Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/18/2015

In a pre-emptive aerial attack on the Golan Heights in Syria, the Israeli Air Force struck the leadership of Hezbollah, who were said to be planning an attack on the Jewish state. At least six Hezbollah and Iranian commanders were killed, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of the late Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh.

In other news, the Swiss economy is already feeling the effects of the Swiss National Bank’s decision to decouple the value of the franc from the value of the euro. The cost of accommodation in Switzerland has risen about 18% as denominated in foreign currencies, causing a severe drop in tourist reservations for vacations in Switzerland.

To see the headlines and the articles, click “Continue reading” below.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, Nick, Papa Whiskey, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.

Notice to tipsters: Please don’t submit extensive excerpts from articles that have been posted behind a subscription firewall, or are otherwise under copyright protection.

Caveat: Articles in the news feed are posted “as is”. Gates of Vienna cannot vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of the contents of any individual item posted here. We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible. The link to the original is included with each item’s title. Further research and verification are left to the reader.

Financial Crisis
» China Growth Hit 24-Year Low in 2014: AFP Survey
» ECB in Germany Compromise Over QE
» ECB Preparing for Bond Program Next Week, Says Coeuré
» Greece: ‘Syriza Govt’s 1st Act Will be Raising Minimum Wage’
» Shipping is Reaping the Benefits of Low Oil Prices
» Swiss Tourism Still ‘In Shock’ After SNB Move
» Swiss Lose Battle in Currency War That Could Spread
» 1-Year Space Station Mission May Pave NASA’s Way to Mars
» ‘Fat Leonard’ Pleads Guilty in US Navy Bribery Scandal
» George Soros Funds Ferguson Protests, Hopes to Spur Civil Action
» Neanderthals Were Able to Make Advanced Tools
Europe and the EU
» A War Between Two Worlds
» Anti-Islam Rally in German City Dresden Canceled Over Threat
» Belgium Deploys the Army in Fight Against Terrorism
» Belgium: ‘No Link’ Between Greek Arrests and Terror Plot
» Belgium: Troops on the Street: “You Soon Get Used to it.”
» Belgium: Paras Guard Jewish Neighbourhood in Antwerp
» British Jews ‘Scared to Go to Shops’ In Wake of Paris Attacks
» EU Institutions Beef Up Security
» Finland: MP Halla-Aho Not to Run in Next Parliamentary Elections
» France: ‘It Feels Like I’m in a Warzone’: Paris Tourist
» France: Charlie Hebdo Killers Said and Cherif Kouachi Buried in Secret
» France: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Among Paris Tourism Sites Seeing Smaller Crowds After Terror Attacks
» Frenchmen Detained in Yemen for Possible Al-Qaeda Links
» German Authorities Investigating 350 Suspects Tied to ‘IS’
» Germany: PEGIDA Marches Possible Islamist Target: Report
» German Green Party Leader Cem Özdemir Stripped of Immunity Over Cannabis Plant
» Germany: Anti-Islam PEGIDA Rally in Dresden Called Off After Threat
» German Anti-Islam PEGIDA Cancels Rally Over ‘Is Death Threat’
» Greece: Elections: Spanish Premier Rajoy Backs Samaras
» Icelandic Brewery Angers Conservationists With by Making Beer With Whale Testicles
» Italian Interior Minister Calls Maximum Terrorism Alert
» Italians Buy Greek Olives to Cover Needs
» Italy: Soria Sentenced to Pay 6.2 Mn in Grinzane Cavour Case
» Italy: Prosecutors Seek 9-yr Prison Term for Geronzi
» Italy: Bank of China Acquires 2.01% of Terna Electric Grid Operator
» Italy Has a Good Health Care System OECD Says
» Italy: Gentiloni Says Aid Workers Ransom Rumours ‘Just Conjecture’
» Memorial Marks 70 Years Since ‘Swedish Schindler’ Disappeared
» MEPs Approve Freedom of Choice for GMOs
» Nine Terror Suspects to Remain in French Police Custody
» OIC Weighs Legal Action Against French Magazine
» Poll: Nearly Half of French Oppose Mohammed Cartoons
» Special Treatment for Amazon, Says European Commission
» Sweden: Behead an Infidel, Get a Job
» Terror Suspect From Sweden Arrested in Slovakia
» UK: Brother of Lee Rigby’s Killer Praises Paris Jihadis Who Killed 12 in Charlie Hebdo Attack
» UK: Christian Nurse Suspended for “Trying to Convert” Muslim Colleague
» UK: Praying With a Muslim Colleague Ruined My Career, Says Christian NHS Worker
» Amfilohije: NATO Continues Work of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini
» Another Returnee’s House in Kosovo Burned Down
» Balkans Silk Road: South Stream and Possible New War
» Croatia: Kitarovic Rejects Allegations of Nationalist Rhetoric
» Italy’s Prime Minister: Treat Serbia and Other EU Neighbors More Carefully
North Africa
» Morocco: Country Questions High-Speed Rail Line
Middle East
» Cache of ‘Jihad Meth’ Seized in West Bank
» Hezbollah Commander Killed, Raising Fears of Retaliatory Strike
» Hezbollah Threat to Israel Revealed in IAF Attack in Syria Near Golan Killing 10
» In Graphic Photos and on Twitter, ISIS Members Record and Tout Executions of Gay Men
» Istanbul Suicide Bomber Was ‘Teen Widow of Norwegian is Jihadist’
» Italy: Aid Workers Home Amid Controversy
» Jordan: Over 1,000 People March in Solidarity With Prophet Mohammad
» Myanmar Woman Screams Innocence Before Saudi Beheading: Video
» Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Great Wall’ To Keep Out ISIL
» Turkey’s Erdogan Warns of Clash of Civilizations Following Attacks
» Gazprom CEO Says Turkish Stream up to EU
» Ukrainians Cut a Cake in the Shape of a Russian Baby
» Ukraine’s Military Says Troops Retake Most of Donetsk Airport From Rebels
South Asia
» Afghan Cabinet Nominee on Interpol’s Most-Wanted List
» Pakistani Muslims and Christians Hold Countrywide Protests Over Charlie Hebdo Caricatures
Far East
» China’s Counter-Intelligence Chief Arrested for Corruption(Agi)
» Millions Flock to Pope Francis’ Final Mass in Philippines
» Pope Francis in Philippines: Millions Attend Mass in Manila
» US Ex-Officials to Meet With North Korean Nuclear Chief Amid Standoff
Sub-Saharan Africa
» 500 Spain Visas Stolen From Briefcase in Nigeria
Latin America
» Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi Signs 100mn Peru Contract
» Poland: Mass Emigration
» The Refugees Lebanon Wishes Would Go Away
Culture Wars
» Belgium: Bishop of Antwerp Uncomfortable With LGBTI Award
» Sweden: Stockholm to Get ‘Gender Equal’ Snow Ploughs
» The Netherlands Has More Atheists Than Believers in God
» After 17 Years in Orbit, How Durable is the International Space Station?
» Ibn Warraq: The Prophet, Represented

China Growth Hit 24-Year Low in 2014: AFP Survey

China’s annual GDP growth slowed to its weakest rate in more than two decades in 2014, according to an AFP survey, projecting further deceleration in the world’s second-largest economy this year.

The median forecast in a poll of 15 economists saw the Asian giant’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanding 7.3 percent last year, down from 7.7 percent in 2013.

That would be the worst full-year result since the 3.8 percent recorded in 1990 — the year after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

ECB in Germany Compromise Over QE

The European Central Bank (ECB) will next week announce plans to directly buy government bonds, creating new money to fight off possible deflation despite German objections, according to a media report.

The ECB holds its first policy meeting of the year on Thursday and is widely expected to announce some sort of programme of sovereign bond purchases — or Quantitive Easing — to try to kick-start the eurozone’s sluggish economy.

Germany is concerned such a programme amounts to direct fiscal support for profligate states, taking away the pressure to push through tough economic reforms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

ECB Preparing for Bond Program Next Week, Says Coeuré

French newspaper quotes official outlining program

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — The European Central Bank is preparing to outline a massive sovereign bond purchase program, known as quantitative easing, as early as its next regular meeting on Thursday, an ECB official was quoted as saying on Friday to the French newspaper Liberation. The ECB is studying QE experiences in the United States and Britain, said Benoît Coeuré, “to determine the amount of bonds to buy”. The aim is to restore inflation, which is now hovering near zero in parts of the eurozone, to the bank’s 2% target.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: ‘Syriza Govt’s 1st Act Will be Raising Minimum Wage’

‘Only rivals discussing Grexit’, Papageorgiou tells ANSAmed

(by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 16 — The first action that Greek political party SYRIZA will take if it wins the January 25 elections is that of raising the minimum wage, Theofanis Papageorgiou told ANSAmed on Friday. A law will be brought in “raising the current gross minimum wage of 540 euros to 751 and increasing unemployment benefits — 80% of salaries — by the same percentage”, said Papageorgiou, an economist specialized in employment issues and SYRIZA exponent, only a few days prior to the vote. “Government figures showing an improvement in Greece’s economic conditions,” he told ANSAmed, “must be looked at carefully, because unemployment is stable at just over 25%. Nea Dimokratia’s ‘recipe’, which linked growth to employment, only produced badly paid and part-time jobs. We want a different strategy for growth. First of all, we will create a legal framework to facilitate credit to young people who want to set up businesses with a strong social ethics, such as those producing low-cost food — as already happens — as well as in companies in the publishing and media sectors, increasing ‘knowledge capital’.” “This will help to create jobs in line with social ethics and stop young people from fleeing Greece, where youth unemployment is around 60%. The main response is then to re-orient the public sector. Today there are 50% fewer people working in such sectors as education and healthcare compared with five years ago, due to a clause that provided for one person hired for every 10 that retired. We must go back to hiring.” “The other point,” Papageorgiou continued, “is access to liquidity for SMEs. Small and medium-sized enterprises do not hire because they don’t have the liquidity to do so. We will bring banks that have undergone recapitalization back under state control, banks that are still run by their old managers even if the money used to bail them out was that of the state.” On the issue of a possible ‘Grexit’, he said that “Greece’s exit from the euro zone was never actually put forward as an option by SYRIZA. We have always called for changes in the EU’s economic policy. The risk that Greece would exit the euro zone, instead, been used by our adversaries” to warn of what might happen if the party were to win. Papageorgiou then noted the main proposal focused on by Alexis Tsipras in this election campaign: renegotiation of the Memorandum that makes loans conditional on a cuts and reform program, “and especially debt reduction, and not only a reduction in interest,” he underscored. “It will be necessary to negotiate with the troika (of international creditors, Ed.) on the reduction and the timeline.” SYRIZA is still, nonetheless, seen as divided among several different factions on economic issues. “There are divisions, as is normal in every European democratic party of the left. But if a decision is taken democratically by a 100-member committee and the parliamentary group, I don’t think there will be any separations,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Shipping is Reaping the Benefits of Low Oil Prices

The low oil price environment which is currently in play, is providing for a major boon for ship owners, especially tanker owners, who unlike their counterparts are not only benefiting from low bunker prices, i.e. much lower operating expenses, but also from a rising freight rate market, on the back of higher demand from non-oil producing countries. In its latest weekly report shipbroker Intermodal hailed “in Oil we trust! The Barrel price has declined by almost a third in comparison to the 2014 January and has being on the downhill since early last summer. As the world starts to witness the difference at the pump, US investors and countries with a high production cost are starting to feel the heat”, it noted.

According to Intermodal’s SnP broker, Mr. Timos Papadimitriou, “OPEC seems to be engaged in a game of “Chicken” with the US in order to bully and discourage any further investment in the sector as well as to force production to be reduced. An analysis by Wood Mackenzie involving more that 2,200 oil fields (responsible for the total production of 75 million per day) came to the conclusion that, at a Brent price of USD 40 per barrel, approximately 1,5 million barrels (1,6%) are cash negative. But, so far, there is no sign of any decrease in production. 1,5 million barrels might not be enough to put a dent but it is still early”.

He added that “another reason that has contributed to the fall of the oil price is the prolonged European recession combined with the overall intention of the EU to slowly move away from oil. Coupled with the slowdown of the Asian economies, especially China’s and Indonesia’s, demand has dropped on a global scale. Oversupply has done its part too. Technology has given access to reserves that were not reachable before; thus finding and producing oil is a lot more efficient now. Canada and the US have poured billions for domestic production development over the past few years. The US alone is at a 30 year high with a staggering 9 million barrels per day. Iran is back producing after the sanctions were lifted, and now Libya is steadily increasing its output after years of political instability. Both countries are in need of cash and with no intention of slowing down. All these have increased supply further”, Papadimitriou said.

According to the broker, “adding all of the above to the pile has created a perfect storm that has lead prices to a free fall, the duration of which is impossible to gauge. Predicting or even speculating if the demand will pick up or the supply will decrease is not wise and is not feasible nonetheless. However, in my humble opinion, oversupply and the poor demand are currently playing at least a supporting role in this scene. Undoubtedly, the OPEC policy is mostly responsible for the plummet. US investors and bond money are getting cold feet and their resilience is tested with every passing day. Time will tell until when they will be willing to brave the uncertainty or even to support a loss. On the other hand however, US money is not known to fold easily especially when the stakes are high”.

Mr. Papadimitriou concluded that “the interesting part is that in all this volatility and uncertainty, the shipping industry has seen an opportunity and is reaping the benefits. Bunker prices have dropped after years of firm levels, giving a breather for spot traders and charterers and the tanker market has seen a rate increase that has put a smile on many faces. Eventually there will be a correction, but for now shipping seems to be a winner”.

Meanwhile, in the demolition market this week, Intermodal said that “the weak sentiment in which the demolition market kicked off the year seems to be holding rather well. This past week breakers in the Indian subcontinent lowered their bids further, making the demolition option even more unattractive to owners at the moment, as the price ceiling is now well below $450/ldt. This is fairly evident from the stubbornly slow activity, on the back of a rather small number of available demo candidates. As cheap Chinese scrap steel remains the main driver behind the recent market turmoil, the latest development in Pakistan, where a 15% regulatory duty on imported steel billets is reported to be on the way, leaves a lot of room form optimism. Saying that, the reality is that given the strong opposition that has already been expressed by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) for the tax, we believe that it might be a while before we see any substantial impact on local demo prices in the country. Average prices this week for wet tonnage were at around 245-430 $/ldt and dry units received about 220-410 $/ldt”.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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

Swiss Tourism Still ‘In Shock’ After SNB Move

Switzerland’s tourism sector is facing “crucial days”, according to Jürg Schmid, director of Swiss Tourism. Just before the winter high season it is already feeling the effects of the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) decision to scrap a minimum exchange rate with the euro.

“The telephones stopped ringing immediately and online reservations in particular are suddenly no longer being made,” he said in an interview with Le Matin Dimanche.

He added that the central bank’s decision on Thursday, so close to the high season, had triggered uncertainty among foreign customers and that Swiss tourism was still “in shock”.

Ditching the franc cap, which had been in place since September 2011, caused the franc to surge against the euro and dollar, sending shockwaves through the global financial system. For exporters and the tourism industry in Switzerland, the move has led to a near 18% rise in the franc against the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Swiss Lose Battle in Currency War That Could Spread

Historically neutral Switzerland’s foray into the global currency war ended in defeat this past week after its central bank left markets shell-shocked by abandoning the franc’s exchange rate floor, analysts said.

But with major shifts in monetary policy under way, the currency war is hardly over and the front lines will move to other countries.

“The Swiss central bank was the first to throw itself into the currency war, (and) it is the first to capitulate,” said Christopher Dembik, an economist at Saxo Bank.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

1-Year Space Station Mission May Pave NASA’s Way to Mars

The first crew to embark on a yearlong International Space Station mission could help NASA get to Mars.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will launch to the space station in March with cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. Kornienko and Kelly will remain on the orbiting outpost performing research until March 2016. This mission will mark the first time a crew has spent a continuous year on the space station, and researchers are planning to take advantage of it. Scientists and doctors on the ground will monitor the way Kelly and Kornienko’s bodies change throughout the year in order to understand the potential effects of long-term spaceflight (like a mission to Mars) more fully.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘Fat Leonard’ Pleads Guilty in US Navy Bribery Scandal

A Malaysian contractor at the center of a corruption scandal rocking the US Navy pleaded guilty to fraud charges, admitting to bribing officials with cash, prostitutes, Cuban cigars and Kobe beef.

Known as “Fat Leonard” by the American sailors who dealt with him, 50-year-old Leonard Francis of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) entered a guilty plea in a federal court in San Diego, confirming he presided over a decade-long scheme involving tens of millions of dollars in bribes, prosecutors said.

In addition, his ship supply company, GDMA, pleaded guilty to bribery charges and US Navy Captain Daniel Dusek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, the hightest-ranking officer so far to admit wrongdoing in the case.

Four other current and former naval officers have been charged in the scandal…

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

George Soros Funds Ferguson Protests, Hopes to Spur Civil Action

There’s a solitary man at the financial center of the Ferguson protest movement. No, it’s not victim Michael Brown or Officer Darren Wilson. It’s not even the Rev. Al Sharpton, despite his ubiquitous campaign on TV and the streets.

Rather, it’s liberal billionaire George Soros, who has built a business empire that dominates across the ocean in Europe while forging a political machine powered by nonprofit foundations that impacts American politics and policy, not unlike what he did with

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Neanderthals Were Able to Make Advanced Tools

A multi-purpose bone tool dating from the Neanderthal era has been discovered in France by University of Montreal researchers, throwing into question our current understanding of the evolution of human behaviour. “This is the first time a multi-purpose bone tool from this period has been discovered. It proves that Neanderthals were able to understand the mechanical properties of bone and knew how to use it to make tools, abilities usually attributed to our species, Homo sapiens,” said Luc Doyon of the university’s Department of Anthropology, who participated in the digs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

A War Between Two Worlds

By George Friedman

The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is to try to dissect the event, place it in context and try to understand what has happened and why. From that, after the rage cools, plans for action can be made. Rage has its place, but actions must be taken with discipline and thought…

I have found that in thinking about things geopolitically, I can cool my own rage and find, if not meaning, at least explanation for events such as these. As it happens, my new book will be published on Jan. 27. Titled Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, it is about the unfolding failure of the great European experiment, the European Union, and the resurgence of European nationalism. It discusses the re-emerging borderlands and flashpoints of Europe and raises the possibility that Europe’s attempt to abolish conflict will fail. I mention this book because one chapter is on the Mediterranean borderland and the very old conflict between Islam and Christianity. Obviously this is a matter I have given some thought to, and I will draw on Flashpoints to begin making sense of the murderers and murdered, when I think of things in this way.

Let me begin by quoting from that chapter:

We’ve spoken of borderlands, and how they are both linked and divided. Here is a border sea, differing in many ways but sharing the basic characteristic of the borderland. Proximity separates as much as it divides. It facilitates trade, but also war. For Europe this is another frontier both familiar and profoundly alien.

Islam invaded Europe twice from the Mediterranean — first in Iberia, the second time in southeastern Europe, as well as nibbling at Sicily and elsewhere. Christianity invaded Islam multiple times, the first time in the Crusades and in the battle to expel the Muslims from Iberia. Then it forced the Turks back from central Europe. The Christians finally crossed the Mediterranean in the 19th century, taking control of large parts of North Africa. Each of these two religions wanted to dominate the other. Each seemed close to its goal. Neither was successful. What remains true is that Islam and Christianity were obsessed with each other from the first encounter. Like Rome and Egypt they traded with each other and made war on each other.

Christians and Muslims have been bitter enemies, battling for control of Iberia. Yet, lest we forget, they also have been allies: In the 16th century, Ottoman Turkey and Venice allied to control the Mediterranean. No single phrase can summarize the relationship between the two save perhaps this: It is rare that two religions might be so obsessed with each other and at the same time so ambivalent. This is an explosive mixture.

Migration, Multiculturalism and Ghettoization

The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans’ need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans’ appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims’ appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.

The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others’ beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.

Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.

There is here a question of what we mean when we speak of things like Christianity, Islam and secularism. There are more than a billion Christians and more than a billion Muslims and uncountable secularists who mix all things. It is difficult to decide what you mean when you say any of these words and easy to claim that anyone else’s meaning is (or is not) the right one. There is a built-in indeterminacy in our use of language that allows us to shift responsibility for actions in Paris away from a religion to a minor strand in a religion, or to the actions of only those who pulled the trigger. This is the universal problem of secularism, which eschews stereotyping. It leaves unclear who is to be held responsible for what. By devolving all responsibility on the individual, secularism tends to absolve nations and religions from responsibility.

This is not necessarily wrong, but it creates a tremendous practical problem. If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility. As Europe has been for so long, its moral complexity has posed for it a problem it cannot easily solve. Not all Muslims — not even most Muslims — are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don’t? And so the moral debate spins endlessly.

This dilemma is compounded by Europe’s hidden secret: The Europeans do not see Muslims from North Africa or Turkey as Europeans, nor do they intend to allow them to be Europeans. The European solution to their isolation is the concept of multiculturalism — on the surface a most liberal notion, and in practice, a movement for both cultural fragmentation and ghettoization. But behind this there is another problem, and it is also geopolitical. I say in Flashpoints that:

Multiculturalism and the entire immigrant enterprise faced another challenge. Europe was crowded. Unlike the United States, it didn’t have the room to incorporate millions of immigrants — certainly not on a permanent basis. Even with population numbers slowly declining, the increase in population, particularly in the more populous countries, was difficult to manage. The doctrine of multiculturalism naturally encouraged a degree of separatism. Culture implies a desire to live with your own people. Given the economic status of immigrants the world over, the inevitable exclusion that is perhaps unintentionally incorporated in multiculturalism and the desire of like to live with like, the Muslims found themselves living in extraordinarily crowded and squalid conditions. All around Paris there are high-rise apartment buildings housing and separating Muslims from the French, who live elsewhere.

These killings have nothing to do with poverty, of course. Newly arrived immigrants are always poor. That’s why they immigrate. And until they learn the language and customs of their new homes, they are always ghettoized and alien. It is the next generation that flows into the dominant culture. But the dirty secret of multiculturalism was that its consequence was to perpetuate Muslim isolation. And it was not the intention of Muslims to become Europeans, even if they could. They came to make money, not become French. The shallowness of the European postwar values system thereby becomes the horror show that occurred in Paris last week.

The Role of Ideology

But while the Europeans have particular issues with Islam, and have had them for more than 1,000 years, there is a more generalizable problem. Christianity has been sapped of its evangelical zeal and no longer uses the sword to kill and convert its enemies. At least parts of Islam retain that zeal. And saying that not all Muslims share this vision does not solve the problem. Enough Muslims share that fervency to endanger the lives of those they despise, and this tendency toward violence cannot be tolerated by either their Western targets or by Muslims who refuse to subscribe to a jihadist ideology. And there is no way to distinguish those who might kill from those who won’t. The Muslim community might be able to make this distinction, but a 25-year-old European or American policeman cannot. And the Muslims either can’t or won’t police themselves. Therefore, we are left in a state of war. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called this a war on radical Islam. If only they wore uniforms or bore distinctive birthmarks, then fighting only the radical Islamists would not be a problem. But Valls’ distinctions notwithstanding, the world can either accept periodic attacks, or see the entire Muslim community as a potential threat until proven otherwise. These are terrible choices, but history is filled with them. Calling for a war on radical Islamists is like calling for war on the followers of Jean-Paul Sartre. Exactly what do they look like?

The European inability to come to terms with the reality it has created for itself in this and other matters does not preclude the realization that wars involving troops are occurring in many Muslim countries. The situation is complex, and morality is merely another weapon for proving the other guilty and oneself guiltless. The geopolitical dimensions of Islam’s relationship with Europe, or India, or Thailand, or the United States, do not yield to moralizing.

Something must be done. I don’t know what needs to be done, but I suspect I know what is coming. First, if it is true that Islam is merely responding to crimes against it, those crimes are not new and certainly didn’t originate in the creation of Israel, the invasion of Iraq or recent events. This has been going on far longer than that. For instance, the Assassins were a secret Islamic order to make war on individuals they saw as Muslim heretics. There is nothing new in what is going on, and it will not end if peace comes to Iraq, Muslims occupy Kashmir or Israel is destroyed. Nor is secularism about to sweep the Islamic world. The Arab Spring was a Western fantasy that the collapse of communism in 1989 was repeating itself in the Islamic world with the same results. There are certainly Muslim liberals and secularists. However, they do not control events — no single group does — and it is the events, not the theory, that shape our lives.

Europe’s sense of nation is rooted in shared history, language, ethnicity and yes, in Christianity or its heir, secularism. Europe has no concept of the nation except for these things, and Muslims share in none of them. It is difficult to imagine another outcome save for another round of ghettoization and deportation. This is repulsive to the European sensibility now, but certainly not alien to European history. Unable to distinguish radical Muslims from other Muslims, Europe will increasingly and unintentionally move in this direction.

Paradoxically, this will be exactly what the radical Muslims want because it will strengthen their position in the Islamic world in general, and North Africa and Turkey in particular. But the alternative to not strengthening the radical Islamists is living with the threat of death if they are offended. And that is not going to be endured in Europe.

Perhaps a magic device will be found that will enable us to read the minds of people to determine what their ideology actually is. But given the offense many in the West have taken to governments reading emails, I doubt that they would allow this, particularly a few months from now when the murders and murderers are forgotten, and Europeans will convince themselves that the security apparatus is simply trying to oppress everyone. And of course, never minimize the oppressive potential of security forces.

The United States is different in this sense. It is an artificial regime, not a natural one. It was invented by our founders on certain principles and is open to anyone who embraces those principles. Europe’s nationalism is romantic, naturalistic. It depends on bonds that stretch back through time and cannot be easily broken. But the idea of shared principles other than their own is offensive to the religious everywhere, and at this moment in history, this aversion is most commonly present among Muslims. This is a truth that must be faced.

The Mediterranean borderland was a place of conflict well before Christianity and Islam existed. It will remain a place of conflict even if both lose their vigorous love of their own beliefs. It is an illusion to believe that conflicts rooted in geography can be abolished. It is also a mistake to be so philosophical as to disengage from the human fear of being killed at your desk for your ideas. We are entering a place that has no solutions. Such a place does have decisions, and all of the choices will be bad. What has to be done will be done, and those who refused to make choices will see themselves as more moral than those who did. There is a war, and like all wars, this one is very different from the last in the way it is prosecuted. But it is war nonetheless, and denying that is denying the obvious.

Editor’s Note: The newest book by Stratfor chairman and founder George Friedman, Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, will be released Jan. 27. It is now available for pre-order.

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

Anti-Islam Rally in German City Dresden Canceled Over Threat

BERLIN — A weekly rally by a German group protesting what it calls “the Islamization of the West” was called off on Sunday because of a terrorist threat against one of its organizers, the group and authorities said.

The group calling itself PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, has organized rallies every Monday in the eastern German city of Dresden. Last week’s event drew the biggest crowd yet, with police estimating some 25,000 people attended.

PEGIDA said on its Facebook page that this Monday’s rally was called off for security reasons because, according to police, “there is a concrete threat against a member of the organization team.”

Dresden police chief Dieter Kroll said in a statement that there was a “concrete” threat connected to a member of the PEGIDA team and Monday’s demonstration. In view of that, he issued an order barring any rallies in the city on Monday.

Kroll said there had been a call for attackers to mingle with the demonstrators and kill one of the protest organizers. He didn’t specify where the threat came from, or if any group was behind it, but said it resembled an Arabic-language Tweet describing PEGIDA as an “enemy of Islam.”

He said there was no information about any specific potential attacker or how exactly an attack might be carried out, which led officials to conclude that there was no way to prevent possible danger other than canceling the rally.

The move comes amid heightened security concerns across Europe following last week’s terror attacks in Paris, in which 17 people were killed.

PEGIDA called on supporters to instead hang flags out of their windows and light candles on Monday evening. It said the group and authorities were working on a “security concept” for its next rally on Jan. 26.

The Dresden rallies have drawn criticism from many German politicians. Similar groups in other German cities haven’t drawn anywhere near as much support, and there have been much larger demonstrations against them.

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

Belgium Deploys the Army in Fight Against Terrorism

Belgium’s Inner Cabinet, the ‘Kern’, on Friday decided to deploy 300 members of the Belgian armed forces in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

Armed soldiers will guard buildings that are judged to be at risk including police stations and courthouses. Belgian Defence Minister Steven Vandeput: “We’re talking about strategic locations, vulnerable places. These include foreign embassies, buildings linked to the Jewish Community, locations where a heightened threat is anticipated.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Belgium: ‘No Link’ Between Greek Arrests and Terror Plot

The Belgian authorities say there is no link between several people arrested in Greece and a suspected Islamist terror plot broken up on Thursday.

One of those arrested matched the description of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged leader of the cell reportedly planning to kill police officers.

But checks made in Belgium showed there was no connection to investigations into the plot, prosecutors said.

Europe is on high alert after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris.

More than 20 people have been arrested in Belgium, France and Germany.

For the first time in 35 years, troops are on the streets of Belgium guarding sensitive targets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Belgium: Troops on the Street: “You Soon Get Used to it.”

Bart De Wever, the Mayor of Antwerp, says that the deployment of armed soldiers on the streets of the northern port city has already yielded tangible results. The Flemish nationalist leader noted that Jewish schools had indicated that they would once again be open for business on Monday.

“We had reached a point where many parents no longer dared to send their children off to school. Schools stayed shut fuelling concern. At a moment like that you should take action to reassure people.”

Mr De Wever understands that the deployment gave some people a start: “We’re not used to this in our country, but you soon get used to it. One thing goes above everything: guaranteeing more security.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Belgium: Paras Guard Jewish Neighbourhood in Antwerp

Armed Belgian paratroopers on Saturday started to guard strategic locations across the Jewish district of the northern port city of Antwerp. The troops are among 300 members of the Belgian armed forces mobilised to ensure security as Belgium faces a level three alert in response to the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorist violence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

British Jews ‘Scared to Go to Shops’ In Wake of Paris Attacks

British Jews are frightened to attend synagogue and the shops in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the former Chief Rabbi has said.

Lord Sacks said anxiety among Jews was at a “record high” in the face of an enduring “virus of hate”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU Institutions Beef Up Security

The European Commission and other EU institutions have beefed up their security measures in the wake of the anti-terrorist raid in Belgium that thwarted “large-scale, imminent attacks”. A spokeswoman for the EU commission said the EU executive was not aware of a “specific threat” against it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Finland: MP Halla-Aho Not to Run in Next Parliamentary Elections

Jussi Halla-aho, a Finns Party politician who has become well known for his essays criticising immigration, has declared that he will not be running in the next parliamentary elections. He made the announcement on Friday after presenting a draft for his party’s immigration policy recommendations, which he was entrusted to draw up for the 2015 elections by the party chair Timo Soini.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: ‘It Feels Like I’m in a Warzone’: Paris Tourist

French officials have ramped up security in Paris after last week’s terror attack, including around major tourist sites. The Local talks to tourists around the city, one of whom compares the French capital to a war zone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Charlie Hebdo Killers Said and Cherif Kouachi Buried in Secret

The jihadist brothers who murdered 12 people at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have been buried in unmarked graves. French authorities made efforts to ensure the sites would not attract fanatics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Among Paris Tourism Sites Seeing Smaller Crowds After Terror Attacks

PARIS — Gray skies over a half-empty Eiffel Tower.

Since last week’s terrorist attacks that left 17 victims and three gunmen dead, the swarms of sightseers have thinned below Paris’ most visited monument, baring the dull concrete of the giant plaza.

Just over a week after the attacks, only a handful of tourists were taking photos, and one or two having portraits sketched by resident artists. The long lines that normally snake around the Eiffel Tower’s gargantuan pillars were a fraction of the length.

“It’s been so calm since the attacks. There’s hardly anyone at all,” sandwich seller Kamel Bougrab said across the street.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Frenchmen Detained in Yemen for Possible Al-Qaeda Links

Yemen has detained two Frenchmen who they suspect of having ties to Al-Qaeda; the regional branch of this terrorist organisation has strong links to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Authorities Investigating 350 Suspects Tied to ‘IS’

German police are on the trail of 350 individuals with possible ties to the self-styled “Islamic State,” and 100 suspected Islamist cells, while politicians debate whether to revive a terrorism law ditched in 2002.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: PEGIDA Marches Possible Islamist Target: Report

Foreign intelligence agencies have intercepted discussions by Islamist militants about possible attacks on weekly marches organized by Germany’s new anti-Islamic movement, a news weekly reported Friday, without citing its sources.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Green Party Leader Cem Özdemir Stripped of Immunity Over Cannabis Plant

Berlin’s district attorney office is investigating German Greens leader Cem Özdemir after he appeared next to a cannabis plant in an Ice Bucket Challenge video. He has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Anti-Islam PEGIDA Rally in Dresden Called Off After Threat

The anti-immigration group PEGIDA has canceled plans for a rally in Dresden on Monday, seemingly after threats against the main organizer, Lutz Bachmann. This follows considerable international attention on the group.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

German Anti-Islam PEGIDA Cancels Rally Over ‘Is Death Threat’

Germany’s anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement said it has cancelled a planned march on Monday, citing a death threat against organisers from the Islamic State jihadist group.

“Cancelled! Dear friends, unfortunately we must cancel our 13th meeting due to security concerns,” the group “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” said on its Facebook page on Sunday.

“What in police jargon is called an ‘abstract threat’ has changed to a ‘concrete death threat’ against a member of the organising team. IS terrorists have ordered his assassination.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: Elections: Spanish Premier Rajoy Backs Samaras

While stressing the risk of anti-austerity “sirens”

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 15 — On a lightning visit to Athens on Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed support for his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras and defended the tough economic program the outgoing government has been pursuing under the supervision of foreign creditors, saying the reforms were “necessary” and had “produced results,” advising Greeks to ignore “impossible” promises.

As daily Kathimerini online reports today, Rajoy — who like Samaras is under increasing pressure from the anti-austerity opposition — said economic reforms were “tough” but unavoidable.

“These are the policies which guarantee the future,” Rajoy told a joint press conference with Samaras.

Noting that he had been obliged to accept agreements made by his socialist predecessor when he assumed the Spanish premiership in 2011, Rajoy said agreed-to measures cannot simply change with every new government. The same sentiment was echoed by Samaras.

The Spanish premier, who must compete with the increasingly popular anti-austerity party Podemos in Spanish general elections in November, also made an apparent dig at Syriza. “To promise things that are impossible makes no sense and generates an enormous amount of frustration,” he said.

As campaigning intensifies ahead of next week’s elections, Samaras is set to appear in several television interviews in the coming days in a bid to force home his party’s message. Tsipras, who gave his first TV interview earlier this week, on Wednesday opted for a less traditional medium to appeal to voters. Responding to questions submitted on Twitter in a live stream, Tsipras sought to provide brief but comprehensive responses to key issues of concern. He said Syriza did not plan to increase taxes but was aiming to raise revenues by cracking down on tax evasion. The party’s economic program, which was unveiled in Thessaloniki last September, will be “implemented without negotiation,” Tsipras said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Icelandic Brewery Angers Conservationists With by Making Beer With Whale Testicles

An Icelandic brewery has revealed that its Hvalur 2 beer, which has been produced for the country’s annual mid-winter festival, is made with smoked fin whale testicles.

Stedji, which last year caused outrage by producing a beer containing whale meat for the Thorri festival, is likely to stir up a similar uproar this year given that fin whales are classified as endangered and are on the conservation Red List.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italian Interior Minister Calls Maximum Terrorism Alert

(AGI) Rome, Jan 18 — The Italian Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, has called a maximum terrorism alert. “Since the end of December, we have expelled 9 people and specifically five Tunisians, one Turkish, one Egyptian, one Moroccan and one Pakistani”, he said. He went on: “I said we would further tighten the expulsion mechanism and we did so ahead of the Paris events”. The suspects were people with long-term residence permits. “My actions in this direction will not stop at expelling them and we will continue to be extremely strict”, Mr Alfano said. Referring to the people expelled, the minister said that they had been in Italy for years and that two of them had incited their respective families to go fight in Syria.

Some of the people expelled were members of the Islamic State (IS) organisation and were very active on the Web, and that is how they became radicalised. “We screened many more than a hundred people”, the minister added, specifying that there is no black list and the monitoring is mostly based on confidential information. “According to yesterday’s update, the foreign fighters are now 59. Obviously not all 59 are in Italy although these are people who are in some way connected to Italy. Fourteen of these are already dead and five are Italians who have gone to Syria”, he said. Italy has done everything necessary to prevent a possible threat, with Italy’s best men working on the problem every day, he reported. “Our police department is in a permanent state of alert and our security system, which is based on prefectures, is on maximum alert”, he said. “We are working in the shadow but relentlessly in order to assure liberty and security to the whole Western world”, the minister explained. He went on: “We are facing an immanent threat that could materialise anywhere in our continent and is essentially unforeseeable. In the face of this potential threat, we have raised the degree of alert to the maximum level possible”, Mr Alfano said. He expects there will soon be more expulsions but refrained from giving details so as not to give these activists an advantage. “We are operating with great discretion and we are screening individual positions of suspects so as to detect any sign that could give rise to security problems”, he concluded.

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

Italians Buy Greek Olives to Cover Needs

After the huge loss in production that has reached 35%

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 12 — Trucks carrying olives from the Greek region of Peloponnese — mainly Ilia — have been ferried across the Adriatic Sea, as traders from Italy have for the first time bought not only olive oil in bulk but also olives, to cover the loss in Italian production that has reached 35% this year. Olive presses and producers may be officially denying the olive deliveries, as daily Kathimerini online reports, but the Ilia Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Agricultural Development Ministry asking for an intervention should the practice increase and lead to local olive presses suffering. The purchase of Greek olive oil to be packaged and labeled “made in Italy” is common practice, but it is the first time that the acquisition and shipping of olives as raw materials for Italian olive presses is taking place.

Constantinos Papadopoulos, the owner of an olive press at Pyrgos in Ilia, explained that the Italians have cooperated with some Greeks to secure quantities of olives. Sources say they bought olives without asking too much about the quality, paying 330-450 euros per ton. “These rates are very beneficial for producers as they get cash in hand and do not have to pay for presses,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Soria Sentenced to Pay 6.2 Mn in Grinzane Cavour Case

Ex president of lit prize also facing criminal trial

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Italy’s Audit Court on Friday sentenced scholar Giuliano Soria to a 6.2-million-euro fine for irregularities in management of the funds of the Grinzane Cavour literary prize while he was its president.

Soria is also standing trial in criminal court.

The Grinzane Cavour prize was endowed in 1982 and ceased to exist in 2009, following allegations that Soria was embezzling funds.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Seek 9-yr Prison Term for Geronzi

Convicted of fraudulent bankruptcy in collapse of food company

(ANSA) — Rome, January 12 — Prosecutors on Monday requested a nine-year prison term for Cesare Geronzi, formerly one of Italy’s top financiers, in connection with the collapse of Eurolat, a subsidiary of historic food conglomerate Cirio.

Geronzi, a former bank executive, had previously received a four-year jail term for his role in the bankruptcy of Cirio, in turn linked to the 2003 collapse of the Parmalat dairy giant.

The former Banca di Roma head was also given a five-year term in 2011 for his role in the closure of former Parmalat subsidiary Ciappazzi.

Also on Monday, a nine-year term was requested for Sergio Cragnotti, former Cirio owner and ex chairman of Lazio footballk team, and a five-year sentence for lawyer Riccardo Bianchini Riccardi, a board member, over the affair.

In Italy jail terms do not usually take effect until the appeals process is exhausted, with two appeals granted in each case.

Unicredit, one of Italy’s largest banks, later took over Banca di Roma and was fined 200 million euros for Banca di Roma’s role in the Cirio bankruptcy.

Founded in the mid-19th century, Cirio was Italy’s oldest food canner.

Cirio’s collapse was followed by that of Parmalat.

Parmalat went under in December 2003 in a false accounting scam that resulted in estimated debts of 14.5 billion euros.

The dairy multinational’s meltdown left more than 150,000 investors with virtually worthless bonds.

After his arrest at the end of 2004, Parmalat’s disgraced founder and ex-CEO Calisto Tanzi accused Geronzi of “pressuring” him to buy the Eurolat milk company from Cirio at a price far above its market value.

Geronzi denied Tanzi’s accusations which he said were “self-serving”.

However, the operation raised some eyebrows because proceeds from the sale were given directly to Banca di Roma, which not only had lent large sums of capital to Cirio but was also involved in placing both Parmalat and Cirio bonds with small investors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Bank of China Acquires 2.01% of Terna Electric Grid Operator

Brings Saipem stake to 2.034%

(ANSA) — Milan, January 16 — The People’s Bank of China on January 9 acquired a 2.01% stake in Italian electricity transmission grid operator Terna SpA, Consob securities watchdog said Friday.

On the same day, the Chinese central bank brought its 1.99% stake in Saipem oil and gas contractor to 2.034%, Consob said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Has a Good Health Care System OECD Says

But report warns of regional disparities, budget cuts

(ANSA) — Rome, January 15 — Italy has a good health care system although marked differences between and within regions persist, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.

Health outcomes in Italy are amongst the best among OECD member countries, with positive performance figures for life expectancy, hospital admission rates for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mortality after a stroke or heart attack, according to the latest OECD review of health care quality in the country.

However, these apparently reassuring figures mask “profound regional differences”, the Paris-based organisation said.

“Italy is an extremely heterogeneous country both socially and economically,” read the report.

“This heterogeneity is reflected in the heath system: despite attempts at harmonisation regional disparities in terms of the quality of the care provided remain significant.” Health care quality is also threatened by the risk of budget cuts, while too little emphasis is placed on prevention, the OECD said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Gentiloni Says Aid Workers Ransom Rumours ‘Just Conjecture’

Italy continues to be ‘on front line’ against terrorism

(ANSA) — Rome, January 16 — Rumours suggesting that Italy paid a ransom to free two young hostages kidnapped in Syria last summer were “just conjecture”, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Friday.

The Italian government, like its predecessors and in line with international practice, is against paying ransom to free hostages, Gentiloni said in the Lower House after welcoming home aid workers Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo.

The two women arrived in Rome early Friday after almost six months in custody. When their release was announced Thursday, opposition Northern League leader Matteo Salvini referred to media reports suggesting the Italian government paid a 12-million-euro ransom and denounced the practise.

Italy has been on the front line against terror since the terror attacks on the United States in September 2001 and “won’t take lessons from anyone on that”, Gentiloni said as reported to the House on the situation.

Rome will reaffirm this stand at an upcoming conference of the coalition fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria and Iraq, he added.

The women, wearing winter parkas and looking exhausted from their ordeal, were greeted with long hugs from their parents, family and friends, who drove down from Lombardy to meet the women.

Marzullo, 21, and Ramelli, 20, had arrived in Syria since July 28 and were volunteering on health and water-related humanitarian aid projects.

They were to be taken for medical check-ups in Rome on Friday as well as meeting investigators probing their kidnapping.

The aid workers arrived in Rome at about 4:20 a.m. Friday after a three-hour flight from Turkey on an Italian military plane.

Marzullo was greeted by her parents and brother while Ramelli was welcomed by her parents, her brother and his fiancée, as well as two school friends who are also aid workers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Memorial Marks 70 Years Since ‘Swedish Schindler’ Disappeared

Nearly 200 people gathered in Stockholm on Saturday to light candles and mark the 70th anniversary of the disappearance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

MEPs Approve Freedom of Choice for GMOs

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 12 — The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to give final approval to a directive that will give EU countries the freedom to decide whether to limit or ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), even though this is allowed at the European level. This compromise solution was thrashed out during Italy’s duty presidency of the EU after four years of tough negotiations. The directive cleared the EP’s Strasbourg assembly with 480 votes in favour, 159 against and 58 abstentions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Nine Terror Suspects to Remain in French Police Custody

Nine suspects arrested Friday in anti-terror raids following attacks in Paris had their interrogations prolonged by 48 hours on Sunday, a step allowed under France’s tough anti-terror laws. Three female suspects were released on Saturday.

French police have released three women arrested Friday and will continue to interrogate nine others who were detained in an anti-terror sweep connected to last week’s attacks in Paris that has put Europe on high alert.

Paris prosecutor spokesman Denis Fauriat said the nine suspects will have their interrogations prolonged by 48 hours, a step allowed under France’s tough anti-terror laws.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

OIC Weighs Legal Action Against French Magazine

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) intends to take legal measures against the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, for publishing blasphemous cartoons, Secretary General Iyad Madani told a local daily on Friday. “OIC is studying Europe and French laws and other available procedures to be able to take legal action against Charlie Hebdo,” he said. “If French laws allow us to take legal procedures against Charlie Hebdo, OIC will not hesitate to prosecute the French magazine,” he said.

“This (the publication by Charlie Hebdo) is an idiotic step that requires necessary legal measures,” Madani said on his Twitter account while condemning the republication of the anti-Islam cartoons. “These cartoons have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world,” said Madani. “Freedom of speech must not become a hate speech and must not offend others. No sane person, irrespective of doctrine, religion or faith, accepts his beliefs being ridiculed,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Poll: Nearly Half of French Oppose Mohammed Cartoons

Almost half of those in France believe cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed — like those printed by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo — should not be published, a poll said Sunday, with a similar number in favour of “limitations” on free speech.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Special Treatment for Amazon, Says European Commission

State aid illegal

(ANSA) — Brussels, January 16 — The European Commission said on Friday that Amazon possibly received special tax treatment from Luxembourg.

The commission published preliminary findings in a public letter to Luxembourg authorities which speculated that Amazon’s tax arrangements in the country were most likely “state aid”, and thus illegal.

The findings come from a fall 2014 investigation into the tax deal for Amazon’s Luxembourg-based head office. Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013, during which time the Amazon deal was made.

The EU is also investigating tax deals between Ireland and Apple, the Netherlands and Starbucks, and Luxembourg and Fiat.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Behead an Infidel, Get a Job

Like local politicians everywhere in Sweden, the ones in the municipality of Örebro are grappling with a surge of radicalized young men going to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.

With luck, they catch a stray bullet and never return. But since Swedish politicians are too cowardly to ban these “terror vacations,” the ISIS warriors can come and go as they please without fear of being held accountable for the atrocities committed abroad.

So, what to do with a horde of fanatical, battle-hardened terrorists suddenly popping up in the midst of a frail civil society? Why, coddle them of course.

“We have discussed how to work with these guys who have returned so that they don’t go back again, and that they should get help processing their traumatic experiences,” says local politician Rasmus Persson. They are also “discussing the options for helping these young men get jobs”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Terror Suspect From Sweden Arrested in Slovakia

A Russian citizen who is domiciled in southern Sweden and is suspected of terrorism in Russia was recently arrested on the Slovakia-Ukraine border, tabloid Aftonbladet reports.


Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed the information, with press spokesman Jon Pelling telling Aftonbladet: “We have information about a Russian citizen who holds a permanent residence permit in Sweden and who has been arrested in Slovakia. It’s a man in his thirties who is domiciled in southern Sweden.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Brother of Lee Rigby’s Killer Praises Paris Jihadis Who Killed 12 in Charlie Hebdo Attack

The brother of one of soldier Lee Rigby’s murderers has praised the terrorists who killed 12 people at magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Jeremiah Adebolajo is the brother of Michael Adebolajo, 28, who with Michael Adebowale killed 25-year-old Drummer Rigby with a meat cleaver in Woolwich in 2013.

Jeremiah, 27, a Muslim convert, praised Said and Cherif Kouachi, who killed 11 magazine staff and a police officer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

UK: Christian Nurse Suspended for “Trying to Convert” Muslim Colleague

A Christian nurse claims she was sacked for ‘harassment and bullying’ after she prayed for a troubled Muslim colleague.

Victoria Wasteney, 37, a senior occupational health therapist at a mental hospital in east London, offered support to a fellow nurse when she was unwell.

Miss Wasteney says she put her hand on young colleague Enya Nawaz’s knee and asked if she could pray for her, saying: ‘God, I trust You will bring peace and You will bring healing.’

The pair had been on friendly terms for months, so Miss Wasteney, who describes herself as a ‘born-again Christian’, was furious when she was suspended from work for ‘harassing’ Miss Nawaz.

East London NHS Foundation Trust suspended her for nine months on full pay, gave her a written warning and told her not to discuss her faith with co-workers.

But the nurse, from Buckhurst Hill, Essex, will on Tuesday begin a legal challenge against the trust for discriminating against her for her religion.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

UK: Praying With a Muslim Colleague Ruined My Career, Says Christian NHS Worker

Claims by Christian NHS worker that she was discriminated against on religious grounds after saying a prayer for a Muslim colleague come during a tense period in relations between Islam and other faiths, following the Paris terrorist attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Amfilohije: NATO Continues Work of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini

PODGORICA — His Eminence Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Amfilohije, said that NATO is a “national-fascist pact which continues the work of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini,” because it takes territories by force.

He said that Kosovo and Metohija was forcibly taletaken from Serbia and Montenegro, under the pressure of NATO, and now the same thing is being done in Ukraine.

“NATO is now doing what, compared to Kosovo and Metohija, did Hitler and Mussolini. In their time, Kosovo became a part of the so-called “Greater Albania”. Northern part was in occupied Serbia, but still in Serbia. But NATO is worse than Mussolini and Hitler, because they took the northern part of Kosovo from Serbs by violence and crimes.

So now NATO is not a defensive alliance, but a national-fascist pact which continues the work of Hitler and Mussolini,” said Amfilohije for Russian Information Agency “Regnum”.

He said that NATO had an infamous role in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, and now conducts “destructive activities in Ukraine, acting with it as it has with Yugoslavia”.

“Ukraine was created by the Bolsheviks as a separate republic within the Soviet Union, destroying a unique great nation. And now their former adversaries protect the fruits of the labor of the Bolsheviks who disunited one nation,” said Metropolitan.

Commenting on the possibility that Montenegro receives an invitation to join NATO by the end of the year, Amfilohije said that the authorities can say what they want, but that it is hard to believe that Montenegrins will decide to join the Alliance.

The first thing they had to do is to ask the people about their intentions, if they are with the people. The issue of joining NATO is the most serious issue for Montenegro. Referendums are held for less important things,” said Amfilohije.

He criticized the decision of the Montenegrin Government to join sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU because of the crisis in Ukraine, saying that they turned their back to Moscow with such decision, and added that 99 percent of the population in Montenegro is against these sanctions.

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

Another Returnee’s House in Kosovo Burned Down

KLINA — In Drsnik near Klina, Milovan Ribac’s house was burned down last night, head of the Pec district Vinka Radosavljevic said for RTS.

The house was set on fire at around 22:30. Firefighters intervened, but they could not have prevented greater consequences.

“The house was almost entirely burned down,” said Radosavljevic and added that Ribac was not in the house when it was set on fire.

The police conducted an investigation. Last October Mladen Dabizljevic’s house in the same village was burned down.

Milovan Ribac was earlier a target of an armed attack. He was shot at while he was cultivating land, said Radosavljevic.

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

Balkans Silk Road: South Stream and Possible New War

China is extending its Silk Road into the Balkans, with a planned project to construct a railroad from the Greek port of Piraeus all the way to Budapest. This would connect Beijing’s primary port of entrance for its commercial goods to one of Central Europe’s main transport conduits, thereby pushing the Silk Road into the heart of Europe and throughout the rest of the continent.

As with everything else that China is doing in the world today, it must not be discounted that Russia can also reap some resultant benefits from this as part of the global Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, which in this case, would allow for the resurrection of the South Stream project that all of its European partners have been begging for since its cancellation.

by Andrew Korybko.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

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

Croatia: Kitarovic Rejects Allegations of Nationalist Rhetoric

Croatia’s president starts confrontation with government

(ANSA) — BRUSSELS — Newly-elected president of Croatia Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, member of the centre-right opposition, in her first public statement chose to contradict the opinion expressed by a part of the Croatian press (but also some international media), that her rhetoric is reminiscent of the nationalist discourses dating back to the Nineties, when the country gained independence after a bloody conflict.

“By invoking the unity of all Croats, I was thinking of the unity among all citizens, which is necessary at the present moment, since the country is so deeply divided” Grabar Kitarovic said, after being elected (on Sunday) with 50.74% of the vote, just 32,000 more than the outgoing president, Social Democrat Ivo Josipovic. Kitarovic, first woman president in Croatia, said she hoped that, with her mediation, the country’s premier will for the first time sit down at the same table with the head of the opposition, HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko. But at the same time, she has made it clear that if the centre-left government does not manage to revamp the economy, she will try to lead the country to early elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy’s Prime Minister: Treat Serbia and Other EU Neighbors More Carefully

STRASBOURG — Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned on Tuesday MEPs that the European Union (EU) would have to treat Serbia and other surrounding states more carefully.

Europe should have in mind that it is a superpower based on certain values. Therefore, it should take a different, more careful approach to the Mediterranean region, enlargement process, primarily in relation to Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Renzi said at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

We cannot do without these countries and we must not let our enlargement policy be governed by fear, the Italian prime minister said.

He reminded the present about Pope Francis’ speech in the EP a year ago, when the Roman Catholic pontiff spoke about the soul of Europe and the EU as a space of freedom.

Others are promoting fear and populism, want to turn the EU into a fortress, Renzi said, underscoring that he is strongly against that concept.

The EU should not be encircled by trenches and walls, it should be open and resemble a church or a museum, he said.

He highlighted that Europe is not a military superpower, but rather a superpower of values that it must not abandon over demagogy and fear for its own security.

MEPs, who on Tuesday considered the results of Italy’s six-month presidency, gave Renzi a thunderous applause.

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

Morocco: Country Questions High-Speed Rail Line

Opposition grows over excessive cost

(by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 16 — Can Morocco, which has not recovered yet from an economic crisis, bear the cost of a high-speed railway network? This is the question many are debating with a growing number of people suggesting that the project is too expensive for the country, which should confront different priorities than faster rail connections between Casablanca and Tangiers. Construction work has already started but costs have sparked criticism with some noting how much the high-speed line will weigh on State finances while healthcare, for example, needs considerable investments.

The objective is to visibly shorten connections, with an average speed of 320 km an hour from today’s 200. Economic website Maghreb Emergent said the Tangiers-Kenitra connection will require two hours and 10 minutes from today’s four hours and 45 minutes once work is completed. Tangiers and Rabat would be connected in one hour and 20 minutes from the three hours and 45 minutes required today.

The project would be a significant step forward for the Kingdom’s transport system but the costs are meeting with growing opposition. Opponents had already protested in 2011 when then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy had kicked off the practical phase to celebrate the alliance between Moroccan railways Oncf and French State railways Snfc. The alliance has been further boosted with a joint society — Morocco has a 60% stake and France has the rest — with as objective maintenance work of the high-speed line.

The overall cost is 175 million euros (or 1.9 billion dirham) over 15 years.

While the rail line is recognized as useful, associations that are not necessarily environmentalist, have noted it is not indispensable.

Omar Balafrej, one of the associations opposing the high-speed rail, told Le Monde that the project is not a priority for Morocco, citing the following data: the 25 billion dirham cost of the line would enable to build 25,000 schools, 16,000 libraries, 10,000 media libraries and 25 university hospitals, citing a major city like Agadir which still lack one.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cache of ‘Jihad Meth’ Seized in West Bank

A potent stimulant popular both with jihadist fighters and soldiers in the Syrian army was seized in the West Bank, police from the Judea and Samaria district said.

In a statement put out on Friday, district police said that while checking a Palestinian returning from Jordan by way of the Allenby crossing they found 1.3 kg. of hashish as well as thousands of pills of Captagon.

***Unclosed Item!***{Leapers were very popular in Vietnam, as well as with German pilots during Big Two. In small doses they are efficacious at fending off fatigue. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Hezbollah Commander Killed, Raising Fears of Retaliatory Strike

Son of slain terror mastermind Imad Mughniyeh among several dead in reported Israeli strike in Syria; killing thwarted ‘major attack on Israel’

At least five Hezbollah members, including at least one senior commander, were killed in an Israeli helicopter strike in the Syrian Golan Heights on Sunday, sources close to the terror group said Sunday night.

Among the dead was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah commander killed in Damascus in 2008.

Jihad Mughniyeh had been serving as the Shi’ite terrorist group’s Golan District commander, Syrian National Council spokesman Mouayyed Ghizlan told CNN in November.

The strike raised fears that a larger conflagration could be in the offing, with both Israel and Hezbollah bracing for possible continued fighting amid an increase in tensions…

[Return to headlines]

Hezbollah Threat to Israel Revealed in IAF Attack in Syria Near Golan Killing 10

Sunday, The Daily Star in Beirut reported a possible Israeli helicopter missile attack in Syria’s Quneitra province adjacent to the Golan in which at least 6, possibly upwards of 10, Hezbollah and Iranian commanders may have been killed, a Lebanese security source told The Daily Star.

Jihad Mughniyeh and field commander Mohammad Issa who goes by the nom de guerre “Abu Issa” were killed in the attack, the source said. The strike entirely destroyed one Hezbollah vehicle and damaged another, he added.

Hezbollah issued a statement confirming the strike saying “a number of mujahedeens were martyred,” during an inspection mission in the Syrian town of Quneitra, The Hezbollah statement added that the names of the fighters will be divulged later.

The Washington Post reported that Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of retaliation for the purported attack in Syria. The New York Times reported:

Agence France-Presse, however, cited an unidentified Israeli security source who said that an Israeli helicopter carried out the strike against “terrorists” in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights, saying they were preparing an attack against Israel.

While Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, would not comment specifically on the reports of a strike, he told an Israeli radio station that considering Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, had recently denied the group’s presence in the Golan Heights, “he has some explaining to do.”

Jihad Mughniyah was the son of the terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyah. The elder Mughniyah had been the most sought after terrorist prior to 9/11. He was involved with several spectacular events. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday confirmed that a Senior Hezbollah leader had been arrested and confessed as a possible agent for Israeli Intelligence…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

In Graphic Photos and on Twitter, ISIS Members Record and Tout Executions of Gay Men

The attacks, which also include the stoning of an adulterer, appear to have taken place in Mosul and were distributed by ISIS social media accounts.

These are obscene images. They depict two men thrown from the roof of a building as a crowd watches them fall to their deaths, and they purport to show the Islamic State (or ISIS) carrying out public executions before an audience in Iraq’s Nineveh province.

The two victims’ alleged crimes? They are believed to be gay. In another photo, woman accused of being an adulterer is stoned to death, and two men charged with thievery are bound to crucifixes. Victims are commonly crucified, sometimes after they have been killed, in ISIS public executions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Istanbul Suicide Bomber Was ‘Teen Widow of Norwegian is Jihadist’

A teenager from Russia’s Muslim region of Dagestan suspected to have carried out a suicide bombing in Istanbul was said Friday to have been the widow of a Norwegian jihadist who died fighting for the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Aid Workers Home Amid Controversy

It could be said that Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, the Italian aid workers released in Syria this week, acted irresponsibly in travelling into a war zone. But others have acted equally irresponsibly. Greta, 20, and Vanessa, 21, arrived in Rome via Turkey in the early hours of Friday morning after almost six months in captivity in northern Syria. They were seized just three days after they arrived on July 28 to work on health and humanitarian aid projects…

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

Jordan: Over 1,000 People March in Solidarity With Prophet Mohammad

Around 1,500 protesters took to the streets of Amman on Friday in protest against a new cartoon depicting Prophet Mohammad published by French weekly satirical Charlie Hebdo.

Minor friction took place between demonstrators and security forces as some protesters tried to continue the march, which started from downtown Amman’s Al Husseini Mosque, and headed to the French embassy.

Four protesters were detained following the incident but were later released.

Activists, Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders as well as members of popular youth movements participated in the march.

“We want to send a message through such events to mockers of the nation and its Prophet Mohammad. They think that such an act will pass without a reaction,” he told The Jordan Times during the march.

Ahmad Abu Zaid, one of the demonstrators, said God protected Prophet Mohammad and the duty of Muslims is to defend him.

“We wanted to send a message to the world that if anyone tries to offend the prophet, we are going to stand against them,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Myanmar Woman Screams Innocence Before Saudi Beheading: Video

A Myanmar woman beheaded in a Saudi street this week for killing her husband’s young daughter is seen screaming her innocence in a video posted on the Internet Saturday.

Saudi authorities have arrested someone for filming the incident, said local newspaper websites, including Okaz and Al-Riyadh, in reports accompanied by still shots from the recording.

They did not say what the arrest was for.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Great Wall’ To Keep Out ISIL

When a raiding party from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked a Saudi border post last week, it was no mere hit on a desert outpost.

The jihadists were launching an assault on the new, highest profile effort by Saudi Arabia to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbours.

The Saudis are building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall” — a combined fence and ditch — to separates the country from Iraq to the north.

Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil, which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Erdogan Warns of Clash of Civilizations Following Attacks

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned of a “clash of civilizations” following the wake of the Islamist militant attacks in Paris and he also appeared to criticize France for allowing the wife of one of the gunmen to travel via Turkey to Syria.

Erdogan, a devout Sunni Muslim, has already accused the West of hypocrisy after the attacks last week in which the gunmen killed 17, including 12 at the offices of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The three gunmen were also killed.

Speaking at a businessmen’s meeting in the capital Ankara, Erdogan said Charlie Hebdo was known for its provocative publications.

“We are following with great concern the attacks against Islam hidden behind the attack on the satirical magazine in France,” said Erdogan, who has become an increasingly vocal critic of what he sees as mounting Islamaphobia in the West.

“Despite all our efforts to prevent it, the clash of civilizations thesis is being brought to life.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Gazprom CEO Says Turkish Stream up to EU

EU has limited time, South Stream cancelled

(ANSA) — Moscow, January 14 — Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Wednesday that it was up to the European Union to build the necessary infrastructure for Turkish Stream, the new Russian-Turkish gas line, as the transcontinental pipeline South Stream was cancelled.

Miller made the statement during the first visit to Moscow by European Union energy chief Maros Sefcovic, stressing that time was of the essence for Turkish Stream’s completion.

“They have a maximum of a few years for this. This is a very tight schedule. To comply with it, work for the construction of new trunk gas pipelines should be started in EU countries right now. Otherwise, these gas volumes may be redirected to other markets,” Miller said, as reported by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

Miller also announced that the South Stream project, a transcontinental pipeline, would not go forward.

“The project is closed. The Turkish Stream is the sole route, which can deliver 63 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas transited across Ukraine so far. There are no other options,” Miller said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ukrainians Cut a Cake in the Shape of a Russian Baby

A clip appeared on YouTube that shows extremely sick thing as a part of Christmas and New Year celebrations in Kiev.

A group of young people decided to begin the feast days with a “slaughter” of a Russian baby, and they did so in a symbolic way in a Kiev night club, Serbian Daily “Vecernje Novosti” reported. According to the daily, in the “Hot Bar” club in Kiev, they made a cake in the shape of the Russian flag on which was placed a “baby”.

The footage shows how one of those present, with a laugh, cut the baby up and down, and everything was accompanied by a standing ovation from those gathered at the event. The man who cut the cake at one point asks the audience: “Does anyone want a hand?”

Besides the cake on the menu were sandwiches called “Trade Unions House” (the building in Odessa where dozens of pro-Russian activists were torched), “Roasted opolcenec” (baked pro-Russian fighter), but what is interesting is that the main guest of the “canibalistic” event was Elena Vasileva, one of the human rights activists in Russia, “Vecernje Novosti” reported.

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

Ukraine’s Military Says Troops Retake Most of Donetsk Airport From Rebels

Ukrainian troops launched a “mass operation” overnight and have retaken almost all the territory of Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine lost to separatists in recent weeks, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Sunday.

“The decision was taken for a mass operation … We succeeded in almost completely cleaning the territory of the airport, which belongs to the territory of Ukrainian forces as marked by military separation lines,” he said in a televised briefing.

Lysenko said the operation had returned the battle lines near the airport to the previous status quo and that the Ukrainian army had thus not violated the Minsk 12-point peace plan agreed with Russia and separatist leaders last September.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Afghan Cabinet Nominee on Interpol’s Most-Wanted List

The Afghan president’s office has launched an investigation after it emerged that President Ashraf Ghani’s nominee for agriculture minister is on Interpol’s most-wanted list.

Interpol’s website says Mohammad Yaqub Haidari is wanted in Estonia for large-scale tax evasion dating back to 2003.

The president’s office was unaware Mr Haidari had legal problems but was investigating, a spokesman said.

Mr Haidari said he was on the list but was victim of a political conspiracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Pakistani Muslims and Christians Hold Countrywide Protests Over Charlie Hebdo Caricatures

LAHORE, Pakistan — Different Pakistani political and religious groups protested for a fourth day Sunday against what they call blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Protesters in multiple cities burned the French flag and an effigy of the French president, calling for the banning of the weekly satirical magazine. One protest paid tribute to the brothers who attacked the magazine’s offices.

The biggest protest took place in the eastern city of Lahore, where over 10,000 supporters of the hard-line Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization chanted “Down with Charlie Hebdo” and “Death to blasphemers.”

Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed urged Muslim leaders to convince the United Nations to declare any form of blasphemy an international crime.

“If the United Nations doesn’t pay any heed to it, then Muslim states should form a United Nations of their own,” Saeed said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

China’s Counter-Intelligence Chief Arrested for Corruption(Agi)

Beijing, Jan 12 — One of the heads of Chinese counter-intelligence has been arrested on corruption charges, reported the South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.

Ma Jian, deputy-minister of Public Security, was connected to a company called Founder, charged with insider trading, whose top executives ended up under investigations by the Discipline Inspection Commission. When he chaired counter-intelligence, he unmasked a spy who worked for the CIA and another who had connections with North Korea. Rumours were circulating on Friday as Beijing opened the fifth plenary session of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the body which hunts corrupt officers. In the past weeks, two top officials of the previous administration were arrested — Zhou Yongkang, former head of the Chinese Public Security institution, and Ling Jihua, former private secretary of Hu Jintao. Zhou’s is to be tried soon, said the Peoples’ Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party. The daily reported that investigations on the “tigers” and the “flies” of corruption were being increased, according to President Xi Jinping. The commission has set up a mobile app with all the details on the investigations. The commission has decided to extend its control over the major offices of the party and government, to perform a more “capillary action”. Greater attention is being given to the fight against corruption, as the president reported in a book published by the Central Party Literary Press. It is divided into nine sections, including 216 excerpts from more than 40 speeches and articles written by Xi Jinping on the issue. The goal of the fight against corruption is reaching the depths of the party, as spelled out by Xi Jinping at the end of last year, which was directed at whoever “organises gangs within the party for his own personal business”. Xi said anti-corruption officers should “be brave, loyal and have clean hands”.

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

Millions Flock to Pope Francis’ Final Mass in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — A record 6 million people poured into Manila’s rain-soaked streets and its biggest park Sunday as Pope Francis ended his Asian pilgrimage with an appeal for Filipinos to protect their young from sin and vice so they can instead become missionaries of the faith.

The crowd estimate included people who attended the pope’s final Mass in Rizal Park and surrounding areas, and lined his motorcade route, said the chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Francis Tolentino.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Pope Francis in Philippines: Millions Attend Mass in Manila

Pope Francis is celebrating an outdoor Mass with millions of people in the Philippine capital Manila.

An estimated three million people had already gathered at Rizal Park two hours before the Mass began.

Twenty years ago, more than five million people attended a Mass celebrated here by Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican said Pope Francis would dedicate the service in part to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the country in 2013.

The Mass will be the Pope’s final full day in the Philippines, where there are 80 million Catholics, concluding his six-day tour of Asia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

US Ex-Officials to Meet With North Korean Nuclear Chief Amid Standoff

Former senior U.S. officials and academics met with North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator in Singapore Sunday to talk about the country’s nuclear weapons buildup.

The U.S. and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations, but former U.S. officials occasionally meet diplomats from the North to try and settle the impasse over the country’s pursuit of a long-range nuclear-armed missile that could hit the U.S. mainland.

Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, a U.S.-based nonprofit, told reporters that the meeting will cover the North’s nuclear missile programs. He said “it’s two ways of taking each other’s temperature.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

500 Spain Visas Stolen From Briefcase in Nigeria

Police are investigating after a Spanish diplomatic briefcase containing 500 blank visas went missing at Lagos airport last week before it could be delivered to the local consulate.

The visas are said to be extremely valuable on the black market in Nigeria as they are the key to entering Europe and travelling between countries that are members of the Schengen Area.

Anti-terrorist police in Europe are currently on high alert and monitoring flights in and out of the area after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi Signs 100mn Peru Contract

Deal for two C-27J Spartan military transport planes

(ANSA) — Milan, January 15 — Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi has signed a 100-million-euro contract with the Peruvian defense ministry to supply two C-27J Spartan military transport planes, the aerospace company said Thursday.

The contract signed December 31 last year brings to four the total number of aircraft ordered by Peru’s Air Force, comprehensive of integrated logistical support and technical assistance.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Poland: Mass Emigration

Over two million Poles now live abroad. Few are planning to return, while the numbers joining them are growing. The principal reasons for emigration are connected to Poland’s lower wages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Refugees Lebanon Wishes Would Go Away

About a million refugees from the civil war in Syria are believed to be living in Lebanon. Many of them are surviving in flimsy camps amid freezing temperatures in the Bekaa Valley. Meanwhile Lebanese patience with the visitors is wearing thin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Belgium: Bishop of Antwerp Uncomfortable With LGBTI Award

The Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny has turned down a prize awarded by Çavaria, Flanders’ leading LGBTI organisation. The leader of Roman Catholics in Antwerp says that he does not wish to receive a prize for something that forms part and parcel of his mission as a bishop; The Çavaria prize is awarded in recognition of efforts to ensure equal rights for Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and the intersexed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Stockholm to Get ‘Gender Equal’ Snow Ploughs

Pavements and cycle lanes are set to be cleared before roads in Sweden’s capital, as part of plans to make the city just as safe for men — who are more likely to be drivers — and women — who are less likely to get behind the wheel in Stockholm.

The idea is that both genders will get equal protection from slipping on ice in the city. Women are currently more likely to have accidents during the winter months.

“Statistics show that more pedestrians and bikers get hurt than motorists. Therefore it’s important to try to prevent these groups from tripping and injuring themselves. That is why we will prioritize the clearing and treatment of walkways and bike lanes in the future,” deputy mayor and head of Stockholm’s traffic division Daniel Helldén told The Local.

“Stockholm should be accessible to everyone and slippery streets should not be allowed to discourage people from leaving their homes. This issue affects women considerably, as increasingly it is women who walk and cycle more than men,” he explained.

The ‘gender equal’ snow plough strategy has been mooted for some time and although the city officially announced it was finally happening on Friday, it isn’t set to come into force in Stockholm until around November. City officials say they still need time to refine and implement the policy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Netherlands Has More Atheists Than Believers in God

The number of atheists in the Netherlands has now outstripped the number of people who believe in god, Trouw says on Friday. Research by the Ipsos institute found just over a quarter of the population describe themselves as atheists while 17% believe in the existence of a god, the paper says. The last time the research was carried out in 2012 it put believers ahead of atheists. Some 60% are agnostic or unsure. At the same time, 53% believe in some form of life after death, the research found. Psychologist Joke van Saane says technogical developments are having an impact on traditional patterns of belief. ‘It used to be that your village, your family or your church determined who you are,’ she told Trouw. ‘Now you can be someone on Facebook without traditional links.’ Related Stories The young are the most Calvinistic: Trouw Number of smartphones in the Netherlands outstrips pcs (update) Voters are not worried about the crisis, they are furious Psychologist barred for life after anorexia patient suicide Daily newsletter SIGN UP Search

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

After 17 Years in Orbit, How Durable is the International Space Station?

Even though the ammonia leak that forced a partial evacuation of the International Space Station’s U.S. section on Wednesday proved to be a false alarm, the news did raise questions on the station’s durability.

The now 17 year-old International Space Station (ISS) has been occupied for 5,187 days and circled the Earth 92,357 times, so a little wear-and-tear would seem unavoidable. While the station has been in orbit since 1998, it actually wasn’t completed until recently.

“The first piece of the space station was put in orbit (in 1998), but the assembly actually took quite a bit of time, and wasn’t completed until 2011,” Schierholz said. “We were using the space shuttle to complete the building of the ISS, because we would bring pieces of the station up in the space shuttle, so every time we brought up a new piece it’d change the configuration. So the building of the space station took quite a bit of time.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Ibn Warraq: The Prophet, Represented

Images of Mohammed in Islam are more common than fundamentalists claim.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]