 1 kg cuts

(ANSAmed) — BOLOGNA, JUNE 5 — The Bologna branch of the farming association Coldiretti has organised the sale of “earthquake-stricken” Parmigiano Reggiano in Bologna tomorrow. The cheese is already seasoned and has been checked by monitoring groups, and will be sold in chunks of 1 kilo apiece at a market price fixed by the producing factory, “in order to avoid distortion and speculation”. The scheme, which has been introduced to support the areas hit by the quake, will begin at 15:00 at the Amica country market. Coldiretti points out that the quake hit DOP (protected designation of origin) Parmigiano Reggiano very hard, ruining over 600,000 40 kilogram wheels of the cheese after the collapse of the “scalere”, the large shelves used to season the cheese. Damage to Parmigiano Reggiano alone reached 150 million euros. Meanwhile, solidarity schemes are continuing on the Internet. In 4 days, Coldiretti’s has received 17,000 email requests from people wanting to buy cheese affected by the earthquake.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Skeletons Treated for Vampirism Found in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists say they have unearthed centuries-old skeletons pinned down through their chests with iron rods — a practice believed to stop the dead from becoming vampires.

According to Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, two skeletons from the Middle Ages were found in such a state last weekend near the Black Sea town of Sozopol.

He said Tuesday that corpses were regularly treated in such a way before being buried in some parts of Bulgaria, even until the beginning of the last century.

Widespread superstition led to iron rods being hammered through the chest bones and hearts of those who did evil during their lifetimes for fear they would return after death to feast on the blood of the living.

According to Dimitrov, over 100 corpses stabbed to prevent them from becoming vampires have been discovered across Bulgaria over the years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Lawyer Sees Evangelist Plot Behind Adoptions

Muslim children vulnerable to organ traffickers

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 5 — ‘As in many other Arab countries, there exists in Algeria an international evangelical network whose aim is to inculcate children through the method of adoption and which has been known to stoop to trafficking in humans and in body parts.’ If it were not for the fact that it comes from a legal professional, this detailed accusation might have appeared paradoxical. But it fits perfectly into the background of controversy that surrounds the activities of certain Christian churches in Algeria as in other Muslim countries, whose aggressive style of evangelism leads to a clash between religions, and which are often countered with measures whose legality appears questionable.

The above reprimand has come from Fatima Zohra Ben Brahem, a lawyer at the Court of Algiers, who chose a symbolic place to make it: the national conference on “Kafala and the Adoption of the Judicial and Religious point of View”. Kafala is the practice of adoption in the Muslim world, by which the adopted child is not given the same rights as a natural one. The subject is complex, but for Ms Ben Brahem its complexity fades in comparison to the offensive launched by Christian churches in their drive to convert as many Algerian children as they can, using the method of adoption and taking them abroad. As long, that is, Ms Ben Brahem indicated, they are not simply being used for organ trafficking.

One of the matters touched upon by the legal expert was that of the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights, which, she said: “has enabled foreigners to adopt Arab children without having to take their religion into account”.

The issue is therefore one with a multitude of aspects: it does not just concern safeguarding children and the cultural heritage of their family of origin, but also the existence of an international “project” aiming at the enforced evangelisation of vulnerable persons in no position to defend themselves.

Arab nations have long adopted a stance of dogged defence of their own characteristics in their relations with the world’s other religions, but the words of Ms Ben Brahem go beyond this: she speaks of an “international network” with a definite mission and against which the national authorities are powerless to act, being deprived of the necessary instruments.

What raises the most concern among defenders of Muslim traditions is the fact that it is children who have no registered parents that are most liable to be adopted, having been abandoned at birth. The size of the problem can be appreciated from the fact that the number of adoptable children registered each year a being born “nes sous x” (i.e. with an ‘x’ where the parents’ names should be inserted) is three thousand. The figure appears to be a default one.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya in Chaos: Airport Attacked, Elections Postponed

Panic in Tripoli. Passengers get off planes, Italians safe

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 4 — There have been scenes of panic at Tripoli airport today, as armed militias attacked the building, forcing the authorities to divert arriving aircraft to the nearby military airport, while planes on the runway awaiting take-off were surrounded and passengers forced to disembark or leave the waiting room. There is also great uncertainty over the date of elections in the country, which were scheduled for June 19, though Al Jazeera and sources contacted by ANSA say that they are now expected to take place in the first week of July.

The militiamen, travelling in armoured pick-up trucks, attacked the airport this morning, firing a number of shots and lightly injuring one official.

One Alitalia flight was due to leave from the airport at the time, but the company has said that no passengers boarded the aircraft. After receiving the order to disembark, the captain secured the aircraft. Carabinieri from the Tuscania Regiment subsequently escorted the captain and four flight assistants to a hotel. The armed group, known as the Al-Awfea Brigade, and hailing from Tarhuna, a town 80 kilometres south-east of Tripoli, is demanding the release of one of its leaders, who “disappeared” last night. The Tarhuna rebels are viewed with suspicion by other armed brigades — the tribe had a prominent role in Libya under Gaddafi and many of its members occupied key positions in the former leader’s regime.

Calm was restored after a few hours, with the spokesperson for Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), Mohamed al-Harizi, hastily announcing the opening of an investigation into what he called the “kidnapping” of Colonel Abouajila al-Habchi, the leader of the Tarhuna militia. The man was seized last night by unknown forces. The military council in the capital has said that it has nothing to do with his disappearance. The situation was extremely tense last night, with tanks surrounding the area.

Attempts at mediation by the NTC’s deputy Foreign Minister, Abdul Karim Ahmed Bazama, who vainly tried to appease the militiamen, were ultimately futile.

Today’s incident is just the latest in a series of episodes in a country that appears to be drawing closer to chaos and is incapable of building a solid post-Gaddafi period.

The keenly awaited election of the country’s Constituent Assembly “will be postponed at least until the first week of July,” government sources told the Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, which pointedly quotes the deputy chair of the central electoral commission, who resigned a few weeks ago.

“Holding the elections on June 19 is mission impossible,” Sghair Majeri has said earlier, resigning due to his conviction that the elections would not be held in the planned timeframe. Checks, printing of ballot papers and their distribution will take time “at least 4 weeks, so they will not be held before July, perhaps not until the second week,” he added.

The postponement is due to procedural problems. Over 4,000 candidates are running for 200 seats in the Assembly and the authorities “need more time to examine the candidates’ bids”, Al Jazeera reports. Sources contacted by ANSA have confirmed that July 10 could be a possible election date, only 10 days before the start of Ramadan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya: Cyrenaica Against Tripoli, Cargo Stop From Tomorrow

If new allocation of assembly seats is not accepted

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The Cyrenaica “federalists” who months ago proclaimed the semi-autonomy of the region, will prevent the passage of goods towards Tripoli if their request of a new allocation of seats in the Constituent Assembly is not granted, reliable local sources reported to ANSA.

The “federalists”, who ask for the appointing of 60 seats of the constituent assembly out of 200 to Cyrenaica, will undertake the interruption of the goods flow on land near the border with Tripolitania, in an area named “Red river”. They threaten that in a few days they will also block the passage of “any vehicle” between the two regions, the sources have added, according to which the situation of “tension” risk “complicating” the opening of commercial links between the country and foreign businesses.

In this moment Libya has in the country representatives of 40 Italian firms, busy meeting Libyan enterprises who want to work together with European firms.

Right now, in fact, due to the situation being stopped on a national level within the country, there are no “big projects” on the table except only for small private business deals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Crusade Against Anti-Islam Intellectual

Jelil Brick lives in France, his words spark anger

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 5 — Jelil Brick has been living in France for over twenty years now after escaping the claws of Ben Ali’s political police and has always remained faithful to his character: irreverent, torrential speaker, enemy of any form of dictatorship (political, economic, religious). Back in Tunisia he is both loved and hated, depending on what he says and it is not uncommon to see people venerate him one day and curse him the next. Also because Jelil Brick is the epitome of coherence, wrapped in cruel and surgical words.

Now Brick can count a few new enemies in his life, adding the Tunisian minister of Religious Affairs, who actually issued an official statement in which he condemns the intellectual for the reason that one of his many videos on the web (he has been posted on YouTube many times, the last one being out on his Facebook page) attacked in the following order, Allah, the Prophet Muhammad and his first wife, Aisha, towards which Islamists have a profound veneration.

The minister spoke heavily against Brick, basically accusing him of blasphemy and asking that all official steps be taken against him, resulting in the removal of his citizenship (he is still Tunisian) and the start of a penal inquiry, which will ask for his arrest and imprisonment into a Tunisian jail, certainly not a joyful pace to be.

No reaction has been made from Brick but there won’t have to be much to wait because he has been one of the first to use the web as a launch pad for his ideas and use videos or audio streams to voice his thoughts against the establishment, always full of an aggressive humour.

Apart from the judgement one can give to the things he says and their value, Brick is a courageous man because he has been coherent all the way, he has never taken a step back. Not even when, last April, while he was seated at a bar on the Champs Elyse’e, he was attacked and knifed in the back by five or six young men sporting the unmistakeable long Salafi beard.

Just strictly the time to go into hospital, get his wounds “stitched up”, take a few pain killers and he was on his way again, attacking and criticising those who are trying to turn Tunisia into a theocratic country. He knows all about violence because when he was still back in Tunisia he felt torture and cruelty on his own skin. Nevertheless he hasn’t stopped and has picked up his road again. A hero, in his own way, celebrated by those who today try and oppose the advancement of “a certain type” of Tunisia. Reason for which hackers who cracked the website of an ultraconservative party or trade union organization, did so by posting a video by Brick, one of the many he recorded in his living room, often smoking his much loved cigarettes. We can sum up the man in one of his own quotes: “I love women, beer, cigs and I can’t stand Ennahdha.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Drone Strike Kills No. 2 Al Qaeda Leader in Pakistan

Abu Yahya Al-Libi, a top Al Qaeda operative was killed in a U.S. drone strike Monday, Fox News confirms. Al-Libi, known as a rock star in the jihadist world with his videos and lectures going viral on the Web, was the intended target of the strike, U.S. officials said.

The strikes have been increasingly unpopular among Pakistanis, but successful in recent years at taking out terrorist leaders. Pakistan has evidence that Al-Libi was in a house hit by the U.S. drone strike, but it was initially unclear whether he was killed.

A U.S. official later confirmed his death.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120604

USA
» UN Rights Council Delves Into US Voter I.D. Laws
 
Europe and the EU
» France: Saudi Princess Tries to Sneak Out of Paris Hotel Owing Six Million Euros
» French Police: ‘Canadian Psycho’ Is Hiding in Paris
» German Man Beheads Wife on Apartment Roof
» Italy: M5S Movement’s Grillo Concerned About Personal Safety
» Madonna Attacked by French National Marine Leader Marine Le Pen After Depicting Her With Swastika on Face During Israeli Concert
» Norway: Breivik Judge Caught Playing Solitaire in Norway Court
» Norway: Breivik Judge Caught Playing Cards During Trial
» Sweden: Sleeping Tourist Raped on Stockholm Park Bench
» Swedish Military Raises Terror Threat Level
» Swiss-Bashing Hits New Highs in EU: Ambassador
» UK: Bury St Edmunds: Luke Janzen Given Community Order for “Offensive” Facebook Post About Plans to Turn Former Pub Into Mosque
» UK: David Cameron Orders Inquiry Into Baroness Warsi Over Foreign Trip
 
Middle East
» Kuwait: Blogger Gets 10 Years in Prison for Blasphemy
 
South Asia
» US Drones Kill 15 Islamic Militants in North Waziristan
 
Far East
» USA to Move 60% of Fleet to Pacific by 2020 to Check China
 
Immigration
» Switzerland: ‘Lock Up Criminal Asylum Seekers’: SVP

USA


UN Rights Council Delves Into US Voter I.D. Laws

The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigating the issue of American election laws at its gathering on minority rights in Geneva, Switzerland. This, despite the fact that some members of the council have only in the past several years allowed women to vote, and one member, Saudi Arabia, still bars women from the voting booth completely.

Officials from the NAACP are presenting their case against U.S. voter ID laws, arguing to the international diplomats that the requirements disenfranchise voters and suppress the minority vote.

[…]

“The idea that this is a human rights abuse is ridiculous,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a voter fraud expert and senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, in Washington, D.C.

[…]

“I think the leadership of the NAACP is, quite frankly, doing a disservice to American citizens and the democracy that we have here, by going abroad to the Human Rights Council, which is filled with dictatorships and other countries that actually and really abuse human rights.”

He called the council’s weighing of U.S. laws “an insult to the United States that the NAACP thinks we should be getting advice from those kinds of countries, which are not democracies, on how to administer elections in this country.”

           — Hat tip: Egghead [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


France: Saudi Princess Tries to Sneak Out of Paris Hotel Owing Six Million Euros

A Saudi princess was stopped by police as she tried to sneak out of a Paris luxury along with her 60-strong entourage, leaving unpaid bills worth six million euros. Staff called the cops when Maha al-Sudani, the former wife of Crown Prince Nayef ben Abdel Aziz, tried to leave at 3.30am Thursday.

Paris police on Saturday confirmed press reports that the princess had tried to do a runner on the swanky Shangri-La hotel on Paris’s posh avenue Iéna, near the Arc de Triomphe. They contacted the Saudi embassy and searched the dozens of bags being carried by her companions.

No charges appear to have been made since Al-Sudani enjoys diplomatic immunity and the hotel said Saturday that it has no unpaid bills at the moment.

The princess already had a dubious reputation in Paris’s luxury establishments after leaving bills of as much as 15 million euros for jewels, clothes and hotel accommodation behind her in 2009.

Then the fashion chain Key Largo went to court to obtain 89,000 euros she owed.

King Abdallah then grounded her, confining her to a palace for two years. But she returned to Paris in 2011, taking over the entire seventh floor of the Shangri-La, 41 suites and rooms, at about 20,000 euros a night. She had managed to pay about 10 million euros of her bill before her pre-dawn departure.

She reportedly intended to move to the nearby Royal Monceau hotel in the hope that it’s Qatari owners would be more understanding of payment problems.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



French Police: ‘Canadian Psycho’ Is Hiding in Paris

French police are reported to be certain that Luka Rocco Magnotta, the man dubbed the ‘Canadian psycho’ due to suspicions of him having dismembered his male lover and mailed his body parts across Canada, is hiding in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Man Beheads Wife on Apartment Roof

A GERMAN man was arrested today after he decapitated his wife on the roof of their Berlin home.

Neighbours saw the 32-year-old, who was described as mentally ill by police, beat and kick his wife early today following an argument, the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper reported.

Witnesses said the man was later seen on the roof of the five-storey building, with a knife in one hand and his wife’s head in the other. The man then threw the head into the courtyard of the housing compound.

When police went to arrest the man, he attempted to fight officers but eventually was overwhelmed.

Six children aged between 18 months and 13 years were found safe in the apartment. It was not known if they witnessed the attack.

           — Hat tip: Salome [Return to headlines]



Italy: M5S Movement’s Grillo Concerned About Personal Safety

(AGI) Quartucciu — M5S movement founder Beppe Grillo attended an electioneering rally in Sardinia’s Quartucciu today.

Addressing supporters, the comedian-activist lamented “constant taunting,” adding “I am being followed constantly and spared no insult.” Grillo put the constant disparagement down to the fact that established political parties “don’t get it; they don’t get the fact that someone might do something for free; for their fellow citizens. All they understand is money.” Grillo went on to submit that parties “are failing to understand that they are being swept away. They just don’t have the antibodies.” Grillo went to characterise his movement “not as Italy’s biggest party, but as Europe’s biggest movement.” Grillo also made light of major political formations’ efforts to tap grassroots movements, submitting “you have to be a grassroots movement to have a grassroots following.” Grillo also described the movement’s success as “a miracle” achieved “without a penny and in a very short lapse of time.” On a final ironic note Grillo said “we’re moving so fast that parties risk being wiped out and we risk having to govern without being in a position to govern.” Grillo also said “Policemen, special agents and tax officers are signing up to the movement […], my wife is worried; she’s warned me that I’ll end up hung by the feet.” .

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



Madonna Attacked by French National Marine Leader Marine Le Pen After Depicting Her With Swastika on Face During Israeli Concert

Madonna was today threatened with legal action and accused of being an ageing self-publicist after she depicted the head of one of France’s biggest political parties as a Nazi. An image of National Front leader Marine Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead appeared on a giant screen at the singer’s concert in Tel Aviv, Israel on Thursday. The furious politician has threatened to sue Madonna if she repeats the stunt when her tour reaches France in July.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Breivik Judge Caught Playing Solitaire in Norway Court

A judge at the trial of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was caught playing solitaire on his laptop during Monday’s proceedings, the VG newspaper reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Breivik Judge Caught Playing Cards During Trial

A judge in the trial of confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was caught on camera on Monday morning playing cards on his computer while a witness provided details about the defendant’s anti-Islamic ideology.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Sleeping Tourist Raped on Stockholm Park Bench

A man who fell asleep on a Stockholm park bench on early Saturday morning woke up as he was being raped by an unknown assailant. The man, who is on a visit to Stockholm, was “heavily intoxicated” early Saturday morning and couldn’t find his way back to his hotel room, wrote the Aftonbladet newspaper.

After a time, he gave up looking and chose to sleep on a bench in Kronoberg park, in Kungsholmen in Stockholm’s west side. The man woke up to find another man was raping him.

“He lay down on a park bench and slept. He woke by being raped by another man. The rapist was not a person he knew,” said Stefan Wehlin of the Norrmalm police to the paper.

Wehlin added that police have been to the park in search of evidence. The victim, who had allegedly been partying hard the night before, headed to hospital where staff members alerted the police to the incident, according to Aftonbladet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish Military Raises Terror Threat Level

The Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmaketn) on Monday raised its terror threat level to “elevated” citing the “general development” of threats in recent years.

As part of its ongoing terror threat assessment work, Swedish military intelligence agency MUST (Militära underrättelse- och säkerhetstjänsten) this spring carried out an assessment of the overall terror threat against the Swedish military.

The assessment led the agency to raise the threat level to “elevated” from “low”. “The elevation of the threat level for the Armed Forces in Sweden is based on the general development of threats that has taken place in recent years,” the military said in a statement published on its website.

“The development includes increased activity in certain groups that embrace violence where the activity has been deemed to be directed against Sweden and Swedish interests.”

In raising the threat level, the Swedish military brought its terror threat assessment in line with that of Swedish security Säpo, which raised its terror threat level to “elevated” in October 2010. When Säpo raised its terror threat assessment it came as the result of a concrete threat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swiss-Bashing Hits New Highs in EU: Ambassador

The Swiss ambassador to the EU has warned that the union is taking an increasingly aggressive stance against Switzerland amid deteriorating relations between Bern and some its closest allies.

Jacques de Watteville, the head of the Swiss EU mission, has warned in his latest report to the government that criticism of Switzerland has reached a new level in the EU, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.

The introduction of immigration restrictions against eight Eastern European countries has enabled Switzerland’s critics to become more vocal, he said.

“It gives arguments, or at least a pretext, to openly criticize us,” de Watteville said in a report submitted to the foreign ministry.

The EU is seeking to develop a more offensive strategy against Switzerland, the report says.

Customs authorities in the EU were even encouraged to find ways to exert more pressure on the country, although this idea was abandoned for fear that harm could come to the EU itself, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

A campaign led by France and Germany, both of which are disgruntled at Switzerland’s attempts to restrict freedom of movement for EU citizens, is resulting in a harder line being taken against Switzerland.

“In fact, the EU is hardening its position on a number of dossiers,” de Watteville said.

In particular, EU negotiators have become less flexible with regards to a deal for the liberalization of electricity markets. Uncertainty also remains as to the extent of funding to be received from the EU for forthcoming research projects.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Bury St Edmunds: Luke Janzen Given Community Order for “Offensive” Facebook Post About Plans to Turn Former Pub Into Mosque

22-YEAR-OLD man has been ordered to carry out unpaid work after he wrote a message on Facebook saying if a mosque came to a former pub it “is going to burn down”

Luke Janzen, of Clay Road, Bury St Edmunds, appeared at the magistrates’ court in the town yesterday charged with posting a comment on the social networking site that was “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.The court heard how it came following an article in the local press about plans to turn the former Falcon Pub in Risbygate Street into a mosque.

Colette Griffiths, prosecuting, said following complaints to police about abusive comments on Facebook, Janzen was arrested on February 26. She said the defendant, who admitted the offence, had said in a discussion words to the effect that if there was going to be a mosque in the town, it “is going to burn down”. She said when interviewed by police, he said it was a “silly thought” he had and if it was a mosque he thought someone was bound to burn it down, “not that he intended to burn it down or get someone else to burn it down for him”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: David Cameron Orders Inquiry Into Baroness Warsi Over Foreign Trip

David Cameron has ordered an official investigation into whether Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party co-chairman, broke ministerial rules by taking a business associate on an official trip overseas.

The Prime Minister asked for an inquiry into Lady Warsi’s conduct after she admitted not fully declaring the facts about her trip to Pakistan with Abid Hussain. Sir Alex Allan, the independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, will now examine the minister’s actions and decide whether she has breached the rules. The inquiry could lead to her dismissal. Mr Cameron’s swift referral of Lady Warsi to Sir Alex is likely to raise allegations of double standards against the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly refused to refer Jeremy Hunt for investigation over his controversial dealings with the Murdoch media empire. The Sunday Telegraph this week revealed that Lady Warsi and Mr Hussain were both directors of a company called Rupert’s Recipes.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Kuwait: Blogger Gets 10 Years in Prison for Blasphemy

Kuwait City, 4 June. (AKI) — A Kuwaiti court has convicted a 26-year-old blogger to 10 years in prison for insulting the prophet Mohammed and for harming Kuwait’s interests in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Hamad Al-Naqi will appeal the sentence, news reports cited his lawyer as saying.

Al-Naqi was accused of blasphemy for sending out tweets regarding the prophet Mohammed, his companions, and his wife, Aisha. The tweets also contained disparaging comments about the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

He said his twitter account was hacked and he did not send out the messages.

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

South Asia


US Drones Kill 15 Islamic Militants in North Waziristan

(AGI) Miranshah — American missiles killed 15 Islamic militants in North Waziristan, Pakistan, in the third drone (planes without pilots) attack over the last three days against Talibans strongholds on the border with Afghanistan, as made known by official sources. Two bombs hit a hideout in the village of Hesokhel, east of the capital city Miranshah. The escalation may strain even further tension between Us and the Pakistan government that had condemned raids on its territory just a few hours before the attack.

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

Far East


USA to Move 60% of Fleet to Pacific by 2020 to Check China

(AGI) Singapore- Sixty percent of the USA’s fleet will be moved to the Pacific by 2020 to have a greater presence in Asia. Just had been foreshadowed in January by Barack Obama’s description of China as the adversary of the 21st century, the US will change its strategy from the current 50-50 between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, without of course forgetting Russia (which, notwithstanding denials, the US hopes to keep at bay with an anti-missile shield). The fleet will include “six aircraft carriers in this region, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, combat ships and submarines,” stated Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

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

Immigration


Switzerland: ‘Lock Up Criminal Asylum Seekers’: SVP

Swiss People’s Party politician Toni Brunner has caused uproar with his proposal for the establishment of a special centre for asylum seekers who have broken the law.

Brunner is at the forefront of a heated campaign to place unruly asylum seekers in a secure centre, in a move that would mirror the Greek and Dutch systems, online news site 20 Minuten reported.

“It is important that those who have forfeited the chance to seek asylum in Switzerland, can no longer walk about at their own leisure,” Brunner told newspaper Zentralschweiz am Sonntag.

The Asylum Act is due to be debated in parliament in mid-June. Many politicians are for amendments including those that limit the freedom of criminal asylum seekers, but not necessarily for internment, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

“This is ridiculous and excessive,” Free Democratic Party Councillor Kurt Fluri told 20 Minuten.

Martine Brunschwig Graf, president of the Commission Against Racism, does not believe that the camps would be compliant with human rights law, and queried what would happen to those who could not be returned to their countries of origin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120603

Financial Crisis
» Arab Revolutions: Economic Crisis Quenching Hopes
» Cyprus Seen Close to a Request for Bailout
» France Does Not Dismiss Option of Greece Leaving Eurozone
» Italy: Gelato Consumption Untouched by Economic Crisis
» Obama, Romney Camps Trade Punches Over Latest Dismal Jobs Report
» Spain: Government Preparing Building Amnesty to Make Money
» Tokyo and Beijing to Abandon Dollar and Trade in Yen and Yuan From June
 
USA
» After Gory Incidents, Online ‘Zombie’ Talk Grows
» Bilderberg Power Masters Meet in the US
» First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects — Thanks to Monsanto
» No to Human Organ Farms!
» Taxpayer-Funded Gun Control Gets Huge Foundation Boost
» ‘We Want This Jew Out of Office’: Islamic Antisemitism Invades New Jersey Congressional Primary Race
» What Obama’s Literary Bio Says About the Media
 
Canada
» Video: Twelve-Year-Old Money Reformer Tops a Million Views
 
Europe and the EU
» First European Ecological Military Camp in Cyprus
» France: Jew-Haters Attack 3 Near Lyon
» Germany: Victory for Intolerance: How Islamophobes Launched a National Debate
» How Insect-Eyed Cameras Could Change Our Lives
» Italy: Mediobanca Wants to Oust Generali CEO
» Italy: Lega Nord’s Maroni: Open a New Page With Salvini and Tosi
» Tintin Cover Fetches Record-Breaking 1.3m Euros
» UK: Thames Flotilla Celebrates Elizabeth’s 60-Year Reign
» UK: Teenage Girl, 15, Dies ‘After Her Drink Was Spiked With Ecstasy’ At Social Club Party
» UK: Their Dream is a ‘British FBI’ — The Reality May be Our Own KGB
» UK: Woman Prison Officer, 27, ‘Exchanged Sexy Letters and Phone Calls With Seven Inmates’
» Vatican: Lombardi: “Cardinals United in No-Confidence Toward Gotti Tedeschi”
 
North Africa
» Five Egyptian Secret Police Directors Released
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Secret Cooperation: Israel Deploys Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines
 
Middle East
» Al-Qaida Leader Recalls Bin Laden’s ‘Generosity’
» Assad: International Plot to Destroy Syria
» New Syrian Clashes in North Lebanon, 2 Dead & 12 Injured
» Twenty Years of Illusion About Islamism
» UAE: Pipeline Begins Activity in June to Avoid Hormuz Strait
 
South Asia
» Di Paola: Bail Not Recognition India’s Right to Try Marines
» Pakistan: Drones Kill 10 Including a Commander
» Two People Dead After Swarms of Venomous Spiders Invade Indian Town
 
Far East
» Report: Japan Arrests Sarin Attack Cult Member
» U.S. Plans Naval Shift Toward Asia
 
Australia — Pacific
» New Domestic Violence Laws Target Emotional Abuse
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Bomb Blast Kills 12 in Church in Northern Nigeria
» Horrific Scenes as Plane Crashes Into Neighborhood in Nigeria’s Biggest City, Killing All 153 Passengers on Board
» Nigeria: Experts Call for One World Government
 
Immigration
» Denmark: Copenhagen Council Has Asked Copenhagen Police to Remove 11 Iranians
» Greece: Illegals Desperate to Return Home, IOM
» Swedish Army to Jobless Immigrants: We Want You

Financial Crisis


Arab Revolutions: Economic Crisis Quenching Hopes

Italian FM Terzi: Want a shared EuroMed home

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 28 — The hopes raised by the Arab revolutions now risk being snuffed out by the squeeze of the international crisis. So runs the thesis that emerges from today’s conference held by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE): The New Context for Cooperation in the Mediterranean, held at the Italian Foreign Ministry on an initiative by foreign policy studies organizations IPALMO and IAI.

The alarm comes from Tunisia: Chekib Nouira, the chair of a think-tank of Arab entrepreneurs, stressed how unemployment is providing the most fertile ground for the spread of violence and of the new Salafi fundamentalist extremism. A similar warning comes from Morocco, spoken by the country’s Ambassador to Rome, Hassan Abouyoub. Between them, the countries of the northern and southern Mediterranean shores require tens of millions of new jobs, the Ambassador told the conference: just the costs for the infrastructure needed to tackle the rapid urbanisation of the coastal cities would amount to 200 million euros.

But while concerns in the West centre on the rise of political Islam in the wake of the Arab revolutions, “we do not need to fear it: not as long as parliamentary sharing of powers is adhered to”.

But a pessimist riposte comes from Israeli analyst Tommy Steiner, in whose view “the Arab Spring could not have come at a worse time for the United States of Europe,” where the economic crisis renders “resources for development” insufficient.

This is the context in which Europe’s diplomats are seeking ways to base their relations with North Africa and the Middle East on new foundations, noted Gianni De Michelis, Chair of IPALMO.

These relations should be “not bilateral, but multilateral,” but the deal underpinning such cooperation, he added, should be an economic one, with the opportunity to participate in “a European economic space”.

The Italian Foreign Ministry’s Special Envoy for the Mediterranean and the Arab Spring, Maurizio Massari, outlined two models for multilateral Euro-Mediterranean integration. One would accompany the EU’s neighbourhood policy with a further involvement by countries on the Southern Shore on a partnership level, but with conditions written in such as respect for human rights. The other model sees a network being created between the EU, NATO and organisations such as the OCSE on the one hand, and the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Maghreb Union on the other. “We sense a need to strengthen relations between the two Mediterranean shores on the basis of relationships that are authentic, equitable and for the long-term,” the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said. The OCSE, “can contribute by putting this long-term approach into practice”. This, Mr Terzi continued, it could do through “developing human capital, sustaining electoral cycles, democratic control of the armed forces and police, capacity-building activities in the judiciary, safeguarding religious minorities and involving civil society in political choices” and in the trade in human beings.

The latter is a theme, Mr Terzi announced, that will be the focus of a conference in Rome this autumn. The target remains that of “building a shared Euro-Mediterranean home”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Cyprus Seen Close to a Request for Bailout

Cyprus looks increasingly set to become the fourth euro-zone country to seek financial aid under Europe’s temporary bailout fund, as early as this month, as it scrambles to protect its banking system from Greece’s widening financial crisis that is threatening to engulf its tiny island neighbor.

The fallout from the Athens crisis already has forced Cyprus’s second biggest bank to seek government support for a planned multibillion euro recapitalization, something that will push the island’s public finances deep into the red and cause it to miss this year’s budget targets.

Late last year, the country negotiated a €2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) bilateral loan from Russia. Now, Cyprus is in talks with China for another bilateral loan, of an undisclosed amount, that looks unlikely to materialize in time.

In the past few days, Cypriot officials have been preparing public opinion by hinting that a bailout from the European Financial Stability Facility may be imminent, but without saying so directly. Finance Minister Vasos Shiarly told state-owned radio last week that “avoiding the EFSF is our No. 1 priority.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France Does Not Dismiss Option of Greece Leaving Eurozone

(AGI) Paris — Two weeks from the much awaited Greek elections,France does not dismiss the option of Athens leaving Eurozone. France still believes in Greek possibly leaving Eurozone should radical leftists (Syriza) win and the new government does not comply with the new austerity measures of the 130 billion Euro bailout designed by EU-IMF, said Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici. “The problem might arise if Athens does not comply with comittments, but we still want Greece to stay in Eurozone, “ he added. .

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



Italy: Gelato Consumption Untouched by Economic Crisis

Ice cream for dogs to hit the market

(ANSA) — Rome, June 1 — Crisis or not, there is one thing Italians are not willing to give up — ice cream.

Despite the economic downturn, the Italian Institute of Ice Cream (IGI) said on Friday that the total industry turnover for pre-packaged ice cream was up 2.2% in 2011, reaching approximately two billion euros.

Not only that, according to IGI gelato is consumed all year long, not just in the hotter months, and more frequently at home with retail sales up 3.9%.

And for families with four-legged friends, an ice cream for man’s best friend, IceBau, was released at the gelato festival in Ancona on Friday, ready to hit the retail market this summer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Obama, Romney Camps Trade Punches Over Latest Dismal Jobs Report

Advisers for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama sparred Sunday over who was to blame for the latest grim unemployment rate and how it will impact November’s election.

The latest employment report out Friday shows only 69,000 jobs were added during May — the fewest in a year, as the unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April.

Romney’s senior campaign advisor, Ed Gillespie, speaking on Fox News Sunday, called the policies created under Obama “hostile to job creators” and said he is confident Romney will win the election.

In particular, Gillespie pointed to what he called a “job-killing mandate” within Obama’s sweeping healthcare bill — a mandate he said was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost the economy 850,000 jobs.

“This is a hostile environment for job creation in our economy,” said Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “And that’s why, frankly, it adds a sense of urgency in terms of this year’s election to be able to turn things around because the only thing that’s going to change it are changing the policies and that means changing the person in the White House.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: Government Preparing Building Amnesty to Make Money

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 31 — The Spanish government is studying an amnesty on infringements of construction regulations, a move that would bring money in to the coffers, and allow breathing space to a property sector paralysed by the financial crisis and avoid dozens of demolitions of unauthorised buildings, which have been ordered in definitive judicial rulings. The measure is part of the draft bill on city planning legislation sent by the Ministry of Infrastructure to regional and local authorities, who in turn will be asked to make their own contributions. The bill was quoted today by El Pais. The amnesty is thought to concern thousands of illegal buildings, many of them on Spain’s southern coasts, in Marbella, Malaga and Almeria, but also in the north-west of the country and in Cantabria. A census is not currently possible, as in some cases the buildings are entire urban complexes. It is estimated that in the town of La Axaquia (province of Malaga ) alone, some 10,000 buildings have been erected on rural land without planning permission. In Andalusia, meanwhile, there are between 300,000 and 350,000 illegal houses, which can be neither demolished nor legalised, according to a bill approved in January by the regional PSOE government, which grants them “legal recognition”.

The draft bill also includes changes to the laws on land and sustainable economy and modifications to property regulations. The text states that “there is currently only space for further urban growth for the next 45 years”, while the “stock of homes already built, which remain unsold and empty” is considered “over-estimated to the point that there has been an 88% fall in the construction of new homes”. The reform also introduces measures to avoid overcrowding in homes by immigrants, with a measure forcing towns to deny housing in homes where the ratio of residents to square metres (20 square metres per person) does not guarantee “adequate living conditions”.

The amnesty does not stretch to illegal buildings constructed on the beach, for which the Environment Ministry is preparing a change to the coastal law, which is opposed by environmental associations, who fear that the amnesty could lead to a new plundering of the Spanish coast.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tokyo and Beijing to Abandon Dollar and Trade in Yen and Yuan From June

The announcement came from the Central Bank of China and the Japanese Ministry of Finance. The benefits: lower transaction costs and lower risks for financial institutions. Beijing tries to break away from the increasingly inflated dollar; Tokyo tries to save its exports, which if traded in dollars, have very high prices.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) — China and Japan have announced that from June 1 they will allow a direct trade between the two countries using the yuan and yen, surpassing the use of the U.S. dollar as the main currency. The decision should promote even more trade between the second and the third world economy.

The Central Bank of China said that this type of exchange will reduce the costs associated with currency conversions and facilitate bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, former enemies.

The Japanese Minister of Finance, Jun Azumi, told reporters that the new trade regime will be launched on 1 June.

“Making transactions without the currency of a third country, may reduce transaction costs and lower financial risks.”

The decision shows a greater confidence in China to liberalize its currency, but also a distrust of the dollar, increasingly subject to inflation. Tokyo also approves of the direct use of its currency without going through the U.S. dollar, the low value of which in international markets increases the prices of Japanese exports.

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

USA


After Gory Incidents, Online ‘Zombie’ Talk Grows

First came Miami: the case of a naked man eating most of another man’s face. Then Texas: a mother accused of killing her newborn, eating part of his brain and biting off three of his toes. Then Maryland, a college student telling police he killed a man, then ate his heart and part of his brain.

It was different in New Jersey, where a man stabbed himself 50 times and threw bits of his own intestines at police. They pepper-sprayed him, but he was not easily subdued.

He was, people started saying, acting like a zombie. And the whole discussion just kept growing, becoming a topic that the Internet couldn’t seem to stop talking about.

The actual incidents are horrifying — and, if how people are talking about them is any indication, fascinating. In an America where zombie imagery is used to peddle everything from tools and weapons to garden gnomes, they all but beg the comparison.

Violence, we’re used to. Cannibalism and people who should fall down but don’t? That feels like something else entirely.

So many strange things have made headlines in recent days that The Daily Beast assembled a Google Map tracking “instances that may be the precursor to a zombie apocalypse.” And the federal agency that tracks diseases weighed in as well, insisting it had no evidence that any zombie-linked health crisis was unfolding.

The cases themselves are anything but funny. Each involved real people either suspected of committing unspeakable acts or having those acts visited upon them for reasons that have yet to be figured out. Maybe it’s nothing new, either; people do horrible things to each other on a daily basis.

But what, then, made search terms like “zombie apocalypse” trend day after day last week in multiple corners of the Internet, fueled by discussions and postings that were often framed as humor?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Bilderberg Power Masters Meet in the US

Although most Bilderberg annual meetings are held in Europe — France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, England, Scotland, Norway — this US election year they’re again gathering at the Westfield Marriott Hotel in Virginia from May 30 to June 3. Either they’re very fond of that place… or of US elections… or both…!

A favorite Bilderberg method consists of inviting wannabe future heads of state to their meetings to determine whether they will go along with their agenda. We thus saw George H. W. Bush attend their 1985 meeting, Bill Clinton attend their 1991 meeting, Tony Blair in 1993, and Romano Prodi, former head of the EU Commission, in 1999.

So what exactly is Bilderberg? It’s neither an organization nor a lobby. The “Bilderberg Meetings,” as they dub themselves in their (apparently) official website www.bilderbergmeetings.com, is a “by-invitation-only” club of around 140 very high-power people from business, finance, oil, politics, media, industry, academia and nobility who come together in a very private no-media / no cameras / extremely-tight-security surroundings to discuss… Well… there’s the rub: what exactly do they discuss?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects — Thanks to Monsanto

A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence — which would have entailed less of the corn being planted — were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



No to Human Organ Farms!

Here we go again! The push to transform the most ill and disabled living human bodies into so many organ farms continues among some bioethicists and within organ transplant ethical discourse. Now, an article in the American Journal of Bioethics, written by organ surgeon and medical professor Paul E Morrissey, urges that patients who are going to have life support removed and then become organ donors after death, instead have their kidneys harvested while still alive.

Allow me to translate: The author is discussing organ procurement from what is known as “non heart-beating cadaver donors,” under what I call “heart death” ethical protocols. Done properly, I support the approach. But the temptation to cut corners is very strong.

[…]

More importantly, Morrissey’s benighted idea would destroy medical ethics by treating the living patients as organ farms rather than persons. Under current protocols, the treatment of the patient is supposed to be the same regardless of whether organs will be procured after death. That is why even providing a non therapeutic administration of an organ preserving drug is controversial.

But bringing the organ team in while the patient was still alive would shatter the brick wall that separates patient care from cadaver organ procurement like an 8.2 on the Richter Scale earthquake. It would turn patients into things. And in the doing, it would destroy not only medical ethics—the proper care of the individual patient—but trust in the organ donation system generally.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Taxpayer-Funded Gun Control Gets Huge Foundation Boost

Gun rights advocates recently discovered that the gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has burrowed its “gun violence prevention coordinators” (read “anti-gun lobbyists”) into city payrolls from Augusta, Maine to Seattle, Washington, at taxpayer expense.

MAIG is the brainchild of New York City’s zealous anti-gun billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who formed the group at a 2006 gun control summit held in Gracie Mansion and co-hosted by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. MAIG touts an agenda of “commonsense reforms” that gun rights advocates see as being somewhere on the far side of repealing the Second Amendment.

With a membership that started at 15 and now approaches 600 mayors, MAIG’s agenda has expanded from tracking “illegal” guns used in crimes to promoting outright gun bans in Congress. But the tactic of slipping anti-gun operatives into municipal governments looks like something new.

[Return to headlines]



‘We Want This Jew Out of Office’: Islamic Antisemitism Invades New Jersey Congressional Primary Race

An ugly new development in American politics: Muslim voters lining up to defeat a Jewish candidate. “Jersey Roar: Democratic House primary turns into ethnic proxy war over Israel,” by Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon, June 1 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

A Democratic primary race in northern New Jersey has devolved into a highly competitive proxy war over Israel, pitting the state’s pro-Israel community against a growing constituency of Arab voters who have accused a sitting congressman of putting Israel’s interests before America’s.

As the race between Democratic Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell nears its Tuesday finish, veteran political observers on the ground have expressed concern at the way the battle between the two veteran lawmakers has transformed into a troubling ethnic brawl.

“One side says, ‘We want this Jew out of office’ and, frankly, it’s pretty unsettling,” Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Englewood Cliffs, told the Free Beacon. “They emphasized [Rothman] is a Jewish congressman.”

Others say they simply cannot recall a congressional race becoming a referendum on a candidate’s religion…

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]



What Obama’s Literary Bio Says About the Media

Imagine if from 1991 to 2007 (sixteen years), Sarah Palin’s own agent repeatedly published a biography for her that stated her origin of birth as being Canada.

When she joined the Republican presidential ticket in 2008, does anyone honestly believe that the media wouldn’t have discovered this information and wondered what the heck was going on? As everyone knows, only individuals born in the United States can hold the office of the president.

Now, let’s talk about presidential candidate, Barack Obama from 2008.

We know all about the media’s laziness and neglect when it came to their investigating of the person Obama described as his “mentor” and “spiritual leader”, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright’s numerous racist and anti-American rants during his sermons were completely ignored by news outlets until his church started selling a DVD compilation of them in their lobby. Only then, when it was clear the videos would inevitably go public, did the media bother to report on Wright.

As the good folks at Breitbart.com reported on Thursday, the media’s disinterest in vetting candidate Obama was even worse than we thought.

From 1991 to 2007, Acton & Dystel who was Barack Obama’s literary agency during that time, published a brief biography on the future president, stating in the very first sentence that he was born in Kenya, and was raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Canada


Video: Twelve-Year-Old Money Reformer Tops a Million Views

The youtube video of 12 year old Victoria Grant speaking at the Public Banking in America conference last month has gone viral, topping a million views on various websites.

Monetary reform—the contention that governments, not banks, should create and lend a nation’s money—has rarely even made the news, so this is a first. Either the times they are a-changin’, or Victoria managed to frame the message in a way that was so simple and clear that even a child could understand it.

Basically, her message was that banks create money “out of thin air” and lend it to people and governments at interest. If governments borrowed from their own banks, they could keep the interest and save a lot of money for the taxpayers.

She said her own country of Canada actually did this, from 1939 to 1974. During that time, the government’s debt was low and sustainable, and it funded all sorts of remarkable things. Only when the government switched to borrowing privately did it acquire a crippling national debt.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


First European Ecological Military Camp in Cyprus

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, MAY 30 — An ecological military camp, the only one which exists in Europe, was inaugurated yesterday in Cyprus with the participation of Defence Minister Demetris Eliades and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sophocles Aletraris, as CNA reports. The camp is situated at Delikipos, in Larnaka district. It has photovoltaic systems, is irrigated with the use of a biological sewage treatment plant, while soldiers separate waste for recycling.

This is the first time at European level that an EU member state military camp implements an environmental management system and this is the first certified green military map. Eliades said that “we are trying to create environmental friendly premises”, adding that this project raises environmental awareness among soldiers who will soon undertake their responsibilities as citizens. On his part, Aletraris noted that there are plans for implementing such environmental awareness projects in all military camps. There are plans for installing such comprehensive environmental management systems in all camps, he added, noting that this was the first pilot project and that it has been very successful.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



France: Jew-Haters Attack 3 Near Lyon

Ten people with hammer, iron bar, brutalize Jews. Officials confirm motive is anti-Semitism.

Three people were brutalized in an anti-Semitic attack Saturday at Villeurbaine, near Lyon in southeast France. Two of the victims were hospitalized: one suffered an open head wound and the other was injured in the neck.

The attackers numbered about ten and were armed with a hammer and an iron bar.

The victims wore skullcaps.

The office of Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday that the attack was anti-Semitic and said police forces had been mobilized to find the assailants.

In March, a Muslim gunman murdered a rabbi and three Jewish children at pointblank range in Toulouse.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Germany: Victory for Intolerance: How Islamophobes Launched a National Debate

For weeks, German politicians and media outlets alike have been focusing their attention on the country’s Salafist Muslims. The reason, however, can be found far away from the halls of power in Berlin. A regional anti-Islam party known as Pro-NRW staged a cartoon contest ahead of a state election last month — and pulled off an extraordinary coup.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



How Insect-Eyed Cameras Could Change Our Lives

New cameras with hundreds of tiny lenses have recently been overcoming obstacles that have frustrated shutterbugs since the dawn of photography. German researchers are now working to find new applications that could make these mini-cameras an almost omnipresent part of our lives.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: Mediobanca Wants to Oust Generali CEO

Milan, 1 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — Mediobanca is seeking to remove Assicurazioni Generali Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Perissinotto because the investment bank wants to improve the performance of Italy’s biggest insurer, two people familiar with the situation said.

Perissinotto was summoned to Mediobanca’s Milan headquarters and asked to resign by Alberto Nagel, CEO of Milan- based Mediobanca, and Chairman Renato Pagliaro, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Generali’s CEO refused to step down and investors led by Mediobanca, the insurer’s biggest investor with a 13.2 percent stake, plan to push for his ouster at a board meeting the insurer has called for tomorrow, one of the people said. Mediobanca declined to comment on the matter, as did a spokesman for Generali.

“The problem with Generali is governance, which needs to be improved,” said Emanuele Vizzini, who oversees about 800 million euros ($990 million) as chief investment officer for Investitori Sgr in Milan. “Removing a CEO doesn’t bring about the necessary changes. You need to remove the interference of investors that have direct and conflicting interests.”

Mario Greco, an executive at Zurich Insurance Group AG, will be proposed as a replacement for Perissinotto, one of the people said. Greco is a former CEO of Italian insurer Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta SpA.

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



Italy: Lega Nord’s Maroni: Open a New Page With Salvini and Tosi

(AGI) Padoa — “With Matteo Salvini in Lombardy and Flavio Tosi in Veneto, the Lega starts anew with young and skilled leaders”. The comment was posted by Roberto Maroni on Facebook when referring to the outcome of the National Congress of the Lega Nord. “Let us now put a stop to divisions and controversies, let’s turn the ugly page of the last few months’ history and start writing a new one: all together, standing up-right, let us once again launch our challenge to the stars”, continued the Lega Nord’s candidate Federal Secretary. “Lega forever!”, he concluded.

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



Tintin Cover Fetches Record-Breaking 1.3m Euros

A rare 1932 cover drawing of a Tintin comic book has fetched a record 1.3m euros (£1m; $1.6m) at auction in Paris. The Tintin in America cover, hand-drawn by Belgian writer and illustrator Herge, broke the record — set by the same item in 2008, when it sold for 764,000 euros. It shows the young adventurer Tintin, dressed as a cowboy and sitting with his dog, Snowy, as axe-wielding American Indians creep up on them. It was bought by a private collector.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Thames Flotilla Celebrates Elizabeth’s 60-Year Reign

On a luxury barge festooned with flowers, Queen Elizabeth II sailed down the River Thames on Sunday amid a motley but majestic flotilla of 1,000 vessels mustered to mark her 60 years on the British throne.

Hundreds of thousands of Union Jack-waving spectators formed a red, white and blue wave along London’s riverbanks and bridges, cheering the 86-year-old monarch and her armada of motorboats, rowboats and sailboats of all shapes and sizes. The pageant was a nod to Britain’s maritime heritage and one of the biggest events on the river for centuries.

The queen wore a silver-and-white dress and matching coat — embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots and embellished with Swarovski crystals to evoke the river — for her trip aboard the barge Spirit of Chartwell, decorated for the occasion in rich red, gold and purple velvet.

The queen’s grandson, Prince William, and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge — he in his Royal Air Force uniform, she in a red Alexander McQueen dress — and William’s brother, Prince Harry, were among senior royals who joined the queen and her husband, Prince Philip.

After a celebratory peal of bells, the boat set off downstream at a stately 4 knots, accompanied by skiffs, barges, narrow boats, kayaks, gondolas, dragon boats and even a replica Viking longboat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Teenage Girl, 15, Dies ‘After Her Drink Was Spiked With Ecstasy’ At Social Club Party

A 15-year-old girl who died after a night out had her drink spiked with ecstasy, friends have claimed.

Rose Farley collapsed in the early hours at her parents’ home in Liverpool after spending the evening at a social club party.

Emergency services took the teenager from her home to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital but she died shortly afterwards at 5am.

Her death comes just days after Merseyside Police issued a warning about a dangerous strain of ecstasy known as ‘Dr Death’ being sold on the streets of the North West.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Their Dream is a ‘British FBI’ — The Reality May be Our Own KGB

From time to time the British media completely miss a story of huge significance. This is one of those times.

We are about to get a national police force under direct government control. They like to call it ‘Britain’s FBI’. But Britain is not the USA and does not need an FBI.

For the sort of crime that concerns most people is small and local — burglary, gangs of menacing youths in the street, shoplifting and vandalism. This does not need some posturing agency, just a few thousand plods on foot patrol with the freedom to use their own initiative.

[…]

It is, in short, the very thing that, since the days of Sir Robert Peel, Parliament has striven to prevent — a national police force under the direct control of the government.

In Peel’s time, MPs understood that such a force, if it fell into the wrong hands, would be a terrible engine of oppression. That is why police forces in this country have always been local (by the way, an equally worrying scheme to centralise all Scottish forces under the Justice Minister is well advanced).

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Woman Prison Officer, 27, ‘Exchanged Sexy Letters and Phone Calls With Seven Inmates’

A shamed prison officer who swapped sexy letters and phone calls with inmates could end up behind bars.

A court heard Zanib Khan had ‘inappropriate relationships’ with three prisoners — thought to include drug dealers — in their late 20s.

The 27-year-old shared intimate calls with male inmates on mobile phones smuggled into Brixton prison in London.

Police also found sexy love letters from prisoners at Khan’s home in Ilford, east London.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Vatican: Lombardi: “Cardinals United in No-Confidence Toward Gotti Tedeschi”

The Holy See’s official position given by the spokesman of the Vatican Press Office in Milan during a press conference

“The statements published by some newspapers about a division among the cardinals of the Supervisory Commission on the IOR are absolutely unfounded,” said Press Office Director Fr Federico Lombardi at a press briefing in Milan.

“There is no division within the Commission of Cardinals,” said Father Lombardi.

The Commission, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, “noted the decision of the board and communicated in writing to Mr Gotti Tedeschi that the functions of the president had been assigned ad interim, per statute, to vice president Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz.”

The Vatican spokesman explained that this was equivalent to a unanimous vote of no-confidence by the board of lay people.

Father Lombardi also explained that the Commission had “contacted” Gotti Tedeschi “as an act of courtesy” and “to end the relationship,” including economically, and with the hope “that a climate of fairness will prevail in communications as well.”

On his visit to Milan, Lombardi said Benedict XVI was in “good condition” and seems “serene and impressed by the quality of hospitality and warmth shown by the Ambrosian community, and by the high level of the events and the beauty of the area.” “I would say he is doing well,” said the Jesuit priest. “Just this morning he joyfully handled three hours of commitments, with travel, crowds, and loud noise as well.”

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

North Africa


Five Egyptian Secret Police Directors Released

(AGI) Cairo — Five former Egyptian security chiefs who were acquitted yesterday of having ordered the shootings of hundreds of demonstrators will be released today, the official Egyptian news agency Mena reports, emphasizing that Hassan Abdel Rahman, who ran the now-dissolved state security service is still in prison and under investigation for having destroyed secret documents relevant to the charges.

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

Israel and the Palestinians


Secret Cooperation: Israel Deploys Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines

A German shipyard has already built three submarines for Israel, and three more are planned. Now SPIEGEL has learned that Israel is arming the submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The German government has known about Israel’s nuclear weapons program for decades, despite its official denials.

Germany is helping Israel to develop its military nuclear capabilities, SPIEGEL has learned. According to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The missiles can be launched using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told SPIEGEL that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years.”

In the past, the German government has always stuck to the position that it is unaware of nuclear weapons being deployed on the vessels. Now, however, former high-ranking officials from the German Defense Ministry, including former State Secretary Lothar Rühl and former chief of the planning staff Hans Rühle, have told SPIEGEL that they had always assumed that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons on the submarines. Rühl had even discussed the issue with the military in Tel Aviv.

Israel has a policy of not commenting officially on its nuclear weapons program. Documents from the archives of the German Foreign Ministry make it clear, however, that the German government has known about the program since 1961. The last discussion for which there is evidence took place in 1977, when then-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt spoke to then-Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan about the issue.

The submarines are built by the German shipyard HDW in Kiel. Three submarines have already been delivered to Israel, and three more will be delivered by 2017.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Al-Qaida Leader Recalls Bin Laden’s ‘Generosity’

Osama bin Laden spent all his personal wealth on jihad, considering meat and electricity as luxuries so he could save his money to help fund terror attacks, according to recollections from his deputy and successor posted online late Saturday

Al-Qaida’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in the second of his “Days with the Imam” series of videos, said that bin Laden would however pay readily for hospitality for his guests — although he lived mostly on bread and vegetables, he once invested in an entire herd of sheep to slaughter in case visitors came by.

Al-Zawahri, who became head of al-Qaida after bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid last year, spoke conversationally while dressed in a white Arab robe and turban.

He is believed to lack his predecessor’s personal authority within the far-flung terror network, and may be trying to boost his own popularity by emphasizing his closeness to the more charismatic bin Laden.

Bin Laden was born to a wealthy family, but ran into financial troubles after he was pushed out of Sudan in 1996, al-Zawahri said.

Shortly thereafter, he said, Bin Laden spent $50,000 to help finance 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania at a time when he only had $55,000 to his name. Those bombings killed 224 people. Bin Laden’s personal wealth also helped finance the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

“He is well-known for living austerely but he spent all his money for jihad,” al-Zawahri said “If you enter his house you would find simple furniture .. and if we were invited to eat, he offered us what was available in his house, bread and vegetables.”

But the terror leader was “generous to his guests by slaughtering sheep for them and because of continuous visitors, he once bought a herd of sheep so that he would be always ready for them.”

Al-Zawahri said bin Laden used to encourage the mujahideen — “holy warriors” — to live without electricity which he considered as luxury.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Assad: International Plot to Destroy Syria

(AGI) Damascus — Syria is faced with a “plot aimed at destroying the country,” said president Bashar el Assad. In his first speech to the new parliament elected in early May, the Syrian president launched accusations at the international community over the conflict his country. “The international role — in the Syrian crisis — is now clear.” He said that the country is dealing with a “war waged from the outside.” “There has been an escalation of terrorism despite the reforms,” said Assad.

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



New Syrian Clashes in North Lebanon, 2 Dead & 12 Injured

(AGI) Beirut — A new bout of clashes is under way between Syrian loyalists and rebels in Tripoli in North Lebanon despite the Army. The news was reported by a source of the security forces. 2 persons have died and 12 were injured in the shootout that occurred during the night, thus bringing the casualty toll to 14 dead and 48 injured since yesterday, when the clashes began.

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



Twenty Years of Illusion About Islamism

The broad lines of U.S. government, other government, and generally establishment policy toward Islamism were laid down on June 2, 1992, when Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Edward P. Djerejian delivered a major speech, “The U.S. and the Middle East In a Changing World,” at Meridian House International, in Washington, DC. After some throat clearing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kuwait War, and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Djerejian gave what has been called “the first major U.S. government statement on fundamentalist Islam” and, in just over 400 words, sketched out a policy that has been held to with remarkable consistency over the subsequent 20 years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UAE: Pipeline Begins Activity in June to Avoid Hormuz Strait

70% crude oil to travel on land from Abu Dhabi to Fujhairah

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 28 — As scheduled, the pipeline which will allow transport of most of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) crude oil towards the ocean without going through the Hormuz straight at the entrance to the Gulf of Arabia, will be operative within June.

The news is confirmed by the Sheik of Fujairah, Hamad bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, in an interview on the Emirates’ newspaper Gulf News in which he also minimizes the fear of a war with Iran in the event that Teheran, as they have often threatened, might block the Hormuz straight in response to further sanctions directed to them due to their nuclear programme.

“It is a cloud which will pass,” the Emir said. About 40% of the world’s crude oil, and almost all of the regional produce, travels through the oil rigs which from the single terminals of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Iraq, make their way to reach their final destinations, especially in direction of the Asian markets, crossing the strategic spot, a stretch of water just over 30km wide between the coasts of Iran and Oman.

The pipeline, 380km long, running from Habshan in the Abu Dhabi region until Fujhairah, the only Emirate of the seven in the UAE which is actually on the Arab Sea, will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day, Sheik Hamad stated.

This potential will eventually reach 1.8 million barrels a day, about 70% of the average production in the UAE.

The Emirates’ alternative is not the only one. The region’s biggest economy, Saudi Arabia, already has a opening towards the Red Sea.

The East-West pipeline, which runs from Abqaiq, south of Dahran and Yanbu, on the shores of the Red Sea, has a transport capacity of 4.8 million bpd, around half of the kingdom’s oil production. In the event of a crisis it can be increased to guarantee a major flow.

Despite the reassuring tone held by Sheik Hamas, the Emirate of Fujhairah has initiated a series of investments to increase its energy plan: Fujhairah is a very important centre for depositing and refuelling oil, second only to Singapore, and is to double the number of its cisterns and storage spots along its coasts in the next ten years.

It also has a new project for a new terminal for the export of GPL whereas an industrial-petrol area has been inaugurated, in line with the policy of ensuring security on travel routes and on oil rigs, hence the building of a new naval army base.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Di Paola: Bail Not Recognition India’s Right to Try Marines

(AGI) Rome — Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola spoke to Skytg24 today. He stated that the bail paid to free the 2 Italian marines accused of homicide in India is “not a recognition of India’s right to try the two Marine Corps riflemen.” .

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



Pakistan: Drones Kill 10 Including a Commander

(AGI) Peshawar — Ten Islamic militants have been killed in their South Waziristan hideout by two US drones. According to Fox News two drones hit with four bombs the village of Mana Raghzai, near Wacha Dana, ten km west of Wana. The house in which the militants were hiding has been completely destroyed.

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



Two People Dead After Swarms of Venomous Spiders Invade Indian Town

A town in India has suddenly been overrun by swarms of venomous spiders, leaving two people dead after being bitten.

It may sound like a B-grade horror movie, but residents of the town of Sadiya, in Assam state, say that on the evening of May 8 as they were celebrating a Hindu festival swarms of spiders suddenly appeared and attacked them, The Times of India reported.

Over the next few days two people — a man, Purnakanta Buragohain, and an unnamed school boy — died after being bitten by the spiders. Scores more turned up at the town’s hospital with spider bites.

Local resident Jintu Gogoi spent a day in the hospital complaining of excruciating pain and nausea after being bitten. He said weeks later his finger was still blackened and swollen.

District authorities are also panicking — and they are considering spraying the town with the insecticide DDT. Locals say the most terrifying aspect is that spiders appear in swarms and their behavior is highly aggressive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East


Report: Japan Arrests Sarin Attack Cult Member

One of the two remaining fugitive members of the doomsday cult behind the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo subways was arrested Sunday, Japanese media reports said.

Former senior Aum Shinrikyo cult member Naoko Kikuchi, 40, had been spotted in Sagamihara city, 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Tokyo, and acknowledged who she was when approached by police, according to NHK TV and other media reports, citing investigative sources. She was wanted on charges of murder in the 1995 attack.

Police declined to confirm the reports.

Cult members, who had amassed an arsenal of chemical, biological and conventional weapons in anticipation of an apocalyptic showdown with the government, released the nerve gas sarin in Tokyo’s subways, killing 13 people and injuring more than 6,000.

Nearly 200 members of the cult have been convicted in the gas attack and dozens of other crimes. Cult guru Shoko Asahara is still on death row.

Makoto Hirata, suspected of involvement in a 1995 cult-related kidnapping-murder, surrendered to police on New Year’s Eve, stunning Japan. Ten days later, Akemi Saito, also a member of Aum Shinrikyo, who had lived with Hirata, gave herself up.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



U.S. Plans Naval Shift Toward Asia

Pacific to Host 60% of Navy by 2020, Defense Secretary Says, Rejecting View That Move Is Designed to Contain China

The Pentagon will shift the bulk of its naval assets to Asia within the next decade and increase the number of military exercises it conducts in the region, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in the most tangible sign yet of the renewed U.S. emphasis on Asia.

Under the plan, the U.S. would shift cruisers, destroyers, submarines and other warships so that 60% of them will be based in the Pacific by 2020. Currently, the U.S. Navy fleet of 285 ships is evenly split between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The announcement comes after an agreement to rotate U.S. Marines through Australia and amid talks with the Philippines regarding a similar arrangement there.

Mr. Panetta, who disclosed the naval plans in an address to an annual international security conference here, stressed that the rising U.S. force levels shouldn’t be seen as a threat to China but as a stabilizing influence in a rapidly developing region.

Nonetheless, the step to globally reposition the U.S. Navy would represent a substantial peacetime military shift that is likely to be favored by Asian countries that are nervous as China increasingly flexes its economic and territorial muscle.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


New Domestic Violence Laws Target Emotional Abuse

New domestic violence laws will make it an offence to harm pets, cut people off from their family or withhold financial support.

The changes to the Family Law Act were passed in December but come into effect this week.

They expand the definition of domestic violence to more than just physical harm, such as denying a family member financial autonomy or the money required to meet reasonable living expenses.

The changes also include emotional abuse and preventing a person from maintaining contact with family, friends or their culture.

The Salvation Army’s Major Andrew Craib says the changes recognise that it is not just physical acts of violence that can harm children.

“They might see a perpetrator constantly putting people down. Often people hear that enough and they begin to believe that for themselves and that’s unacceptable in our society,” he said.

Mr Craib also says the changes are a reflection of society’s rejection of domestic violence.

He hopes the changes will encourage more victims to seek help.

“They’re more likely to feel now that somebody has an understanding of the circumstances that they’re putting up with,” he said.

“I would hope that that gives them a bit of confidence and reassurance that people are actually going to hear them and believe them and that some action is going to come about that’s going to bring both their safety and that of their children.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Bomb Blast Kills 12 in Church in Northern Nigeria

(AGI) Bauchi — At least twelve people were killed when a bomb exploded in a church on the outskirts of Bauchi, northern Nigeria. There have been several attacks in the area this year by the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist group.

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



Horrific Scenes as Plane Crashes Into Neighborhood in Nigeria’s Biggest City, Killing All 153 Passengers on Board

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A commercial airliner crashed into a densely populated neighborhood in Nigeria’s largest city on Sunday, killing all 153 people on board and others on the ground in the worst air disaster in nearly two decades for the troubled nation.

The cause of the Dana Air crash remained unknown Sunday night, as firefighters and police struggled to put out the flames around the wreckage of the Boeing MD83 aircraft.

Authorities could not control the crowd of thousands gathered around to see the crash site, with some crawling over the plane’s broken wings and standing on a still-smoldering landing gear.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Experts Call for One World Government

Lagos — Speakers at a public symposium, “Advancing a New World Order for the progress of the Human Race,” organised by the Lagos Zone of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, have urged world leaders to evolve new ways of pursuing the collective destiny of humanity by the creation of one world government.

The speakers included the Grand Administrator and Director, Supreme Board, AMORC, Dr. Kenneth Idiodi; Mr. Ekanem Kofi-Ekanem; Professor T. A.T. Wahua of University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt; Professor M.Y. Nabofa, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State; Prof. John Idiodi, University of Benin and Johnson Ikube, Managing Consultant/CEO, JI Global Solutions Limited.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Denmark: Copenhagen Council Has Asked Copenhagen Police to Remove 11 Iranians

Copenhagen Police are in the process of moving a group of 11 Iranian hunger-strikers out of the Democracy House in Vesterbro after Copenhagen Council has reported the lie-in to be illegal entry.

The group f 11 Iranians, whose asylum applications have been denied, have been on hunger strike for two weeks to highlight conditions at the Danish asylum centres, where several of them have spent up to eight years.

The group began their hunger strike at the St. Stephen’s Church in Nørrebro, but moved to the Democracy House after St. Stephen’s Parish Council asked them to vacate the church.

Despite having had their asylum requests denied, conditions in Iran are such that Denmark cannot repatriate them to Iran.

Police officers are currently discussing with the group as to what is to happen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Illegals Desperate to Return Home, IOM

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 1 — The Greek office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is struggling to handle a barrage of applications from undocumented immigrants who want to be included in its repatriation scheme, with 6,000 requests lodged so far this year — more than double the total of applications made in the whole of 2011. As daily Kathimerini reports, the head of the Athens office of IOM, Daniel Esdras, said that around half of the 6,000 applications will have been approved by the end of June, when the program, which is 75% subsidized by the EU, is due to end. Esdras proposed that Greek authorities ask Bruxelles for the cash-strapped country’s financial contribution in future repatriation programs to be reduced. Meanwhile authorities are struggling with the processing of asylum claims lodged by migrants remaining in Greece. The head of the Citizens’ Protection Ministry’s asylum service, Maria Stavropoulou, said understaffing was a major obstacle. For his part, the head of the Athens office of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), Giorgos Tsarbopoulos, noted that only 30 or 40 of the hundreds of migrants who line up outside the capital’s Aliens Bureau on Petrou Ralli Street every week manage to submit asylum applications. In a related development, a delegation of 17 European Commission officials, dispatched to Greece to determine whether the country is implementing the terms of the open-border Schengen agreement, completed their mission “satisfied,” police sources told Kathimerini.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Swedish Army to Jobless Immigrants: We Want You

Tweet The Swedish Armed Forces is hoping the prospect of free food and lodging will help entice young, unemployed immigrants to join the military as part of an effort to increase diversity.

The military is offering ten weeks living like a conscript on a military base with free food and lodging, as well as the possibility to complete a high school degree as part of an effort to boost enlistment and diversity within the ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten).

“I sort of want to get away from the daily grind. And I’m also somewhat interested in the military,” Tatiana Caicedo, 21, who has parents from Colombia and England, told the TT news agency.

The goal is to attract 500 participants in a new labour policy programme which is being carried out in cooperation with Sweden’s National Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen).

Plans call for half of the new “recruits” to be men, and half women.

“The partnership is unique,” the employment agency’s Soledad Grafeuille told TT.

The idea is to target unemployed youth with immigrant backgrounds and have them spend ten weeks in the autumn and winter living at military bases across the country.

They would spend half their time becoming familiarized with the Swedish military and half their time working to complete their high school degrees.

After ten weeks, the participants would have the option of applying to basic military training in order to obtain a job within the Armed Forces.

Grafeuille emphasized that the programme is totally voluntary and can be abandoned at any point without the risk of penalties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120602

Financial Crisis
» EU: Berlusconi Says Italy Should Print Money, Germany Can Leave Euro if it Disagrees
» Feeble U.S. Job Growth Stokes Fears of Global Slowdown
» Ireland Has Now Passed the Point Where it Can Honestly be Deemed an Independent Country
» Irish People Grudgingly Accept EU Treaty With Referendum ‘Yes’ Vote
» Spain: Five Hundred Years of Crisis
» UK: Wealthy Europeans Flee Euro Crisis and Invest Their Cash in Upmarket London Homes
 
USA
» Are Liberals Immoral?
» Dumbing Down of America Exposed in Florida Schools
» ‘Morris Dees is a Con Man, Fraud’
» Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates U.S. Public Schools
» Not for Sale
» Obama Awards Medal of Freedom to Honorary Chair of Socialist Organization
» One Nation Under Surveillance
» Under Allah With Sharia for All
» What Bilderberg Secrets? Just Ask…
» Why Are Americans Ignorant of ‘Agenda 21’?
 
Europe and the EU
» Afghanistan: SAS Free British Aid Worker Kidnapped Last Month in ‘Breathtaking and Extraordinarily Brave’ Night-Time Helicopter Raid on Cave Deep in Taliban Territory
» Britain Should Snub Obama’s Re-Election Ploy
» Brussels: Greece Ultimatum on Waste and Sewage
» Greece: Parents Spend Over 5 Bln Euros on Extra Education
» Italy: American Marine Accused of Raping 7-Year-Old, Posting Images Online
» Italy: Former Bank Head Arrested Over Loan Scandal
» UK: Family Forced to Live With Pair of Doves Who Nested on the Floor in Their Living Room Because They Are a Protected Species
» UK: Students at Top Oxford College Refuse to Hang Picture of the Queen Because Doing So Would Promote Elitism
» UK: Turkish Killer Who Slaughtered Wife and Mother in Law is Jailed for 36 Years
 
Balkans
» Kosovo: From June 1: Cars With Serbian Number-Plates Banned
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Alarm Over Counterfeit Sunscreen
» Egypt’s Mubarak Gets Life in Prison for Murder of Protesters
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» The Patriotism of Palestinianism
» The Reign of the Fantasists
 
Far East
» China Arrests Top Security Official on Suspicion of Spying for U.S. In ‘Greatest Breach of State Intelligence for Two Decades’
» Eco-Guiltology and the Yeosu Declaration
» North Korea Murders Its Own Officials
 
Immigration
» EU Report: 20.2 Million Legal Immigrants
 
Culture Wars
» Boobs on Display
» How Far Up at Bank of America Do They Dislike Guns?
» Ontario’s War on Religion and Parental Freedom

Financial Crisis


EU: Berlusconi Says Italy Should Print Money, Germany Can Leave Euro if it Disagrees

Rome, 1 June (AKI) — Italy should start printing money and Germany can leave the eurozone if it dosesn’t like it, ex-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday.

“Here’s the crazy idea I have in mind,” he said . “Let’s start printing euros with our mint,” he said at a Rome meeting of politicians from his centre-right People of Freedom party.

Berlusconi has called for the European Central Bank to create demand for sovereign debt by stepping in and buying bonds. Higher demand would lower the interest rates for Europe’s countries suffering a economic crisis brought on in large part by high debt levels.

Berlusconi resigned in November amid the crisis that threatened to cause an Italian default on interest payments for its 1.9 trillion-euro debt load. The People of Freedom party still has the most seats in Parliament making its support crucial for Mario Monti’s unelected emergency government.

“We have tell Europe that the European Central Bank has to start printing money, and change its mission. Otherwise we’ll have to say ciao ciao to the euro or tell Germany and France to leave the euro if they disagree,” Berlusconi said.

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



Feeble U.S. Job Growth Stokes Fears of Global Slowdown

For a third year, the economic recovery in the United States is floundering, stoking fears of a global slowdown as the European crisis escalates.

Last month, the nation’s employers added the fewest jobs in a year and the unemployment rate actually rose, the Labor Department reported Friday. May was not a fluke either. It was the third consecutive month of disappointing results.

The weakening recovery is a serious vulnerability for President Obama as he faces re-election and it provides traction to his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, who says the administration has not done enough to strengthen the economy. Because Washington remains deeply divided over how best to stimulate growth, the report increases the pressure on the Federal Reserve to take further action on its own.

The United States gained a net 69,000 jobs in May, for an average of 96,000 over each of the last three months. That is down from a 245,000 gain on average from December through February. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 in April, though largely because more people began looking for work. And there was more bad news: job gains that had been reported in March and April were revised downward.

Economists can explain away a month or two of dismal numbers, but a three-month run is difficult to ignore. The economy now seems to be following the spring slowdown pattern of the last two years — a bright spot of accelerating growth followed by a slump. The news on Friday even raised mentions of a possibility that dogged last year’s forecasts but did not come to pass: another recession.

The report on American jobs added to the global pall that has deepened with Europe’s debt crisis and slowing growth in China and India. Global financial markets, weak in early trading on Friday, sank further on the report. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.22 percent, or 274.88 points, wiping out its gains for the year, and the main index of the German stock market closed down 3.4 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Ireland Has Now Passed the Point Where it Can Honestly be Deemed an Independent Country

Ireland’s ratification of the EU fiscal pact can only be described as abject.

There comes a point when a country has surrendered so much of its sovereignty that its claim to be a self-governing polity expires. Ireland has passed the point at which it can honestly be deemed an independent country. The Republic is in abeyance.

In approving Friday’s referendum, Ireland has voted to hand away its freedom to set its budget according to its own wishes. This absolutely basic task of government was already compromised under the terms of the country’s bail-out. This has already led to the dismaying spectacle of Irish budget details being considered in Berlin before being submitted to parliament in Dublin. Now Ireland has formally voted away its fiscal independence by submitting to Brussels’ superintendence of its future budgets.

The surrender of monetary policy occurred when Ireland resolved to join the Euro, despite Britain, its most important trading partner, wisely resolving to opt out. Ireland is now a country without independent control over its currency, its taxation policies, or its spending. Added to scant control over its borders and its air, land and sea, can it truthfully any longer be called an independent country?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Irish People Grudgingly Accept EU Treaty With Referendum ‘Yes’ Vote

Ireland’s voters gave a grudging seal of approval to an EU treaty that paves the way for further austerity measures across the continent in a desperate attempt to fight the debt-crisis that threatens the existence of the euro.

The treaty’s approval, to be declared officially later today, relieves some pressure on EU financial chiefs as they battle to contain the eurozone’s debt crisis.

But critics said the tougher deficit rules would do nothing to stimulate desperately needed growth in bailed-out Ireland, Portugal and Greece nor stop Spain or Italy from requiring aid too.

[…]

Overall, about half of Ireland’s 3.13million registered voters participated in yesterday’s referendum, typical in an officially neutral country that is constitutionally required to hold a referendum on each European treaty.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Spain: Five Hundred Years of Crisis

Süddeutsche Zeitung Munich

Spain has frittered away its chances for economic development for the second time. The first was after it discovered the Americas in 1492, and the second was after it joined the European Union in 1986. The anti-economic thinking that has dominated Spain is rooted in its history and culture. Excerpts.

Sebastian Schoepp

What’s wrong with Spain? Back in the reign of Prime Minister José María Aznar (1996 -2004), it was the poster child of the EU when it came to growth. One hundred and fifty billion euros in structural aid poured from Brussels into the fourth-largest economy in the euro area.

But instead of flourishing factories, abandoned capital spending projects scarred the barren soil of Andalusia and Castile, and now lie as dead as the castle ruins from the era of El Cid. Both times and places reveal an anti-economic social model that has distinguished Spain for half a millennium.

In modern times Spain has experienced a self-imposed isolation that ended only in the 1960s, when dictator Francisco Franco opened the borders to tourists. Spain thus stumbled late into the modern age, ‘excited and hasty like the guest who arrives last at the banquet and gorges to make up for lost time’, wrote Juan Goytisolo in his 1969 essay ‘Spain and the Spaniards’, which still rings true today.

Twenty years later, and with the same eagerness, Spain began to dispense the manna that fell from the sky in the form of EU structural aid. However, rather than investing in a productive society, it wanted to belong to the EU as quickly as possible, to modernise itself — which meant, above all, to look modern. The money was hurled into the housing market. Initially it was hurled usefully, later — fired by Aznar’s ultra-liberal land policy — in a frenzy.

The triumph of the anti-economic thought, however, had already started back in 1492. Spain had not only discovered America, it had also defeated the last remnants of Arab rule in Granada and in the coming centuries would drive Muslims and Jews out of Spain. Both those groups were responsible for trade and commerce. The Spanish noble, however, detested work, which was forbidden to him by a bizarre code of honour, and saw his God-given task only in soldiering…

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



UK: Wealthy Europeans Flee Euro Crisis and Invest Their Cash in Upmarket London Homes

The falling value of the euro has seen a surge in wealthy Europeans investing in London property.

Upmarket estate agents in smart areas such as Mayfair in central London have reported a rise in Greek, Italian, Spanish and French buyers.

The ongoing eurozone crisis has meant those with the means to buy six- or seven-figure properties are looking to safeguard their money in the UK, as it is seen as a financially stable location.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA


Are Liberals Immoral?

Yes, liberals are immoral. The liberal power elite are selfish, hypocritical, arrogant, self-righteous, and, worst of all, destructive of those around them. They are willing to saddle everyone else with rules and regulations that do not apply to them, and with higher taxes that they somehow escape paying. The Buffett Rule might sound like a great idea, but it would never apply to the Buffetts of this world. Or the Kerrys, Kennedys, or any other left-wing billionaire.

Scratch the surface of the liberal elite, and you will find a monstrous contempt for those “beneath” them. Liberals like Barack Obama live and breathe in a realm of utter disdain for ordinary Americans, including congressmen who hail from what the president likes to call “Palookaville.” It is not just that they are out of touch; it is that they despise what is normal and decent. They would no more live in the heartland or send their kids to a public school than they would forego an exemption engineered solely to save them money — the same tax break for the rich that they publicly decry as soooo unfair. It’s no surprise that several prominent liberal Democrats made their fortunes as slum lords and ambulance-chasers. Others just married their money.

There’s nothing wrong with making money, of course. Mitt Romney earned every penny of his fortune, and to his credit he has never apologized for his success. But the liberal game — the Kennedy game — is to pretend to side with the poor and, by doing so, gain political power so as to further line one’s own pockets. In all of this, the liberal elite are utterly cynical.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Dumbing Down of America Exposed in Florida Schools

It has been no secret that we are having an educational crisis in the United States. Public schools are doing worse and worse, unable to compete with private schools, homeschooled children, and for that matter the rest of the world. Some suggest that this is on purpose. By dumbing down our children we are preparing the future generations for more easily accepting authoritarian control by leftist systems of governance.

We are raising young people in our public schools that are illiterate. We are cramming them with bad information from experimental teaching techniques, political correctness, and liberal philosophies so that they will be good, obedient citizens. Informed voters think for themselves, and seek freedom. A dumbed down population is always eager to depend on the government overlords. Mind-numbed followers don’t ask questions.

History is our students’ worst subject. They can’t even answer the simplest questions about history in regards to the Revolutionary War, World War II, or the Korean War. The fault partly lies in the fact that history textbooks are poorly written, and partly because they are not being taught the information in the first place. I remember when my nephew came to me upset because in his History Class they skipped the chapter about the U.S. Constitution. When he inquired why, the teacher explained to him that the class was limited in time and had to skip unnecessary lessons.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



‘Morris Dees is a Con Man, Fraud’

Last week I wrote about what an honor it is to labeled one of the top 30 most dangerous leaders of the “radical right” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In case I didn’t adequately underline just what a corrupt extremist organization the SCLC truly is, I wanted to add a little detail about this claim: “Not only is the SPLC nasty, brutish, extremist and anti-American, but it’s also one of the biggest con games around — an anti-capitalist moneymaking machine.”

Let me take you back five years to see what Harper’s Magazine had to report about the group.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates U.S. Public Schools

A flurry of news media reports last week highlighted a Harlem public elementary school that will become the first in New York to require students to study Arabic.

Entirely unreported is that the organization that co-created and funded the Arabic language program for the New York school, WND has found, maintains close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, while the group’s founder also started the Al Jazeera television network.

The Qatar Foundation International, or QFI, a nonprofit group financed by the government of Qatar, gave Harlem’s Hamilton Heights, a K-5 public school, a $250,000 grant to support the Arabic program for three years.

The school’s Arabic language program was reportedly developed by QFI and the the Global Language Project.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Not for Sale

Our freedom and Constitution have always been priceless. Their value to most Americans is vividly clear. The cost of our Freedom and country was blood, lives, wealth and treasure. Americans know that we are the leader of the free world, unique and a Christian nation. They also know that we are under assault and dangerously compromised now.

Through out our brief and miraculous history as a country, fearless and visionary leaders have risen up to serve and protect the U.S.A. Most have not been for sale but some have given in to the seduction of power, having affairs, and committing crimes. Most, however, have fought to serve America and do what was right.

[…]

Recently Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his investigator team confirmed that the alleged, long form birth certificate shown to the nation in a press conference last April 27, by Obama, was a complete forgery. Media and leadership in Congress and America had nothing to say. These were Sheriffs and investigators confirming what known document examiners had already proven, that the presented birth certificate was a complete forgery.

On Friday, May 25th I interviewed Sheriff Arpaio’s chief investigator Mike Zullo and Dr. Jerry Corsi. Both were in Hawaii going deeper into the investigation of Obama and the long form birth certificate. They told me that with in just a few weeks Sheriff Arpaio and his Cold case Posse would have another press conference that would reveal more of what they had found and it was huge. They both told me that it was earth shattering in scope and a possible game changer. Though they did not tell me exactly what it was just yet, they did say that what they would reveal was a national security risk; involved an international conspiracy and decades of planning behind Obama. Dr. Corsi said it was so serious that the Democrat party might even have to find a different candidate.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama Awards Medal of Freedom to Honorary Chair of Socialist Organization

President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, Dolores Huerta.

The Heritage Foundation notes that Huerta, 82, has in the past said that “Republicans hate Latinos” and praised Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



One Nation Under Surveillance

America prides itself in being called “the land of the free.” But, what, exactly, does it mean to be free? Does it mean owning a car and having a job? People in communist countries own a car and have a job. Does it mean going to a mall to shop? People in communist countries go to a mall to shop. Does it mean going to an amusement park to recreate? People in communist countries go to amusement parks. Does it mean going to the polls and voting? People in communist countries go to the polls and vote. In reality, many, if not most, of the things that most Americans would identify as marks of freedom are commonly practiced in the most oppressed communist countries of the world. So, what does it mean to be free?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Under Allah With Sharia for All

Last week, a white African-American friend and her husband returned to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from a European trip and observed an American-Muslim woman from their flight navigating U.S. Immigration and Customs. The couple watched attentively as the covered woman approached the immigration officer, who avoided eye contact, glanced hastily at the woman’s ID, and waved her heedlessly through. When it was their turn to be processed, the officer carefully scrutinized their faces, studied their passport photos, and then repeated the sequence a second time.

While shopping in a Washington, D.C. suburban supermarket, an Iranian-American human rights activist, who fled Iran following the Khomeini-led revolution, spied a woman in a multi-layered hijab shopping with her playful young daughter. In the parking lot, the woman struck her meandering daughter as they passed by the stunned Iranian woman. The activist reprimanded the mother for hitting her daughter and cried out, “And please don’t force her to wear a headscarf when she grows up.” Two hours later, two police officers arrived at the Iranian woman’s home to question her after the irate Muslim mother, who had recorded the activist’s license plate number, summoned them.

Are these incidents indicative of hypersensitivity to potential accusations of Islamophobia, or do they reveal an already entrenched subservience to Muslims — dhimmitude — or both? A closer examination of both leads to the conclusion that perhaps the two concepts are one and the same. Both reflect a fear of Muslims which appears to lead to special treatment. Conceivably, it’s a matter of degree, with dhimmitude being the end result of pervasive concerns about manifesting Islamophobia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



What Bilderberg Secrets? Just Ask…

Not much really needs to be said in this particular column. For decades, Americans have been speculating about what takes place behind the closed doors of the secret meetings of the Bilderberg Group. This weekend, the group is holding its annual meeting at a Virginia Marriott Hotel. Forty-eight American citizens are named by the group as attending that meeting.

At the close of this weekend’s Virginia gathering of the global elite, all forty-eight U.S. attendees will know exactly what was discussed behind those closed doors and since those discussions directly impact the governance of the United States of America, the American people have every right to know what took place in those meetings.

In fact, the Freedom of Information Act covers the people’s right to know all information affecting their governmental policies and ultimately, every American citizen. If the American people really want to know what is taking place in those secret meetings, they need only ask.

While I’m sure there are attendees who are not listed on the Bilderberg Group official press release, here are the forty-eight American’s who are listed as attendees of this weekend’s event.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Why Are Americans Ignorant of ‘Agenda 21’?

The United Nations Agenda 21 was signed by the United States in 1992 and 14 years later, people are still in the dark. If you were to ask at random the question, “Have you heard of Agenda 21?” the answer would be an over-whelming “No,” although it is being implemented in every local community.

Agenda 21 is a 40 chapter document listing goals to be achieved globally. It is the global plan to change the way we “live, eat, learn and communicate” because we must “save the earth.”

“Its regulation would severely limit water, electricity, and transportation — even deny human access to our most treasured wilderness areas, it would monitor all lands and people. No one would be free from the watchful eye of the new global tracking and information system,” according to Berit Kjos, author of Brave New Schools.

Maurice Strong, Secretary-general of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro said, “…[C]urrent lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class — involving high meat consumption and large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and workplace air-conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable. A shift is necessary which will require a vast strengthening of the multilateral system, including the United Nations.

In other words, the Global plan is for us to live on the level of third world nations. That means no box mixes or microwave meals, limited use of fuel of any kind, no air-conditioning and very little meat. When the cost of freon skyrocketed, when mad cow disease hit, the National Animal Identification System introduced, the price of fuel soared, it has become apparent that given time, these sustainable controls will be put into place — one way or another — and the Global Governance is powerful.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Afghanistan: SAS Free British Aid Worker Kidnapped Last Month in ‘Breathtaking and Extraordinarily Brave’ Night-Time Helicopter Raid on Cave Deep in Taliban Territory

A British aid worker kidnapped in north east Afghanistan last month has been freed after a dramatic SAS rescue mission authorised by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Helen Johnston, 27, a nutritionist from Stoke Newington in London, Kenyan national Moragwe Oirere and two Afghan civilians were rescued during an early morning raid by members of the elite special forces unit.

All four hostages work for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organisation based near Lausanne, Switzerland and were kidnapped on May 22 in Badakhshan province.

Mr Cameron confirmed all four hostages were rescued safely, no British troops were injured and five Taliban and hostage-takers were killed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Britain Should Snub Obama’s Re-Election Ploy

British Prime Minister David Cameron should refuse President Barack Obama’s request in the latter’s latest desperate push for re-election. Back in March, when Obama and Cameron last met, the president floated the idea of a coordinated release of oil reserves in an effort to drive down prices at the pump. This would possibly involve the Americans releasing some 700 million barrels of crude oil, and Britain reducing the amount of oil they currently demand oil companies hold in reserve, which would have the same effect on the private sector as releasing oil stocks.

[…]

Yet even if one ignores the cynical timing of this move, Obama’s request should still be refused by the American ally. Oil prices are high not due to merely bad timing, or to other international events (although these always play a part). Oil prices are particularly high in America directly because of the Obama’s administrations anti-oil, anti-business radical green agenda.

The president has fought against the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Texas, has imposed a five-year moratorium on a majority of offshore oil-drilling areas, and has approved attacks on attempts to drill in Alaska. These are just three examples of this administration’s attitude regarding the price of oil in America, which is at best neglectful and at worst a deliberate move to raise prices in order to force green forms of energy down the throats of the American people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Brussels: Greece Ultimatum on Waste and Sewage

Twelve areas in the country still below EU standards

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 31 — Greece risks ending up in front of the European court of justice if it doesn’t rapidly adjust to the standards of sewage management of twelve areas in the country and of its Kiato dumping ground in the Peloponnese.

The European commission has in fact sent an ultimatum to Athens today, considering that this type of violation of the rules can constitute a serious threat to public health and environment.

The Kiato waste dump operates without any authorisation and does not respect EU rules. According to a report by Greek authorities, the urban refuse waters of Prosotsani, Doxato, Eleftheroupoli and Vagia are still not being put under the treatment requested by the EU directive and in eight other districts the sewage system is inadequate. Greek authorities recognize the existence of the problem in both cases and are trying to tackle the issue, but since 2009 no necessary measures have been adopted and due to this Brussels has formally requested that the problem be solved as soon as possible.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Parents Spend Over 5 Bln Euros on Extra Education

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 31 — Greek families spend more than five billion euros a year on educating their children despite the fact that most children go to public schools and all universities are free, according the results of a study presented on Wednesday and published by daily Kathimerini. The research, carried out by experts working for the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the country’s main private labor union, found that two billion euros was spent each year on private tuition schools, language and music lessons, sports and other activities. Another 3.2 billion euros was spent private schools, living expenses for university students and fees for postgraduate studies. “Shadow education is a symptom of the weakness of our education system and it puts extra pressure on Greek parents who are trying to overcome difficulties by offering their children the best possible future,” the head of the research team, Nikos Paizis, told Kathimerini. The study found that parents dig particularly deep when their children reach secondary school. Whereas they pay a total of 775 million euros for primary school education, two billion is spent on children once they are in high school. Of this, almost 1.5 billion euros goes on what is termed “shadow education,” which includes cramming schools, language classes and private music lessons. Parents also face a sizable bill once their children reach university. At that stage, about 1.5 billion euros is spent from family budgets on rent and other living expenses, so high school graduates can enter tertiary education. Another 400 million euros is spent on textbooks and writing material. The research is based on data relating to 2008 and it is not yet clear what impact the economic crisis in Greece has had on the amounts that parents are able or willing to spend on their children’s education.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: American Marine Accused of Raping 7-Year-Old, Posting Images Online

Pisa, 29 May (AKI) — An American soldier was arrested by Italian police on Tuesday after allegedly making a video of his repeated rape of a seven-year-old girl and posting it online.

The 28-year-old marine sergeant from the US state of Florida was arrested by the Italian carabinieri military police and is being held at a prison in Pisa, in northeast Italy. The United States has the right to request his extradition.

The unnamed suspect was serving at Camp Darby between Pisa and Livorno in Italy’s Tuscany region. During a search of his home and office police found child pornography on his computer. The seven-year-old victim was the daughter of a friend.

The victim was identified by a teacher in Tuscany after Italian investigators worked on clues from a video such as images of a beach in Livorno and the alligator symbol of the University of Florida’s football team.

The US marines took part in the investigation.

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



Italy: Former Bank Head Arrested Over Loan Scandal

Milan, 29 May (AKI) — The former chairman of the Banca Popolare di Milano Massimo Ponzellini was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of bribery and granting irregular loans.

Ponzelli was placed under house arrest amid an investigation that bank executives received 5.7 million euros in bribes after they granted loans to a number of companies, a police statement said.

Ponzelli, who left the bank at the end of last year, is the chairman of the Milan-based construction company, Impregilo.

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



UK: Family Forced to Live With Pair of Doves Who Nested on the Floor in Their Living Room Because They Are a Protected Species

A family have been forced to live with a pair of doves who flew in through a window nested on their living room floor because they are a protected species and cannot be removed.

David and Angela Blackburn said the birds set themselves up a home inside their four-bedroom property in Nelson, Blackburn, after flying in without them realising.

The birds arrived with two eggs which have since hatched and they have now laid a second lot of eggs.

By law the family are unable to touch the nest — even though the doves have covered their property in their waste and feathers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Students at Top Oxford College Refuse to Hang Picture of the Queen Because Doing So Would Promote Elitism

Students at Oxford University have been branded ‘unpatriotic hypocrites’ after they refused to hang a portrait of the Queen — because she was ‘born into privilege’.

Undergraduates at Keble College wanted to spend £200 on a picture of Her Majesty to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

But college members — whose alumni include the Duke of Kent’s grandson Edward Windsor — voted against the portrait because it promoted elitism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Turkish Killer Who Slaughtered Wife and Mother in Law is Jailed for 36 Years

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A Turkish man, who knifed to death his new bride and mother-in-law in a prolonged and vicious attack, was today jailed for 36 years.

Ensar Gol, 22, grinned in court again as he was jailed to two life sentences a day after he smirked at being told he would be going to prison for a long time.

There were cheers in court when he was told of his fate by High Court Judge Mr Justice Supperstone.

Gol repeatedly stabbed Michala, his wife of six months, as she lay sleeping in their bed in Thame, Oxfordshire, because he was unhappy in the marriage.

Michala’s mother Julie Sahin, who was watching television downstairs with a friend, rushed up to find Gol perched over her daughter repeatedly plunging the knife into her neck.

As she tried to pull Gol away, she slipped to the floor where she was set upon in a frenzied attack. A post-mortem examination revealed the two women had been stabbed around 70 times.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Kosovo: From June 1: Cars With Serbian Number-Plates Banned

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA/BELGRADE, MAY 29 — Kosovo’s Interior Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, has today announced that as from June first this year, cars with Serbian number plates that refer to areas within Kosovo will no long be permitted to use the highways. Speaking on local television, the Minister stressed that vehicles have to be re-registered with Kosovo’s registration centre by this date. Those failing to comply will have their cars impounded by the police. There will be no further extensions, the Minister said, pointing out how the registration number provision is part of the accords concerning freedom of movement reached with Brussels over past months as part of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Initially, the deadline for new registration had been set at December 31 2011, but it has been extended several times.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Alarm Over Counterfeit Sunscreen

No protection from UV rays, harmful to skin

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 31 — The issue of counterfeit and therefore potentially harmful sunscreens being sold is taking on the contours of a true emergency in Algeria. As is only natural with the arrival of summertime, sales of this type of product increase and many (attracted by low prices and taken in by deceitful labels) buy them especially in the market stalls along the streets and on the sidewalks — where, however, most of the sunscreens are counterfeit and therefore provide no protection, even putting the health of those using them at risk. Algerian authorities have launched a number of alarms against the problem, which cannot however be dealt with effectively due to the current regulations not requiring (unlike with medicines) that the packaging report the composition of the product, making it easy to sell those entirely lacking in any sort of protection for buyers. The latter are taken in by the fact that these products offer carry the labels of widely known brands, but which have absolutely nothing in common with them. However, the real problem is that these sunscreens, or those claiming to be sunscreens, do not only not offer any protection against UV rays but are also harmful to the skin of those making even occasional use of them. And, understandably, appeals for caution fall on deaf ears if the buyer is impressed by the fact that the product is being offered at a cost which is 5-6 times lower than that of the original. The government is trying to react through its peripheral branches. For example, in Oran products like sunscreens account for 60% of counterfeited goods confiscated by customs officials, with most coming from China. It is an enormous market which sparks greediness in speculators, who of course brush off any qualms over effects to the buyers’ health. But Algeria is not equipped to handle such an emergency. One need only think of the numerous small markets of small towns, where itinerant vendors come, set out their wares and sell them without any checks, to then pack up and leave. Laboratories for analysis are especially lacking, the only facilities able to carry out the necessary checks on product quality. More in general, this type of check is not enough, as seen in a survey in which it is claimed that Algeria, along with China and Russia, Russia and China, is the country with the lowest level of anti-counterfeiting measures. The survey’s source is a highly reliable one: an agency of the US government, the USTR, tasked with fighting counterfeiting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Egypt’s Mubarak Gets Life in Prison for Murder of Protesters

CAIRO — Toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison Saturday for complicity in the murder of hundreds of anti-government protesters, ending a raucous trial that impassioned the Arab world and shook autocratic regimes across the region.

The verdict stunned this emotionally battered nation and spurred cheers from cities to distant villages. Mubarak and Habib Adli, his former interior minister, who was also sentenced to life, listened to their fates from behind the mesh of a defendants’ cage. Sitting on a stretcher, Mubarak, dressed in a striped shirt and beige jacket, was stone-faced behind dark sunglasses.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


The Patriotism of Palestinianism

Each century brings forth its own patriots. Once upon a time we had Patrick Henry, today we have Senator Patrick Leahy, who declared in the Senate that his opposition to an amendment that would distinguish how much of the UNRWA’s funding goes to actual refugees versus fake refugees was a patriotic act.

“I always look at what is in the United States’ interest first and foremost, and this would hurt the United States’ interests,” Senator Leahy stated firmly. It is of course difficult to find as compelling a national interest as the UNRWA, a refugee agency created exclusively for the benefit of five million Arabs, approximately 30,000 of whom are actual refugees, but all of whom hate the United States.

Senator Leahy, who could not discover a national interest in the Balanced Budget Amendment, drilling for oil in ANWR or detaining Muslim terrorists, all of which he voted against; finally discovered a binding national interest 5,500 miles away in Jordan, where “refugee camps” like Baqa’a (pop. 80,000), which are virtually indistinguishable from local towns and cities, complete with block after block of residential homes, stores and markets, multi-story office buildings, schools, hospitals and assorted infrastructure, must not be looked at too closely.

[…]

Senator Mark Kirk’s heretical proposal to begin reforming the UNRWA by distinguishing between people who could have some claim on being refugees from the vast majority who cannot, met with Leahy’s declaration that; “Frankly, Mr. Chairman, as a member of this committee, I always look at what is in the United States’ interest first and foremost, and this would hurt the United States’ interests.”

[…]

Where exactly is the compelling national interest in standing behind the UNRWA’s 1.23 billion dollar biennial budget, and not just the budget, but a refusal to reform the methodology for accounting where all that money is going to? Before Washington D.C. cuts another quarter-of-a-billion dollar check to one of the biggest wastes of money in an organization that excels at wasting money, even more than D.C., it’s entirely sensible to ask whom the money is going to and how long we will be making out these checks?

There are currently five million people living off the UNRWA dole. Sooner or later there will be fifty million. Jordan’s government has done everything possible to inflate the UNRWA welfare rolls and keep cities like Baqa’a and their people on the Western dole. One day the Jordanian government, the British-appointed monarchy ruling over the original Palestinian state, may decide to give up the farce and put all their people on the UNRWA rolls as refugees. And we’ll have to keep on paying without asking any questions—after all, it is in our “national interest”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



The Reign of the Fantasists

State Department supporting a policy regarding Palestinian refugees that is both factually absurd and deeply hostile to Israel.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has done it again. Speaking on Wednesday at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Barak warned that if Israel can’t cut a deal with the Palestinians soon, it should consider surrendering Judea and Samaria in exchange for nothing.

Even the diehard leftists in the media had a hard time swallowing his words. After all, when Barak was premier, he oversaw Israel’s unilateral surrender of south Lebanon in 2000. Barak promised that by giving Hezbollah south Lebanon, Israel would force the Iranian proxy army to disarm and behave like a Western political party.

[…]

In Obama’s fantasy world, Erdogan is a great ally of the US. The fact that Erdogan has redefined Turkey away from the West and towards Tehran and the Muslim Brotherhood; rendered incoherent NATO’s strategic mission; ended Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel; used advanced US arms to kill Kurdish civilians, and threatens war in the eastern Mediterranean over natural gas deposits that do not belong to him is irrelevant. All that matters is the fantasy that Erdogan is America’s friend. And since Obama embraces this fantasy, he subcontracted the formation of the Turkish opposition to Erdogan.

Lo and behold, the opposition Erdogan established was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. And now, according to a report by Jacques Neriah from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Syrian opposition is dominated not only by the Muslim Brotherhood, but increasingly by al-Qaida. So whereas a year ago the US had an opportunity to build and shepherd into power a multiethnic, pro-Western Syrian opposition, in the throes of his fantasies about Iran and Turkey, Obama squandered the opportunity. As a result, today we are faced with the grim reality that the world might be safer leaving Assad alone than intervening to overthrow him.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Far East


China Arrests Top Security Official on Suspicion of Spying for U.S. In ‘Greatest Breach of State Intelligence for Two Decades’

A top Chinese state security official has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the U.S., sources have claimed.

It is a case both countries have kept quiet for several months as they strive to prevent a fresh crisis in relations.

The official, an aide to a vice minister in China’s security ministry, was arrested and detained early this year on allegations he had passed information to the U.S. for several years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Eco-Guiltology and the Yeosu Declaration

You’ve heard it all before. In 1982, British atmospheric chemist James Lovelock expounded the basis for sustainability in an Oxford Press publication. Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis warned that, unless humans halt their technical assault on Earth, she cannot heal herself and, for that reason, faces destruction. You see, Gaia-Mother Earth (oceans included) is perceived as a living, interconnected eco-system. For damages inflicted, she deserves human apology; and a “world brain,” consisting of the United Nations and its agencies, will see to it.[1]

To this end, more than one hundred countries and international organizations are expected in Yeosu, South Korea, from May 12 to August 12 for EXPO 2012, international exposition recognized by the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE). Marine biology takes center stage at Expo 2012, where some eight million visitors are gathering to stick it to industry for ravaging the sea. By promoting a new, post-Kyoto vision of international cooperation, the Yeosu Declaration leaps previously established boundaries by advancing its own brand of eco-guiltology.

[…]

Opposed by former President Ronald Reagan as the cornerstone of a Marxist-oriented New International Economic Order, the UNCLOS establishes an international legal regime, complete with a global court to govern activities on, over, and under seven-tenths of the world’s surface. Provisions of the treaty permit international rules and regulations to govern economic and industrial activities on the remaining land area of the world in order to combat global warming and other perceived pollution dangers.[6]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



North Korea Murders Its Own Officials

Just what is a rogue, all-powerful government capable of doing to its own citizens? What about its own officials? The answer lies in North Korea, the Stalinist state that has been ruled by a succession of power-mad dictators who seem to have gotten more brutal as the lineage progresses.

Amnesty International, in a recent report on the human rights records of scores of nations, found that last year the North Korean government “purged” — that is, got rid of — at least 30 of its own government officials, while an additional 200 were rounded up by the State Security Service in January as a precaution ahead of the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il, who died of an apparent heart attack in December, and his 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.

And the supposed wrong-doings of these 30 officials? High crimes and treason? Planning to overthrow the regime?

Nothing so compelling or serious. They were killed because they engaged in failed talks with South Korea — talks that, by the way, would never have taken place in this authoritarian state without the permission of the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il, himself.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Immigration


EU Report: 20.2 Million Legal Immigrants

68% believe they should enjoy same rights as EU citizens

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — There are 20.2 million third-country immigrants legally in the European Union, equal to about 4% of the total population of the EU-27 (502.5 million) and 9.4% of the estimated 214 million recognised regular migrants worldwide. This is one of the figures of the 2011 figures on migration, asylum and freedom of movement in the EU presented today by the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom. The commission’s report underscored the importance of migration on the European agenda for the growth of a continent with an aging population. “Even with an unemployment rate of around 10%,” claims the report, “many member states do not have a sufficient labour force and capacity in a number of sectors and for different reasons.” In a Eurobarometer survey accompanying the survey, 68% of Europeans think that legal immigrants should enjoy the same rights as European citizens. However, only 42% feel that immigration should be encouraged to deal with the demographic slide and gaps in the labour force, while 46% hold the opposite opinion. Only 53% of Europeans think that immigration enrich the countries receiving it at the cultural and economic level. As concerns illegal immigration, in 2011 access to the European Union was denied to 343,000 people (-13% compared with 2010) and 468,000 were stopped after having managed to enter illegally (compared with 505,000 in 2010). In the eyes of 80% of Europeans, the EU should increase assistance to countries like Italy and Malta to deal with illegal immigration, and 78% think that the costs should be shared out among members of the EU-27.

Last year asylum requests rose to 302,000, a 16.2% increase over 2010, but still well below the peak of 425,000 in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Boobs on Display

Two members of the Washington Air National Guard are in hot water—and deservedly so, from our perspective.

Senior Airman Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Staff Sergeant Christina Luna were recently photographed breast-feeding their young children. So the Air Guard (and the Air Force) have a problem with breast-feeding? You might say they do—but only if military women do it in uniform, and allow themselves to be photographed, in support of an organization that promotes breast-feeding. It’s not the act that landed the women in trouble—it’s using their uniform to promote a cause, as a public affairs officer told Air Force Times:…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]



How Far Up at Bank of America Do They Dislike Guns?

In April of this year, Kelly McMillan learned that his companies had become too active making firearms. His companies are McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing and McMillan Group International.

On April 19, 2012 a Bank of America (BoA) Senior Vice President, Ray Fox, visited McMillan at his office. Fox had scheduled the meeting as an “account analysis” meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit McMillan’s companies have with BoA. Fox went on for about five minutes talking about how McMillan had changed in the last five years, becoming more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.

McMillan told him: “At this point I interrupted him and asked, ‘Can I possibly save you some time so that you don’t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer want my business?’“

“That is correct,” Fox replied.

“That is okay,” McMillan replied. “We will move our accounts as soon as possible. We can find a Second Amendment friendly bank that will be glad to have our business. You won’t mind if I tell the NRA, SCI and everyone I know that BoA is not firearms friendly?”

“You have to do what you must,” Fox said.

“So, you are telling me this is a politically motivated decision, is that right,” McMillan asked?

Fox confirmed that BoA’s decision was based on their dislike of firearms.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Ontario’s War on Religion and Parental Freedom

It is perhaps ironic that legislation purporting to combat bullying is being advanced by the biggest bully of them all — government — as the progressives in Ontario are busy drafting Bill 13 to force Catholic schools to set-up “gay-straight alliance clubs” within their institutions.

The Ontario government already compels conscientious Christian parents to pay twice for their children’s education, but this latest attack on religious freedom signals an ever-growing and disturbing intolerance and totalitarianism which should be of grave concern to all freedom-loving Canadians.

Recall the case of Jessie Sansome, the 26-year-old Kitchener father of four who was summarily arrested and strip searched while his children were seized by family services and his home ransacked by armed police. The entire incident resulted from overzealous school officials over reacting to his four-year-old daughter drawing a man with a gun in her kindergarten class. No charges were laid and Sansome was freed and reunited with his children after being detained for several hours. As disturbing as this case is, comments and reaction from government and school officials after the fact exacerbate the seriousness of the situation.

[…]

Statists and progressives seek to utterly control and dominate every aspect of our lives, be it the cars we drive, the foods we eat, the appliances we use, how much power we consume, which doctor cares for us or who we can hire if we are an employer. Even our thoughts and speech are controlled according to whichever politically correct view suits the current and temporary upstart politician looking for re-election. But when the state imposes and interjects itself between us, our children and our God, we must draw an impassable line. To utterly submit to a state that seeks to dominate our bodies, minds and spirit — as Marxist ideology seeks to do — is to surrender our fundamental freedom, morality and spirituality to suit a superficial and ideologically driven agenda. Such a mindset runs contrary to any measure of human rights and dignity, not only on a common sense or empirical level, but also according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; a document which purports to protect individual freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of thought, belief, expression and opinion, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120601

Financial Crisis
» Chinese Manufacturing Shows Further Decline
» Ireland Backs EU Treaty With 60.3 Pct ‘Yes’ Vote
» Jobs Slowdown Adds to Global Fears
» Romney, GOP Pounce on Dismal May Jobs Report
» Sharp Slowdown in Asia Sounds Ominous Warning
» Stocks Down More Than 2% at Close on Weak Jobs Report
 
USA
» 45 All-American Muslim Men Share Personal Stories of Faith, Family, And Patriotism
» Basketball a Slam-Dunk for Area Muslims
» Jihad in Seattle
» Muslim Council Reassigns Fiery Houston Imam at Members’ Urging
» Obama Continued, Accelerated Use of Bush-Era Stuxnet Computer Attacks on Iran
» President Obama’s Muslim Tendencies
» The New Face of Muslim American Leadership
 
Europe and the EU
» Bulgarian Culture Minister Seeks Urgent Repair of Quake-Hit Sofia Mosque
» EU Institutions: The New Brussels Aristocracy
» German President Backs Off From Predecessor’s Pro-Islam Line
» German President Under Fire Over Questionable Islam Remarks
» Greece: Last Official Polls, Battle Between New Democracy and Syriza
» Greece: Brussels Approves 181 Mln for Motorway Stretch
» Malmström Wants End to “Anti-Immigration Rhetoric”
» Norway: Experts Cast Doubt on Breivik’s Sanity
» ‘Polish Camps’: Obama Writes to the President to Apologize
» Sweden: Girl Found Hanged in Tree Near Stockholm
» UK: A Banned Words List for Our Commenters
» UK: Britain Prepares for Left-Field Diamond Jubilee
» UK: Bailiffs Raid Hindu Temple as Priests Refuse to Move Out for Travelodge
» UK: Community Praised in Wake of Demo
» UK: Hitting the Union Jackpot With Jubilee Merchandise
» UK: Half of Britons Want Prince of Wales to Stand Aside in Favour of Duke of Cambridge
» UK: Luton Sikh-Muslim Protest: ‘Positive’ Police Meeting
» UK: Muslim School Planned for City ‘Will Produce a Lost Generation’
» UK: Polygamy in Islam: The Women Victims of Multiple Marriage
» UK: Plans for a £10m Hindu Temple in Northampton Approved
» UK: Salford Appoints Assistant Mayor for Humanegement
 
North Africa
» Coptic Bishop Advises Women in Egypt to Dress Modestly Like ‘Muslims and St. Mary’
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: The Reign of the Fantasists
 
Middle East
» Aid Policy: Making Muslim Aid More Effective
» Iraq: Baghdad’s Energy Auctions Flop
» Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran
» Syria: Remember Bosnia, Seedbed of Radical Islam
» The Arab Spring Was No Prelude to Democracy
» Turkish Pianist Charged With Insulting Islam
 
South Asia
» Malaysia: Matta: Non-Muslims Welcome to Join Islamic Tours
 
Australia — Pacific
» Obituary: Alan Thorne
» Planning Underway for Horsham Mosque
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Muslims Blame Ethiopian Government for Messing in Mosques
 
Immigration
» Schengen: Europeans Preparing to Lock Down Borders With Greece
 
General
» Cases of ‘Truman Show’ Delusions on the Rise as More People Believe They’re the Stars of Their Own Reality TV Programs
» Crusader Kings 2 Sword of Islam Expansion Announced, Will Let You Side With Saladin

Financial Crisis


Chinese Manufacturing Shows Further Decline

The PMI fell to 50.4 for the month of May. Forecast drop to 52.2. For months state and private industries have been hard hit, with warehouses full of unsold products. In Hong Kong sale of luxury products down by 5%. Doubts about a new aid package.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) — With a lower figure than expected, China’s PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) in May was 50.4, the lowest this year, a further signal that the second world economy is slowing.

The PMI index signals industrial activity: a value below 50 indicates contraction; above growth. China’s PMI in April was 53.3, and many experts had predicted a decline to only 52.2.

The official PMI is calculated mainly with an eye to the large state-owned industries. What is quite certain is that private industry — less subsidized and protected — are in a major crisis. The PMI calculated by HSBC shows that these industries have marked a decline for at least seven months.

The slowdown in China is also making waves in Hong Kong, where retail sales — especially of luxury goods, operated by wealthy rich Chinese — were down 5% on annual average.

Investors always hope in the government’s decision to launch a new aid package for the economy, but many Chinese experts have warned Beijing not to provoke risky asset price bubbles and higher inflation.

According to analysts, the PMI will drop even more because the Chinese manufacturing industries have warehouses full of unsold products due to the overproduction of recent years.

The same analysts predict that in 2012 the growth in China will be a 7.9, the lowest since 2009, when it reached 8% after years of double digit growth.

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



Ireland Backs EU Treaty With 60.3 Pct ‘Yes’ Vote

DUBLIN — Ireland’s voters have agreed to ratify the European Union’s deficit-fighting treaty with a resounding 60.3 percent “yes” vote, final referendum results Friday showed, but government leaders and pro-treaty campaigners alike expressed relief rather than joy.

The treaty’s approval, after weeks of nervousness in Dublin and Brussels, relieves some pressure on EU financial chiefs as they battle to contain the eurozone’s debt crisis. But critics said the tougher deficit rules would do nothing to stimulate desperately needed growth in bailed-out Ireland, Portugal and Greece, nor stop Spain or Italy from requiring aid too.

“The question now is where will the jobs and the stability they have promised come from, against the backdrop of a continuing and deepening capitalist crisis within Europe?” said Joe Higgins, leader of Ireland’s Socialist Party, which opposed the treaty. “Their policies will only make the situation worse.”

The result of Thursday’s referendum represented a surprisingly strong victory for the government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny, which courted unpopularity by insisting that Ireland — already four years into a brutal austerity program that has slashed 15 percent from many workers’ incomes — had no choice but to vote in support of yet more cuts and tax hikes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Jobs Slowdown Adds to Global Fears

U.S. job growth slowed sharply in May, a sign of a sputtering recovery that may increase pressure on the Federal Reserve to prop up the economy. Nonfarm payrolls grew by a lackluster 69,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday, the smallest gain in a year. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, ticked higher by one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.2%, the first increase since June 2011.

“This is what a jobless recovery looks like,” said Nomura Securities economist Jeffrey Greenberg. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a gain of 155,000 in payrolls and for the jobless rate to remain at 8.1%.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Romney, GOP Pounce on Dismal May Jobs Report

A distressing May employment report — with the fewest number of new jobs created in a year, as unemployment rose to 8.2 percent — elicited swift criticism of President Obama by Republican leaders and presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as each hammered home their election-year message: The president has had three years to create more jobs and revive the U.S. economy — and he’s “failed.”

“Today’s weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families,” Romney said. “It is now clear to everyone that President Obama’s policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America’s middle class.”

Earlier Friday, House Speaker John Boehner said the president’s “failed policies have made high unemployment and a weak economy the sad new normal for families and small businesses.”

He was joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who declared, “The American people really deserved better… and under new leadership I believe we can do better.”

Democrats were quick to defend the president.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sharp Slowdown in Asia Sounds Ominous Warning

Manufacturing activity in China and across a wide swath of Asia slowed in May, heightening fears that the turmoil in Western economies is dragging down one of the few remaining engines of global growth. Two purchasing managers indexes for China fell in May, briefly rattling investors Friday and stoking speculation Beijing may have to respond aggressively to support growth. Indonesia posted its first trade deficit in nearly two years, and South Korea’s exports, considered a bellwether for Asia, unexpectedly fell for a third straight month.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Stocks Down More Than 2% at Close on Weak Jobs Report

Stocks ended the day sharply lower on Friday after the latest jobs data in the United States provided evidence that the economy was still struggling.

At the close, the Standard & Poorâ€(tm)s 500-stock index was down 2.5 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average was off about 275 points. The dayâ€(tm)s decline pushed the Dow negative for the year so far.

[Return to headlines]

USA


45 All-American Muslim Men Share Personal Stories of Faith, Family, And Patriotism

Who are American Muslim men? What do they think, do, and say? New Book Introduces 45 All-American Muslim Men whose stories shatter the misconceptions surrounding American Muslim men.

Ashland, OR (PRWEB) May 31, 2012 For far too long, the story of American Muslims has been told by others; rarely do American Muslim men emerge as protagonists of their own narratives, representing their religion or depicted in a way other than as violent extremists, misogynists, and irrational, angry, bearded brown men. That situation is changing with the release on June 1st of “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Basketball a Slam-Dunk for Area Muslims

Echoing over the sound of bouncing basketballs, screeching sneakers and “halal” (permissible) trash talk, comes the Islamic call to worship, beckoning mosque-goers to the evening prayer at Bear Creek’s Mustafa Mosque. Beards dripping with sweat, the players clean up before heading inside — a physical and spiritual respite from the demanding game. The scene is a common one in Houston, where basketball has gained momentum as the sport of choice for Muslims. Hoops outnumber minarets in the city’s more than two dozen mosques, many of which have full-size basketball courts.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Jihad in Seattle

Last week, Michael D. McCright, a.k.a. Mikhial Jihad, a previously convicted felon from the north Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, pled guilty to lesser charges in a case involving his attempt to force a government vehicle carrying two Marines off the road and cause a collision on an interstate highway in Seattle. The incident occurred on July 12, 2011 and resulted in McCright’s arrest in Seattle on Sept. 8. McCright is linked to another American jihadist who plotted a suicide attack against Marines.

According to the Seattle PI, the Marine staff sergeant in the car targeted by McCright told police that the suspect’s “eyes widened and he appeared to become angry” when he saw the uniformed men, and that shortly thereafter McCright deliberately swerved his car into the path of their vehicle, forcing it off the road, then stopped right in front of it.

Court documents filed following McCright’s arrest indicate he has links with at least one of two men accused of plotting a suicide attack on a south Seattle Marine processing and intake center. The deputy prosecutor in McCright’s case said that McCright’s cell phone was used three times to call Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a Des Moines, Wa., resident who is being held along with Walli Mujahidh, of Los Angeles; the calls from McCright’s phone were made prior to the July 22, 2011 arrests of Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh. The FBI decided to continue to investigate McCright’s possible links to domestic terrorism. And according to KING5 news, “[a] federal criminal justice source said the FBI had McCright on their radar even before the July 12 road rage incident.”…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]



Muslim Council Reassigns Fiery Houston Imam at Members’ Urging

A Houston imam whose frequently strange and paranoid sermons drew the ire of many young Muslims in recent months has been reassigned and will no longer preach at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, though he remains a full-time employee. “To avoid controversy, we reassigned him,” said Aziz Siddiqi, the organization’s president. As the only paid full-time imam at the organization’s main center mosque near West Alabama and Kirby Drive, Omar Inshanally was often the face of one of the largest Islamic community groups in the nation. Over the past several months, critics said the 57-year-old Guyana native’s sermons spiralled into delusional rants including accusing the government of dumping fluoride into the water “to control populations” and propagating “fringe” Internet conspiracy theories.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama Continued, Accelerated Use of Bush-Era Stuxnet Computer Attacks on Iran

Since taking office, President Obama has ordered attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, expanding the United States’ use of cyber weapons, according to the New York Times.

Participants in the Stuxnet program told the newspaper it significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyber weapons and that the attacks began during the Bush administration under the code name Olympic Games.

The attacks continued and even accelerated after an element of the program accidentally became public in 2010 as a result of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet.

The Times story also details a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” in which Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



President Obama’s Muslim Tendencies

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 — It’s no secret that President Barack Obama has a problem accepting responsibility for anything negative that happens in his administration.

This is one of the traits that make many people suspicious about his ties to Islam. While the president may not be a practicing Muslim, it is clear that his past and his background provide him with strong Islamic tendencies which are easily supported through his own words as well as many of his actions. Among the more obvious examples is bowing to the Saudi royal family, the yellow drape at his press conferences which contains Islamic symbols and citing passages from the Koran in some of his speeches.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



The New Face of Muslim American Leadership

According to a recently released study about American religious membership, Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. What many Americans may not realise is that as this group grows its religious leadership is also rapidly evolving. When it comes to Jews and Christians, the congregational leader — the rabbi or priest — serves multiple roles. They are leaders of religious life, serving as congregational organizers and worship leaders. But unlike rabbis and priests in the United States, imams don’t tend to serve in pastoral care capacities such as visiting the sick and the elderly, counseling, and leading programs for youth.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Bulgarian Culture Minister Seeks Urgent Repair of Quake-Hit Sofia Mosque

Bulgaria’s Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, is on an urgent quest to find funds to repair the Sofia mosque, which was damaged by the May 22 earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale. The Minister, who is from ethnic Turkish background, personally inspected the damage Thursday. The building has several long cracks in its foundation reaching the walls. Some are old, but some are the result of the last week tremors. Rashidov informs he has already spoken with his colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who is also in charge of the Consultative Council on Disasters, to discuss measures that need to be undertaken. “This is a national historical site and we must act immediately,” the Culture Minister says. The Banya Bashi Mosque (Banya Baþý Camii) is the only functioning mosque in Sofia, a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria that lasted nearly five centuries, and is used by the city’s Muslim community.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



EU Institutions: The New Brussels Aristocracy

Uwazam Rze , 28 May 2012

“Where will the Eurozjady (a Polish neologism combining “European” and “Parasite”) lead us?”, wonders conservative weekly Uwazam Rze writing on the “caste” employed by EU institutions. Not only do they enjoy abundance — extraordinarily high salaries, reimbursements, allowances and golden handshakes, they also claim that they do it for “the good of all of us — Europeans”…

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



German President Backs Off From Predecessor’s Pro-Islam Line

Joachim Gauck, the German president, upset Muslim groups Thursday with a newspaper interview in which he rejected his predecessor’s view that Islam now has roots in Germany.

Berlin (dpa) — Conservative groups were incensed when Christian Wulff, who was president at the time, used Germany’s national day in October 2010 to say that “Christianity belongs in Germany without any doubt. Judaism belongs without any doubt. But now, Islam belongs too.” In an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Gauck, who was visiting the Palestinian territories, disagreed. “I would have simply said the Muslims who live here belong in Germany,” he said, adding that while he could not concur with Wulff’s phrasing, “I accept his intention” about urging Germans to adapt to reality. “The reality is that many Muslims live in this country,” said Gauck, a retired Lutheran pastor who replaced Wulff in March. The interview took place before Gauck left for Israel and the West Bank.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



German President Under Fire Over Questionable Islam Remarks

Berlin, Jun 1, IRNA — Germany’s Muslim leaders slammed the nation’s president, Joachim Gauck for saying Islam had no roots in Germany, press reports said here Friday.

Reacting to Gauck’s controversial comments, Aiman Mayzek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, one of four main Islamic groups, said, “The European occident clearly has a Muslim, oriental basis. People who deny this falsify history.” He called on the president to “accept our pluralism,” saying “such signals are extremely important for a president” to give at a time when an Islamophobic mood was spreading. Mazyek’s statements were echoed by the head of Germany’s Turkish community, Kenan Kolat who urged Gauck “to read the history books.” “Islam belongs to the history of Europe and Germany. Among historians there is no doubt about this whatsoever,” he added.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Greece: Last Official Polls, Battle Between New Democracy and Syriza

Result uncertain ahead of vote, euro exit fears increasing

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 1 — Two weeks before the elections in Greece of June 17, the outcome could not be more uncertain. The latest polls released today give first place to New Democracy (centre-right and pro-memorandum party led by Antonis Samaras) or the party’s direct opponent, Syriza (far-left party, strongly opposed to the agreements closed by Greece with its international creditors, led by Alexis Tsipras). Fear is spreading of the country leaving the euro if Syriza wins the election. Alexis Tsipras, has officially presented his party’s programme in Athens, pledging a clampdown on tax evasion, and annulment of the Memorandum and its accompanying application laws, to be replaced by a National Recovery Plan for economic and social development, the productive restructuring of the country and a just fiscal streamlining. Also in the plan, the nationalization of Greek banks, many of which were just recapitalized. In order to save the Memorandum, press sources report, former Premier Lucas Papademos — after the inconclusive elections held on May 6 — has asked European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to take a clear stance regarding Greece’s position in the eurozone. Barroso responded immediately: “If a member of the club fails to obey the rules,” he pointed out, “it is better that this member leaves the club.” The four polls carried out in the past days show that only two parties are fighting for victory: Syriza is rising in the polls, while New Democracy is struggling to get the support of moderate voters. According to the survey carried out by Public Issue for the newspaper Kathimerini, Syriza is leading with 31.5%, followed by New Democracy with 25.5% of preferences. But another poll, carried out by the firm Marc for private television station Alpha, gives New Democracy 28.8% and Syriza 27% of preferences.

Analysts agree that these figures are too far apart to be reliable. The same polls do agree however that Pasok is falling rapidly, with people who used to vote for the party now shifting further to the left, to Syriza, leaving the socialist party of former Premier Giorgio Papandreou behind. The polls also predict that the smaller parties, the Communist Party of Greece, the Democratic Left, Independent Greeks and Chrysi Avgi, will all take a few seats in Parliament. According to observers, the results of the upcoming ballot could change Greece’s political stage drastically. The Communist Party (KKE) may choose a new leadership if the party continues to lose votes, as the polls expect. The same is true for New Democracy in case the party loses its first position, or Pasok if it falls below the result of May 6 (13.18%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greece: Brussels Approves 181 Mln for Motorway Stretch

Total cost 232.43 mln

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 1 — The European Commission today approved the allocation of around 181 million euros for the construction of a stretch of motorway in Greece which will connect the Aktio area to the country’s north-south axis. The project, totalling 48.5km of road, is part of the Ten-T trans-European transport network which will cost a total of 232.43 million euros; 77,83% of this sum — 180.9 million euros — will be funded by the European Union through the regional development fund.

“This is an emblematic infrastructure project that will benefit the Greek economy,” said EU commissioner for regional policies Johannes Hahn. “Our joint efforts to solve the financial and technical problems are starting to pay off and similar projects will contribute to improving the living conditions of the Greek population, creating immediate job opportunities.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Malmström Wants End to “Anti-Immigration Rhetoric”

Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has approached home affairs ministers a week before their Council meeting in Luxembourg with a Eurobarometer survey, which widely supports her positions on legal and illegal immigration and the management of the Schengen area.

“Political leaders should put an end to anti-immigration rhetoric, which is becoming more and more widespread,” the commissioner told the press, since, as emphasised by a report published by Malmström’s services on 1 June (see Europolitics4434), “immigration is here to stay and will probably increase in the future”. Before the end of the year, the Commission wants to launch a broad consultation on the role of the EU in promoting the “opportunity” provided by immigrant workers.

The report takes stock of legal immigration and asylum figures, and estimated immigration in 2011. These subjects will be at the heart of discussions at the Home Affairs Council, on 7 June, in the context of two reforms: the asylum package, creating an asylum regime for 2012, and the reform of the management of the Schengen system of lifting border controls between European countries.

On asylum, the Commission wants to encourage greater solidarity between member states, and according to the Eurobarometer survey, European citizens agree: eight out of ten Europeans think the number of asylum seekers should be more equally shared within the EU. However, recalled the commissioner, currently only ten countries — France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Poland — deal with 90% of asylum seekers. “Seventeen countries could therefore do a lot more,” said Malmström.

Negotiations between the European Parliament, Council and Commission should now move forward, since member states have obtained two of their requests: the maintaining in its current state of the Dublin system of returning asylum seekers to the member state where they entered the EU, and the granting of access to Eurodac (a database containing the fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants intercepted at EU borders) to national police.

Malmström highlights that problems remain in the areas of detention, the definition of family, legal appeals, the treatment of children and accelerated procedures within airports, but she said: “I am convinced that with a last push, we can get there”.

Turkey: Slow progress

On illegal immigration, 80% of Europeans support the idea of the EU providing increased assistance to member states with high levels of illegal immigration, such as Greece. However, any aid granted to Athens will largely depend on talks with Turkey regarding a re-admission agreement for illegal immigrants, and these negotiations remain unresolved — although the commissioner has indicated that there has been “some progress”.

Frontex, the European agency responsible for the surveillance of external borders, signed a draft agreement with Turkey based on “practical cooperation” on risk analysis, training, research and development, on 28 May.

“We hope that cooperation will increase, since it is clear that in order to resolve the problem of migrants who pass through Turkey and arrive in Greece, we need cooperation with Turkey,” said the commissioner.

New beginning for Schengen

A letter on Schengen sent by the former French Minister of the Interior, Glaude Guéant, and his German counterpart, Hans-Peter Friedrich, is no longer on the table following the defeat of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the commissioner confirmed. The letter called for a return to border controls for 30 days or more in countries with weak external border controls.

While she has not yet had the chance to discuss the issue with the team of France’s new President, François Hollande, she highlighted that she will continue to defend the role of the Commission in decision making on any return to border controls.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Norway: Experts Cast Doubt on Breivik’s Sanity

A psychiatric evaluation concluding that Anders Behring Breivik was sane when he massacred 77 people last year in Norway was cast into doubt by a panel of experts on Friday.

The question of Breivik’s sanity has been a focal point of his 10-week trial, with the defendant not denying his actions while craving recognition of the right-wing extremist ideology that he says prompted the massacre.

The panel of experts was enlisted to assess the quality of two opposing conclusions, one by two court-appointed psychiatrists who last year found Breivik to be psychotic and therefore not responsible for his actions, and a second court-ordered evaluation that found him to be sane.

The experts approved the findings of the first exam, but found “major deficiencies” in the second opinion even after the two authors provided requested complementary information, according to a highly technical letter published on Friday.

Legal experts said the panel’s conclusion was neither a rejection nor an approval of the counter-expertise. In the panel’s letter, it stressed that “the questions put to the psychiatric experts … do not relate to their conclusion itself” but to the foundation they had built their conclusion on.

The opinion can nonetheless be considered weakened compared with the first expert evaluation, which is bad news for Breivik’s defence.

Breivik, 33, is intent on proving his sanity to ensure that his ideology — described as a crusade against multiculturalism and a pending “Muslim invasion” of Norway and Europe — not be written off as the rantings of a lunatic.

“We would of course have preferred that the panel had no objections concerning the second expert opinion,” Breivik’s main lawyer Geir Lippestad told AFP, while stressing that in the end it would be up to the five Oslo district court judges to decide which expert opinion to lend most weight when they come to their verdict next month.

Prosecutor Svein Holden meanwhile reiterated that he wanted to keep all doors open until the end of the trial, leaving open the possibility to request that Breivik be sent either to prison or to a closed psychiatric ward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



‘Polish Camps’: Obama Writes to the President to Apologize

(AGI) Warsaw — Barack Obama wrote a letter to Polish President Komorowski to apologize after gaffe on the “Polish death camps”. He used the expression when referring to a concentration camp established by the Nazi occupying forces. “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth”, wrote the US President. It was Koromowski himself that disclosed the content of the letter during a press conference and which he defined as a “necessary and very important gesture from a good ally and friend”. Poland is very sensitive on the issue of Nazi camps as they had 3 established on their territory (Auschwitz-Birkenau, Cracovia-Plaszow and Treblinka) and as they had a hard time dissipating the shadow of complicity in exterminating Jews. Obama admitted that he “inadvertently” used a wrong expression instead of saying “a Nazi extermination camp in Poland during the Nazi occupation” during the celebration of the Medal of Freedom awards in the memory of Jan Karski, a Pole who infiltrated the Warsaw ghetto to collect evidence of the Holocaust. “Many Poles risked their lives to save the Jews”, recalled the American President.

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



Sweden: Girl Found Hanged in Tree Near Stockholm

A 17-year-old girl was found hanging dead from a tree near Stockholm on Thursday in what police initially thought was a suicide but which is now being investigated as a murder. The girl, who was discovered by a passerby onThursday morning in Skärholmen, southern Stockholm, was hanging lifeless from a tree in a wooded area with a noose around her neck.

Police were initially convinced that the girl had committed suicide, however have since stated that they are now investigating the death as a possible murder, wrote the Aftonbladet newspaper.

After a closer inspection of the scene, police suspect the girl may have been murdered, and then set up in the tree to look like she committed suicide. “There are circumstances that lead us to suspect that there is a crime behind this,” said one of the investigators to Aftonbladet.

Investigators have told the paper that they are currently interviewing witnesses but that there are no suspects as of yet. The body of the 17-year-old has been taken to medical examiners in Solna, north of Stockholm, to determine the cause of death.

A friend of the deceased spoke out about the 17-year-old. “She was a really happy person,” the friend told the paper. “She was never sad, and I can’t imagine that she would have taken her own life.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: A Banned Words List for Our Commenters

by Tom Chivers

We here at the Telegraph , we happy few, we band of brothers, have a thing which we call the “style guide”. It prescribes the words which we are and are not allowed to use in our efforts to provide you, the reader, with the information you require to go about your daily lives. Within that style guide is a section called “banned words”. Among them are such dull cliche’s as “dog-whistle politics”, “fighting for his life”, or “breathtaking”. As you know I take an active interest in the below-the-line world of my posts, and I was thinking that perhaps it’s time to introduce something similar there, in an effort to keep the Telegraph Blogs comments section sparkling with the wit and originality we know it is capable of.

[…]

Frankfurt School/Agenda 21/Common Purpose: I literally don’t know what any of these things are

[…]

That’s just a start, of course. You may want to add some more (I imagine some wits will want to include the word “Islam” on it, in the spirit of satire, and I look forward to seeing it).

[…]

[Reader comment by Ed West on 1 June 2012 at about 10 am.]

[…] what am I going to write about?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Britain Prepares for Left-Field Diamond Jubilee

Bunting, sausage rolls and teacakes may be traditional Jubilee fare, but a raft of more quirky products are flying off retailers’ shelves as Britain is gripped by Diamond Jubilee fever.

Jelly moulds of the Queen’s face, royal garden gnomes and replicas of Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding tiara are selling in their thousands as people gear up for this weekend’s celebrations. Bumper sales of the unusual Jubilee trinkets come as households spend an estimated £420 million on food, drink, decorations and memorabilia in the run-up to the Jubilee. B&Q, the do-it-yourself retailer, said that it has sold 3,120 garden gnomes based on the Queen and Prince Philip since they went on sale last month.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Bailiffs Raid Hindu Temple as Priests Refuse to Move Out for Travelodge

Bailiffs have carried out a dawn raid on a Hindu temple, evicting priests and seizing its sacred contents. Backed up by the police, they moved in on the Sivayogam temple in Hebdon Road, Tooting, following a protracted legal dispute with owner Barrowfen Properties Ltd, which has plans to turn it into a Travelodge. Eleven priests sleeping in the building were evicted and the building sealed, preventing worshippers from entering or removing 16 gold and gem encrusted statues of gods said to be worth about £100,000. Founder and spiritual leader of the temple Nagendram Seevaratnam, 74, said: “It is the way they would have treated criminals. Everybody is devastated, people are crying. There is disgust on the face of the deities.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Community Praised in Wake of Demo

A LEADING figure from Redditch Mosque has praised residents for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the town’s Asian community following a demonstration by the English Defence League. Hafiz Ghulam Rasool, head of education at Central Jamia Masjid-E-Noor (Redditch Mosque Trust), expressed pride in the Redditch community, particularly the hundreds of people from all faiths and sections of society who joined a counter-demonstration against the 40 or so EDL members police estimate turned up to protest in Church Green on Saturday (May 26). “We know Redditch is a diverse community both cohesive and integrated with no racial tensions. Our Mosque members feel the people in Redditch generally are friendly, co-operative and supportive, making it a fabulous part of the Un ited Kingdom to live in. Together we need to unite against and resist, counter and refute these mongers of hate to maintain our exemplary social cohesion and keep our town free from their hatred and their scare mongering tactics,” he said. “Our appreciation goes out to all the people of Redditch community for their thoughtfulness and for many of them partaking in the much larger and peaceful counter demonstration with the most respectful and highly dignified conduct that is a tribute to all of us.” He added with the Diamond Jubilee, European Championships, Olympics and the month of Ramadhan coming up he hoped it would provide an ‘arc of unity’.

An event to celebrate Redditch’s diversity is also being planned. Kevin Dicks, chief executive of Redditch Borough Council who watched the largely peaceful protest unfold from West Mercia Police headquarters, said: “We have a really diverse community here in Redditch and one we are proud of. “We want to work with the community over the coming weeks and months to organise something that is a celebration of Redditch.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Hitting the Union Jackpot With Jubilee Merchandise

The Queen’s Jubilee has inspired more merchandise than the Olympics. Katie Law sifts through the corgis and crowns to find the real gems

It’s bigger business than last year’s royal wedding, not to mention this summer’s Olympics. The Queen, her corgi dogs and, more importantly, union flags are making millions this week for London’s retailers. While Diamond Jubilee bunting at John Lewis has sold out, M&S has had to re-order supplies of its corgi cushions and its Winston doorstop is its fastest, bestselling doorstop ever. We’re drowning in memorabilia, much of it the same old stuff repackaged in red, white and blue wi th a crown on it.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Half of Britons Want Prince of Wales to Stand Aside in Favour of Duke of Cambridge

Nearly half of Britons believe the Prince of Wales ought to step aside in favour of his eldest son, a poll revealed today.

The figures, published as the country prepares for a series of major events to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, show the scale of support for the idea that the succession should skip a generation to the Duke of Cambridge. The Duke and his wife are taking a central role at a service to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years on the throne and the poll demonstrates how their burgeoning popularity has led many in Britain to want William to be the next head of state. It shows the public to be evenly split about the idea of Charles stepping aside when the time comes — with 42% agreeing that he should, 44% disagreeing, and 14% saying they did not know.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Luton Sikh-Muslim Protest: ‘Positive’ Police Meeting

A “constructive” and “positive” meeting has been held between police and the Sikh and Muslim communities following a protest at a Luton police station.

The groups held talks on Wednesday after hundreds of Sikhs gathered at Buxton Road on Tuesday night. The protest was over allegations a Muslim man had assaulted a Sikh woman.

Police said officers were working with the two groups and wanted any concern about criminal activity to be reported.

‘Cultural sensitivities’

Speaking after the meeting, Sikh representative Jaswinder Singh Nagra said: “I think it was very constructive. We need to educate the police about our cultural sensitivities.” His thoughts were echoed by Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti, president of the Sunni Mosque Council in Luton, who was also at the meeting. “We will work together not only on this issue, but on all issues,” he told the BBC. “We have formed a working group with the Sikh community.” Bedfordshire Police Ch Supt Mike Colbourne said: “We want the public to report any issues, fears or concerns that they have.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Muslim School Planned for City ‘Will Produce a Lost Generation’

CONTROVERSY still surrounds the creation of a Muslim free school that is due to open in Derby in September. Opponents of the Al Madinah School claim that anyone objecting to the school and raising questions is subjected to intimidation and harassment.

They also say most of the city’s mosques have distanced themselves from the project, following concerns about the structure and direction of the school. Opposition spokesman Kamran Raja said: “This is a way of bringing independent Islamic education of children in Muslim communities under state control. “It will teach a secularised form of Islam, stripped of all rules and values, and reduced to a crude universal ethos and a few meaningless rituals. “The result will produce another lost generation who have little idea of their identity, lack basic values of halal or haram, discipline, respect or purpose, akin to the secular youths who participated in last summer’s riots and fill single parents’ estates across the country.”

Opposition parents are unhappy that the detailed proposals include celebrating Christian holidays, adopting a secular ethos, gender mixing, shirt and trouser uniforms and having a non-Muslim head and staff.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Polygamy in Islam: The Women Victims of Multiple Marriage

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family. But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married. Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy. A “devastated” Dr Shahian now wants to help other women who are victims of polygamous marriages — a practice a leading family lawyer says is “rife” within the British Muslim community.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Plans for a £10m Hindu Temple in Northampton Approved

Plans for a £10m development including a Hindu temple in Northampton have been approved by borough councillors.

The site off Lings way would include sports and leisure facilities, sheltered housing and the temple for Hindhu religious practices. The plans were initially submitted in 2010 and met opposition from residents over increases in traffic and parking. The Indian Hindu Welfare Organisation (IHWO) said it would now start fundraising for the project. Nikul Odedra, from the IHWO, said: “We’ve designed the building so that it is modern and eco-friendly. “The roof space will be made from green and organic material which will attract wildlife habitation. We will also use solar technology to heat and energise the building.” The IHWO said the building would also make use of geothermal technology to capture heat from the ground.

To answer concerns about traffic and parking in the area the IHWO said surveys had been done to check potential problems. Neelam Aggarwal from the IHWO said: “More than 50% of the Hindu population in Northampton live in this area so people will be able to walk to the temple.” The IHWO said building would begin in 2013 and be completed in 2014.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Salford Appoints Assistant Mayor for Humanegement

The impetus behind the referendum to approve a directly elected Mayor for Salford was to have lower Council Tax. But Ian Stewart, the Labour candidate for the resulting who was elected last month, has got off to a disturbing start. The Daily Mail reports that he has recruited not only a deputy mayor but 13 assistant mayors. The new assistant mayors will get allowances of between £9,000 and £14,600. The previous arrangement in Salford was also pretty top heavy with a Cabinet of 17 members. So, in fairness to Mr Stewart, he has hasn’t pushed the allowances costs up — but one might have hope he would have made an effort to st reamline the system. One post is for “Assistant Mayor for International Relations.” Another is “Assistant Mayor for Humanagement and Workplace Reform.” Mr Stewart says:

‘I said we should have a more civilised approach and what we needed to develop was a humane management system. ‘That is why it’s spelt with an ‘e’ — it is a humane system.’

Another term invented by Mr Stewart is “co-opetiton.” He says humanagement should be pronounced “hu-management.”

[JP note: Salford wins the runcible spoon for Loony Left Bonkers.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Coptic Bishop Advises Women in Egypt to Dress Modestly Like ‘Muslims and St. Mary’

A Coptic Bishop in Egypt infuriated many Christian women in the country after saying on May 18 that they should dress more modestly, “like their Muslim sisters” and follow their example, the Guardian reported earlier this week. “Our Lady Mariam [referring to St. Mary] used to wear a tarha [long scarf covering the hair], why can’t you follow her example and cover up?” the bishop, who is one of the nominees for the papal seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church, recently said. The comments were seemingly made in light of the fact that a vast majority of Muslim women in Egypt are now veiled, while Coptic women have recently said they are increasingly being insulted in society for not covering their hair, as per typical Muslim practice. “Women, Muslim and Christian, who do not cover their hair or wear mid-sleeved clothing are met with insults, spitting and in some cases physical abuse,” the newspaper reported. One Coptic woman told the British newspaper that she, along with Muslim wome n who do not cover their hair, get yelled at by men passing by, telling her “just you wait, those who will cover you up and make you stay at home are coming and then there will [be] no more of this lewdness.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Caroline Glick: The Reign of the Fantasists

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has done it again. Speaking on Wednesday at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Barak warned that if Israel can’t cut a deal with the Palestinians soon, it should consider surrendering Judea and Samaria in exchange for nothing.

Even the diehard leftists in the media had a hard time swallowing his words. After all, when Barak was premier, he oversaw Israel’s unilateral surrender of south Lebanon in 2000. Barak promised that by giving Hezbollah south Lebanon, Israel would force the Iranian proxy army to disarm and behave like a Western political party.

Whoopsie.

Then of course, there is the Gaza precedent.

Ignoring the lesson of Lebanon, Barak’s successor Ariel Sharon reenacted his unilateral surrender policy in Gaza in 2005. Like Barak, Sharon promised that once Gaza was cleared of all Jewish presence, it would magically transform itself into a Middle Eastern version of Singapore…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Aid Policy: Making Muslim Aid More Effective

DUBAI, 1 June 2012 (IRIN) — Between the foreign aid of oil-rich Gulf States and the billions of dollars spent by Muslims in “mandatory” alms and charity every year, the Muslim world is by all accounts a huge reservoir of potential in the world of aid funding.

But players in Muslim aid say much of the money spent on aid and charity here is mismanaged, wasted, lacking in strategy or ineffective. (See IRIN’s in-depth article on this)

Here are a few new attempts to change that:

Madad: Created by a 30-year-old Egyptian activist who participated in the 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak, Madad is a private, social start-up business which aims to shift some of the estimated 5-20 billion Egyptian pounds (US$825 million — $3.3 billion; statistics are not consistent) spent by ordinary people on charity every year towards more sustainable development. The idea is to scour Egypt’s governorates and estimated 40,000 NGOs, and identify those which run successful, sustainable projects that support livelihoods and work towards the Millennium Development Goals. Madad would then highlight those projects through online platforms, so that donors can make more educated decisions about how to spend their money and track the funds once spent. It will start small with a few projects it has already identified, and expand its coverage as its networks grow, with the aim that NGOs will eventually come forward themselves, looking for exposure. The word ‘madad’ in Arabic means supply; its CEO, Samed Awad, sees it as the supply not only of money, but of resources, visibility, awareness and knowledge, to both donors and NGOs. The commercial launch is scheduled for the beginning of 2013.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Iraq: Baghdad’s Energy Auctions Flop

Twelve deals were on the table, seven for oil and five for natural gas, but only three were reached. Lack of security in new fields, the Kurdish factor and Baghdad’s unbending price demands are the reasons for the failure. Iraq will not outstrip Iran in OPEC anytime soon.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Iraq’s fourth oil and natural gas auction was a flop. The two-day event closed Thursday with only three contracts awarded for 12 exploration blocks on offer (seven oil, five natural gas), covering 80,700 square kilometres with 29 billion cubic metres of gas and 10 billion barrels of crude. Iraqi Kurdistan was excluded because of an ongoing dispute between the central and regional governments.

In its three previous bid rounds since 2003, Iraq auctioned rights to produce at oil fields already discovered or in operation. It awarded 15 such contracts, including a license for the Rumaila field, Iraq’s largest, to BP and China National Petroleum Corp

Before the auction, expectations were high. Iraq had in fact boosted crude output to more than 3 million barrels a day and was poised to overtake Iran as OPEC’s No. 2 producer. Some even hoped it could challenge Saudi Arabia. Now, modesty appears to be prevailing, at least for the time being.

The first deal was struck in Wednesday’s round, at the start of the auction. A Kuwait-led consortium won rights to search for oil and gas in the south.

The other two were reached in Thursday’s round. In the first, a group comprised of Russia’s Lukoil and Inpex Corp. of Japan made a successful bid for oil exploration in southern Iraq. The group will be paid $5.99 for each barrel of oil equivalent it finds. In the second deal, Pakistan Petroleum won a contract for natural gas exploration in the east of the country.

The failure of the two-day auction is due to a number of factors, expert said, such as poor planning, security concerns and the government’s rejection of bidders’ prices and demand for concessions.

Yesterday’s auction was the worst since 2009. Eight blocks received no bids because none of the 39 approved bidders, including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, accepted Baghdad’s terms.

This auction involved undeveloped fields in remote areas where the security situation is even more uncertain than in the country’s main cities.

The auction also fizzled out because of Baghdad’s refusal to pay more than US$ 5.38-US$ 6.24 per barrel produced, far short of what companies wanted.

Lastly, another inhibiting factor was the exclusion of companies, like Exxon, that signed deals with the government of Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq, a precedent that has encouraged other regions that are not under Baghdad’s control.

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



Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran

From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Syria: Remember Bosnia, Seedbed of Radical Islam

David Aaronovitch The Times

ON Tuesday in the office we had a brief discussion about the use of a word. Should we describe the victims — including the dozens of children — killed in the Syrian town of Houla as having been “executed”? The manner of many of their killings suggested something akin to a systematic process, with the killers going from house to house, binding their victims and then shooting them or cutting their throats.

On the other hand, wouldn’t that word suggest the result of a legal proceeding of some sort, when clearly there had been none? Therefore wasn’t it more appropriate to say that these kids had been “murdered”? We decided in the end that when you use the word “execute” to describe how toddlers are killed, it is — if anything — more rather than less horrifying. The children were “executed”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



The Arab Spring Was No Prelude to Democracy

by Con Coughlin

The rush to back change for change’s sake in the troubled region of North Africa has proved somewhat naive.

With every new set of pictures that appears showing the bloodied victims of the latest atrocity committed in Syria’s gruesome conflict, the clamour intensifies for the West to launch some form of military intervention to prevent further bloodshed. It is a perfectly understandable human reaction. No civilised society wants to see the bodies of innocent women and children displayed every evening on the television news. If something can be done to spare the victims of Syria’s embryonic civil war, then we have a moral obligation to act.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Turkish Pianist Charged With Insulting Islam

A Turkish court has formally charged an internationally known Turkish pianist and composer with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.

The court in Istanbul voted Friday to approve an indictment against Fazil Say, who has played piano with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, National Orchestra of France, and Tokyo Symphony.

The 42-year-old Say faces charges of inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting “religious values.” Say, who has served as a culture ambassador for the European Union, allegedly mocked Islamic beliefs about paradise.

Meltem Akyol, a lawyer for Say, says the pianist has denied the charges. She says the opening trial will be held on Oct. 18.

Say could face a maximum 1 1/2 years in prison if he is convicted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Malaysia: Matta: Non-Muslims Welcome to Join Islamic Tours

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite its name, Islamic tourism is not exclusively for Muslims. Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said non-Muslims were also welcome to join Muslim tour packages. “Non-Muslims can join the tours as their needs will most likely fit in with those of Muslims. We must give exposure to people on where the prominent must-go Muslim sites are. “Operators can also leverage what they have and stand to profit,” said Mohd Khalid at a press conference after the opening ceremony of the World Islamic Tourism Mart (WITM) here.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Obituary: Alan Thorne

Alan Thorne, who has died aged 73, was an Australian anthropologist who provoked heated academic debate in 2001 when he published a paper disputing the widely-held theory that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa about 100,000 to 150,000 years ago before spreading across the world and out-competing “archaic” peoples such as Neanderthals and Homo erectus, who had migrated from Africa before them.

Thorne led a team of researchers which examined bone samples taken from a skeleton known as “Mungo Man”, which had been found on the shores of Lake Mungo in south-eastern Australia in 1974. State-of-the-art dating tests run in 1999 suggested that the man lived between 56,000 and 68,000 years ago. Thorne claimed to have extracted DNA from the bone samples which, under analysis, turned out to be different from any living human being and different from any fossil human remains found in Africa. Yet Mungo Man, 5ft 7in tall and with an upright, slender build, was anatomically a modern Homo sapiens, resembling an Aborigine living today.

In a paper published in the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thorne and his colleagues argued that their findings were inconsistent with the “Out of Africa” theory, not only because the genetic material was unknown in Africa but also because, if this particular example of Homo sapiens had arrived in New South Wales from Africa around 60,000 years ago (Out of Africa theory holds that Homo sapiens left Africa between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago), he would have had to move faster than many palaeontologists believe was possible.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Planning Underway for Horsham Mosque

Planning to build Horsham’s first mosque has started. The Horsham Islamic Welfare Association has lodged an application to demolish a house it currently uses for prayer, in Stawell Road, and replace it with a new building. The association’s Mahabubur Mollah says the existing house is too rundown to renovate and he is hoping to raise funds for a small mosque.

He says a mosque in Horsham could help to attract some skilled professionals to the Wimmera. “I don’t see there will be a big thrust of Muslims coming to the town,” he said.

“Job opportunities are limited for everyone but yes some Muslims may think to come here if they are offered proper jobs and oh yes there is a mosque.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Muslims Blame Ethiopian Government for Messing in Mosques

ADDIS ABABA — Protests at mosques in religiously-diverse Ethiopia have stretched into their sixth month as Muslims object to what they see as unconstitutional government interference in their affairs. Since December, worshipers at Friday prayers nationwide have been criticizing the state’s alleged attempts to impose the al Ahbash, a moderate sect of Islam, on the community via an unrepresentative, politicized Islamic Supreme Affairs Council. Officials deny any interference. The protest movement in most major cities among the nation’s 30 to 40 million Muslims — about one-third of Ethiopia’s population — has been largely peaceful and contained to mosque compounds.

The government is trying to dominate influential mosques to gain wider political control of the country, says Ethiopian political analyst Jawar Mohammed. To solidify Western support, it’s playing up an Islamist threat — Ethiopia is widely perceived by strategis ts as a bulwark against Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic terrorists across the border in Somalia and in the Middle East and North Africa. “It is an unnecessary, unwise, and untimely intervention that will have severe repercussions both for the current regime as well as for the country in the long run, unless the government reverses its current approach,” says Mr. Jawar.

The most serious incident occurred on April 27 in the southeast town of Asasa in the Oromia region, when four people died in clashes after police arrested a Muslim preacher. The government said the preacher had been trying to instigate jihad. Earlier in April, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament that an Al Qaeda cell containing “a few Salafist extremists” operated in the area, while at the beginning of May the government announced it deported two Arabs of unspecified nationalities for trying to incite violence outside Addis Ababa’s largest mosque.

A focal point for the dispute has been at the community centered around the Awalia Mission School on the edge of the capital, where 50 Arabic teachers were removed via a letter from the Islamic council leaders, leading to the escalation of protests against the leaders’ legitimacy and state interference. The government has tightened security at mosques — it is difficult for Western journalist to report from those in the capital without police interference. The Ministry of Federal Affairs recently accused the protesters of being extremists engaged in violence and collaborating with foreign forces to instigate jihad.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Schengen: Europeans Preparing to Lock Down Borders With Greece

Der Standard, 30 May 2012

“Greek crisis: EU is preparing to shut the borders”, leads Austria’s Der Standard. The Vienna daily learned this Tuesday from a European Council source that several countries are drawing up plans to bring back border controls in the event of an emergency in Greece, without specifying details. The preparations are justified by the fear of illegal capital flight abroad and by rising crime. Above all, European states are worried about illegal migration, thanks to Greece’s role as a transit point for illegal migrants from Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean. The number of illegal immigrants currently living in Greece is estimated at one million. Recalling the legal framework of the Schengen Agreement, the Standard writes…

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

General


Cases of ‘Truman Show’ Delusions on the Rise as More People Believe They’re the Stars of Their Own Reality TV Programs

Reality TV shows are making increasing numbers of people convinced that they’re the stars of their own, unwanted television programs.

Psychiatrists are treating more people for so-called ‘Truman Show’ delusions — named after the 1998 movie starring Jim Carrey as a man who spends his entire life unwittingly at the center of a fictional world that’s being broadcast to millions of homes.

The startling cases often afflict successful people who develop paranoid fantasies that they’re being filmed at all times and that the world that’s in front of them isn’t real.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Crusader Kings 2 Sword of Islam Expansion Announced, Will Let You Side With Saladin

Crusader Kings 2 is getting a new expansion, it’s called Sword of Islam, and it’s tailor made for those of you who were always secretly rooting for Saladin. As you might have guessed from the title, the expansion offers an alternative to the Christian Crusaders, giving you the option to instead play as a Muslim lord, defending the holy land from invaders. Switching sides isn’t a simple matter, however, as Muslim culture doesn’t abide by the same rules as Christendom. Laws, titles, traits and marriages will all play out differently among the Islamic nations. The expansion will also add a big new chunk of the map, expanding it as far as Mali-Songhay, while expanding and improving combat and claims. Sword of Islam is due out in June, along with the latest Crusader Kings patch, and it’ll set you back $9.99. Check inside for the announcement trailer.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120531

Financial Crisis
» Euro is Facing Disintegration, Commission Warns
» Spain Faces ‘Total Emergency’ As Fear Grips Markets
» The German Banker’s Cunning Plan
 
USA
» CAIR Seeks DOJ Action After TN Judge Stops Mosque Construction
» Chicago Islamic Leader Uses Education as Weapon Against Terrorism and Discrimination
» Construction Continues on Murfreesboro Mosque Despite Ruling
» Does Muslim Blasphemy Trump Free Speech in America?
» Group of Muslims Detained by Police at Orlando Airport After Asking for a Cup on Board a Plane
» John Edwards Found Not Guilty on One Count; Judge Declares Mistrial on Others
» Pikesville Mosque to Open at Slade Mansion on Park Heights Avenue
» Stakelbeck: Watch My GBTV Monologue: “Unholy Alliance”
 
Europe and the EU
» Europe’s Post-Nazi Stress Disorder Has Brought it to Ruin
» Pope Blasts Media Reporting of ‘Vatileaks’
» UK Opera Stirs Anti-Islam Profanity Fear
» UK: ‘Exploitative’ EDL Hijacks Sikh Protest in Luton
» UK: Allah Save the Queen, Say Muslims
» UK: David Cameron: I Rely on the Queen’s Great British Common Sense
» UK: Extensive Library of London Mosque’s Late Imam Donated to Ireland’s University College Cork
» UK: Human Rights in Islam
» UK: Hidden Delights to Go on Display
» UK: Liberty Lost
» UK: Song of the Suicide Bomber: How ‘Babur in London’ Negotiated a Cultural Minefield
» UK: Why is Edward Lear Almost Forgotten These Days? There’s Nothing So English as Nonsense
 
North Africa
» Tunisia: Protests Against Latest Salafi Attacks
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Bat Ye’or: Jerusalem or Al-Quds? The European Union’s Choice
» BBC Challenged on Obama Israel Speech Report
 
Middle East
» Work to Start on New Bahrain Grand Mosque
 
South Asia
» Kazakhstan: Islam-Christianity Dialogue Features at Kazakh Interfaith Meet
» Muslim Extremists Go Gaga in Indonesia
» Pakistan: Court Orders Demolition of a Minaret, Dome of Ahmadi Mosque
 
Australia — Pacific
» Curtain Goes Up on Cat Stevens’ Musical ‘Moonshadow’ With World Premiere in Australia
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Kenya: In Africa, A Militant Group’s Growing Appeal
 
Culture Wars
» I Fear That Fat People Have Missed the PC Boat
 
General
» Sanctity and Care of Women in Islam

Financial Crisis


Euro is Facing Disintegration, Commission Warns

Olli Rehn, the economics commissioner, gave the warning as Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, criticised national leaders for a “lack of action” to help the single currency out of its crisis. Spain remained at the eye of the financial storm yesterday, amid continuing fears for its banking sector.

Investors in Spanish banks are withdrawing money at a record rate, figures showed yesterday. More than £55 billion was withdrawn and moved out of the country last month.

Yesterday’s figures are for the month before the Spanish banking crisis entered its latest phase with the nationalisation of Bankia, one of the country’s biggest banks. Even more money is thought to have left the country since then, raising fears that Spain is locked in an unbreakable cycle of market panic.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain Faces ‘Total Emergency’ As Fear Grips Markets

Spain is facing the gravest danger since the end of the Franco dictatorship as the country is frozen out of global capital markets and slides towards an epic showdown with Europe.

“We’re in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through” said ex-premier Felipe Gonzalez, the country’s elder statesman.

The warning came as the yields on Spanish 10-year bonds spiked to 6.7pc, pushing the “risk premium” over German Bunds to a post-euro high of 540 basis points. The IBEX index of stocks in Madrid fell 2.6pc, the lowest since the dotcom bust in 2003.

Chaos over the €23.5bn rescue of crippled lender Bankia has led to the abrupt resignation of central bank governor Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, who testified to the senate that he had been muzzled to avoid enflaming events as confidence in the country drains away.

Markets are on tenterhooks as Spanish yields test levels that forced the European Central Bank to respond last November with its €1 trillion liquidity blitz. “Nobody is short Spanish debt right now because they are expecting ECB intervention,” said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. “If it doesn’t come — if we take out 6.8pc — we’re going to see a hyberbolic sell-off,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The German Banker’s Cunning Plan

Question: What are the first three letters of the Greek alphabet?

Answer: I, O, U.

Actually, there’s a point to this bad joke, which is that promissory notes — issued by the Greek government — could enable a compromise between a potentially calamitous Greek exit from the Eurozone and the unsustainable status quo.

This intriguing suggestion comes from Thomas Mayer — chief economist at Deutsche Bank — and is reported in Die Welt (via the Worldcrunch website):

  • “Mayer and his colleagues at Deutsche Bank have come up with a third option: introduce a brand-new second currency, alongside the euro, in Greece.
  • “‘The Greek government is soon going to be issuing IOUs to state workers,’ Mayer said at the Welt conference. ‘There’s going to be a parallel circulation of promissory notes and euros.’ And he’s already come up with a snappy term for the new parallel currency: the ‘Geuro.’
  • “‘I believe that the most probable development will be a currency that circulates parallel to the euro,’ he said. This would for example make it possible for exporting firms to lower salaries so that they can do business again. And it would make it possible for a bankrupt government to honour its commitments.

The parallel currency would likely trade at a massive discount to the Euro, but then that’s the point — anything that could be paid for in Greek government IOUs would become much more affordable to outsiders (correspondingly, anything that has to be paid for in Euros would become much less affordable to Greeks — including the Euro-denominated debt that they owe). You might think that there’s not much difference between this plan and the Grexit scenario in which Greece devalues by returning to the Drachma — and in several key respects you’d be right: This whole crisis is the result of a series of fundamental economic imbalances that can’t be resolved without somebody, somewhere paying the price.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

USA


CAIR Seeks DOJ Action After TN Judge Stops Mosque Construction

Washington, May 29, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect the religious rights of Tennessee Muslims after a judge in that state blocked completion of a mosque that has been targeted by anti-Muslim bigots for the past two years. The judge ruled today that proper public notice was not given for the May 2010 meeting that approved the site plan for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, near Murfreesboro, Tenn. He seemed to base his ruling on the fact that anti-Muslim bigots were able to manufacture a controversy over the construction of the mosque, the site of which has been the target of hate vandalism.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Chicago Islamic Leader Uses Education as Weapon Against Terrorism and Discrimination

Education is the weapon of choice for an area Islamic leader in his fight against the radicalization of Islamic youth and the discrimination of American Muslims. Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, 36, is the director of the Gain Peace project, an Islamic outreach program based in Chicago. Ahmed blames misinterpretations of the Quran and Islam for the dual extremes of Islamophobia and violent Islamist radicalism. He sees education as the way forward to both break down stereotypes and counter terrorist groups looking to recruit Muslim-Americans to commit acts of violence. Ahmed’s organization sparked controversy five years ago after erecting a billboard near O’Hare Airport that asked “Why Islam?” But the Indian-born medical doctor insists education and peace are his goals, not conversion.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Construction Continues on Murfreesboro Mosque Despite Ruling

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.- Construction continues on the Islamic mosque in Rutherford County in spite of a last ditch attempt to stop it. On Tuesday, a Chancery Court judge sided with plaintiffs in the case who don’t want the mosque in their neighborhood. Judge Robert Corlew’s opinion said the results of a county planning commission meeting in 2010 were “void and of no effect”. The judge said that the county did not give the public sufficient notice of the meeting. Plans for the mosque were approved at that meeting. The mosque is less than 6 weeks from completion, and Islamic leaders say construction will continue until they’re told to stop. “We are the victims here, but we are trying to continue to be reasonable. We will continue to do our part as we’re supposed to do and I’m comfortable that with the protection of The Constitution this building will exist,” said Ossama Bahloul , the Imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. Rutherford County attorney James Cope said construction can continue and no one can do anything until a judge gives a final order. He said that will take at least 30 days, by then the mosque will almost be finished.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Does Muslim Blasphemy Trump Free Speech in America?

by Jerry Gordon

In late April 2012, a Tennessee legislator held a meeting with aides to Gov. Bill Haslam. It concerned unauthorized and apparently unconstitutional moves by Bill Gibbons, Tennessee State Commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS), establishing a partnership with a religious NGO, the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) which has ties to local Muslim Brotherhood leaders via the American Center for Outreach (ACO). Gibbons was the long term District Attorney General in Memphisâ€(tm) Shelby County and previously served as an aide to two former GOP Governors, Lamar Alexander and Don Sundquist.

AMAC is modeled on an organization created by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in August 2011, the Muslim American Advisory Council. Quinn had appointed the Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Safaa Zazour and Kareem Irfan, President of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, to serve on the Council. Illinois has 400,000 Muslims and more than 300 mosques. Its principal purpose according to ISNA is to “help ensure Muslim American participation in state government.” ISNA and the International Institute on Islamic Thought (IIIT), a northern Virginia based “think tank” for the Muslim Brotherhood met with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) as Muslims for Constructive Engagement with the US government and Pentagon to push Islamization from within. IDA is a Pentagon contractor. In 2006 they met to develop guidelines for Muslim Advisory Groups to government agencies. In retrospect the Muslim Advisory Councils were the springboard for the infiltration of host government agencies like the DSHS in Tennessee. It was a furtherance of the Grand Jihad plan of the Muslim Brotherhood uncovered in a hidden basement of a northern Virginia home by FBI investigators. This discovery led to the Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation trial and convictions in 2008. A trial that named the ISNA and several other Muslim Brotherhood front groups in America as unindicted co-conspirators…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



Group of Muslims Detained by Police at Orlando Airport After Asking for a Cup on Board a Plane

A group of Muslims were detained at Orlando Sanford International Airport because they asked for a cup on board a plane. According to the Orlando Sentinel the captain of Allegiant flight No.625 from Allentown, Pennsylvania, radioed ahead of landing and asked for airport police to meet the plane. A number of Muslims were reportedly lingering in the lavatory and asked for a cup which aroused suspicion among airline staff

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



John Edwards Found Not Guilty on One Count; Judge Declares Mistrial on Others

The jury in the federal campaign finance case against former Senator John Edwards said Thursday that it had found him not guilty on one of the six counts against him, and the judge declared a mistrial on the others.

[Return to headlines]



Pikesville Mosque to Open at Slade Mansion on Park Heights Avenue

Ahmadiyya congregation buys Slade Mansion in heart of Jewish community

Synagogues and schools line Park Heights Avenue in Pikesville — Temple Oheb Shalom, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and the Shoshana S. Cardin School, among them. Nearby is the nation’s largest kosher grocery store, and signs promoting Jewish organizations dot the neighborhood. Now the street that runs through the heart of Baltimore’s Jewish community is getting a new religious building: a mosque for Ahmadi Muslims. That plan has taken some area residents by surprise and even stirred some concerns. The Baltimore congregation of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam has bought the Slade Mansion, a white, Colonial-style house at Slade and Park Heights avenues, a busy intersection in Pikesville. Local members of the sect, which has been persecuted in other parts of the world, have outgrown their home in the city and hope they can find a comfortable home in the deeply religious neighborhood.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Stakelbeck: Watch My GBTV Monologue: “Unholy Alliance”

I was honored to guest host the Glenn Beck Program on GBTV yesterday. In my opening monologue, I discussed the unholy alliance between radical Islamists and the radical left, which I experienced personally at Portland State University recently.

I also talked about the united front against America and Israel and why we must stand together. All with some Scripture blended in. Hope you enjoy it.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Europe’s Post-Nazi Stress Disorder Has Brought it to Ruin

by Ed West

The European crisis threatens to re-awaken the old monster of nationalism, military historian Antony Beevor has warned. In an interview with the Telegraph, the author of Stalingrad and Berlin: the Downfall said that:

The great European dream was to diminish militant nationalism. We would all be happy Europeans together. But we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have. We are already seeing political disintegration in Europe. I feel slightly uneasy at the way historians are consulted as if history is going to repeat itself. It never does. It is misleading and dangerous to make sweeping parallels with the Second World War. Politicians like Blair and Bush liked to sound Churchillian or Rooseveltian at times of crisis, but the comparisons of Saddam Hussein to Hitler were preposterous. Eden compared Nasser to Hitler and that led us into the Suez disaster.

Indeed. On the same day The Guardian printed a letter, “We are all Greek Jews now”, warning against Right-wing extremism, a letter that perfectly captures all the symptoms of Europe’s post-Nazi disorder.

We invite all citizens, political parties, unions, civil society, intellectuals and artists to fight the extreme right by promoting and bringing to life the European dream. We must always remember that this dream was built on the ruins of Nazism. We must never forget about the Shoah. Our dream is of a continent free from racism and antisemitism. It is the project of a society based on “togetherness” — beyond boundaries. Second, we must refute the dogma of “the European fortress”, which favours the spread of anti-immigrant speeches and the lockdown of Europe’s frontiers, especially when a core element of European postwar identity — its social welfare system — requires the economic input of immigration to remain sustainable.

Taking aside that they conflate genuinely nasty neo-Fascist parties like Golden Dawn with populist (often quite libertarian) groups such as the Dutch Freedom Party, the European dream is not under threat from a few Greek heavies who look like they’ve stepped out of a Vauxhall nightclub; it’s under threat from itself, because its vision is totally unworkable. The idea of a society without borders in a world where people share their countries is as radical and extreme as the idea that people might share their property — so don’t be surprised when it doesn’t work.

[…]

But Golden Dawn and Jobbik are not going to bring about a new Holocaust — in fact the overwhelming, dominant threat to Europe’s Jewish community comes from the Arab and Muslim world, where anti-Semitism is unfortunately far more widespread than it was in Germany before Hitler. And the irony is that, out of collective guilt for what happened to Europe’s Jews, Europe imported millions of people from some of the world’s most anti-Semitic countries, made no attempt to counter these prejudices, and even began to adopt the idea that Israel was uniquely responsible for the world’s problems. Instead of preventing future atrocities by defending Israel’s very strong historic legitimacy — a crucial step on the road to peace — they are still trying to fight the last genocide, stuck in their solipsistic dreams. There’s no harm in having dreams, of course, except that when they become nightmares, others are often forced to share them.

[Reader comment by rogermurrayclark on 30 May 2012 at 09:11 PM.]

“But it’s never been explained why, because of what the Nazis did — and the Nazis were not normal nationalists anymore than Mark Chapman is a normal music fan — the Dutch, the French or the English should embrace a utopian vision whereby they become minorities in their own major cities and their countries become provinces of a new Holy Roman Empire.”

Excellent Ed

What is especially bizarre is that Britain obviously stood against Nazi Germany 40/1 and yet we too are expected to embrace colonisation from the third world; and indeed be so accommodating that we are expected to go into default denial when some of these colonists groom and gang rape native girls in town after town after town.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pope Blasts Media Reporting of ‘Vatileaks’

Pontiff has ‘pain’ in heart after butler arrested

(ANSA) — Vatican City, May 30 — Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday blasted the media coverage of the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ affair after his butler was arrested last week for being in possession of illegally obtained confidential Church documents.

“Inferences have multiplied from some media organs that are totally gratuitous and have gone well beyond the facts, giving an image of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality,” the pontiff said.

Benedict also said that he renewed his “trust in, and encouragement for, my closest assistants and all those who help my carry out my ministry in silence with faith and spirit of sacrifice”.

The butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested after the Vatican launched a probe into the leaking of sensitive Church papers to the Italian media earlier this year. The documents included a letter with allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City sent to the pope from the Holy See’s ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano’, when he was the deputy governor of Vatican City.

The Holy See has staunchly denied media speculation that high-ranking figures in the clergy, including cardinals, were also involved in the leaks.

The pope said at his general audience that the events of the last few days had “caused pain to my heart”, while adding that “the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit” and that “the Lord will never fail to give his help to support it in its path”.

The Church has also been hit by controversy after Ettore Gotti Tedeschi last week stepped down as president of the Vatican Bank, officially called the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), following a no-confidence vote by the board of directors. Gotti Tedeschi said he was not revealing the truth about the case “out of love for the pope” after the Vatican said he had not been carrying out his duties properly. Vatican experts said Gotti Tedeschi’s split with the bank was likely linked to internal tensions regarding the Vatican’s efforts to secure inclusion on the international ‘white list’ of countries which are considered to have acceptable financial transparency laws, unlike tax havens.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UK Opera Stirs Anti-Islam Profanity Fear

Britain is to host an opera on four Muslim youth planning a suicide bombing in what appears to be a potentially profane attack on Islam and Muslims.

The opera named “Babur in London “, which is to be staged in Leeds starting from June 12, is reportedly the story of four young men plotting a suicide attack in which concepts of Jihad, war, the afterlife and the Islamic ban on alcohol are put to question. “In a London suburb four young men and women are preparing a terrorist act. As their mission draws closer, they are disturbed by the ghost of Babur, first Mughal Emperor — poet and warrior, who died 500 years ago,” the Opera North, which is co-producing the chamber piece said on its website. “Challenging their convictions he [Babur] calls them ‘children playing at battle, in love with death’, but what are his motives for interfering?” Opera North said in the synopsis.

The performance is feared to encourage the western-backed stereotype of Islam and terrorism and repeat profane accusations against Islam as writer Jeet Thayil names one of the suicide bombers Mohammed that the symbolic water-bottle strewn setting of the opera suggest could have further blasphemous implications. “My name is Mo, short for Mohammed … And I owe my allegiance to global Umma./ My nation’s the Republic of Islam,” an excerpt of the chamber piece reads. Thayil further argues, through the words of Babur, that suicide bombing is not approved by God and that the four aspiring bombers are ignorant of the Holy Book. “God doesn’t countenance the slaughter of innocents,” Babur says. “Suicide is a sin and murder is a sin,/ And in the eyes of God you are sinners,” he later adds. However, that is put in the words of a past ruler who the audience suspect of severe brutality and bloodshed rather than passionate care for his victims, falsely suggesting that Islam, nevertheless, supports violence.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Exploitative’ EDL Hijacks Sikh Protest in Luton

A Sikh elder today shared his concern at attempts by the English Defence League to hijack a protest by the Luton Sikh community. The protest outside Luton Police Station last night was in response feelings of a lack of action by the police force. Catrin Nye, a BBC journalist reported:

The Sikh protesters shut down the dual carriageway through the centre of Luton, they sat down on the road and chanted surrounded by a large police presence. Their reason they said was the police haven’t dealt properly with the alleged sexual assault on a young Sikh girl in the town. In the early hours of the morning the remaining protesters gathered at Guru Nanak Gurdwara just minutes from the protest site. Members of the English Defence League joined the protest. They claimed they were going to turn it into a national event but that didn’t happen.

She went on to confirm that the EDL had not been invited as had initially been claimed.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Allah Save the Queen, Say Muslims

A British Muslim community has set out plans to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with street parties, lighting up of mosques throughout the UK, feeding the homeless and a launch of 200 special Diamond Jubilee buses across London — a unique contribution to this historic event. Ahmadiyya Muslims will play the national anthem in street parties across 30 towns and cities from London to Glasgow. In Birmingham for example the celebrations will feature the Royal Navy band playing the national anthem at the mosque and congratulatory messages being read out in 60 languages by local community representatives. There will also be special prayers for The Queen at 100 mosques and prayer halls belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — one of the oldest Islamic groups in Britain.

[…]

[JP note: One hopes not.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: David Cameron: I Rely on the Queen’s Great British Common Sense

David Cameron has paid tribute to the Queen’s “Great British common sense” and says he benefits from her 60 years of experience during their weekly meetings in Buckingham Palace.

The Prime Minister says the Queen is able to “cut through the fuss and see what really matters” when they discuss domestic and world events in their hour-long conversations.

Mr Cameron, the 12th prime minister of the Queen’s reign, says that her “time-tested wisdom” has been invaluable during his two years in office, when he has faced the pressure of keeping a Coalition together as well as running the country. His thoughts are included in a book produced to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee which the publisher hopes will raise more than £1 million for the Queen’s Jubilee charity fund.

[…]

[JP note: I do not believe for one moment that any of the Queen’s common sense has rubbed off onto David Cameron.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Extensive Library of London Mosque’s Late Imam Donated to Ireland’s University College Cork

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Unveiling the Zaki Badawi Collection this week, a university spokesperson described it as “the most comprehensive and extensive collection of Arabic books on Islam and the Middle East in Ireland to be used both by academic researchers and the public”. The collection was officially opened in a ceremony officiated by leading European Muslim intellectual, Professor Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University (pictured). Dr Zaki Badawi, who died in 2006 at the age of 84, was one of Britain’s most prominent Muslims. The substantial Arabic library of Dr Badawi was given to the UCC library by his son, Faris Badawi, who lives in Cork. As chief imam of the London Central Mosque and founder of the Muslim College in London, he advocated a moderate interpretation of Islam adapted to the culture and values of European societies. He was also a strong supporter of interfaith dialogue, establishing the Three Faiths Forum in Britain to foster relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims. Dr Badawi was the first prominent Muslim to criticise imams in the UK who did not teach in English. He was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2004. Following his death, tributes were led by the Prince of Wales, who said the imam, who called for British Muslims to participate fully in British life, had been a “truly remarkable and warm-hearted man.”

[JP note: When and if, on the grand scheme of scopes, the Prince becomes King, he will most assuredly become the Defender of the Faith — the Islamic Faith.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Human Rights in Islam

‘At a time when our liberties and human rights are threatened by a continuous stream of legislation and policies aligned to the discredited War on Terror, which many Muslims perceive as a “war on Islam”, this timely seminar will highlight the importance of human rights, what it means to Muslims and how to ensure its defence.’

Guest Speakers:

Shami Chakrabarti CBE

Since 2003, Shami Chakrabarti has been Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties). She first joined Liberty as an In-House Counsel on 10 September 2001, later becoming heavily involved in its engagement with the so called War on Terror and with the defence and promotion of human rights values in Parliament, the Courts and the wider society. Shami was called to the Bar in 1994, she worked as a lawyer in the Home Office from 1996 until 2001 for Governments of both political persuasions. Currently, Shami is Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, a Governor of the British Film Institute, and a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford in addition to being a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple. She was recently invited to be one of 6 independent assessors advising Lord Justice Leveson in his Public Inquiry into the Culture, Practice and Ethics of the UK Press.

Rizwaan Sabir

Rizwaan Sabir is a human rights activist and doctoral researcher at the University of Strathclyde, where he is researching Islam in British and Scottish governments, with a special focus on counter-terrorism. In May 2008 he was detained for six days as a suspected member of al-Qaida for being in possession of primary research literature. He was released without charge, and also awarded compensation by the British Police for his ill-treatment.

Corinna Ferguson

Corinna Ferguson is a barrister and has been a legal officer at Liberty since August 2008. She is currently working on cases concerning religious freedom in the workplace; the duty on the state to investigate allegations of inhuman and degrading treatment in an immigration detention centre; and police photography of peaceful protesters.

Shafiur Rahman

Imam Shafiur Rahman is an Islamic Studies teacher based in London. Imam Shafiur has been actively involved in regional and national community organisations for many years. He holds an MSc in Addictive Behaviour, PGDip in Business Administration, and currently completing a degree in Islamic Studies (following studies in Syria) at the prestigious Al-Azhar Univeristy in Cairo, Egypt. He regularly lectures, writes and blogs on Islam.

1st JUNE 2012 — 6.45pm

LONDON MUSLIM CENTRE

46 WHITECHAPEL ROAD, LONDON E1 1JX

This seminar is open to all. Register today as places are limited.

Further Information or Media Enquiries Contact:

admin@islamicforumeurope.com

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Hidden Delights to Go on Display

LOCAL places of worship are opening their doors to the public to reveal the treasures within. Churches, mosques and temples across Kirklees are joining together for a three-day festival giving everyone the opportunity to look inside the sacred buildings. Treasures Revealed in Kirklees, organised by Kirklees Faiths Forum, takes place every year to encourage understanding and build relationships between our area’s different faith communities.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Liberty Lost

by Diana West

Back in 2001, Britain’s political parties signed a fantastic pledge. They agreed to say nothing to “stir up racial or religious hatred, or lead to prejudice on grounds of race, nationality or religion.”

This gag order did more than keep the parties polite. Vital issues — from massive immigration and multiculturalism to their eradicating effects on British civilization — were officially banned. Thus, such concerns became impermissible thoughts. Not that such issues weren’t already thoughtcrime, as George Orwell would have put it. But this unprecedented pledge turned “violators” into political lepers.

I thought of that elite code of cowardice this week when a London judge sentenced a 42-year-old British secretary named Jacqueline Woodhouse to 21 weeks in jail. Her crime? An expletive-laden rant about immigration, multiculturalism and the disappearance of British civilization. Not in so many words. But that was the unmistakable gist of Woodhouse’s commentary one January night on the London Underground.

This same week, another London judge ordered two black girls, 18 and 19, to perform community service after a savage physical attack on two white legal secretaries. “I am satisfied what you both did, you did that night because you were fueled by alcohol,” Judge Stephen Kramer said, as though tut-tutting a child’s unknowing apple theft.

A few months ago, another London judge freed four Somali Muslim women who set upon a white couple, yelling, “Kill the white slag,” and other anti-white slurs. The gang beat the woman to the ground and ripped out a patch of her hair. Judge Robert Brown was lenient because, he ruled, as Muslims, the women were not used to being drunk.

Jacqueline Woodhouse was drunk, too, but that was no mitigating factor in her case. She harmed no one, but that was no mitigating factor, either. Judge Michael Snow invoked the “deep sense of shame” Woodhouse’s display elicited, because “our citizens … may, as a consequence, believe that it secretly represents the views of other white people.”

“Thoughtcrime is death,” as Orwell wrote in “1984.”

And, thanks to YouTube, it becomes continuous spectacle. Woodhouse’s court-deemed “victim,” Galbant Singh Juttla, recorded and uploaded her display. After the six-minute clip went viral, Woodhouse turned herself in to police.

But what might she have confessed to?…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]



UK: Song of the Suicide Bomber: How ‘Babur in London’ Negotiated a Cultural Minefield

The daring new opera featuring British terrorists planning an attack is being staged next month.

“My name is Mo, short for Mohammed,/ I’m a second-generation immigrant cliché: Twenty-eight, disenfranchised, well educated./ My mother is white, but I’m all Paki./ My father owns a corner shop where I work,/ And I owe my allegiance to global Umma./ My nation’s the Republic of Islam.” So sings Mo, one of four aspiring suicide bombers in the cast of Babur in London, a daring new opera that tackles modern-day terrorism as well as the legacy of ancient Indian history in its libretto. The production is named after Babur, a warrior who founded the Mughal Empire in India in the 16th century, and who was a famously brutal warlord as well as a brilliant poet.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Why is Edward Lear Almost Forgotten These Days? There’s Nothing So English as Nonsense

Dickens isn’t the only author’s bicentenary in 2012. Edward Lear was also born 200 years ago. Unlike Dickens, the father of nonsense has been almost forgotten. There was no adoring documentary on BBC4, no indulgent re-issue of his complete works. In fact, like most people, I didn’t even notice. You can see why. Except for a handful of poems, nobody reads Lear today. Teachers increasingly shy away from the slightly sinister feel of Victorian children’s literature. Children go through school without ever studying the author. Limericks are now the preserve of potty-mouthed pub bores. And nonsense never went global: A Book of Nonsense doesn’t boast an underground following of students and Satanists, unlike, say, The Surrealist Manifesto. But Edward Lear deserves to be remembered, because nonsense is an expression of our national character. Take Lear’s most famous poem, The Owl and the Pussy Cat. Although the poem delights in its own strangeness — what is a Bong tree, and where can you buy a runcible spoon? — it never tries to shock. In other words it’s eccentric: the politest, most English form of madness.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Tunisia: Protests Against Latest Salafi Attacks

Journalist beaten because of “bare arms”

(ANSA) — TUNIS, MAY 31 — Artists and entertainers, alongside members of the Constituent Assembly and civil society representatives have staged a sit-in of solidarity for the actor Rajab Magri, who was attacked by Salafis. On May 24 the extremists attacked Magri (hospitalised for the injuries suffered), accusing him of being an unbeliever. During the sit-in held in front of the Constituent Assembly building, the charges were reiterated against the Salafis, who over the past few months have stepped up acts of violence against those working in the Tunisian world of culture. The protestors demanded that the authorities take effective action to halt the escalating violence which many Tunisian artists have been subjected to, and received statements of solidarity from secular and reformist representatives of the Constituent Assembly and Tunisian civil society organisations. Meanwhile, a journalist working for an online economic publication attacked at the exit to a Tunis underground station has accused in no uncertain terms the Salafis for what happened.

The journalist said that she had been pushed to the ground and beaten by a Salafi who reproached her for having gone out without covering her arms. According to her report, the initial attacker was joined by six others who beat her in front of the crowd until a passer-by, at the risk of being beaten up as well, managed to save her from further violence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Bat Ye’or: Jerusalem or Al-Quds? The European Union’s Choice

Originally appeared in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism vol.3 #2, 2011

The overwhelming effect of the international campaign of defamation and delegitimization of Israel does not easily allow identifying where the blows come from, nor its original source. Yet the operations and strategic center of this widespread war that seeks to replace Jerusalem with al-Quds is the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC, formally called Islamic Conference), which brings together Muslim countries and those with a Muslim majority.

Created in 1969, this gigantic multinational religious organization declares that it is rooted in the Koran and Sunna. It includes a large number of subsidiary committees as well as various organizations embracing theological, legal, and political sectors. Since 2000, the OIC stated in many documents that its mission is to speak for the Ummah, the worldwide Muslim community, which also includes those Muslims who emigrated to the West. It claims to be their protector, with a particular responsibility toward those living in Europe, since they are exposed to the immoral customs and ideas of non-Muslims. The OIC constantly castigates these customs and ideas as “Islamophobia,” making every effort to have it penalized in the international courts and by European governments. Countless international networks of multiculturalism, pro-immigration, and anti-Zionism, financed by European governments and the European Union, are totally devoted to it and act as its sounding board within Western societies. Those promoting the line blaming the West and the victimization of the Palestinians feed from its sap. In Europe its lobbies spread its arguments, and benefit in the universities and at the international level from maximum media exposure as they operate with the tacit approval of European governments and churches, which provide them with unofficial, opaque financing.1 This Euro-OIC cooperation takes place through countless dialogue networks, partnerships, and associations that preach diversity and multiculturalism and that generally invoke the noble motives of “peace, justice and human rights.” Drawn from human rights platitudes, these ideals incorporate the principles of Jihad and dhimmitude, imperceptible for a European public unaware of them.

The subversion of the language and the twisting of its meaning are particularly apparent in the OIC’s declarations. For example, the foreign ministers of the member states of the OIC, meeting in New York in September 2008, reiterated in their final communiqué “their commitment to the noble principles of peace, humanism and tolerance” to democracy and transparency, while most of their governments are among the cruelest and most corrupt dictatorships. They declared that the challenges of the 21st century required the solidarity of the OIC member states, rallying round the values of Islam.2 Yet, no country that applies shari’a applies democracy and religious freedom as understood in the West. Less than three years later, the Arab masses were rising against the repression of the regimes represented by those same ministers, whose empty speeches slip into readymade phrases to seduce Western leaders…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



BBC Challenged on Obama Israel Speech Report

The BBC Trust has partly upheld a complaint against the corporation over an online article which reported American President Obama’s position on the Middle East process. The article, posted on May 19 last year, was headlined “Obama insists 1967 ‘basis’ for Israel-Palestinian peace” and went on to state that the president insisted that “the 1967 border must be the basis for negotiations to set up a future Palestinian state”. But Zionist Federation member Stephen Franklin — who has previously had complaints upheld against the BBC’s Middle East coverage — took issue with the wording, saying that in a speech President Obama had used the word “should” rather than “must”. Mr Obama had stated that the Americans “believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognised borders are established for both states.” After the BBC’s editorial complaints unit and then the trust’s head of editorial standards rejected his complaint, Mr Franklin lodged a further appeal. The trust’s editorial standards committee agreed that the words “must”, taken with “insists”, was “too strong” and “therefore not duly accurate”.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Work to Start on New Bahrain Grand Mosque

Work on a new grand mosque with a capacity to serve large congregations of around 800 people will start soon in Diyar Al Muharraq, said top officials. A signing ceremony was held yesterday (May 30) to announce the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa Grand Mosque, which was attended by Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa, Sunni Endowments chairman Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa and Diyar Al Muharraq chairman Abdulhakeem Alkhayyat. The mosque located on a 19,238 sq m area will be completed by next August and will feature traditional Arabian Islamic design. It will be adjacent to Diyar Entry Park in the Sarat area across the beach. It will also be a Friday Grand Mosque, with separate areas for men and women. Diyar Al Muharraq signed the agreement with Gulf House Engineering and Middle East Contracting and Trade Centre.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Kazakhstan: Islam-Christianity Dialogue Features at Kazakh Interfaith Meet

Astana, May 31 (IANS) With religious tensions running high in Europe and other parts of the world, a dialogue between Islam and Christianity is the highlight of a global congress of faiths and civilisations this Kazakhstan capital that began here Wednesday and which is being attended, among others, by the head of the Global Islamic League, the metropolitan of Minsk and the chief rabbi of Israel. Should there be a major breakthrough, it would match the dramatic call by Israeli President Shimon Peres at the third edition of the Congress of World and Traditional Religions in 2009 for a three-way meeting between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Arab world to restore peace in the Middle East. The theme of the fourth edition of the Congress is “Peace and harmony as the choice of mankind”. However, the topics suggested for debates makes it evident that the focused will be on the integration of Islamic values to Christianity. Noting that one of the themes was “Religion and Multiculturalism”, an official associated with the Congress said it would “be a place for civilized discussion between representatives of Islam and Christianity on the tradition of wearing headscarves and veils by women. That is, as Christians believe, an over-expression of religion in secular European countries, where historical religion is Christianity”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Muslim Extremists Go Gaga in Indonesia

By Kalinga Seneviratne

JAKARTA, May 31, 2012 (IPS) — A sell-out concert by controversial U.S. pop star Lady Gaga scheduled for June 3 in the Indonesian capital was called off by the concert promoters on the weekend citing security concerns. This has reignited debate in the local media about the clout of “extremist” Islamic groups in the country and police inaction to limit what many in the media call their “thuggery”.

[…]

[JP note: Muslim extremists go gaga everywhere.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Court Orders Demolition of a Minaret, Dome of Ahmadi Mosque

Lahore: A Pakistani court has ordered the demolition of a minaret and dome of an Ahmadi mosque, where over 50 people were killed in an attack by terrorists two years ago. Additional Session Judge Naeem Ahmed further directed authorities to remove the ‘Kalma’ (Islamic profession of faith) from the mosque in Ghari Shahu area of Lahore. The judge issued the directives yesterday in response to a petition filed by Badr Alam, an assistant of lawyer Ismail Qureshi, who is known for his anti-Ahmadi views.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Curtain Goes Up on Cat Stevens’ Musical ‘Moonshadow’ With World Premiere in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia — Yusuf Islam’s long-awaited musical “Moonshadow” — some 10 years in the making — has its world premiere Thursday night in Australia. The singer-songwriter who was formerly known as Cat Stevens has invested a decade and $5 million into the epic fable, which is partially based on his life, travels and spiritual journey. “It’s a little bit to do with my journey but at the same time it’s also based on some of the early ideas I had about Siddhartha [father of buddhism], the Alchemist, but many things to do with the odyssey — the journey outward and the journey home,” Islam said.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Kenya: In Africa, A Militant Group’s Growing Appeal

(Reuters) — When Abdullahi slipped across the Kenya-Somali border to join the fighters of Islamist militant group al Shabaab in 2009, the livestock herder from northern Kenya found himself among recruits from around the globe. There were ethnic Somalis who had grown up in Australia, Britain, France and the United States. But there was also a large number of fellow Kenyans in the group’s ranks. They included, unexpectedly, dozens of young men who did not share his Somali ancestry or language but came instead from the green, tropical heartland of Kenya where Christianity is the dominant religion.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


I Fear That Fat People Have Missed the PC Boat

by Ed West

[…]

Poor fat people, they missed the PC boat — which is a shame, because they probably would have sunk it.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

General


Sanctity and Care of Women in Islam

Despite West’s bitter sentiments presented toward Islam and its alleged oppressive treatment toward women, it is imperative that Islam’s role is singly distinguished from some of the misconstrued practices of Muslims. Because Islam has always remained, on the grand scheme of scopes, so judiciously receptive of the treatment of women and their rights, no such allegations can stand on the ground of truth. Perhaps the culpability for such sentiments can be directed toward the extent of the bigotry and infamous reputation of Muslims in major news outlets? Or maybe it’s the outlook on a Muslim woman’s covering that makes them seem imprisoned and oppressed.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120530

Financial Crisis
» Italy: Mortgages Plummet Amid Recession, Tight Credit
» Lagarde Intransigent With Greece But Pays No Taxes
» Obama Sends Top Economic Advisor to Europe
 
USA
» Arrested for Blogging in Maryland
» Arrest Mother as Accomplice in Texas Honor Killing
» At Vegas Fundraiser, Romney Praises But Disagrees With Trump
» Demanding the Truth About Obama
» Ivy Leaguers Make Bad Presidents
» Measure by Yolo Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada Would Protect Workplace Religious Freedom
» Mosque Breaks Ground
» New York Plans a Ban on Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks
» Professor Sues Purdue After Probe of His Anti-Muslim Facebook Comments
 
Europe and the EU
» Anti-Semitism Common in Norway: Study
» Brussels Wants E-Identities for EU Citizens
» Last French Producer of Berets Saved
» Norway: Breivik’s Terror Network Doesn’t Exist: Police
» Spain: ‘Driverless’ Volvos Hit Streets in ‘World First’
» Sweden: Live Grenade Detonated in Central Malmö
» UK: An Exploration of Staff-Prisoner Relationships at HMP Whitemoor: 12 Years on
» UK: Anti-Israel Protestors Fail Again to Disrupt Globe
» UK: Culture Class for Frontline Police Teams
» UK: First Victory for Campaign to Save Famous Pie and Mash Shop
» UK: Graduate ‘Who Suffered Merciless Rape at Hands of Stranger’ After Being Thrown Off Bus Recounts Moment Driver Refused to Show Her Pity
» UK: Prisoners Under Pressure to Convert to Muslim ‘Gang’
» UK: The Odd Couple: Angelina Jolie Brings Hollywood to the Foreign Office …
» Vatican: Arrest Raises Questions if Butler Really Did it
» Vatican: Spokesman Denies Five Cardinals Being Quizzed on Leaks Scandal
 
North Africa
» Christians Should “Convert, Pay Tribute or Leave, “ Says Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Candidate?
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» PA Child Terror Leader Sentenced, Released
 
Middle East
» Cyprus Worried About Potential Syrian Refugees
» Islam: New “Huge” Mosque in Istanbul, Erdogan
» Orchestrated Regional War: Muslim Brotherhood Are Western Proxies?
» Syria: Not This Time!
» Turkey Plans Giant Istanbul Mosque for All to See, Erdogan Says
 
Caucasus
» Azerbaijan ‘Thwarted Planned Terror Attacks on Eurovision by Arresting 40 and Seizing Weapons’
 
South Asia
» 160 Schoolgirls Taken to Hospital After Second ‘Taliban Poisoning of Afghanistan School in a Week’
» Afghanistan: Taliban Militants Killed Afghan Tribal Leader in Mosque
» India: Alleged Illegal Detention of Kasmiri Youth by Uttar Pradesh’s Anti-Terror Squad Threatening to be a Political Controversy
» Indonesia: Forget Gaga; Indonesia Wild for Own Raunchy Shows
» Kyrgyzstan: Black Quadrate Group is Trying to Overthrow High Mufti and Take Power by Any Means — Bakyt Nurdinov
» Pakistan: Wahhabi Gunmen Martyr Two Shia Youths in Karachi
 
Far East
» EU Firms Complain About Unfair Treatment in China
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Gambia: Farato Nema Mosque Inaugurated
» Ghana: Care and Social Development (CSD), a Kuwaiti-Sponsored NGO
» Nigeria: Muslim Group Canvasses Renewed Orientation for Citizens
 
Culture Wars
» UK: Don’t Promote Women and Ethnic Minorities in the Courtroom Just to Fill Quotas, Says Former Top Female Judge

Financial Crisis


Italy: Mortgages Plummet Amid Recession, Tight Credit

Rome, 29 May (AKI) — Italians took out more than 31 percent few mortgages during the final quarter of 2011 as the European Union’s fourth-richest country was mired in economy and banks tightened credit, according to a report.

During the last three months of the year Italians took out 144,709 mortgages, national statistics agency Istat said in Tuesday.

The reduction totalled more than 14 percent for all of 2011 compared with the prior year, the report said.

Italy’s economy has contracted for three consecutive quarters causing unemployment to grow and businesses to fail. Consumer’s confidence in the economy fell to a 15-year low, according to a government report released Wednesday.

Italy is suffering its fourth recession since 2001 with almost 10 percent unemployment. Critics of austerity measures in Italy, Greece, Spain and other European countries say the spending cuts have exacerbated an already weak economic situation.

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



Lagarde Intransigent With Greece But Pays No Taxes

(AGI) Washington — The fashionable IMF general director, Christiane Lagarde does not walk the walk. She talked about the Greeks who must “pay all of their taxes”, otherwise the IMF will dedicate itself more to save Africa than Athens, but she pays nothing thanks to the supranational status of her position. Ms. Lagarde receives 380939 euros in pay, bonus included, but pays no taxes at all.

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



Obama Sends Top Economic Advisor to Europe

The Obama administration Tuesday dispatched one of its top economic officials, the Treasury Department’s under secretary for international affairs, Lael Brainard, to Europe to keep an eye on the Continent’s economic situation. The Treasury Department declined to comment on specifics of the move, the Wall Street Journal reports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


Arrested for Blogging in Maryland

By Jonathan H. Adler

Yesterday, blogger Aaron Walker, aka “Aaron Worthing,” was arrested for his blogging critical of Brett Kimberlin, a convicted domestic terrorist known as the “Speedway Bomber” who has become a progressive activist. As detailed by David Hogberg and Patterico and here, Kimberlin was able to convince a technologically illiterate judge that Walker’s blogging was incitement and violated a “peace order” Kimberlin had previously obtained against Walker. Unless there are additional, as-yet-undisclosed reasons for Walker’s arrest, it was blatantly unconstitutional, as Eugene Volokh explains here. Walker was released late yesterday afternoon, but an equally unconstitutional order barring him from, among other things, blogging about Kimberlin for the next six months further remains in effect. Many of those commenting on these events have cast the dispute in ideological terms, as Walker is a conservative blogger and Kimberlin is a progressive activist. Yet, as Popehat explains, the real issue here is the threat to free speech that Kimberlin’s tactics represent — a threat that should be of concern without regard to the ideological orientation of the participants.

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]



Arrest Mother as Accomplice in Texas Honor Killing

By Phyllis Chesler

On January 1, 2008, two American teenager sisters, 17 year-old Amina Said, and 18 year-old Sarah Said, were shot to death by their Egyptian father, Yaser Said, in Irving, Texas. After a lifetime of being physically and sexually abused by their father, the girls had finally decided to run away.

Sarah had rejected an arranged marriage with a much-older friend of her father’s whom she had never met. Both Amina and Sarah had boyfriends—and thus, their father viewed them as “whores” who had disobeyed the rules and who therefore deserved to die.

Yaser fled after the murder and has yet to be found.

The FBI briefly included him on their Most Wanted List for an Honor Killing but within days, they dropped the “honor killing” charge.

At the time, I was told that political pressure, mainly brought to bear by CAIR, (the Muslim Brotherhood in America), was responsible. Perhaps, fears of being charged with “Islamophobia” stayed the hand of local law enforcement and of the FBI.

Based on my own academic studies in Middle East Quarterly, there is no doubt that this was an classic honor killing.

[Return to headlines]



At Vegas Fundraiser, Romney Praises But Disagrees With Trump

(CBS News) LAS VEGAS, Nev. — After a day in which his message was overshadowed by talk of Donald Trump and birtherism, Mitt Romney’s appearance at a fundraiser at Trump’s hotel showed the fine line he walks between embracing the brash billionaire and keeping him at a safe distance.

Tuesday night’s event, which was expected to raise upwards of $2 million for Romney’s campaign, followed a day in which Trump doubled down on his claims that President Obama was not born in the United States and was instead born in Kenya.

“A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate,” Trump said of Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate in an interview on CNN just hours before he hosted Romney’s fundraiser. Democrats slammed Trump’s position throughout the day, believing it can win them voters who find such talk repugnant.

Romney did not address Trump’s new comments on Tuesday but told reporters earlier that he doesn’t agree with all of his supporters, including Trump. “And my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Romney said. “But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Neither Romney nor Trump referenced the controversy at the Tuesday evening fundraiser, where Trump introduced the now-official Republican nominee by telling the crowd that Romney would be “a great, great president.” Romney responded by thanking his host for “twisting the arms that it takes to bring a fundraiser together” — a nod to the connections that Trump provides.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Demanding the Truth About Obama

The only truly hopeful future for America will be the defeat of Obama on November 6.

Billions of words have been written about Barack Hussein Obama. He has written two “memoirs.” You could fill a library shelf with the books that have been written about him, few of them flattering. He has given thousands of speeches and interviews over the past three years he’s been in office.

After three years in which the financial crisis he “inherited” but for which he campaigned very hard, his solutions have proven to be failures on a massive, multi-billion-dollar scale. His war on energy has slowed the access to the sources of energy needed to provide the electricity to powers the nation and the fuel that keeps its cars, trucks and other means of transportation on the road, on the rail, and in the air. It has diverted millions to “green” energy alternatives fraught with bankruptcies.

A recent Fox News program hosted by Sean Hannity, bringing together influential authors and columnists, concluded that the mainstream media, the leading daily newspapers and the network news channels, not only failed to vet his life story and his qualifications to be president in 2008, but have provided cover while presently attacking the presumptive Republican candidate who will contest him in the November elections.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Ivy Leaguers Make Bad Presidents

Let’s look at America’s first president. It’s important to study how Gen. George Washington structured the government of the United States because if John Adams or Alexander Hamilton had been our first president, liberty would have vanished before there was a second presidential election. The government of the United States would have quickly morphed into something much more closely resembling the parliamentary governments of Europe in which Lords ruled. Our Presidents would have remained President, but our Vice Presidents would have become Prime Ministers.

We would not have had to wait for Woodrow Wilson and John Pierpont Morgan to convert the Republic into a democracy, or for Franklin Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and JP Morgan to complete the task by converting that democracy into a form of parliamentarian socialism. Our God-breathed inherent rights would have morphed into “mother-may-I” rights conditioned on our obedience to whatever administration was in power. Our rights should be as secure under a liberal as they are under a conservative. Sad. They aren’t. But, they would be if bribing politicians, or politicians providing financially lucrative quid pro quos for those bribes was made illegal—and everyone doing the buying and selling of political favors received a mandatory 20 year vacation as guests of the taxpayers of the United States.

[…]

Men who fought the British to win liberty and with it, the right of free men to speak their mind, were arrested for speaking out against the tyrannical edicts of John Adams. Adams believed the central government had the right through implied authority to overrule the States, when the Constitution specifically said the opposite. Adams relied on the five Federalist appointed Supreme Court justices to enforce the unconstitutional edits of the 5th Congress with respect to the Aliens and Sedition Act of 1797. The first victim of the Sedition Act was a Vermont Representative in the US Congress, Matthew Lyon, who published a letter in a local newspaper complaining that with the federal executive “…every consideration of the public welfare is swallowed up in a continual grasp for power and unbound thirst for ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation and self avarice.” (Adams wanted the presidency to be treated like the “crown heads” of Europe—as royalty. Lyon was arrested and brought before Supreme Court Justice William Tyler Paterson. After a brief trial reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, a jury found Lyon guilty. The trial only took a few minutes because Justice Paterson refused to allow Lyon’s attorney, Anthony Haswell, to present a defense. Paterson then ordered the jury to find Lyon guilty. They did.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Measure by Yolo Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada Would Protect Workplace Religious Freedom

SACRAMENTO, Calif.-The state Assembly approved a bill Tuesday that would add more protections for religious freedom in the workplace, specifying that California discrimination laws also should apply to religious clothing, hairstyles and the right to carry religious objects. The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, said she was upset to learn that Sikh and Muslim workers continue to face discrimination at work despite laws prohibiting it. AB1964, which passed on a 59-3 vote, also clarifies that segregating an employee from other workers or the public because of their appearance is not an acceptable accommodation under the law. “This bill is a little bit like the Rosa Parks issue of the 21st century for me,” Yamada said. “To know that there are Sikhs and Muslims relegated to the back of the store in order to continue their employment is particularly heinous.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Mosque Breaks Ground

After several years of fundraising, Muslims in the Katy and west Houston area broke ground on a $3.5 million mosque and community center that was once the focus of protests and national attention. Plans for the Muslim American Society’s Katy Center call for a two-story domed prayer area of 15,000 square feet, and an attached 8,000-square-foot multipurpose hall with gymnasium and meeting space. The organization was expecting approval of the county permits that would allow construction to begin in early June.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



New York Plans a Ban on Big Sizes of Sugary Drinks

New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to combat rising obesity.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

[Return to headlines]



Professor Sues Purdue After Probe of His Anti-Muslim Facebook Comments

Purdue University Professor Maurice Eisenstein says the school’s investigation — which cleared him — still violated his free speech rights.

A Purdue University professor has filed a freedom of speech suit against his school and five co-workers after getting in hot water for inflammatory statements about Muslims on his Facebook page.

Tenured political science professor Maurice Eisenstein was cleared by a university investigation into his Facebook comments, which included a reference to “the idiot Mohammad [sic}, may his name be cursed.” But Eisenstein claims the investigation nonetheless damaged his reputation and disputes a finding that he retaliated against other faculty members.

“I was trying to be challenging as a professor, and do what I was trained to do,” Eistenstein, who joined the school’s faculty in 1993, told FoxNews.com.

The flap unfolded late last year, when Eisenstein posted a photo of the aftermath of a massacre of Nigerian Christians, purportedly carried out by African Muslims, on his Facebook page.

“Where are the ‘moderate’ Muslims’ reaction to this? Oh, I forgot they are still looking at the earth as flat …,” Eisenstein wrote above the post.

Other members of the faculty, as well as members of the Muslim Student Association, learned of the comments and went to school officials. Eisenstein maintained that the post was on his personal page and in no way reflected on the school. History professor Miriam Joyce, who later filed a harassment complaint against Eisenstein, told FoxNews.com the comments could alienate students.

“We have Saudi students,” Joyce said. “We have other Muslim students. This is wrong. It creates an unpleasant and unwelcoming atmosphere. “I’m concerned that Muslim students and their parents will get the wrong idea about my school.”

The Muslim Student Association could not be reached for comment.

The school’s investigation, led by Chancelor Thomas Keon, cleared Eisenstein in January of violating the college’s free-speech and anti-harassment rules. However, he received a written reprimand for allegedly retaliating against Joyce, as well as a second professor, Saul Lerner.

Eisenstein denied retaliating or harassing his colleagues, but acknowledged a bitter e-mail exchange with Lerner and denies making a callous reference to Joyce’s son, a former hedge fund manager who committed suicide.

Eisenstein said his freedom-of-speech suit is the result of the university’s investigation into his comments about Muslims — even though the probe ostensibly cleared him.

“When you investigate free speech, you chill free speech,” Eisenstein said. “How am I supposed to do my job without free speech. I’ve changed. Every time I go into a classroom, I look around and wonder who will complain about what I say.”

Eisenstein enlisted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in bringing his suit against the Big Ten school.

“This is not the first time and it won’t be the last time we will see a university punish a student or professor for constitutionally protected speech on Facebook,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Professors at public universities should not have to go to court to defend their free speech rights.”

Joyce said freedom of speech shouldn’t permit a professor at a public school to gratuitously denigrate the beliefs of others, including students at the school.

“I’m all for free speech. I want it for me and I want it for everyone else, but there’s got to be some judgment used,” Joyce said. “You don’t cry fire if there isn’t a fire and then say it was protected by free speech.

“I’m a [history] teacher,” she added. “I’d rather be dealing with Bahrain than Eisenstein, anyway.”

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Anti-Semitism Common in Norway: Study

Some 12.5 percent of Norwegians hold clear prejudices against Jews, according to the country’s first ever comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism.

The study, commissioned by several Norwegian government agencies, was carried out by the Holocaust Centre in Oslo in conjunction with pollster TNS Gallup.

“In all, 12.5 percent of the population have distinct prejudices against Jews. In a European context, this makes the prevalence of anti-Semitic thinking relatively low in Norway and on the same level as Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden,” according to the report.

In certain areas, respondents displayed a particularly high level of anti-Semitism. For instance, a full 19 percent agreed with the statement that “the world’s Jews are secretly working to advance Jewish interests”, while 26 percent of Norwegians agreed that “Jews view themselves as being better than others”.

Eight percent said they would not like to have Jews as neighbours or friends.

Anti-Semitic tendencies were most apparent among men, older people and people with a low level of education, while women, young people, and well-educated Norwegians were in general less prejudiced.

Holocaust Centre coordinator Øivind Kopperud noted that, while the level of anti-Semitism was relatively limited, 12.5 percent of the population still equated to more than 600,000 people.

“A few of the individual figures are quite frightening,” said Kopperud, who pointed out that Norway is a politically stable and wealthy country.

He expressed particular concern over the fact that 38 percent of respondents equated Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews during World War II.

Furthermore, a quarter of Norwegians believed Jews used the memory of the Holocaust to gain advantages for themselves, while 12 percent said Jews bore responsibility for their own persecution. In neighbouring Sweden, just 2 percent of people said Jews had themselves to blame, while in Germany the figure rose to 10 percent.

Kopperud said it should also be borne in mind that Norway is home to only around 1,500 Jews. Few people have either Jewish friends or colleagues at school, university or in the workplace.

“So when they speak about Jews and their view of Jews, they are speaking about the mythical ‘Jew’, and that’s completely different from the relationship to other minorities who are quite visible.”

The study also showed that criticism of Israel did not always go hand in hand with anti-Semitic opinions.

An analysis revealed that half of respondents who held radical pro-Palestinian views did not display signs of anti-Semitism.

Among people with more moderate pro-Palestinian opinions, 75 percent showed no indication of being anti-Semitic.

“This shows that the relationship between anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli views is more complex that an often polarized public debate sometimes suggests,” said Kopperud.

The study also showed that Norwegians are more prejudiced against certain other minorities, with Muslims, Somalis and Romany people subject to the highest levels of discrimination.

The report makes four recommendations for improving the climate for Jews and other minorities. These include providing more information in schools about Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and prejudices against other minorities.

The authors also propose carrying out a similar survey every five years, as well as compiling comparable surveys for other minorities.

According to the researchers behind the study, the Norwegian police should begin keeping records of any hate crimes with anti-Semitic motives.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



Brussels Wants E-Identities for EU Citizens

The European Commission is set to launch a substantial review of rules governing personal documents with the aim of making electronic identities take off across the EU. But the proposal faces likely opposition from civil rights groups and member states where identity cards do not exist.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv.

“A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world,” reads the paper. “This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.”

Brussels has long been trying to facilitate the emergence of a parallel system of electronic identification, on top of the the real-world existing documents. This has mainly been linked to the struggle for establishing a truly functioning single market, rather than on security grounds.

A directive was adopted in 1999 establishing a common framework for electronic signatures. The rationale for the legal text is that if EU citizens feel comfortable in signing documents online, they will increasingly move to the immaterial world of the e-commerce to do business and shopping, regardless of national borders…

[Return to headlines]



Last French Producer of Berets Saved

The last remaining manufacturer of the staple of French headwear, the beret, has been saved.

A court in the southern city of Pau has approved the takeover of Béatex, which had been placed under judicial proceedings. The company will now be owned by Toulouse-based Promodis-Cargo. The company known for providing police, fire and army equipment. Two other companies had been in the bidding to take over the beret producer. “It’s a huge relief because this was the best proposal for us,” said Jean René Riard, an employee representative.

Promodis-Cargo has promised to keep on 30 of the 44 employees. It will also inject an immediate 500,000 euros ($623,000) into the company, with a further 750,000 in 2014. Béatex is based in the south-west town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie. Berets have been produced there since 1840.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Norway: Breivik’s Terror Network Doesn’t Exist: Police

Norwegian police said Wednesday they had ruled out that Anders Behring Breivik had accomplices when he killed 77 people last year, rejecting his claim to be part of a network prepared to strike again.

“We feel sure of this conclusion: no evidence in this case suggests any physical or psychological accomplices,” Oslo police chief Kenneth Wilberg told the Oslo district court on the 27th day of the right-wing extremist’s trial.

Breivik has insisted to police and in the 1,500-page ideological manifesto he posted online shortly before carrying out his twin attacks on July 22nd that he was part of a pan-European organization, the Knights Templar, established in London in 2002 to protect Europe from multiculturalism and a pending “Muslim invasion”.

In court, the 33-year-old confessed killer acknowledged that his description of the organization and his role in it had been “pompous” or exaggerated, saying the group had just six members but continuing to insist that the other “cells” could strike at any moment.

“Police have not found evidence that the Knights Templar exists in the shape suggested by the accused,” Wilberg said, presenting the results of the biggest investigation in Norwegian history with at times up to 1,000 police officers working on the case.

He acknowledged that police had not managed to identify most of the 8,000 people Breivik had wanted to send his manifesto to on July 22nd. The extremist has insisted that another member of the Knights Templar is on that list. Finding that person would be like “searching for a needle among 8,000 other needles,” Wilberg said.

On the day of his massacre, Breivik managed to email his manifesto to around 1,000 of the some 8,000 people he had meant to send it to, due to a network provider spam filter limiting the number of recipients.

“We have documented large parts of Breivik’s life, but we have not identified any accomplices,” Alf Nissen of the Norwegian criminal police told the court.

“But in theory, it is impossible to prove that something does not exist. All we can do is to look, look, look, and, at some point, we have to conclude that this doesn’t exist,” he added.

As the 10-week trial continues, some 50 police officers are still involved in investigating the July 22nd attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: ‘Driverless’ Volvos Hit Streets in ‘World First’

A convoy of self-driving cars has taken to a public motorway in Spain in normal traffic, a world first, according to Swedish car maker Volvo.

A professional driver took the lead of the convoy in a truck, and was followed by four self-driven Volvo vehicles: a second truck and three cars, Volvo said in a statement. Vehicles in the road train were equipped with safety systems including cameras, radar and laser sensors, enabling them to monitor the lead vehicle and other vehicles on the road, Volvo said.

“By adding in wireless communication, the vehicles in the platoon mimic the lead vehicle using Ricardo autonomous control — accelerating, braking and turning in exactly the same way as the leader,” it said.

The cars successfully drove for 200 kilometres on May 22 along a motorway outside Spain’s northeastern city of Barcelona, a Volvo spokesman said.

Volvo Car Corporation’s project manager, Linda Wahlstrom, was filmed driving one of the cars in the convoy as the system instructed her to lift her feet from the pedals and then remove her hands from the wheel.

As the car sped along the highway at 85 kilometres per hour, she leafed through a magazine. “It is quite funny to see the passing vehicles. They are quite surprised seeing me not driving the car but reading a magazine,” Wahlstrom said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Live Grenade Detonated in Central Malmö

Emergency services and bomb technicians were called to an address in central Malmö after a live grenade was found in a courtyard by a school and apartment block.

The police were called in just after 8am on Wednesday after a call regarding an explosive device found in a central Malmö apartment building, wrote the Skånskan newspaper.

“The building was evacuated. Between forty and fifty people left the building and the whole area was cordoned off,” said Cindy Schönström-Larsson of the Skåne police.

Several police patrols, ambulances, and bomb technicians all descended on the scene in the southern Swedish town, and a robot was sent to investigate the explosive.

The technicians attempted to relocate the grenade, which the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported was live — with the pin pulled and the handle extended. When the technicians did not succeed, they decided to detonate it on the scene just before 11.30am, wrote the paper.

Police have speculated how a grenade could have ended up in the location. “The hand grenade may have been thrown from a car, and it may have been here for several days,” said Håkan Johansson of the police to Sydsvenskan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: An Exploration of Staff-Prisoner Relationships at HMP Whitemoor: 12 Years on

[…]

  • A new population mix, including younger, more Black and minority ethnic and mixed race, and high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed in the prison among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison.
  • Some of the (serious) violent incidents were apparently related to faith or ideological disputes but were difficult to disentangle from other forms of prison violence.
  • Muslim prisoners talked about feeling alienated and targeted, and some non-Muslim prisoners regarded them as representing risk and a threat to a ‘British-White-Christian-Secular’ way of life.
  • There were tensions relating to fears of ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’ in the prison.
  • While the risks of alienation, loss of meaning, and violence, were more pressing than the (also real) risks of radicalisation, failure to address the former issues might make the risk of radicalisation higher.
  • All groups of prisoners were affected by and talked about the problems and perceptions above.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Anti-Israel Protestors Fail Again to Disrupt Globe

Anti-Israel activists continued with their attempts to disrupt the Habima Theatre’s performance of The Merchant of Venice during the company’s second night at the Globe. But security quickly removed protesters shouting and disturbing the show, and the performance went on without a break. Men and women wielding small banners or with tape over their mouths again shouted over the actors, but were taken out by Globe officials. During Shylock’s speech, Protesters screamed “Palestinians bleed too” as they were escorted out. The audience of the sold-out Hebrew language play included the Chief Rabbi, the Israeli ambassador to Britain and Lord Winston. As on the first night, pro and anti-Israel activists staged rallies outside the venue. Security was tight for ticket-holders, with both police and private security guards present.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Culture Class for Frontline Police Teams

IT’S back to school for hundreds of Kirklees bobbies as they take a lesson in Islamic culture. Around 300 frontline officers will take part in ‘myth-busting’ training designed to help them better understand the Muslim communities they serve. Acting Chief Insp Adrian Waugh said: “We want to make sure that our officers have a full understanding of the diverse communities they serve on a daily basis. Our aim is always to treat everyone fairly and by taking part in the training, it gives our officers the knowledge and awareness to deal with people professionally and courteously while dealing with different religions and cultures.”

[…]

[JP note: And to deal discourteously with dhimmis as any good Islamic Morality Police Force should.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: First Victory for Campaign to Save Famous Pie and Mash Shop

Campaigners battling to save one of west London’s last traditional pie and mash shops have claimed a first victory. A. Cooke’s Pie and Mash, which featured in the 1979 film Quadrophenia, faces being knocked down along with a row of historic shops in Goldhawk Road if a £150 million facelift of Shepherd’s Bush Market goes ahead. Rock star Pete Townshend is among those opposing the plans to demolish the shop, which has been in the same family since 1899 and has regulars including Sex Pistol Paul Cook and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Graduate ‘Who Suffered Merciless Rape at Hands of Stranger’ After Being Thrown Off Bus Recounts Moment Driver Refused to Show Her Pity

A university student who was raped after being ‘turfed off’ the last bus home because she was 20p short of the fare, has revealed how she offered to pay the money next time she travelled with the company.

A harrowing police interview filmed days after the attack was shown to the jury today, in which the 22-year-old victim told officers she was left ‘feeling depressed’ after the bus driver refused to wait so she could withdraw extra money from a nearby cash dispenser.

Some of the woman’s injuries — bruising, swelling and cuts to her face — were still clearly visible on the film, which was recorded 12 days after she was attacked on December 10 last year.

The law student was left stranded in Nottingham city centre at 3am and after walking for less than a mile, the prosecution claim she was targeted by drink-fuelled Joseph Moran, 19, who then allegedly launched a ‘savage’ attack.

Today it was revealed to the jury she also said to the driver that her mother could meet the bus at the end of her journey and hand the driver the missing 20p.

Both offers were refused by the driver.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Prisoners Under Pressure to Convert to Muslim ‘Gang’

Prisoners are under pressure to convert to an Islamic “gang” at a high-security jail, with non-Muslims in fear of violence just for cooking bacon, according to an official report.

Muslims represent around a third of all prisoners at Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire

Inmates at HMP Whitemoor told researchers commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that they changed their faith for protection or because they were bullied into it.

Prison guards said they had a policy of “appeasement” towards the powerful and growing Islamic population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.

Non-believers avoided confrontation with any Muslim in case it led to retribution from the wider group, and said they even avoided cooking pork or bacon in communal kitchens or undressing in the showers in case it caused offence.

The report, written by researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “Conflict and tension existed between and within faith groups.

“There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population, who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith. Many physically powerful prisoners ‘re-established their outside identities’ as leaders in the prison and used their (newly acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing influence.

“Non-Muslim prisoners described wearing underpants in the showers on some spurs (out of ‘respect’ and fear) and some Muslim prisoners described a form of intimidation exerted (‘they probably do feel shamed’) relating to cooking (especially frying bacon) in the kitchens.”

HMP Whitemoor is situated in a “remote Fenland town” far from most inmates’ families, and is home to 440 Category A and B prisoners, almost all of whom are serving more than 10 years behind bars and seven of home are convicted terrorists.

Opened in 1991, three years later it was the scene of an escape by six prisoners including some IRA members.

Following concerns over Islamic radicalisation in a 2008 report by inspectors, researchers visited Whitemoor between 2009 and 2010 to interview staff and inmates.

They found that more than a third (35 to 39 per cent) of prisoners are now Muslims, compared with 11 per cent across all jails.

Many of those they spoke to had converted while inside but they had mixed motivations for doing so, and not all had done so voluntarily.

Reasons included “seeking care and protection”, “gang membership” and “coercion” as well as “rebellion” since Islam was seen as the “underdog”.

Prisoners told the researchers that becoming Muslim was a “cover” for power and influence.

Loners including sex offenders gained safety from joining a large and dominant group, as fellow members would defend them.

Non-Muslims and prison officers claimed that it was an “organised gang” and a “protection racket” rather than a religion, which “glorified terrorist behaviour and exploited the fear related to it”.

Others said they had felt under pressure to convert, with people leaving Islamic literature in their cells and telling them to “read this”, or promising they would be safe from physical assault if they changed faith.

“The threat of assaults motivated by religious fanaticism or extremist ideology added weight to the atmosphere at Whitemoor.”

Guards said there were “proper Al-Qaeda” members in the jail, who were regarded with “awe” by younger inmates, but they avoided confrontation and had “runners” to do their bidding.

Some prisoners described the place as a “recruiting drive for the Taliban” and fertile ground for hatred and a new generation of extremists.

One inmate said he was targeted because he wore a Remembrance Day poppy and his brother served in the Army, with people shouting “your wife’s burning in hell because she’s not a Muslim” at him.

But it was also claimed that non-Muslims felt “envy” at the preferential treatment, including better food, given to Muslims.

The report concluded: “The new population mix, including younger, more black and minority ethnic and mixed race, and high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies in the prison. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison. In particular, there were tensions and fears relating to ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’.

“More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most ‘available’ option for those looking for belonging, meaning, ‘brotherhood’, trust and friendship.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



UK: The Odd Couple: Angelina Jolie Brings Hollywood to the Foreign Office …

The 36-year-old actress was speaking before a screening of her new film In The Land Of Blood And Honey

They really are the unlikeliest of couples. One is a millionaire Hollywood actress adored as one of the world’s most beautiful women — and the other is William Hague. Britain’s Foreign Secretary teamed up with stunning Angelina Jolie yesterday as they joined forces for a government drive to tackle sexual violence in war zones around the world. The 36-year-old actress, who is engaged to Brad Pitt, was speaking at the Foreign Office in London before a screening of her new film In The Land Of Blood And Honey.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Vatican: Arrest Raises Questions if Butler Really Did it

Vatican City (AKI/Bloomberg) — The Vatican is conducting a widening probe into leaked documents that prompted the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler last week in a case local media have compared to an Agatha Christie novel.

The Vatican yesterday ruled out any involvement in the investigation of a cardinal or a woman, after newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Stampa reported that the butler hadn’t acted alone and that a cardinal, the Roman Catholic Church’s highest rank after the pope, was also among the suspects.

The pope is “aware of the delicate situation going on inside the Curia,” or the Holy See’s government, spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters. “No cardinal or woman is under investigation,” said Lombardi, who is due to brief the press again today after 12 p.m. in Rome.

Italian media have offered contradictory versions of the events behind the May 25 arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the butler found in possession of classified documents. The case has often been portrayed as part of a palace intrigue pitting loyalists of an increasingly isolated Benedict, 85, against Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s de facto prime minister.

“It’s right out of an Agatha Christie novel,” Rome daily Il Foglio said…

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



Vatican: Spokesman Denies Five Cardinals Being Quizzed on Leaks Scandal

Vatican City, 29 May (AKI) — Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi on Tuesday rejected reports that five cardinal were being questioned over the deepening scandal of leaked documents revealing corruption and power struggles within the Vatican.

“Media reports that five cardinals have been questioned have no basis in fact,” Lombardi said on Tuesday.

Lombardi also denied reports that envelopes with lists of names had been found in the apartment where confidential papal documents were found in the possession Pope Benedict XVI’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested on 25 May.

Gabriele has so far been charged with “aggravated theft,” according to Lombardi.

Investigators are combing through Gabriele’s computer and bank details in an attempt to trace people he has been in touch with.

Lombardi admitted that the leaks scandal — considered the most serious crisis of Benedict’s papacy — was “a serious challenge for the Pope and for Roman Curia (Vatican government).”

There was “shock and disbelief” in the Vatican at Gabriele’s arrest, Lombardi said.

“Gabriele is someone who worked for the Pope for several years and had never given any cause for concern.”

The day before Gabriele was arrested, Vatican bank chief Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was ousted by its board for allegedly failing to clean up the image of the bank after a money-laundering scandal last year and has also been named as a possible source of leaked documents about the institution.

Two months ago, the Pope appointed a special commission to investigate the so-called ‘Vatileaks’ documents passed to the Italian media and printed in a book published last week called Sua Santita (His Holiness).

Several Italian media outlets have quoted sources claiming Gabriele was just one of around 20 whistleblowers who had been leaking information.

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

North Africa


Christians Should “Convert, Pay Tribute or Leave, “ Says Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Candidate?

by Raymond Ibrahim

According to the popular Egyptian website, El Bashayer, Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, just declared that he will “achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya,” the additional Islamic tax, or financial tribute, required of non-Muslims, or financial tribute. In a brief report written by Samuel al-Ashay and published by El Bashayer on May 27, Morsi allegedly made these comments while speaking with a journalist at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, adding “We will not allow Ahmed Shafiq [his contending presidential candidate] or anyone else to impede our second Islamic conquest of Egypt.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


PA Child Terror Leader Sentenced, Released

An Israeli military court Tuesday sentenced Bassem al-Tamimi, a 45 year old Palestinian man who encourages Palestinian youth to attack Israeli soldiers with projectiles, was sentenced to 13 months in jail. Al-Tamimi, who garnered the support of the European Union, which criticized Israel for imprisoning him, was released after the trial, having served all 13 months while awaiting trial. Al-Tamimi’s tactics have been called child abuse by some, who accuse him of manipulating children to endanger themselves and others in a street war against Israel. Amnesty International called al-Tamimi a “prisoner of conscience,” and celebrated him as a protest leader.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Cyprus Worried About Potential Syrian Refugees

The incoming Cypriot EU presidency is worried that Syrian refugees could arrive en masse in the island-nation and in the EU more broadly if the conflict gets worse. Cyprus, located around 170 km west of Syria, is drawing up plans in case Syrian boat refugees arrive on its coast, a Cypriot source told this website.

Syrian refugees have so far made their way across land borders to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The UN estimates that there were 43,000 of them registered as of April in the four countries, with another 12,000-or-so unregistered people also displaced in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Islam: New “Huge” Mosque in Istanbul, Erdogan

On 15,000 sq.mt. “visible from everywhere in the city”

Turkey’s Conservative Islamic Prime Minister, Recep Tayyep Erdogan, has announced that construction works of the new mosque are to start. The mosque will be built on a hill in Istanbul and “it will be possible to see it from every single part of the city”. The new worship building will cover a surface of 15,000 square mt. on a hill in Camlica, in the Asian part of the Bosporus megalopolis (13 mln inhabitants), as Zaman reports. Erodogan, a former Istanbul mayor, announced that the construction works are due to start in two months.

According to the centre-right wing opposition and the defenders of the secularism of the Turkish State founded 90 years ago by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Erdogan’s government, which has been in office since 2002, is implementing a strategy of gradual “Islamisation” of the country. Erdogan said that the construction of another large mosque, covering a surface of 6,000 sq.mt. dedicated to Mimar Sinan will be completed in Istanbul by July and that five further worship places are under construction. In the past days, the Islamic Prime Minister prompted a heated debate when he spoke out against abortion, calling it “a homicide” and announcing the forthcoming presentation of a draft bill against voluntary interruption of pregnancy, which has been legal until the tenth week of pregnancy since 1983 in Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Orchestrated Regional War: Muslim Brotherhood Are Western Proxies?

by Tony Cartalucci

One would expect allegedly “outspoken” critics of the US and Israel to represent the antithesis of any joint US-Israeli foreign policy, especially when it involves mass-murdering large numbers of fellow Arabs to expand Western hegemony across the Middle East. Yet the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has done the exact opposite, after a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israel propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood has joined US, European, and Israeli calls for an “international” intervention in Syria.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently called for international intervention in Syria citing the alleged Houla massacre, echoed by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan who stated the same. The Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood has been involved heavily, leading in fact, the US, Israeli, Saudi, and Qatari-backed sectarian violence that has been ravaging Syria for over a year. In a May 6, 2012 Reuters article it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

While Reuters categorically fails to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh, as being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

[…]

For the Arab World, it should be clear that the “enemy of my enemy” is most certainly not “my friend,” especially when that “enemy” is the result of an artificial strategy of tension created by those posing as “allies.” Sunni Muslims share a common enemy not only with their Shi’ia neighbors, but with all peoples, races, and religions from Africa to Asia. That enemy is Anglo-American imperialism which has perpetuated itself for centuries by nothing else other than its ability to divide, destroy, and conquer nations pitted against nations, north verses south, one religion verses another, one tribe against another. This is how they subjugated huge swaths of Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and this is exactly how they are now conquering the Arab World.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Syria: Not This Time!

Every so often in life there comes a time when inaction is the best action. In other words—do nothing.

This is such a time. I refer to the crisis in Syria.

While the slaughter in Syria cries out for someone/some country or countries to get between the warring factions and stop the blood letting, it is NOT the place of the United States to intervene. Not THIS time.

May I remind you—they HATE Americans! We are the Great Satan, remember? Stepping in now, in what is essentially a civil war in Syria, is certainly not going to do a single thing to make the Syrians or the Islamic peoples of the Middle East love us—or—even hate us less.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Turkey Plans Giant Istanbul Mosque for All to See, Erdogan Says

Turkey commissioned a “giant mosque” to sit atop an Istanbul peak that will be visible from everywhere in the city of 15 million, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. The Islamic house of worship is one of six new mosques planned for the eastern half of the city that straddles Europe and Asia, Erdogan told supporters at a traditional handworks art center in Istanbul yesterday, according to state-run Anatolia news agency. Work on the mosque on top of the Camlica hill on the Bosphorus may start in two months, Erdogan said. The complex, which will also include madrasas, or religious schools, will be built on 15,000 square meters (50,000 square feet), according to the premier.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Azerbaijan ‘Thwarted Planned Terror Attacks on Eurovision by Arresting 40 and Seizing Weapons’

Security services in Azerbaijan say they arrested 40 suspects and seized weapons as they thwarted a series of planned terror attacks against the Eurovision Song Contest.

Officials said they had discovered 13 assault rifles, a machine gun, 12 handguns, three rifles, 3,400 rounds of bullets, 62 hand grenades, and several kilograms of explosives.

Targets included the song contest venue and major hotels housing foreigners, including the Marriott and Hilton in Baku, the National Security Ministry said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia


160 Schoolgirls Taken to Hospital After Second ‘Taliban Poisoning of Afghanistan School in a Week’

Dozens of Afghan schoolgirls were rushed to hospital after they were poisoned at school in a suspected Taliban attack.

Police officers in Taluqan, northern Afghanistan, said the classrooms at the school might have been sprayed with a toxic material before the girls entered.

A total of 160 girls aged between ten and 20 from the Aahan Dara Girls School were taken to hospital.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Afghanistan: Taliban Militants Killed Afghan Tribal Leader in Mosque

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — An Afghan tribal leader has been shot to death by suspected Taliban militants in a mosque in the central province of Ghazni. Gunmen opened fire on Haji Mohammad as he was saying prayers in a mosque in Ghazni’s Andar district. The assailants managed to escape from the scene. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the killing of the tribal leader, but the Taliban is believed to be behind the attack. Last week, people in Andar launched a campaign against the Taliban and killed and captured more than 25 members of the militant group. Afghan police also blamed the group for a rocket attack that targeted a market in Ghazni’s provincial capital, which is called the same name. Seven people were injured in the strike that saw four artillery shells land at the market.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India: Alleged Illegal Detention of Kasmiri Youth by Uttar Pradesh’s Anti-Terror Squad Threatening to be a Political Controversy

LUCKNOW: The issue of two Kashmiri youth allegedly picked up by Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) anti-terror squad (ATS) is all set to snowball into a political controversy with Muslim activists and organisations approaching the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and are writing to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to seek immediate intervention. The allegations are that two Kashmiri students of Jamiatul Falah, a reputed Madrasa in Azamgarh, were picked up by UP ATS from Kaifiyat Express on Thursday morning ( May 24) at Aligarh Railway Station on grounds that they were indulging in anti-national activities. The two students Sajjad Ahmed Bhatt and Wasim Ahmed Bhatt are cousins and hail from Sopore in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir. Sajjad was first year student of Arabic course while Wasim was in the second year.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: Forget Gaga; Indonesia Wild for Own Raunchy Shows

Titin Karisma parades onto the stage wearing a rhinestone bustier and matching bottoms, with sequin fringe that jiggles wildly to the rhythm of the beating drums. Preteen boys watch the singer wide-eyed as she straddles a speaker, whipping her long hair wildly. She licks the microphone and drops to the ground, repeatedly thrusting her pelvis toward a camera. Lady Gaga’s onstage antics are almost tame compared to this act, known as dangdut, the most popular genre of music in this predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million.

But while the pop star’s show was effectively banned from Indonesia, tens of thousands of young women here put on performances like Karisma’s every night. They shake and grind in smoky bars, ritzy nightclubs, at weddings, even circumcisions. In most cases the hosts say the sexier the better. The apparent double standard highlights divisions between Indonesia’s largely tolerant majority and a vocal minority of Islamic hard-liners. The conservatives hold outsized influence in government, and have successfully picked high-profile battles like the Lady Gaga show, but they haven’t been able to stop dangdut, which has a long tradition here.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Kyrgyzstan: Black Quadrate Group is Trying to Overthrow High Mufti and Take Power by Any Means — Bakyt Nurdinov

“Black Quadrate group is trying to overthrown High Mufti and take power by any means,” announced Kyrgyz and Central Asian Muslims Congress chairman Bakyt Nurdinov on today’s press conference. According him, former “hadj barons” are trying to overthrown mufti Chubak azhy Zhalilov before the hijrah. “Right now, they are trying to overthrown the RDMK (Religious Department of Muslims in Kyrgyzstan) head with help of Zhantoro Satybaldiev, a head President’s Office, Religion Issues State Commission head and GKNB (State National Security Committee) officers. There are attempts to prevent anti-corruption reforms at RDMK,” said Bakyt Nurdinov. The mufti assistant Saysat Asanov noted that the state is separated from religion, but Religion Issues State Commission intervene into RDMK’s internal problems. “On May 21 ulamas’ meeting initiated by the mufti took place. Then 26 out of 35 its members arrived at the council. In other words they had quorum. Today 5 former ulamas council members who didn’t pass necessary exams want to repeat the meeting. State Commission informed that the new one will take place on May 31. Though it is not the Commission’s prerogative,” he explained. Bakyt Nurdinov stressed that Islamic clergy are under pressure of GKNB. “The officers are threatening them and demand to visit the ulalmas meetings. We ask President Almazbek Atambayev, Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov and Speaker Asilbek Zheenbekov that they take necessary measures against Black Quadrate group,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Wahhabi Gunmen Martyr Two Shia Youths in Karachi

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — According to information provided by correspondents, two Shia youngsters Mehdi Raza and Ahmer Abbas were gunned down by the anti-shia terrorist organization Sipah e Sahaba (SSP). The incident took place in Orangi Town Scetor No 0 near Aslam shaheed chowk near Madni chowk. The martyrs were identified as 35 years old Mehdi Raza S/O Mehdi Hasan and 21 Years old Ahmer Abbas S/O Qamar Abbas. Both the youngsters were the residents of Ancholi and Gulshan Iqbal. Mehdi RAza and Ahmer Abbas worked in a workshop. As they came out of the bus, the already waiting terrorists opened fire on them, resulting in the death of both the youngsters.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


EU Firms Complain About Unfair Treatment in China

China is considered the engine of the world economy and thousands of foreign companies have launched operations there to benefit from this. However, a new survey says a fifth of European firms are thinking of leaving.

Although Rittal is still based in the small town of Herborn in Germany’s central state of Hesse, it is to a certain degree a Chinese company. Since 1996, it has been producing control cabinets in Shanghai, where it employs some 1,200 Chinese workers.

“If we hadn’t made the decision to come here, we wouldn’t have such bright prospects for the future,” says Karl Christoph Caselitz, the head of customer relations. “We might not have a future at all. Global business is unimaginable today without China.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Gambia: Farato Nema Mosque Inaugurated

Farato Nema, Friday inaugurated their new mosque at Farato Village in the West Coast Region (WCR). Speaking at the occasion, Sankung Bojang, the Imam of Farato Nema thanked God the Almighty for the completion of the mosque. He told the community of Farato Nema that the mosque is meant for prayers; a place to worship Allah, and they should make best use of it. Bojang urged the elders of the village to encourage the learning and teaching of the Holy Quran and to follow the footsteps of the prophet, Muhammed (SAW) and to maintain faithfulness. For his part, Kawsu Trawally, the Imam of Farato Bojang Kunda highlighted the significance of behavioural change in the present generation. He made mention of the issue of the recent phenomenon of evil spirit attacks in schools and on school going children. According to him, those evil spirits attacked only women, noting that for a woman to prevent herself from evil attack she should cover all her body from the head to the ankle. Imam Trawally also urged parents to monitor and take control of their children. He thanked the Almighty God; President Jammeh and the people of Farato Nema for their support to make the day a remarkable event in the history of Farato Nema. Other speakers included: Abdou Karim Darboe, chairman of the council of elders; Yusupha Jammeh,elder of the community; and Baba Ceesay,Imam of Kerewan Babilon. The ceremony was graced by hundreds of worshippers.

[JP note: Finally, an all-too-plausible reason for covering up women head to toe.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Ghana: Care and Social Development (CSD), a Kuwaiti-Sponsored NGO

Care and Social Development (CSD), a Kuwaiti-sponsored non-governmental organisation in Ghana has constructed a mosque and mechanized bore-hole for the people of Twimia-Nkwanta in Techiman Municipality. It has also constructed a mosque for the residents of Wangara-Line in Techiman. Inaugurating the projects at separate ceremonies, Sheik Mansour Abouzaid, Chief Executive Officer of CSD said the NGO had been operating in Brong-Ahafo for some years. He said the organisation had assisted rural communities in the promotion of education, sanitation and provision of other social amenities. Sheik Abouzaid noted that although Moslems would be using the mosque for prayers, the boreholes would be used by all the people irrespective of their religious affiliation. He advised them to take good care of the facilities and charged the Moslems, especially the youth, to propagate the message of peace and eschew violence as Islam stood for peace. The Chief Executive Officer assured the people that the NGO would provide other communities with more mechanized boreholes.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Muslim Group Canvasses Renewed Orientation for Citizens

The Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness (MICA) has called for the re-orientation of Nigerians as part of measures to improve on peace and stability in the country. Coordinator of MICA Abuja chapter, Alhaji Abdulbasit Bakare, who made the call during the launching of a N250 million multi-purpose Islamic Centre project last Sunday, stressed that the new orientation is necessary due to security challenges facing the nation as well as the unpatriotic tendencies of people. He said the proposed Islamic centre would be a one stop Islamic Centre meant to ensure Islamic cultural awareness, re-orientation and national development, which will provide a platform for solving some of the problems facing the country. According to him, the centre would cater for the spiritual, social, economic and political well being of Muslims and also ensure their healthy living in the fitness centre.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


UK: Don’t Promote Women and Ethnic Minorities in the Courtroom Just to Fill Quotas, Says Former Top Female Judge

Women and ethnic minority judges who are not up to the job have been appointed because of diversity targets, a former High Court judge has warned.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, formerly the most senior woman judge in England and Wales, said that there had been ‘too much enthusiasm for diversity and not enough for merit’ in the appointment process.

As a result, judges had found themselves ‘failing’ because they were ‘not able to bear the strain of the judicial process’, she said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120529

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

Financial Crisis


France: Wealth Managers Toast Wine Funds

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Imbalances Could Blast the Eurozone

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish and Italian Borrowing Costs Soar

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Support for EU Economic Integration Shrinking

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


45 Signs That China is Colonizing America

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

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

The following are 45 signs that China is colonizing America…

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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Bosnians Celebrate Mosque Opening

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Commerce Considers Labeling Arab Americans a Disadvantaged Minority

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Decoration Day

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

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

And this,

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Doc Watson, Renowned Guitarist and Folk Singer, Dies

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

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

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

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

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

[Return to headlines]



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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Frank Gaffney: It Ain’t Necessarily So

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Mufreesboro Mosque Stopped for Lack of Adequate Public Notice of Hearings

by Jerry Gordon

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

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Some Proposed Mosques Face Obstacles Across the Nation

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Canada


Quebec Protesters, Government Continue Talks

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Danish Security Services Arrest Two Terror Suspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Eastern Europe Protests Corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Churchgoers Pelted With Stones

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italy: At Least Nine Killed After Another Quake Hits Emilia

Magnitude-5.8 quake comes nine days after tremor killed seven

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Muslim Preacher: Dutch Are Lower Than Animals

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

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Norway Public Sector Workers Go on Strike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Sweden Boosts Spending on Anti-Terror Battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish Jewish Leader: ‘Enough is Enough’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re going to play it by ear.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Switzerland Sees Spike in Cross-Border Crime

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Boris Puts Ex on a Task Force for Muslims

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

by Benedict Brogan

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

by James Kirkup

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

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           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



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

‘No cardinal under investigation’ says Lombardi

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Islamists in Egypt Blame Christians for Voting

by Mary Abdelmassih

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]



Islamists Face Setback in Egyptian Presidential Election

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

The Islamist Camp

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

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Protesters Attack Egyptian Candidate’s Office

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Anti-Israel Protests Fail to Silence Habima Globe Performance

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Protesters Clash Outside the Globe as Israeli National Theatre Company Performs

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Middle East


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Powerful ‘Flame’ Cyberweapon Torching Mideast Computers

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Russia


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Muslims Outraged at Xenophobic Graffiti

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



India: Maxim Media Study Halal Tourism Opportunities in India

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Italian Marines’ Jurisdiction Appeal in India Rejected

Ruling further postponed

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Pakistan: The Farce of Tribal Jirgas

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


China’s Rising Costs Deter European Business: Survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



China and Japan Will Start Direct Currency Trading

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Chinese ‘Looking for Opportunities’ In U.S.

Companies bullish when it comes to investing in American businesses

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



EU Firms Grow Wary of Business Climate in China

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Mali: Touaregs Declare ‘Islamic State of Azawad’

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Nigeria: Much Crime, Little Punishment

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Obama Opens Door to Africa for Monsanto

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Robert Mugabe Asked to be UN ‘Leader for Tourism’

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



South Africa: R1.3bn Mosque and Varsity Complex

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Malta Urges EU to Tackle North Africa Migrants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

General


German and Chinese Solar Firms Battle for Survival

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Lake That Time Forgot

by Tom Chivers

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120528

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

Financial Crisis


EU Put to the Test by Markets, Italy to Pass

Eurozone fears Spain and Greece, Irish referendum on pact

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Europe’s (Olive) Oil Crisis

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



European Funds Dumping Euro-Assets

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: State May Run Out of Funds by July

Papademos presented dramatic report during consultations

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Police Tell Greeks Not to Withdraw Money From Banks

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: Bankia Shares Plunge as Trading Resumes

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Rats in JPMorgan’s Granary Exposed

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

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

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

The problem is systemic

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

USA


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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



A President’s Appeasement Politics

by Raymond Ibrahim

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Beyond Outrageous

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Continuing to Unravel the Soetoro-Obama Legend

Obama-Ayers connection, eyewitness account

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

[Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama Campaign Again Urging Supporters to Report on Non-Believers

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Spot the Narrative

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

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

Yeah, me too.

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Stealth Islamic Propaganda Shown to Six Million American Students

by Larissa Scott

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



The War for America

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

[…]

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



US Snakebite Lands Norwegian Student With Massive Bill

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



US Troops Practice for Peace in a Texan Afghan Village

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canada


Islam Comes Knocking in Bid to Promote Harmony

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Al-Shabab Plotting Attack in Netherlands

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

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

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

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

Waging jihad

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Eurovision 2012: BBC Facing Calls to Withdraw

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



France’s PM Ayrault is More Popular Than Hollande

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

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



France: Nice Outlaws ‘Too Festive’ Weddings

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Ireland: Schull Shipwreck Had Nutty Cargo

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: Pope’s Valet Said to be Behind Vatileaks

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

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

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

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

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

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



Italy: Environment Chief Says Rome Waste Situation Near Critical

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

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



Netherlands: Handling of Amsterdam Sharia Group Criticised

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Prague Remembers Nazi Past With Replica Death Camp

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sharia4holland Spokesman Arrested Over Wilders Threat

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Exile Uzbeks Suspect Regime for Imam Attack

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish Teen Reported to Police for ‘Face Rape’

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



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

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

[…]

[JP note: Deportation would have been better.]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Heroin Dealers Jailed

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Islamic Extremists Target UK Students on Social Networks

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Minister in Apology Over Rent

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Redditch Unites as EDL March Ends Peacefully

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Tory Peer Baroness Warsi Faces Police Inquiry Over Expenses

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



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

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

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

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

North Africa


Egypt: Italian Energy Giant ENI Makes Big Oil Find

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Egypt: The Facebook Caliphate

by Mark Steyn

Liberal democracy cannot be tweeted.

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

Like!

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Egypt’s Brotherhood Scrambling to Broaden Support

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Gauck to Tread Delicate Line in Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Bahrain: Stolen Ancient Relics Recovered

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Thousands Pray for Istanbul Landmark to Become Mosque

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

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UAE: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Visits Islamic Centre

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

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

South Asia


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

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

[…]

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

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East


Ex-Premier Puts Blame for Fukushima on Government

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

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Australia Relists Four Terror Groups

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

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

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Mali Rebels Merge to Create Independent Islamist State

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

Mali’s Tuareg rebel National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine Islamist militants agreed to join forces on Saturday, signing a deal to create an independent Islamist state in the north of the country.

“The agreement reached this evening will see the merging of the two movements — the MNLA and Ansar Dine — to create an independent Islamic state,” MNLA spokesman Mohamed Ag Attaher told news agency Reuters.

“It will also see the merging of our two forces and the appointment of an executive authority for the Azawad state,” Attaher said from the northern town of Gao, where the accord was signed.

Local residents said the deal was greeted by celebratory gunfire across the city, where the two groups had held talks for several days.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Mali: Rebels Take Arms Cache That Can ‘Prolong War’

Bamako, 28 May (AKI) — Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has come into possession of a large arms cache in northern Mali which can prolong the war and stregnthen the Islamist insurgency, according to the al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

The underground arsenal was found near the city of Gao around 320 kilometres east-southeast of Timbuktu. The arms belonged Malian military forces that who were driven from the area by Tuaregin rebels April, the pan-Arab daily said.

Unnamed security officials said they are worried about the arms that will “certainly make the rebellion in the north last longer and more difficult because the arms will reinforce their strengthen of the rebels’ fire-power.”

Islamists and Tuareg rebels declared the nation’s north an independent country to be governed by Sharia law.

The joint announcement from the Ansar Dine and the Tuareg MNLA rebel groups increases the possibility that will be divided.

“The two movements have created the transitional council of the Islamic state of Azawad,” the groups said.

“We are all in favour of the independence of Azawad… We all accept Islam as the religion,” the statement said.

The two groups took advantage of a military coup in Bamako to seize control of the territory early last month.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Immigration


76 Egyptian Migrants Land in Ragusa Area

(AGI) Ragusa — A fishing boat carrying 76 migrants landed in the Ragusa area this morning. All the passengers were men and are believed to be Egyptians, who sailed from Libya. They ran aground shortly after 5am, on the promontory of Anticaglie, at Caucana, on the coast between Marina di Ragusa and Santa Croce Camerina. The migrants were transferred to the emergency reception centre at Pozzallo.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Indian Immigrant Kills Wife for Wearing Western Clothes

Piacenza, 28 May (AKI) — An Indian immigrant in northern Italy has admitted to killing his pregnant wife because she dressed in Western clothing and tossing her lifeless body into a river.

Singhj Kulbir, 37, late Sunday told police in the city of Piacenza he strangled to death his 27-year-old wife Kaur Balwinde before disposing of her corpse by throwing it in the Po River.

Investigators say Kulbir, who worked for an agricultural company, killed his wife to punish her for dressing too like a Westerner against Indian traditions.

Balwinde’s body was found floating on Sunday in the Po river near Piacenza 153 days after she went missing. The mother of a five-year-old boy, she was three months pregnant, according to the PiacenzaSera news website.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

General


Cow, Wisdom, And Economics

I have always learned from the wisdom of my senior generation. As a child, I sat spellbound in the twilight around the elders of the village, listening to their stories. The lessons learned were priceless and fascinating for someone who “had not seen the world yet.” The moral of those long ago and faraway sagas have served me well through life.

I was delighted when, Ionel Iloae, a Romanian journalist, told a humorous story, albeit dark humor, of an entire village in Dragata, Moldova, who ate a “mad” cow. He was not talking about mad cow disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome, but a cow that had been bitten by a rabid animal, presumably a fox.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Flame: Massive Cyber-Attack Discovered, Researchers Say

A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said.

Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010.

The company said it believed the attack was state-sponsored, but could not be sure of its exact origins.

They described Flame as “one of the most complex threats ever discovered”.

Research into the attack was carried out in conjunction with the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.

They had been investigating another malware threat, known as Wiper, which was reportedly deleting data on machines in western Asia.

In the past, targeted malware — such as Stuxnet — has targeted nuclear infrastructure in Iran.

Others like Duqu have sought to infiltrate networks in order to steal data.

This new threat appears not to cause physical damage, but to collect huge amounts of sensitive information, said Kaspersky’s chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk.

“Once a system is infected, Flame begins a complex set of operations, including sniffing the network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, intercepting the keyboard, and so on,” he said.

More than 600 specific targets were hit, Mr Kamluk said, ranging from individuals, businesses, academic institutions and government systems.

Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team posted a security alert stating that it believed Flame was responsible for “recent incidents of mass data loss” in the country.

The malware code itself is 20MB in size — making it some 20 times larger than the Stuxnet virus. The researchers said it could take several years to analyse.

Iran and Israel

Mr Kamluk said the size and sophistication of Flame suggested it was not the work of independent cybercriminals, and more likely to be government-backed.

He explained: “Currently there are three known classes of players who develop malware and spyware: hacktivists, cybercriminals and nation states.

“Flame is not designed to steal money from bank accounts. It is also different from rather simple hack tools and malware used by the hacktivists. So by excluding cybercriminals and hacktivists, we come to conclusion that it most likely belongs to the third group.”

Among the countries affected by the attack are Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The geography of the targets and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation-state that sponsored the research that went into it,” Mr Kamluk said.

The malware is capable of recording audio via a microphone, before compressing it and sending it back to the attacker…

           — Hat tip: VladTepes [Return to headlines]



Solar Impulse Plane Prepares to go Intercontinental

Solar-powered plane Solar Impulse is well into its first intercontinental journey from Payerne in Switzerland to Rabat in Morocco.

Solar Impulse took just over 17 hours to fly first to Madrid-Barajas airport, seen here landing at 1.28 am local time today. Following some days’ technical adjustments and a change of pilots, the prototype plane is due to continue with its second leg to the 16-megawatt Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy plant near Rabat. The 800-kilometre journey is expected to take 20 hours. Slow going, perhaps, but pretty impressive for a plane that uses no fuel but sunlight.

With wings spanning 63.4 metres and covered in 12,000 solar cells, Solar Impulse can carry just one person — the pilot — but last year it completed a 26-hour flight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Square Kilometre Array Contest Ends in a Draw

My telescope is bigger than yours. That’s the message South Africa is sending Australia and New Zealand after the African nation tied with the Oceanic duo to host the world’s largest radio telescope.

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will investigate the early history of the universe, dark energy, dark matter and gravity. Member countries of the SKA Organisation decided late last week that both proposed sites for the array — in South Africa and Western Australia — should help with those investigations.

The two sites will complement one another. The SKA has two lines of work: whole-sky surveys using low-frequency antennas, and more directed investigations using high-frequency antennas. South Africa will host the high-frequency dishes while the Western Australian site will host the low-frequency antennas.

The decision has been met with general satisfaction. But in a statement, Naledi Pandor, the South African minister of science and technology, expressed disappointment that her country will not host the telescope exclusively.

An independent SKA advisory committee “identified by consensus Africa as the preferred site”, she said, claiming the decision to share the telescope was a compromise “in order to be inclusive”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120527

Financial Crisis
» Debt-Hit Greece ‘Running Out of Medication’
» Greece: Italian Banks Reassuring, We Are Hardly Exposed
» Greek Right Warns Against Euro ‘Catastrophe’
» IMF Chief Lagarde: Little Sympathy for Greece
» Italian Govt to Lighten Business-Debt Load, Monti Says
» New Signs of Global Slowdown
» Spain: EU Appeal for Greater Accounting Transparency
» Spain Pours Billions Into Bank
» Steeling for a Chinese Slowdown
» Tourists Also Tell Greece ‘No’
 
USA
» Ex-Obama Aide’s Think Tank Hits Defense Budget
» Foreign Agents Creep Into U.S. & Canada Under Integration Scheme
» Interview: Elon Musk on What’s Next for SpaceX
» Naked Man Killed by Police Near Macarthur Causeway Was ‘Eating’ Face Off Victim
» The Outermost Ocean in the Solar System
 
Europe and the EU
» Anti-Muslim Dutch Teacher Sacked
» Austria: Medics’ First Aid Lesson Saves Boy
» Director of Vatican Bank Chooses Silence Over Profanity Following His Resignation
» Italy: EDF Controls Edison, Birth of Italian Edipower
» Italy: Libary Director Arrested in Precious-Book-Theft Case
» Italy: Armani Denies Plans to Sell as 2011 Profits Soar
» Italy: Tax Police Target Yachts at America’s Cup in Venice
» Italy: Man Threatens Bank Suicide Over Overdue Bills
» Prostate Cancer Drug Zytiga Rejected for Use in Ireland
» Recorded Rape Up 53% in London
» Vatican Announces it Has Caught Poison Pen Letter Writer
 
Balkans
» Albania: Bossi’s Bought Degree Costs University Its State Recognition
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Population Now at 37.1 Million
» Food: Morocco: Halal Certification Regulation Ready
» Islamists Face Setback in Egyptian Presidential Election
» Top Mubarak Aide Slapped With Seven Years for Corruption
» Tunisia: Hundreds of Jobless Try to Reach Algeria
 
Middle East
» Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo: Foreign Forces Do Not Want Peace in Syria
» Iran to Build Two New Nuclear Plants
» Iran: Fiat ‘Suspends Business’ To Comply With Sanctions
» ‘No Reason’ To Suspend Iran’s Enrichment of Uranium to 20%
» NYT: Obama Aims at a Yemen-Style Solution for Syria
» Syrian Government Denies Being Behind Massacre That Killed More Than 90
» Turkey: Trust in Army Declining But Secular-Islamist Rift Deepening
 
South Asia
» Afghan Women Leave the Country in Fear of Taliban Return
» India May Bar Europe Carriers in Climate Tax Row
» Lady Gaga’s Concert in Indonesia Cancelled
» US Cuts Pakistan Aid Over Conviction of ‘Bin Laden Doctor’
 
Latin America
» EU Appeal to WTO Against Argentine Import Restrictions
 
General
» Center of Gravity in Oil World Shifts to Americas
» Human Evolution Isn’t What it Used to be
» World’s Largest Radio Telescope to be Shared by South Africa, Australia

Financial Crisis


Debt-Hit Greece ‘Running Out of Medication’

Pharmacies in Greece were on strike earlier this week in protest at the government not paying them for medicines that should be free to customers. Many pharmacies now have huge debts to pharmaceutical companies for drugs they have handed out free of charge. Sky News spoke to one pharmacist who has not been paid by the state for over a year. Evaggelina Rousi, who runs a chemist in Athens, said: “The government owes us 30,000 euros but we have not been paid by them for a year and a half.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Italian Banks Reassuring, We Are Hardly Exposed

3.2 bln at end of 2011; but Fitch warns of insurance risks

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 24 — As governments and central banks prepare to face the consequences of Greece’s potential exit from the eurozone, Italian bankers are trying to reassure savers, claiming that Italian banks are not particularly exposed on the Greek market.

The exposure of Italian banks towards Greece “is not significant”, said the president of the Italian Banking Agency (ABI), Giuseppe Mussari. The chief executive of Unicredit, Federico Ghizzoni, meanwhile, has said that “the Italian banking sector is among the most immunized” if Greece exits the eurozone. Italian banks “effectively have no exposure towards Greece,” Ghizzoni added. “It is more a question of volatility on the markets, which has a direct impact”. But the Unicredit boss added that institutes are nevertheless bracing themselves because “the market expects everyone to reason in this way”. In this context, the deputy Finance Minister, Vittorio Grilli, said that “we must always be ready for all outcomes”, adding that the financial and monetary markets have an “awareness of the risks and problems” involved at the moment.

The latest figures by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) show that at the end of 2011, Italian banks had exposure (both direct and indirect) of around 3.2 billion euros, a fall on the previous quarter, and a share of under 2 billion euros held by insurance firms. The figure is some way from their counterparts in France (39 billion), Germany (13 billion) and the UK (17 billion).

Intesa SanPaolo had previously attempted to devalue its exposure (consisting of government bonds, Hellenic Railway shares guaranteed by the state and credits) in 2011 and, at March 31, after the partial swap of old shares against new ones issued by Athens, the nominal value stood at 445 million euros, with 93 million recorded on the budget. Unicredit’s overall exposure at the end of March had a budget value of 54 million euros (28 million of which among the financial activities held for negotiation and those assessed at fair value). Positions on credit derivatives, the bank has said, are essentially balanced.

Generali’s exposure has now been reduced, after a series of changes and agreements on a swap, to a level of 243 million euros. The exposure of Fonsai, Banco Popolare, Mediobanca and MPS is even lower or almost non-existent.

But while the banks appear to be safe, the insurance sector in Italy, but also in Spain, is more exposed to the impact of a Greek exit from the eurozone, according to the ratings agency Fitch, which has hinted that the contagion effect could have an impact on Italian and Spanish shares and on banks as well as having an effect on their ratings. The German and British insurance sectors, meanwhile, appear more covered.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Greek Right Warns Against Euro ‘Catastrophe’

(ATHENS) — Greek conservative party New Democracy Saturday formally launched its campaign for the June 17 election, warning a victory for the radical left would cause “catastrophe” and lead Greece out of the euro.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras laid into the radical left party Syriza, which has threatened to tear up a deal with international lenders that rescued Greece from bankruptcy.

“Everyone, centre-right, centre-left and green, whether they agree or not on the policies up to now on the loan agreement, all warn that opposing the loan agreement will lead Greece out of the euro,” Samaras told supporters at a televised party rally in Athens.

“That of course will be painful for the rest of Europe, but it will mean the end, absolute catastrophe for Greece,” said Samaras, whose party finished first during the May polls.

Latest opinion polls however show Syriza under its populist leader Antonis Tsipras, 37, could come on top in the next election after finishing second in an inconclusive vote on May 6.

Tsipras has said Greece could reject the bailout yet still stay in the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



IMF Chief Lagarde: Little Sympathy for Greece

LONDON — The Associated Press

AFP Photo

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund says she has more sympathy for poor African children than Greeks suffering under the country’s economic problems and austerity measures.

In an interview published in the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper Saturday, Christine Lagarde said “I think more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger…sharing one chair for three of them. Because I think they need even more help than the people in Athens.” Lagarde also criticized Greek citizens “who are trying to escape tax,” and said the country needs to make more of an effort to solve its economic problems.

Greece’s economy is being kept afloat on international loans provided by the European Union and the IMF, along with a harsh austerity package that is deeply unpopular with the country’s electorate.

May/26/2012

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italian Govt to Lighten Business-Debt Load, Monti Says

20-30 billion owed, often by small enterprise

(ANSA) — Rome, May 22 — Italian Premier Mario Monti announced a debt-relief plan Tuesday for Italian businesses, which collectively owe up to 30 billion euros in debt. “We have adopted four decrees that aim to reduce the burdens” owed by businesses to the government, said Monti after a cabinet meeting. The premier, whose caretaker government of non-political technocrats replaced the Berlusconi administration amid the tumult of the euro crisis in November, said the move sought to “give fuel to jumpstart productivity” in Italy’s businesses. “They are facing the crisis with determination,” he said, noting that business debts to the government, often owed by small enterprise, were already between 20 and 30 billion euros since the start of the year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



New Signs of Global Slowdown

Weak Reports in U.S., Europe and China Suggest Economies Are Slipping in Sync

New signs of a global slowdown are darkening the economic outlook. On Thursday, the U.S. reported that businesses were slowing their orders of computers, aircraft, machinery and other long-lasting goods. Measures of business sentiment in Europe slipped, and reports from purchasing managers at manufacturers around the globe turned down. Among them, China, the world’s second-largest economy, registered its seventh straight drop in an important manufacturing index. With the latest reports, a new economic threat is emerging: That activity is slowing in sync around the globe and not just in a few markets with their own isolated problems.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: EU Appeal for Greater Accounting Transparency

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, MAY 21 — The European Commission has stressed the need for “greater transparency” in Spain’s public accounts, after the Madrid government announced a correction, raising its level of deficit in 2011 to 8.9% of GDP from the previously stated 8.5%. “Vice President Rehn has repeatedly stressed the need for greater transparency and good management of public accounts at all levels of administration, central government, regions and municipalities,” Amadeu Altafaj, the EU spokesperson for economic affairs told Europa Press. Mr Altafaj did not state any consequences that would follow from a further overshooting of last year’s deficit, caused by the three regions of Madrid, Valencia and Castilla y Leon. But he did refer to the audit of the economic situation of each country of the euro area, which will be presented by Brussels on May 30. This week the EU will send Eurostat experts to Madrid to check whether this last correction of the 2011 deficit was “exhaustive”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Spain Pours Billions Into Bank

Spain will pump €19 billion ($24 billion) into troubled lender Bankia SA, the bank said Friday, effectively nationalizing the country’s third-largest bank in a dramatic effort to assuage concerns about the stability of its financial sector. Worries about Spain’s banks, which are saddled with billions in toxic real-estate loans, have heightened in recent weeks as Greece’s political crisis has intensified and investors contemplate the knock-on effects of a potential Greek exit from the euro. Sentiments darkened Friday as Standard & Poor’s cut its ratings on the credit-worthiness of Bankia and four other Spanish banks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Steeling for a Chinese Slowdown

Ever tried eating steel? It is pretty tough to swallow. But that won’t stop Chinese exporters trying to force-feed it to you. China’s steel industry has churned out more than two million metric tons a day so far this month. That is 749 million metric tons on an annualized basis, or almost 10% above the country’s prior peak output, according to Steel Market Intelligence. Yet China doesn’t need it. With the economy slowing, there is excess supply and prices are dropping.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Tourists Also Tell Greece ‘No’

Where to Escape? Drop in Summer Bookings Is Last Thing Ailing Economy Needs

Greece’s tourism season was supposed to be a ray of sunshine amid the country’s political crisis and depressed economy. Instead, the outlook is cloudy: Greek-vacation bookings from Germany and the rest of Europe are down sharply, as would-be tourists take fright at the prospect of strikes and street protests.

The political uncertainty dogging Greece ahead of its June 17 elections and fears the country could crash out of the euro zone has weighed on reservations in the past few weeks. Bookings in May for summer vacations are down by about one-third compared with May 2011, amid intense pan-European media coverage of Greece since its May 6 elections, which left the country without a stable government.

“We are definitely seeing an across-the-board decline in prebookings,” says Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, known as SETE.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

USA


Ex-Obama Aide’s Think Tank Hits Defense Budget

By Rowan Scarborough

A Washington think tank founded by President Obama’s first Pentagon policy chief has issued a report criticizing the administration’s defense budget, which the think tank’s founder played a role in developing.

Michele Flournoy co-founded the Center for New American Security in 2007, then became under secretary of defense for policy in 2009. She left that post in February after aiding Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in writing the fiscal 2013 defense budget.

Ms. Flournoy has since rejoined the think tank as a member of the board of directors, and is mentioned in national security circles as a candidate for defense secretary in a second Obama term.

The Center for New American Security report released this week is pointedly critical of the Panetta plan, saying it does not go far enough in consolidating missions and functions, and in cutting back big weapons systems.

“The Pentagon still has not enacted the types of reforms that we believe are necessary to sustain U.S. military pre-eminence into the future,” says the report, written by four think tank scholars.

“Too many DOD structures, processes, programs and operational concepts are legacies of the past, which create unnecessary redundancies, waste valuable resources and encourage unproductive competition among the services rather than cooperation. These practices are no longer acceptable in the current fiscal environment.”

The report could give some insight into Ms. Flournoy’s thinking should she re-enter the Pentagon next year.

Responding to an inquiry for Ms. Flournoy’s comment, Sara Conneighton, the center’s spokeswoman, said: “This report only reflects the thinking of the four co-authors.”

The “Sustainable Pre-Eminence: Reforming the U.S. Military at a Time of Strategic Change” report was written by retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, Nora Bensahel, Matthew Irvine and Travis Sharp.

Deeper defense cuts

As output from a Democratic-leaning think tank, the report is notable for how often it disagrees with the Panetta defense budget.

Where Mr. Panetta calls for continuing the procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, the Center for New American Security report calls for deep cuts in the Air Force and Navy buys.

It says the Air Force should slash procurement from 1,763 to as few as 1,000 planes. The Navy should halve its buy of 369 F-35Cs, which it calls flawed, and keep purchasing the F-18 Hornet.

“Due to its short range, the F-35C requires aircraft carriers to get dangerously close to enemy coasts or necessitates frequent aerial refueling,” the report says. “While external fuel tanks can extend the F-35C’s range, such tanks compromise its stealth and thereby sacrifice an essential attribute. By buying fewer F-35s more quickly, the Navy will revitalize its strike fleet sooner.”

Shrinking the F-35 procurement would free up more money to invest in what might be the Navy’s future — the X-47 unmanned combat drone being developed by Northrop Grumman Corps, the report says.

It also calls for reducing the Navy’s active carrier fleet from the Panetta-endorsed 11, to 10, as the cost of operating flat tops and buying new ones continues to escalate.

In addition, the report says the Army’s 570,000 soldiers should be cut to 480,000, while Mr. Panetta recommends a reduction to 490,000 troops.

The center’s report also calls for delaying until 2021 procurement of one of the Army’s most cherished procurement prizes — the $40 billion Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) to replace the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

“The Bradley remains the pre-eminent infantry fighting vehicle in the world with no looming challenger, while the current requirements for the GCV are both unnecessary and expensive,” the report says.

Other outside experts have called on the Pentagon to put off the Ground Combat Vehicle.

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]



Foreign Agents Creep Into U.S. & Canada Under Integration Scheme

As the so-called trilateral North American “integration” process marches onward toward an ever-closer union between the governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, national law enforcement agents are slowly creeping across borders through a variety of shadowy schemes. Going forward, that trend is set to accelerate, according to officials, who say government functionaries may soon be able to chase and arrest suspects outside of their own nations. But critics of the controversial plan are fighting back with increasing urgency.

U.S. and Canadian authorities have already spent millions of dollars on “pilot projects” seeking to blur national borders in the field of policing. Almost 150 so-called “cross-border” officers have been trained so far, according to a report published this month byEmbassy magazine. Meanwhile, the Shiprider program — officially known as “Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations” — has been active since 2009, when high-ranking bureaucrats from the United States and Canada signed the agreement without even obtaining legislative approval.

“Shiprider removes the international maritime boundary as a barrier to law enforcement by enabling seamless continuity of enforcement and security operations across the border, facilitating cross-border surveillance and interdiction, and serving as both a force multiplier and, potentially, as a model for other U.S./Canadian cross-border (integrated) enforcement and security initiatives,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) says about the scheme on its website.

[Return to headlines]



Interview: Elon Musk on What’s Next for SpaceX

SpaceX has docked the first commercial spacecraft, the Dragon capsule, at the ISS. Just before launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk discussed how he hopes to make a difference in orbit…and beyond.

NS: I gather that these hypergolic motors might have planetary landing applications?

EM: Yes. The escape system’s motors will allow the capsule to land anywhere in the solar system, whether it has an atmosphere or not — and that’s pretty cool. These motors can even fire supersonically which is important for Mars: in the higher altitudes of Mars the atmosphere is so thin that parachutes are completely pointless. So retro thrusters have to be able to fire when you are supersonic so they have to be very high thrust.

NS: What is it about you and your fellow internet entrepreneurs like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and the Google guys, that is attracting them to commercial spaceflight, with Sierra Nevada and Planetary Resources respectively?

EM: The common thread is that we all have a natural inclination to push the frontiers of technology. And space is a very high capital endeavour. So you need to have done something big to get you the capital to do something in space — you can’t just create a start-up with no capital, especially in the rocket business.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Naked Man Killed by Police Near Macarthur Causeway Was ‘Eating’ Face Off Victim

It was a scene as creepy as a Hannibal Lecter movie.

One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.

The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.

According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away.Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.

The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots.

Miami police were on the scene, which was just south of The Miami Herald building on Biscayne Boulevard. The naked man who was killed lay face down on the pedestrian walkway just below the newspaper’s two-story parking garage. Police have requested The Herald’s video surveillance tapes.

The other man was transported to the hospital with critical injuries, according to police. Their identities were not released.

The incident, which came as crowds descended upon South Beach for the annual Urban Beach Week hip-hop festival, snarled traffic on the causeway for several hours.

In a text message, Javier Ortiz, spokesman for Miami police’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the officer who fired the fatal shots was “a hero.”

“Based on the information provided, our Miami police officer is a hero and saved a life,’’ he said.

Sergeant Altarr Williams, supervisor of Miami police’s Homicide Unit, said a man doesn’t have to be armed to be dangerous.

“There are other ways to injure people,’’ Williams said. “Some people know martial arts, others are very strong and can kill you with their hands.’’

Investigators believe the victim may have been homeless and laying down when the crazed man pounced.

Police theorize the attacker might have been suffering from “cocaine psychosis,” a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads the affected to strip naked to try and cool off.

Miami Herald writers Alexandra Leon and Curtis Morgan contributed to this report.

Read more here:

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



The Outermost Ocean in the Solar System

But with a name like Triton — the messenger of the big sea in Greek mythology — this moon should really carry one more feature: is there an ocean hiding beneath its icy veneer? A new model suggests there could be. Understanding why requires a quick look at Triton’s unique history.

We know that Triton was captured by Neptune. Such captured bodies start in highly elongated orbits, but as they interact with their associated planet, Triton-sized worlds are quickly dragged into more circular orbits. The process releases energy, which heats up the moon. The temperature rise would have melted not just the icy outer layers of Triton, but also its 1900-kilometre-wide core. Then it would have cooled to its current frigid state.

Earlier models had suggested an ocean exists on Triton, but they were quite simplistic. Saswata Hier-Majumder of the University of Maryland in College Park, and his student Jodi Gaeman, have now developed a more detailed model that considers both radioactive decay of core minerals and the orbital interactions that would have heated the moon.

Although heating from radioactive decay is orders of magnitude larger than heating from tidal effects, heat from the core alone could not keep the outer layer from freezing over the 4.5 billion-year life of the solar system, they say.

However, Hier-Majumder and Gaeman have found that even a small amount of heating from orbital forces makes a huge difference because it is applied to the base of the ice covering the subsurface ocean. “It puts a warm blanket on top of the cooling ocean,” says Hier-Majumder. As long as the orbit is so circular that its 350,000-kilometre-radius varies by only a few kilometres, Triton should still have a substantial ocean beneath its icy surface.

That watery ocean contains a strong dose of ammonia, which keeps the liquid from freezing unless the temperature drops below about -90 °C. So, while it may be the outermost ocean in the solar system, it is not as cold as the -180 °C hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Anti-Muslim Dutch Teacher Sacked

The Dutch press reports that Fioritti College in Lisse has suspended a teacher named Anand Soekhoe and will not be renewing his contract, after he posted anti-Muslim comments on Twitter.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — In a series of Islamophobic tweets Soekhoe declared his support for Geert Wilders and the PVV, warned that anyone considering voting for leftists, liberals or Christian Democrats should think of their grandchildren (“Otherwise future generations will speak Arabic!

And Islam will be the state religion), quoted the Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party as saying “never trust Muslims”, adding that the BJP was increasingly shown to be right, and concluded with the observation that “Islam is not a religion but barbaric backwardness”.

Not unreasonably, the school board ruled that such public statements made it impossible for Soekhoe to continue teaching Muslim pupils..

The “counterjihadist” movement will no doubt adopt Soekhoe as another hero of free speech. Already PVV MP Harm Beertema has denounced the school board’s decision on the grounds that “You can’t sack him just because you think his opinion may be offensive to students”.

/106

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Austria: Medics’ First Aid Lesson Saves Boy

Austrian medics giving a first aid talk at a school managed to save an eight-year-old boy’s life after he was shot in the head by his dad.

The 37-year-old man who has a record for domestic violence had burst into the school in Sankt Poelten west of Vienna waving the gun — and dragged the boy into the cloakroom where he shot him in the head.

Police spokesman Oberstleutnant Alfred Schüller said police believe that the man wanted to get revenge on his wife. He said that he had recently been banned from entering the family flat where his wife and two children lived.

The man’s daughter, who was also at the school, escaped.

The man then fled but was tracked by his mobile phone — by which point he had already used the gun on himself after crashing his car on a remote farm road.

The four-man team of medics that had been teaching first aid were able to give the boy immediate first aid less than a minute after the shooting. The boy was given immediate artificial respiration.

His condition was described as critical and he was unconscious when he was taken by ambulance to hospital, but doctors said if the medics had not been on hand then the boy would have died.

Local education boss Hermann Helm said child psychologists from a crisis intervention team were at the eight-classroom school to give the children counselling.

           — Hat tip: ESW [Return to headlines]



Director of Vatican Bank Chooses Silence Over Profanity Following His Resignation

Following yesterday’s resignation from the IOR, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi said he did not wish to make any comment lest he upset the Pope. His resignation comes after three years of service and the accumulation of a number of enemies

“I prefer not to speak, as all I would do is curse. Bear with me.” “I am still torn between a yearning to explain the truth and my concern for upsetting the Holy Father with these explanations. My love for the Pope prevails over every other sentiment, even the defence of my own reputation which is infamously being questioned.”

The mistrust that led to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi’s resignation from his post as President of the IOR, after less that three years in office, came as a shock but the banker had been considering the possibility for months. Gotti Tedeschi had decided to collaborate directly with Roman magistrates after they began an inquiry into money movements being made in certain IOR accounts by Italian and German banks. This marked the beginning of the misunderstandings between him and the Institute’s director general, Paolo Cipriani. At the time, Gotti Tedeschi who having been placed under investigation by public prosecutors received the public support of Benedict XVI who greeted him and his wife after one of his Angelus prayer in Castel Gandolfo. “We need to act as examples,” the Pope had reiterated. The new president, chosen by the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, had continued the process towards renewal and a greater transparency which had already begun, closing dormant current accounts that were registered under names of figureheads.

One of the people Gotti Tedeschi was at loggerheads with, was Marco Simeon, the current director of RAI Vaticano, one of the offices of Italy’s largest television company RAI, who is linked to wheeler-dealer, Luigi Bisignani. Last summer, the IOR was involved in the rescue operation to salvage Milan’s Saint Rafael hospital, called for by Cardinal Bertone and supported by a number of Milanese businessmen and politicians. Gotti Tedeschi was initially in favour of the operation but then changed his mind, considering it a risky venture. This led to fall outs with Giuseppe Profiti, manager of Rome’s Bambino Gesù hospital and Bertone’s number one man in the field of healthcare. Meanwhile, Gotti Tedeschi’s relations with the Cardinal Secretary of State had also begun to cool, although they had improved recently.

But the point of no return for Gotti Tedeschi was the new transparency law which was supposed to get the Vatican onto the white-list of financially virtuous countries. The President of the IOR along with cardinal Attilio Nicora believed too many modifications had been made and, above all, that the role of the AIF, the Vatican’s financial information authority — which was established under the old law — needed to be cut down. Moneyval’s experts will sanction it this coming July, when the final report will be published on the Holy See’s adherence to international standards. Gotti Tedeschi sees yesterday’s gesture of mistrust as a score being settled. This score settling came as a result of the stances taken over the last year by a man who has gradually become more and more isolated in the Holy See, though still maintaining a link with the Pope’s personal secretary, Fr. Georg Gänswein.

The explanation given by the Holy See and the authoritative glosses that have filtered through from the Vatican paint a totally different picture. “The decision taken by the Board of the Vatican Bank was taken independently,” according to sources in the Secretariat of State, who denied rumours that Bertone was responsible for Gotti Tedeschi’s resignation. These sources said that this was not the ideal moment for a move of this kind, with the Vatileaks scandal (the leaking of documents, including some of Gotti Tedeschi’s correspondence) in full swing. One of the reasons given by those who passed the no-confidence motion against Gotti Tedeschi, was that he did not manage to cooperate with collaborators, with this having negative repercussions for the Institute’s management. Whichever side is right, the result remains the same: the Holy See’s leadership seems to have delved into an even deeper chaos.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: EDF Controls Edison, Birth of Italian Edipower

The French group ends “Italian campaign” with 80% of capital

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, MAY 25 — Control of Edison has officially been handed over to French EDF, while A2A, Iren and other shareholders in Delmi have taken charge of Edipower and its electrical production plants. Contracts were signed in the chambers of Clifford Chance in Milan, putting the seal on the laborious restructuring of Edison, following hard-fought negotiations that lasted a year and a half and saw the intervention of three ministers and a number of extensions of the shareholders’ agreement.

Ten years on from the entrance of what was then Montedison, the French group have ended their “Italian campaign” with the purchase of 80% of capital and exclusive control of the electricity group. They have not, however, taken up the 7,600 megawatts of Edipower, which will remain in Italian hands.

The former ENEL genco and its nine power stations are handed over to Delmi and will be consolidated by A2A, which becomes Edipower’s controlling shareholder, with 56% of company capital, and is flanked by Iren (21%).

Edipower could become the uniting hub around which to build a major Italian multi-utility company, though the means with which to do this is still up for debate and the patriotism characterizing the world of companies formerly owned by local authorities must be overcome. EDF’s purchase of Edison “is a decisive step towards a real gas strategy by the group,” said the chairman, Henri Proglio, who explained that the French group’s target is to make Italy a “gas hub”, given that the country “finds itself in a potentially ideal geopolitical location, at the crossroads of various supply infrastructures” that give the country a strategic role in the safety of supplies in Europe. It is no co-incidence, therefore, that “the headquarters for the gas hub for the whole of EDF will be in Milan”, Proglio added, with Italy set to play “a role” in liquefied gas too. Edison, he continued, will also benefit from “synergies” with the French through “access to international agreements, such as the deal recently signed with Gazprom”.

There were celebrations on the Italian side too, meanwhile, with the birth of the “new Edipower”. Delmi has put the finishing touches on the operation, completing 5-year financing worth 1.25 billion euros in support of the purchase (shares in the holding company and in Edipower have been handed over as security) and has signed agreements on governance, which include a way-out for Iren to be exercised in exchange for ownership of the production plants. “The partnership between Iren and A2A, together with the efforts of other shareholders, will give serious impetus to the improvement of Edipower’s competitiveness,” said Roberto Garbati, the chief executive of Iren and the new president of Edipower, who yesterday appointed a new board of directors.

With the advent of Edipower, A2A becomes “the second largest Italian electrical operator with around 12,000 megawatts of capacity installed and an efficient productive mix,” added Renato Ravanelli, the director general of A2A. “A significant part of this portfolio is made up of hydroelectric plants that will help to improve significantly the group’s industrial profitability,” Ravanelli added. The only element outstanding before the operation can be completed is the compulsory takeover bid by EDF on Edison’s floating capital at 0.89 euros per share.

The bid will be launched “at the end of June or in July,” said EDF’s chief financial officer, Thomas Piquemal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Libary Director Arrested in Precious-Book-Theft Case

‘Girolami Libary seriously dismembered’ says Naples prosecutor

(ANSA) — Naples, May 24 — Police on Thursday arrested five suspects, including a prestigious library director, linked to hundreds of stolen antique books and manuscripts from one of Italy’s oldest collections. Marino Massimo De Caro, the director of the Girolamini Library, was among those in custody, as well as suspects from Argentina and Ukraine, police said. In April De Caro took a leave of absence from the position after reportedly notifying police himself of the theft from the library, known for a vast collection of writings on theology and philosophy. The library was subsequently impounded and temporarily placed under the auspices of the director of the Vittorio Emanuele III National Museum in Naples.

Investigators have asked for international help in locating the 257 missing volumes, which may turn up on the black market. First opened in 1586, the Girolamini Library contains roughly 160,000 volumes, 5,000 of which date back to the 16th century.

Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo called the collection “seriously and perhaps irreparably dismembered and mutilated” after the theft. Among various warrants in the investigation, a search was issued for property belonging to Maria Grazia Cerone, an assistant to Senator Marcello Dell’Utri, a former close aide of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The library, which was famously frequented by 18th-century political philosopher Giambattista Vico, adjoins the Girolamini church complex and convent.

In addition to its trove of rare writings, the library is treasured for four well-preserved 18th-century rooms.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Armani Denies Plans to Sell as 2011 Profits Soar

Milan, 24 May (AKI) — Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani has no plans to sell his fashion empire, whose operating profit jumped 23 percent last year to 281.8 million euros, boosted by strong Asian growth.

“At the moment, I am resisting all overtures to sell, and certainly, these are there, but they don’t tempt me, “ 77-year-old Armani told Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore on Thursday when asked if would eventually sell to a French giant like beauty product partner l’Oreal.

The luxury goods group’s revenues grew 13.6 percent in 2011 to hit 1.8 billion euros and Armani said it would continue to focus on China, where sales surged 45 percent in 2011.

Of the 100 stores opened last year, 28 were in China — more than any other country — compared with 12 in Europe, 11 in North America and eight in Japan.

“The growth in revenue is extremely significant. But we are about to expand in Brasil, without forgetting traditional markets such as the United States,” he told Il Sole 24 Ore.

His group has continued to thrive in the first quarter of 2012, Armani said.

“Sales have seen double-digit growth both in wholesale and retail.”

Armani is the latest luxury goods company to report better profits last year. Prada’s net profit rocketed 72 percent in the year ending 31 January to 431.9 million euros and Versace returned an 8.5 million euro profit in 2011.

Armani and Versace are among a small group of Italian fashion houses that have shunned public share offerings to expand and pay off their debts, preferring to remain mostly in the hands of the founding families.

Armani’s comments come almost a year after Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo launched their own initial public share offerings (IPOs).

Armani, which sells clothing, eyewear, watches, cosmetics and furniture, had 643 million euros in net cash at the end of 2011, up from 604 million euros at the end of 2010.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Tax Police Target Yachts at America’s Cup in Venice

Venice, 25 May (AKI) — Tax police have targeted the owners of 1,414 yachts anchored in Venice this week during the America’s Cup — the worlds’ most prestigious regata.

The tax police have already carried out 135 raids aboard various vessels and found 11 owners whose declared earnings did not square with the value of their yachts.

The polic discovered 9 crew members who were being paid off the books and seized two uninsured yachts during the operation.

Police also detained three Romanians who allegedly stole engines and nautical equipment from boats moored in the lagoon city for the regata’s Venice leg.

Also on Friday, Italian tax police said they had nabbed two well-known Neapolitan folk singers for allegedly evading six million euros of tax. The pair had used several ruses to dodge the taxman including putting luxury vehicles and other assets in their mother’s names.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: Man Threatens Bank Suicide Over Overdue Bills

(AGI) Avellino — A man barricaded himself inside a bank today, threatening suicide over his inability to pay overdue bills.

Giovanni Barbieri, a 41 year old owner of a small road haulage business in Irpinia, barricaded himself inside the Banco di Napoli in Viale San Modestino in Mercogliano, on the outskirts of Avellino this morning. He had taken a can of petrol with him, with the intention of setting fire to himself after dousing himself with its contents. After demanding that all staff and clients leave the premises, he was then persuaded to give up his plan by a Carabinieri officer of his acquaintance.

Barbieri is now at the barracks, while investigators weigh up his position.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Prostate Cancer Drug Zytiga Rejected for Use in Ireland

A new prostate cancer treatment has been rejected for use in Ireland. (On a cost to government basis)

Zytiga, which has been dubbed a ‘wonder drug’, can extend the lives of late-stage prostate cancer sufferers.

According to a report in the Sunday Business Post, the drug was approved for use in Britain this month.

However, the National Centre for Pharmaco-economics, which carries out cost-effectiveness studies on new medicines in Ireland, concluded that Zytiga did not represent value for money at €28,000 per patient.

One in eight men in Ireland will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, with approximately 500 dying from the disease every year.

About 150 men in Ireland with advanced prostate cancer would be eligible to take Zytiga.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]



Recorded Rape Up 53% in London

There has been a 53% rise in recorded rape in London over the last four years.

In the financial year 2008-2009, there were 2,177 reports of rape to the Metropolitan Police.

But by 2011-2012, that had jumped to 3,334 cases. Some 667 prosecutions have been completed, 369 of which were successful.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman claimed the rise was due to victims feeling more confident about coming forward.

He said: “We believe this rise in recorded crimes is partly due to an increase in victims coming forward to report rape and sexual assaults.”

The statistics are from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS said a further 661 people have been charged from the year 2011-2012, with court cases yet to be completed.

‘Unacceptable’

Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of Rape Crisis South of London, said: “Women feel more confident they are going to be believed.

“There are more support services around and more a culture of doing everything we possibly can to get the bad guys off the streets.”

Meanwhile, a new poll suggests 41% of women in London aged 18-34 have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces over the last year.

The YouGov survey of 523 women, commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition, asked about experiences of unwanted contact or attention, such as wolf-whistling, sexual comments, staring, or exposure of a sexual nature.

Some 21% of women of all ages reported unwanted attention, while 4% had experienced unwanted touching.

Coalition co-chairwoman Prof Liz Kelly said: “Our survey shows that sexual harassment in London is extremely common.

“We need investment in public campaigns on transport and elsewhere saying this behaviour is unacceptable.”

           — Hat tip: Derius [Return to headlines]



Vatican Announces it Has Caught Poison Pen Letter Writer

The culprit is allegedly the Pope’s butler, a layman. But doubts are growing in the Holy See

The Vatican Gendarmerie’s inquiry into the publication of secret documents “has allowed us to identify one person in possession of confidential documents.” Fr. Federico Lombardi stated this, explaining that this person “is now at the Vatican magistrate’s disposal for further questioning.”

The Vatican Gendarmerie, led by general Domenico Giani has allegedly identified the poison pen letter writer, who Italian newspaper Il Foglio has revealed is the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele: a layman working in Benedict XVI’s apartment, who had previously worked in the Pope’s anteroomfor for a number of years. He is currently undergoing a legal process.

The Vatican Gendarmerie found large wad of confidential documents in an apartment in Via di Porta Angelica, in Rome, where the Pope’s butler Paolo Gabriele lives with his wife and three children. This just over 40 year old man from Rome has been working in the Pope’s apartment since 2006, entering the Pope’s Family after a period serving Mgr. James Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household.

But is he really a poison pen letter writer or just a scapegoat to save the skin of someone higher up? This is the question many in the Vatican are asking since rumours have been spreading regarding the inquiries into the leaked documents. The butler is in fact considered by many in the Holy See as a simple, good person who is devoted to the Pope.

Behind the document leak is a refined mind who is au fait with ecclesiastical policy. It was particularly strange how he conserved “confidential documents” after months of controversies surrounding the Vatileaks that were passed on to the press. In less that 24 hours, the Vatican seems to have caught at least two poison pen letter writers, allowing news about them to filter through: one was the President of the IOR Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and the other, the Pope’s butler. Both of them laymen.

Gotti Tedeschi has been accused of being careless enough to allow the leak of a document sent to him by e-mail, without even deleting his e-mail address. The former president of the IOR has announced he will take legal action against anyone who tries to link him to the poison pen letter writer. Meanwhile, the Pope’s butler allegedly held on to “confidential documents” for months after the Vatileaks scandal broke out, before letting them out into the open.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Albania: Bossi’s Bought Degree Costs University Its State Recognition

Albanian ministry of education and science suspends enrolments for one year

MILAN — “As usual, it takes a westerner to make things in Albania better” is the most popular comment in the local newspapers and online forums. The sentiment is prompted by Sali Berisha’s government’s decision to suspend for at least one year state recognition of the privately owned Kristal University, the institution that gave Renzo Bossi a three-year degree in business management. Investigators in Tirana who have examined the relevant registers and certificates say the diploma awarded to “il Trota” [The Trout], as Umberto Bossi’s son is known was “bought”. The purchaser, they say, was someone “who did not know the local language”, “had not yet obtained a school-leaving certificate in Italy” and had never set foot in Albania. Renzo Bossi himself admitted never having been to Albania a few days ago…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Population Now at 37.1 Million

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 23 — On January first, there were 37 million and one hundred thousand people living in Algeria, according to official estimates by the national statistics office. A report by APS stated that the office is predicting the number of inhabitants to rise to 37,800,000 by January 2013. The last general census, conducted in April 2008, revealed a population of 34.8 million.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Food: Morocco: Halal Certification Regulation Ready

To enter world market growing by 12% a year

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, MAY 22 — With growth of over 12 per cent per annum since 2004 and a turnover worth 455 billion euros — which is a 16 per cent slice of the global food market — the Halal product market (the word halal means “allowed” by Islamic law) is an attractive one to Morocco’s businesses.

However, access to exporting into this market lies through obtaining a label issued by an accredited organisation that is recognised by importing markets. Under pressure from the industrial sector, the Moroccan government has already begun to make moves in this direction by introducing at the end of 2010 a first regulation inspired by the Malaysian model. However, according to a report from a sector professional appearing in La Vie Eco, “the fact that Moroccan Ulemas did not take part in drafting the norm means that it never gained credibility. On the other hand, since it came into force, not one single business has attempted to have itself certified according to this norm”. Over recent months, Morocco has started once again on its quest for credible Halal certification: since December, a technical committee under a Moroccan assaying institute, (IMANOR), which is linked to the Ministry for Industry, has been holding meetings to review the current norm in depth.

This time round, Ulemas were also present at the consultations and broad concordance has been sought with the norm governing Halal products of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OCI), which is a synthesis of several national regulations. The new regulations, which will cover every production phase, should come into force over the coming days following approval by the Ministry for Industry and the first certificates should be issued during July. According to sources interviewed by La Vie Eco, the Moroccan subsidiary of Nestlé has already consulted IMANOR and is working towards having some of its products certified according to the new Moroccan regulation. Other large groups, such as Coca Cola, Kraft Foods and Sapak, are said to be similarly interested and should be applying for certification soon. Sector experts warn that it may take some years for Morocco to be able to compete with competitors like the Turkish companies that currently occupy the international Halal market segment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Islamists Face Setback in Egyptian Presidential Election

By Barry Rubin

While the Brotherhood claims victory, the election was actually a defeat—at least temporary and possibly less important than it seems—for the Brotherhood and Islamism. Here’s why.

The Islamist Camp

Note that only about 44 percent of voters backed an Islamist candidate, compared to 75 percent in the parliamentary election, while only about 25 percent voted for the Muslim Brotherhood compared to about 47 percent in the parliamentary vote. Why?

To begin with, the two top Islamist candidates were removed by the election commission, the Brotherhood’s first choice and the only Salafist candidate. Presumably, many voters stayed home or opted for their second choice party. The question is whether those who crossed the line and voted for a non-Islamist will return to the Brotherhood in the second round.

A key question is the 25 percent who backed a Salafist in the parliamentary election but could not do so in this one. Did they stay home, or vote for the Brotherhood or the “moderate Islamist,” or for a secular party? And again, will most of them back the Brotherhood or a Mubarak era politician?

Clearly, the mistakes made by the Islamists were costly, and they do make many errors. The Salafists nominated a candidate who was vulnerable to vetting. He didn’t meet the qualifications of purely Egyptian citizenship for himself and his family.

On the Brotherhood’s part, victory in the previous elections made them more radical and more arrogant. They mistakenly cast off the cloak of pretended moderation too soon and too completely. So much for the “Turkish model!” This hubris scared some voters. Shafiq’s campaign managers warned voters that to elect Mursi would set off a battle for an “Islamic empire.”

But note this theme of radicalism going along with victory because it is going to be one of the most important of all. Let’s summarize it:

When Islamists win, they become bolder and more aggressive. Western observers who talk about moderating Islamism think the opposite.

An opposing camp, however, those who argue all Muslims “must” be Islamists and that political Islam inevitably sweeps all before it have also been proven wrong. As I try to explain, this is a political struggle that can go either way depending on circumstances.

Islamism is by no means immune to social conditions. The strongest support for Mursi is in Egypt’s poor, underdeveloped south; the weakest backing is in the cities.

Yet let’s also remember that the Islamists are still heading for control over Egypt…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]



Top Mubarak Aide Slapped With Seven Years for Corruption

Deposed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak’s top aide has been sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of corruption. The sentence comes a week before Mubarak faces his own day in court.

One of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s closest aides has been convicted on charges of corruption, Egypt’s official news agency reported on Sunday.

Zakaria Azmi has been sentenced to seven years in prison and must pay a fine of 36.3 million Egyptian pounds ($6 million, 4.8 million euros). Azmi served as Mubarak’s chief of staff and was an influential figure in the now defunct National Democratic Party. Mubarak was rarely seen in public without Azmi at his side.

The official Middle East News Agency said the court had established that Azmi used his position to embezzle some 42.6 million pounds of public funds.

Azmi’s conviction comes just one week before Mubarak faces his own day in court. On June 2, the verdict is set to be handed down in the former president’s case. He faces charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters during the 18-day revolt that led to his downfall on February 11, 2011.

If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Tunisia: Hundreds of Jobless Try to Reach Algeria

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 22 — Hundreds of young unemployed Tunisians from Ain Draham (in the region of Fermana) have tried to reach Algeria via the Babouche border crossing, hoping to find work. The attempt was halted by Algerian customs officers despite the fact that the young Tunisians had no trouble crossing the Tunisian border. It follows several demonstrations staged by jobless citizens in the past months, protesting against the lack of job opportunities and what they call the absence of government. The protests have also led to long blockades of the main roads in the area.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo: Foreign Forces Do Not Want Peace in Syria

Foreign militants from Libya, Tunisia, Turkey and Pakistan present in the country. Msgr. Nazzaro: they arrived in Syria to create chaos. Christians and Muslims live and face the pain of war together.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) — “There are foreign forces who do not want peace in Syria. The country is now the prey of fighters from Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic states. Weapons and money are pouring across the borders to feed the spiral of violence”, Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo tells AsiaNews. “The Western countries are not doing anything concrete to stop the conflict — he continues — they do not care about the fate of the Syrian people, who in addition to the war between the army and rebels also suffer an economic embargo.” Msgr. Nazzaro says that medicines, fuel, gas are beginning to run out across the country. In the provinces most affected by the fighting, basic necessities are lacking and it is difficult for the population to survive, especially if this tense situation continues for much longer.

The bishop says that the Islamic extremists continue to shoot and carry out attacks and have no interest in seeking a way out of the conflict. “Who is funding these militias? — asks the prelate — after the imposition of the cease-fire on 12 April, there were constant attacks targeted against which the army sadly responds with equal cruelty.”

For the past three weeks the Assad military have bombed the city of Rastan situated between Homs and Hama, the main stronghold of Islamist rebels. Opposition sources speak of 33 deaths over the past two days. There are also reports of abuses against the Christian community in the area. On 10 May in the village of Al Borj Al Qastal, not far from Hama, ten families were expelled by foreign fighters who used their homes for military purposes. Yesterday, some returned, after the area returned under the control of the Syrian army.

Bishop Nazzaro confirms that the struggle for control of the country is between the Alawites, a Shi’ite religious minority to which the Assad family belongs, and Sunni extremists. The clashes are mainly concentrated in areas where there is the largest presence of foreign militants.

In these days the conflict between the two religious factions has crossed the border into Lebanon. In Beirut there have been several clashes between the two communities, which have forced an army intervention. Today, hundreds of Shiites blocked roads in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley on the border with Syria, to protest against the kidnapping in Aleppo of 14 Lebanese pilgrims returning from Iran.

In the provinces not yet dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the situation is calmer and dissent against the regime is still more pacifist. “I just finished my pastoral visit to a parish — said Bishop — Christians do not have problems there and they can try to help the local Islamic communities. Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites Syrians, who respect them and have no reason to attack them” .

Meanwhile, in Damascus, the parliament created by the first ever general elections on May 7, today held its first meeting. Members were sworn-in to “defend the interests of the people’ and democracy in the four years of their mandate. Boycotted by opposition parties, the ballot was won by the coalition dominated by the Baath party, linked to the Assad regime, which won 183 of the 250 seats.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Iran to Build Two New Nuclear Plants

Tehran plans to build two additional nuclear power plants in the coming years despite suspicion by Western powers. The Iranian president has told parliament that the country is surrounded by “evils.”

The Iranian government announced on Sunday that it plans to build two additional nuclear power plants in the coming years, days after negotiations with world powers in Baghdad failed to produce compromise on uranium enrichment in the Islamic Republic.

“Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year,” Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state television.

The Mehr and INSA news agencies both reported that Tehran was also planning a second new plant in the coming years. Iran currently has one operational nuclear power plant, the only one in the Middle East, which is located in Bushehr on the coast of the Persian Gulf.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Iran: Fiat ‘Suspends Business’ To Comply With Sanctions

Turin, 25 May (AKI) — Fiat, Italy’s biggest carmaker, said it has suspended business activity with Iran.

“Fiat supports the international efforts for a diplomatic solution of the issues relating to the relations with Iran,” the Turin-based manufacturer said Friday in a statement.

“In this respect, Fiat announces that effective immediately its subsidiaries will no longer carry out business activity related to products or components where the ultimate destination of such products is known to be Iran, other than to the limited extent required to fulfil already existing binding obligations.”

The United Nations and European Union have slapped sanctions on Iran for failing its nuclear programme that is believed to be developing nuclear weapons.

Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi on Thursday boasted of Italy’s leading role in getting tougher European Union sanctions approved against Iran. These include an oil embargo due to take effect on 1 July.

Fiat didn’t give a figure for the value of its business with Iran, only saying it is “totally immaterial in a quantitative and qualitative sense.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



‘No Reason’ To Suspend Iran’s Enrichment of Uranium to 20%

(AGI)Tehran-Iran has “no reason” to suspend its enrichment of uranium to 20%, said Tehran Atomic Agency’s Fereydoon Abbasi Davani. The issue of the 20% fuel was at the center of the 5+1 talks held on Wednesday and Thursday in Baghdad, where Tehran was asked to suspend this activity and hand in its stocks in exchange for a loosening of the embargo on the spare parts for civil aircraft. “We have no reason to cede on 20 percent, because we produce only as much of the 20 percent fuel as we need. No more, no less,” affirmed Fereydoon Abbasi Davani.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



NYT: Obama Aims at a Yemen-Style Solution for Syria

(AGI) Washington — Barack Obama intends to propose a Yemen-style solution in Syria with a soft post-Assad transition. The news was reported by the New York Times in an article anticipating that a plan in this direction will be illustrated by the American President to his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin when they meed in June. Obama’s idea is supposedly to pressure the exit of President Bashar al-Assad although leaving part of his Government in power. This is a solution similar to the one found for Yemen where, after months of violence, President Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted to surrender power to his deputy, Agbdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, through an agreement mediated by neighboring Arab Countries. Hadi, who was subsequently confirmed in a public election, is now guiding the transition.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Syrian Government Denies Being Behind Massacre That Killed More Than 90

The Syrian government on Sunday denied responsibility for killings in a string of villages that left more than 90 people dead, blaming the killings on “hundreds of heavily armed gunmen” who also attacked soldiers in the area. Friday’s assault on the central area of Houla was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria’s 15-month-old uprising, and gruesome images of dozens of children killed in the attacks prompted a wave of international outrage.

The U.N. said 32 children under the age of 10 were among the dead and issued a statement appearing to hold the Syrian regime responsible. Persistent violence has cast doubt about the future of international efforts to halt 14 months of bloodshed between the regime and forces fighting against it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Trust in Army Declining But Secular-Islamist Rift Deepening

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey has seen sharp decrrease in the trust in military, that seems to be related to the Ergenekon case. “This is a good development for Turkish democracy,” says academic Yaprak Gürsoy. But the case also leads to polarization in the society, deepening the secular-Islamist cleavage, which harms democratic consolidation, Gürsoy adds

Public trust on Turkish military was around 89 percent prior to the begining of Ergenekon case, afterwhich it has dropped to 66 percent, Yaprak Gürsoy tells the Daily News speaking at Bilgi University’s campus. DAILY NEWS photos, Hasan ALTINISIK

The Ergenekon case has affeced the trust in the military, since the level of the Turkish public trust in the army has dropped, becoming at par with the European Union levels, according to an academic who has conducted a study on the public views towards the trial.

While this is a positive development for Turkish democracy, the case has also served to deepen rifts between people from the pro-Islamist and secularist camps, Yaprak Gürsoy of Istanbul Bilgi University recently told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.

Gürsoy’s finding are part of a project titled “Armed Forces and Society in Turkey: An Empirical Approach,” which was launched by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK).

Using the findings of the 2011 survey from the project which was carried out under the leadership of Assistant Professor Dr. Zeki Sarigil from Ankara’s Bilkent University, Gürsoy has concluded that the Ergenekon trials are increasing polarization in society.

Give us a summary of your findings.

The Ergenekon investigation and trials are a double-edge sword for Turkish democracy. They are good in a sense that it’s possible to observe that with these trials, public attitudes toward the military have began to change. People have less confidence in the Turkish military. But it is also possible to observe that they are leading to polarization in Turkish politics, especially between supporters of political parties, and that’s not good for Turkish democratic consolidation.

In your research, you are talking about the paradoxical situation in the past, when those who supported democracy also had high levels of trust in the military.

Right; and this is problematic. The Turkish military has justified its interventions [into politics under the guise of] defending democracy. Basically, we can see that people mostly used to believe that Turkish military is a guardian of democracy; it is also possible to observe through previous survey analyses that those who trust the military do not have a liberal democratic conceptualization.

You call them superficial democrats.

Yes, because they see democracy as only about having regular elections. But we know that democracy have other components, such as the rule of law, freedom of speech and human rights. It seems that those who trust the military do not have these democratic values or did not use to have these democratic values. This was until the mid-2000s. Since around 2007, it has become possible to see a potential change in public attitudes and in people’s values both surrounding democracy and trust in the military. The level of trust in the military has started to decrease. If you look at Eurobarometer surveys, which started in the 2000s, we can see that there is a drop in the level of trust the public has toward the military. We had 89 percent, then it started to decline and it is now around 66 percent, which is on par with European countries.

And you believe that the Ergenekon case is behind this change?

I believe that the critical event must have been the Ergenekon case. I focused on this hypothesis, and I checked other factors that influence trust in the military, such as having trust in civilians, the belief that democracy is the best regime, gender, education, income; when you check all these variables, belief that the Ergenekon terrorist organization really exists contributes to different views on the military. Those who believe the Ergenekon terror organization exists do not trust the military. So the drop can be explained by belief in the Ergenekon trials.

This is positive for Turkish democracy not because Ergenekon directly changes attitudes toward democracy. Indirectly, however, a decrease in trust in the military is a good sign of democratic consolidation. We know in cases like Turkey that the military has intervened in democracy and these actions were seen as legitimate. It seems that people are now having a more liberal democratic attitude and believe that it is something that is not supposed to be supported.

Your study also suggests that there is also a negative consequence of Ergenekon case.

It leads to polarization. When you investigate which groups believe the Ergenekon terrorist organization exists, you can see a sharp difference between political party supporters. Those who voted for the AKP [Justice and Development Party] in the 2011 elections overwhelmingly think that the Ergenekon terror organization exists. Most of those who voted CHP [Republican People’s Party] think that Ergenekon does not exist and that the case rests on fabricated evidence. There is a sharp polarization between CHP and AKP supporters.

Why is that so problematic? Isn’t it normal to have a divergence of views on a specific issue?

It is problematic because polarization leads to mutual distrust [and the sense] that the other side is undemocratic. Of course, polarization doesn’t need to always lead to these questions, but in Turkey, we know that polarization corresponds to the belief that the other side is disloyal to democracy and that it can take actions against democracy.

When both sides think that the other is undemocratic, it is democratic consolidation overall that suffers. Because our definition of democratic consolidation entails attitudinal and behavioral support for democracy, it is not just about having liberal democratic institutions or a constitution that is liberal democratic, we need to have all significant actors in politics believe that democracy is what some scholars call the only game in town. Nobody can think of acting outside democratic institutions. When there is mutual suspicion that the other side is undemocratic and it could take action against democracy, everybody takes up their weapons so to speak to defend themselves and take undemocratic actions. This can lead to using authoritarian methods or to supporting coup plots; in the end, it is democracy that suffers.

Do you see signs that polarization in Turkey is leading the sides toward resort to non-democratic tendencies?

Maybe the sides are not necessarily taking those actions, but the sides are thinking that the other side is taking such an action. For instance, CHP supporters believe the AKP is moving toward authoritarianism; that belief in itself is a question for democratic consolidation.

AKP supporters accused the CHP of supporting Ergenekon suspects and of behaving undemocratically. Nobody has to do anything. These beliefs lead to situations where attitudinal support for democracy diminishes; in other words, people are culturally becoming undemocratic.

Are there any other categorizations on views on Ergenekon?

Those who are more pious seem to believe that Ergenekon is real. Those who are less religious think that Ergenekon is not real. This also corresponds to the pro-Islamist-secularist cleavage in Turkey. So the cleavage between the pro-Islamists and secularists seems to be deepening because of the Ergenekon case.

WHO IS YAPRAK GÜRSOY

Yaprak Gürsoy received her PhD from the University of Virginia, Department of Politics. Her dissertation is a comparative study of Greek and Turkish political regimes, civil-military relations, and businessmen’s political attitudes.

Currently, Dr. Gürsoy is an assistant professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, teaching subjects such as Civil-Military Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Transformation in Europe, and the European Union.

Her research on regime change and civil-military relations have been published in international journals, including Democratization, South European Society and Politics, East European Quarterly, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, and Journal of Modern Greek Studies.

May/26/2012

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Afghan Women Leave the Country in Fear of Taliban Return

The threat of a curtailment of women’s rights prompts many to quit before the 2014 handover

A brain drain of bright young women is already taking place in Afghanistan before the 2014 handover that many fear will mean a reversal of advances in women’s rights.

The lack of commitment by the Afghan government to equality and to tackling the high rates of ill-treatment of women in the home and in the workplace is raising real fears they will be at the bottom of the political agenda in the push for power after Nato forces leave the country.

Worsening security for civilians — casualties among ordinary Afghans have risen year on year for the last five years with 3,021 killed in 2011, and women are thought to be suffering disproportionately — has led to rising numbers of women and girls leaving education and the workforce and staying indoors, according to Guhramaana Kakar, a gender adviser to President Hamid Karzai.

Speaking to the Observer, Kakar said negotiations between the government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups were ignoring women’s rights. A recent survey by charity ActionAid suggested 86% of Afghan women were fearful of a return to Taliban-style rule. One in five worried about the education of their daughters but 72% said their lives were better now than a decade ago.

“Women do want the progress that has been made over the past 10 years to continue, but they are being kept away from the political processes,” Kakar said. “All Afghans, men and women, want a country without foreign troops, but I think the international community should be putting women on the agenda and making sure their security and freedoms are secured, directly and indirectly.”

She criticised the recent Nato conference in Chicago for completely ignoring the issue. “Women are regularly harassed in the workplace, they are exploited and credit for their achievements taken by men, while also being targeted by insurgents for going to work or school. They suffer the worst in the security situation and, even at home, they are subjected to violence and abuse which is tacitly sanctioned by the courts and the government.”…

           — Hat tip: WM [Return to headlines]



India May Bar Europe Carriers in Climate Tax Row

(NEW DELHI) — India said it may stop European carriers from flying into the country if the European Union bans airlines from the South Asian nation that boycott the EU’s new emissions fee system.

“We will take retaliatory actions to counter steps taken by the EU. If Europe bans our carriers we will ban theirs as well,” the senior government official, who did not want to be named, told reporters late Friday.

The EU in mid-May gave India and China a month to comply with the airline carbon emissions fee system across the 27-nation bloc, or face penalties for flights into and out of Europe.

EU Commissioner for Climate Change Connie Hedegaard said all EU airlines and “nearly all” world airlines had agreed to hand over emissions data required under the controversial carbon levy that took effect on January 1.

“There has been a very, very high level of compliance… the only exception is Chinese and Indian carriers,” she said earlier this month.

While some 1,200 airlines have complied with the EU requirements, eight Chinese and two Indian airlines representing less than three percent of aviation emissions in the bloc have refused.

India and China have attacked the EU scheme, calling it a unilateral trade levy disguised as an attempt to fight climate change. India in April barred its airlines from complying with the EU carbon fee, joining China in resistance.

The EU says the tax aims to help it achieve a goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and has said no airline will face a bill until 2013 after this year’s carbon emissions have been tallied.

It says the cost for the airlines is manageable, calculating that the scheme could force the carriers to add between 4.0 euros ($5.00) and 24 euros to the price of a long-haul round-trip.

European authorities have warned that the Chinese and Indian carriers could face penalties if they fail to submit data by an extended deadline of June 15. European authorities said that, as a final measure, banning repeat offenders could be considered.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Lady Gaga’s Concert in Indonesia Cancelled

(AGI) Jakarta — Organizers announced that Lady Gaga’s concert scheduled for next Sunday in Jakarta has been cancelled. The decision was taken by the singer’s staff following the threat of Indonesian Islamic fundamentalists to unleash “chaos” in the world’s most densely populated Muslim Country in case the popstar performed in what they consider to be an “immoral” show. “Now in play is not only the security of Lady Gaga but also of anybody going to see her”, explained Minola Sebayang, the lawyer of the Big Daddy company that had promoted the event.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



US Cuts Pakistan Aid Over Conviction of ‘Bin Laden Doctor’

One million for each year imposed on Dr Shakil Afridi is cut for a total of US$ 33 million. Afridi was convicted for “treason” because he ran vaccination programme to collect intelligence for the US. Secretary Clinton calls the conviction “unjust and unwarranted.”

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — In a 30-0 vote, a US Senate panel cut US$ 33 million from its aid package to Pakistan in response to the conviction of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden. The cut by the Senate Appropriations Committee to its US$ 52 billion US foreign aid budget was largely symbolic, one million dollar for every year of Shakil Afridi’s sentence.

On Wednesday, Dr Afridi was convicted for treason under a tribal justice system in Khyber district and fined US$ 3,500 for helping the United States find al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad near the capital Islamabad. Bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces in May 2011.

Dr Afridi, who is now in jail in Peshawar, was not present in court and so was unable to give his side of the story. He ran a fake vaccination programme to collect DNA samples that allowed US intelligence to find al Qaeda’s founder.

“The United States does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr Afridi. We regret the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence,” Clinton said, calling his treatment “unjust and unwarranted.”

Analysts say the Pakistani establishment opted for such harsh treatment not only to defy the Americans but also to send a message to all Pakistani contacts of American diplomatic missions to desist from repeating Dr Afridi’s “mistake”.

The Pakistani doctor was arrested a few days after the US Special Forces raid in May last year that ended in bin Laden’s death. Pakistan slammed the US action as a violation of its sovereignty.

At the recent NATO meeting in Chicago, Pakistan and the United States failed to find an agreement to reopen supply routes for US forces in Afghanistan. Islamabad had closed them down after a US air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Latin America


EU Appeal to WTO Against Argentine Import Restrictions

(AGI) Brussels — The EU presented a complaint today to the World Trade Organization in Geneva against Argentine import controls. This is the first concrete initiative taken by Brussels since the country’s expropriation of the Argentine activities of Spanish energy group Repsol, although sources state that the Commission’s appeal today “is not directly connected to the Repsol case” with regard to which Brussels is “examining all possible options.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

General


Center of Gravity in Oil World Shifts to Americas

In a desertlike stretch of scrub grass and red buttes, oil companies are punching holes in the ground in search of what might be one of the biggest recent discoveries in the Americas: enough gas and oil to make a country known for beef and the tango an important energy player.

The environment is challenging, with resources trapped deep in shale rock. But technological breakthroughs coupled with a feverish quest for the next major find are unlocking the door to oil and natural gas riches here and in several other countries in the Americas not traditionally known as energy producers.

That is quickly changing the dynamics of energy geopolitics in a way that had been unforeseen just a few years ago.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Human Evolution Isn’t What it Used to be

by Matt Ridley

Recent analyses of the human genome reveal a huge number of rare—and therefore probably fairly new—mutations.

So we’re evolving as a species toward greater individual (rather than racial) genetic diversity. But this isn’t what most people mean when they ask if evolution has stopped. Mainly they seem to mean: “Has brain size stopped increasing?” For a process that takes millions of years, any answer about a particular instant in time is close to meaningless. Nonetheless, the short answer is probably “yes.”

I say this for two reasons. First, it’s clear, from glancing around society, that clever people—who on average have slightly bigger brains—aren’t having more babies than less-clever people. Second, the fossil record strongly suggests that our brain size peaked at 1,500 cubic centimeters around 20,000 years ago and has since shrunk to 1,350 cc. This neither worries nor surprises me. We ceased relying upon individual brain power tens of thousands of years ago. Our civilization now gets all its inventive and creative power from the linking of brains into networks. Our future depends on being clever not individually, but collectively.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



World’s Largest Radio Telescope to be Shared by South Africa, Australia

The world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope will be shared by South Africa and Australia, project organizers announced today (May 25). Both nations had been vying to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a future mega-scope that will connect 3,000 separate radio dishes, each about 50 feet (15 meters) wide. (The array’s name refers the dishes’ total collecting area, not how much ground they cover.)

But SKA officials have now decided to spread the project over both sites, rather than pick one over the other. “This hugely important step for the project allows us to progress the design and prepare for the construction phase of the telescope,” said Michiel van Haarlem, interim director general of the SKA Organization.

The SKA’s many receptors will be arrayed in spiral arms extending out at least 1,864 miles (3,000 kilometers) from a central core, officials have said. The 1.5-billion-euro (roughly $2 billion) construction project is slated to begin in 2016, with the SKA’s first science operations starting three years later. The array is expected to be fully operational by 2024.

The enormous array will have 50 times the sensitivity and 10,000 times the survey speed of the best current-day telescopes, SKA officials said. The instrument will allow scientists to investigate a variety of questions, including how the first stars and galaxies formed, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe and the nature of gravity.

“The SKA will transform our view of the universe; with it we will see back to the moments after the Big Bang and discover previously unexplored parts of the cosmos,” van Haarlem said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20120526

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» The Last Days of the Media
» UN Agenda 21 and the Military
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» Why LOST (The Law of the Sea Treaty) Is Dangerous to US Sovereignty
 
Europe and the EU
» EP Crackdown on Illegal Tuna Fishing
» Eurovision Song Contest is the Real Union of Europe
» Italian Cheese Production Hit Hard by Earthquake
» Italy: Teen Gypsy Shot Dead, Body Dumped at Hospital
» Italy: Berlusconi and Romani Investigated in Monza for Corruption
» Italy: Prada to Add 260 Shops in Three Years on Demand From Emerging Economies
» Italy: Cabinet Ratifies Italy-U.S. Agreement on Terrorism
» Italy Lags Behind on Jobs, Education in Better Life Index
» Italy Bans Cosmetic Breast Surgery for Under-18s
» Monti: Fight Against Tax Evasion Not Made With Protests
» Muslims Want More Burial Space in Germany
» Muslim Rapes of Children Covered up by U.K. Politicians
» Preachers Insult the Netherlands
» Schoolboy ‘Genius’ Solves Puzzles Posed by Sir Isaac Newton That Have Baffled Mathematicians for 350 Years
» Swedish Security Police Raid Mosque in Goteborg
» Syriza Leads by 28.5% in Greek Surveys; NEA Dimokratia 26%
» UK: Don’t be Fooled by Resurgent Labour. They Would Soon Send US the Way of Greece
» UK: Kayaker Tells of Desperate Effort to Save Boy, 15, Who Drowned After Leaping Into River Thames to Cool Off
» UK: Legal Secretary Attacked by Girls Who ‘Rained Fists’ And Wiped Pizza in Her Face Slams Court for Letting Thugs Go Free
» UK: Under-18s Commit a Quarter of All Crimes: Young Offenders Responsible for More Than a Million Crimes in Just One Year
» Vatican: Bank Chief Ousted After Money-Laundering Scandal
» Vatileaks and the Vatican’s Irritation
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Against Shafiq to Save Revolution
» Former Intelligence Chief ‘Holds Key’ To Yvonne Fletcher Shooting in 1984, Says Libyan PM
» Tunisia: Leila Ben Ali Tells Her Side of the Story
» Tunisia: From North to South: Unrestrained Salafists Wreck Havoc in Tunisia
 
Middle East
» Brave Saudi Woman Confronts Religious Police Trying to Chastise Her for Having Painted Nails — Then Posts Video Online
» Dubai: Debate on Miniskirts and Low Necklines
» Four Fingers of a Thief in Iran to be Cut-Off
» Suicide Car Bomb Kills 12 Rebels in North Yemen
» Syria: Ban Ki-Moon: Many Towns in Rebels’ Hands
» Yemen: 62 Members of Al Qaeda & 3 Soldiers Die in Clashes
 
Russia
» Islamist Lawyer Faces Criminal Case Over Hate Speech
» Russia to Deploy Its Yars Missile Systems in Siberia
 
South Asia
» Afghan Parliament Approves U.S.-Afghan Security Pact
» Afghanistan: It’s Hard to Believe We Can Build a Credible State After So Many Years of Failure
» NATO and France: For Afghanistan, Worry About the People and Schools
 
Australia — Pacific
» Every Banquet a Bonus: Lunch With Mohammad Hussein Al-Ansari
 
Immigration
» 54 Somalis Land at Lampedusa, Women & Children
» Chinese European Crisis and a Visit to Wenzhou’s Little Italy
» Italy: Police Smash ‘People-Smuggling Gang’ And Arrest Three Africans
» Italy: Moroccans in Quake Area Return Home
 
Culture Wars
» Serbia: Gay Pride Back in Belgrade on October 6
» UK: Head Attacks Being Sent a Bible

Financial Crisis


Italy: Recession Claims Two More Suicide Victims

Rome, 25 May (AKI) — Two more people have committed suicide in Italy, both of whom had financial problems. They are the latest of dozens of Italians to kill themselves since the fourth recession in 11 years.

A 38-year-old woman apparently stabbed herself to death the beach at the seaside resort of Ostia, near Rome. The woman had gone missing from her native city of Parma in northern Italy last week and had economic problems.

On Thursday, a 53-year-old businessman in the northeastern city of Vicenza hanged himself in a broom cupboard in his apartment. In his suicide note he said he had too many economic problems. Just hours before, he had announced the closure of his debt-laden haulage firm.

Most of the spate of suicides have involved business people, the unemployed or people who have lost their jobs and most are men.

Approximately one Italian a day is killing themselves, according to Eures, an economic and social think-tank.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Italy: PM Monti on Eurobond ‘No Black-Eye to the Germans’

(AGI) Rome — PM Mario Monti spoke in an interview with TG1 today. He observed that the Eurobond “is not yet a thing for tomorrow, there remain German reserves and no-one wants to effect measures which are a punch in the eye to another important country, we need cohesion”. “But the fact that a large number of both euro and non-euro countrieds, such as Great Britain, have expressed their approval of the Eurobond,” Monti added, “will indeed make this matter be carefully considered instead of removed because of Germany’s disapproval.” Regarding the time involved Monti responded that “‘soon’ is a word that is ill suited to the complex and weighty European situation. Europe, however, knows how to react to the crisis putting new things on the field. The success of the summit the day before yesterday in Brussels,” he concluded, “is that these questions have assumed a greater importance than in the past.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Monti Says Italy Can Mediate Between Merkel and Hollande

(AGI) Rome — “In Europe, an agreement has been reached over the fact that growth and rigour should go hand in hand. And it’s not a matter of axes. We have a very solid relation with Angela Merkel’s Germany and a new French president, Francois Hollande, has just come on stage. I think that Italy may help mediate between the French and German positions in order to achieve what we all need”, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said, interviewed by Tg1 news reporters.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Serbia: Dinar Caught in Greek Maelstrom

Le Monde

The debt crisis in the eurozone also affects countries that have not adopted the euro. Le Monde explains that Serbia has been struck by sudden drop in the value of its currency, which —

… fell to 116 dinars against the euro, forcing the the country’s central bank to intervene and spend €80 million of its reserves.

The domestic context in Serbia following a presidential election on 20 May has contributed to this steep decline in market confidence —

Investors moved en masse to offload the currency, […] in the wake of the failure of the Tadic coalition government, which had come to embody the country’s aspiration to enter the European Union, and the surprise victory of right-wing leader Tomislav Nikolic, who is now experiencing difficulties in forming a government.

Belgrade is also largely dependent on “foreign banks based in EU countries, many of which are Greek and Italian.” This is one of the main reasons for concern over the prospect “of another credit squeeze in the region,” notes the French daily.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

USA


“The Reason is Religion, Mom”

The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Army Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo faced his mother during a visit in a Texas jail last July.

Abdo had been arrested for plotting an attack on a restaurant in Killeen popular with soldiers from nearby Fort Hood. He would set off a bomb inside the restaurant, then shoot and kill as many survivors as possible as they scrambled out to safety. His mother asked the obvious question. Why? Jurors convicted Abdo’s Thursday of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder after hearing and seeing the answer on video. “The reason is religion, Mom.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Absurd Whitewashing: U.S. Army Overlooks ‘Know Your Enemy’ Rule

by Michael Coren

Welcome to our brave new world of truth, honesty and courage. The U.S. Army has a Special Operations Training Course, where its commandos, Green Berets, secret military operatives and so on are taught about the enemy, and the context of whom they’re fighting. Today, it’s not the communists or fascists who the Americans and the west are up against, but of course Islamic fanatics. So, obviously they need to understand Islam, Shariah law, the Qur’an, and so on. Here, then, is what the manual for the Arabic language section of the course says about the legal code of the Islamic world.

“The Shariah (Islamic law) prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security and tranquility.”

Well, sort of. Mind you, more than 90% of all honour killings are committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. Britain is experiencing a plague of Muslim gangs grooming teenage white girls into prostitution after mass raping them; polygamy invariably reduces women to mere chattel; girls are often denied an education and even health care; and a raped woman is generally designated as the offender rather than the victim. The list could go on, and frankly it’s just applied common sense to realize that such a description of Shariah is like defining Mussolini as a man who managed to drain marshes and make the trains run on time! It’s an absurd whitewashing, an infantile and horribly misleading caricature of a pernicious challenge to equality and decency.

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Differences Between Mormonism and Christianity

Table that compares the differences between Mormonism and Christianity: [table]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Go to Jail for Dissing the President?

Did you know you can be arrested and jailed for saying “disrespectful” things about the president?

According to a highly-trained education professional teaching “social studies” in the Rowan-Salisbury public schools, North Carolina, you can’t “say things” about the president—although in just about the same breath, she said President George W. Bush was, if you’ll excuse the expression, “sh**ty.” Her tirade was recorded by a student in her classroom, and you can listen to it here. [url]

The Salisbury Post reported last week that the teacher “tells a student he can be arrested for speaking ill of President Barack Obama.” In the interests of truth, we must point out that the teacher, for all her blustering foolishness, did not actually say that. If you listen to the entire recording, almost 10 minutes long, you will not hear her say you can be arrested for dissing the current occupier of the White House.

What she did say—and it’s clear she is fanatically devoted to Obama, even to the point of being emotionally disturbed about it—was this…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Hundreds of Words to Avoid Using Online if You Don’t Want the Government Spying on You

The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release