Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/19/2015

Alberto Nisman was an Argentine prosecutor who was investigating a possible cover-up by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Iranian complicity in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. Today Mr. Nisman was found dead in his office. He had been shot in the head, and a gun was next to him. The earliest announcements described his death as an “apparent suicide”, but doubts still linger as to whether that is actually the case.

In other news, hundreds of thousands of angry Chechen Muslims rallied in Grozny to protest the “immoral” Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The demonstration had the backing of the Russian government.

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

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fausta, Fjordman, Insubria, Jerry Gordon, K, Mark H, Nick, Papa Whiskey, RL, Steen, 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
» Germany: ‘Francogeddon’ Sends City Debts Soaring
» Germany Repatriates More Gold: Bundesbank
» Two Greek Banks Make Requests for ELA Funding
» World’s Richest 1% Set to Own More Than Rest — Oxfam
» Meet the Radical Professor at the Center of the Controversy for Islamic Prayers at Duke University
» NYC May Yank Terrorism Report to Appease Mosque ‘Spying’ Critics
Europe and the EU
» British Spooks Tapped Emails From UK and US Media… And Rated Journalists Alongside Terrorists as Potential Security Threats, Leaked Snowden Documents Reveal
» Danish Police Raise Alert Level for ‘First Time Ever’
» EU Presents Appeal Against Court’s Ruling on Hamas
» EU to Appeal Decision Removing Hamas From Terror List
» France’s Moment of Truth
» France: Paris Attacks Challenge ‘Lone Wolf’ Theories
» France: Le Pen: ‘Muslims Must Help Fight Islamist Terror’
» Geert Wilders: The ‘Prophet’ Who Hates Muhammad
» Germany: ‘We Are Not Xenophobic’: PEGIDA
» Germany: ISIS Threat Stops Monday PEGIDA March
» Germany: Police Union Doesn’t Have Time for Petty Crime
» Greece: 13 Opinion Polls Forecast a Victory for Syriza
» In Defense of Europe’s So-Called Far Right
» Islamist Threat Evolving, More Dangerous, European Officials Say
» Italy: Environmental Education to Become Compulsory in Schools
» Italy: Pakistani Halted With False Passport Released
» Italy Expels Moroccan for Islamist Extremist Web Messages
» Jihad in France: It’s Just Beginning
» Mogherini: Dialogue Necessary With Islam
» Pan-Muslim Body Urges Restraint After Cartoon ‘Hatred’
» PEGIDA Supporters Outnumbered by Opponents on German Streets
» Sweden: Proposal: Jobs and Therapy for Returning Jihadis
» Sweden: Unions Call for Higher Taxes to Pay for Construction Boom
» Values Rise in Italian Coop Banks on Reports of Changes
Mediterranean Union
» EU Calls for Anti-Terror Alliance With Arab Countries
Middle East
» Chaos in Yemen, Country ‘Close to Coup’
» Hezbollah Enraged by Airstrike on Syria, ‘Death to Israel’
» Saudi Arabia: Man Arrested for Filming Officers Publicly Beheading Woman in Street
» FP: Bulgaria is the New Battleground in Fighting Russian Energy
» Hundreds of Thousands Rally Against ‘Immoral’ Charlie Hebdo in Chechnya
» Leaders Hail Muslim Prophet, Assail West at Huge Chechnya Rally
South Asia
» Indonesia: For Jakarta’s Wahid Institute, The State is Behind Sectarian Violence
Sub-Saharan Africa
» 45 Niger Churches Burned in Hebdo Riots
» Cameroon Army Frees 24 Boko Haram Hostages
Latin America
» Argentina Special Prosecutor in 1994 Bombing Investigation Found Dead
» Argentina: Nisman Dead, Updated
» Argentine Prosecutor Who Alleged Cover-Up by President Dead
» Was Argentine Prosecutor Nisman a Suicide or Assassinated?
» 333 Immigrants Bound for Italy Intercepted in Turkey
» The Escape From Syria
» ‘Religion of Peace’ is Not a Harmless Platitude
» Russia, China, India — the New Multi-Polar Order
» The Problem With Islam
» Why Our Ears and Noses Never Stop Growing

Germany: ‘Francogeddon’ Sends City Debts Soaring

Following the shock move last week do unpeg the Swiss Franc (CHF) from the Euro, estimates suggest that debt in German municipalities has gone up by €2 billion, it was reported on Monday.

Taking out loans in Switzerland seemed like a safe bet not long ago: with low interest rates, a stable currency and less money required upfront to get a loan, it made sense for local governments to get money from Swiss banks to fund their budget gaps.

That’s what many cities did, especially in the Ruhr area in western Germany along the Swiss border, racking up billions in CHF debt along the way.

The scheme’s weakness was exposed when the Swiss National Bank made an unannounced move to let the Franc trade freely, as opposed to controlling its value against the euro by printing money to buy foreign currency.

Essen, for example, has seen its city-held debt suddenly soar by €70 million since the CHF shot up last week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany Repatriates More Gold: Bundesbank

Frankfurt (AFP) — The German central bank or Bundesbank said Monday that it stepped up the repatriation of its gold reserves from overseas storage last year.

“The Bundesbank successfully continued and further stepped up its transfers of gold,” the central bank said in a statement.

“In 2014, 120 tonnes of gold were transferred to Frankfurt from storage locations abroad: 35 tonnes from Paris and 85 tonnes from New York.”

Germany’s gold reserves are the second-biggest in the world after those of the United States and totalled 3,384.2 tonnes this month, according to the latest data compiled by the World Gold Council.

For decades the Bundesbank’s gold holdings have been kept in the treasuries of other central banks — in Paris, London and New York.

According to the German central bank’s own data, 1,447 tonnes are stored at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, 438 tonnes at the Bank of England in London and 307 tonnes at the Banque de France in Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Two Greek Banks Make Requests for ELA Funding

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 16 — Two Greek systemic banks submitted the first requests to the Bank of Greece for cash via the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) system on Thursday, daily Kathimerini reports quoting sources. It is thought that requests from the remaining Greek banks will follow in the next few days. The move came in response to the pressing liquidity conditions resulting from the growing outflow of deposits as well as the acquisition of treasury bills forced onto them by the state. Banks usually resort to ELA when they face a cash crunch and do not have adequate collateral to draw liquidity from the European Central Bank, their main funding tool. ELA is particularly costly as it carries an interest rate of 1.55%, against just 0.05% for ECB funding. The requests by the two lenders will be discussed by the ECB next Wednesday. Bank officials commented that lenders are resorting to ELA earlier than expected, which reflects the deteriorating liquidity conditions in the credit sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

World’s Richest 1% Set to Own More Than Rest — Oxfam

‘1% will have more than 50% of world’s wealth by 2016’

(ANSA) — Rome, January 19 — The world’s wealthiest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world’s population put together, according to a study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam released at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The share of the world’s wealth owned by the richest 1% increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% last year, the charity’s research showed.

If current trends continue, Oxfam says, it expects the wealthiest 1% to own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Meet the Radical Professor at the Center of the Controversy for Islamic Prayers at Duke University

by Jordan Schachtel

It all started when a University alumnus made a $3 million dollar donation to fund the position of Director of Islamic Studies at Duke University. Bettye Martin Musham, who gifted the Islamic Studies Center with the vast sum of money, said that she was convinced that it was the right thing to do after hearing a lecture on the meaning of jihad. Musham said that she and her husband would later become “hooked with the importance of Islam.”

Dr. Omid Safi was appointed to run Islamic Studies at Duke University in July of 2014. He has been the point of contact for several media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post, in response to Duke University reversing its decision to broadcast Muslim prayers from Duke Chapel. Following Duke’s retraction of allowing for Islamic prayer to be amplified from the school’s chapel, Safi took to Twitter to express his discontent. “Saddened that external threats on our community detracts us from celebrating Muslims & Christians living together, honoring each other,” Safi tweeted. Why Safi did not include Jews in his tweet remains unknown—especially considering the fact that Duke has a well-populated Jewish presence on campus. However, Safi’s past statements may shed light onto why he chose to forgo mentioning the religion.

The Duke Islamic leader has time and time again expressed radical ideals through his social media accounts, news articles, and television appearances. Dr. Safi has frequently described the worldwide Muslim community as one that is “oppressed” and “marginalized,” and excused the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre as victims of political grievances. He also excused Palestinian terror group Hamas of any wrongdoing, but has in the recent past described Israel as a “terror state” and decried the Israeli Prime Minister and U.S. President Barack Obama as war criminals.

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which was carried out by Muslim radicals, Safi wrote in a column on the tragedy that people should not jump to conclusion and make a moral judgement on either the victims or the jihadist perpetrators. He wrote: “I try to resist the urge to turn the victims into saintly beings, or the shooters into embodiments of evil.” Although the shooters yelled that they were “avenging the Prophet Muhammad,” Safi implored readers, “In this case, as much as in the case of the 9/11 hijackers, it might be good to look more at the political grievances of the shooters than into the inspiration of some idealized model of Islam.”…

           — Hat tip: K [Return to headlines]

NYC May Yank Terrorism Report to Appease Mosque ‘Spying’ Critics

By Susan Edelman

In top-secret talks to settle federal lawsuits against the NYPD for monitoring mosques, the city is weighing a demand that it scrub from its Web site a report on Islamic terrorists, The Post has learned.

The groundbreaking, 92-page report, titled “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” angers critics who say it promotes “religious profiling” and discrimination against Muslims. But law-enforcement sources say removing the report now would come at the worst time — after mounting terror attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris, Boston, Sydney and Ottawa.

Here in New York, Zale Thompson, a man who heeded online calls by ISIS for jihad, attacked two NYPD officers with a hatchet in October.


Sources familiar with the case confirmed that removal of the NYPD report is one of the major sticking points in settlement negotiations.

[This report may be seen — and downloaded — at

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

British Spooks Tapped Emails From UK and US Media… And Rated Journalists Alongside Terrorists as Potential Security Threats, Leaked Snowden Documents Reveal

British spooks intercepted emails from US and UK media organisations and rated ‘investigative journalists’ alongside terrorists and hackers as potential security threats, secret documents reveal.

Internal advice circulated by intelligence chiefs at the Government spy centre GCHQ claims ‘journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to security’.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Danish Police Raise Alert Level for ‘First Time Ever’

As Denmark raises its police preparedness to level two on a five-point scale, the chairman of the national police union says politicians need to “wake up” and look at properly staffing police forces.

Following the terror attacks in Paris and last week’s anti-terror police action in Belgium, Denmark has for the first time ever raised its official police alert level.

In response to the recent events in Europe, Danish police have gone from level one, “daily preparedness”, on its five-point scale to level two, “slightly elevated preparedness”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

EU Presents Appeal Against Court’s Ruling on Hamas

Against movement’s cancellation from terror list

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 19 — The European Council of foreign minister has formally approved the decision to appeal a ruling of the EU Tribunal that last December 17 annulled for “procedural motives” the presence of Hamas in a list of terror organizations. On the same day, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said that restrictive measures would remain in place before the appeal and that “the EU continues to consider Hamas a terror organization”.

Hamas member Sami Abu Zuhri described the decision of the Foreign affairs Council as “immoral”, according to the media.

“This proves that Europe has preconceived ideas”, added Zuhri.

Israel welcomed the ministers’ decision “with favor”.

“The appeal represents well the position of the EU according to which Hamas is and remains a terrorist organization”, said a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon.

The Tribunal’s ruling, recalled Mogherini on Monday, “was clearly based on procedural grounds and did not imply in any way an evaluation by the Court on merit over the designation of Hamas as a terror organization”.

The appeal presented, the EU foreign policy chief added, suspends the ruling’s effects, so Hamas remains in the list of terror organizations and its assets remain frozen. Moreover, European institutions “are carefully studying how to avoid possible annulments in the future” of similar European measures to fight terrorism which, concluded Mogherini, “remains a priority for the EU”. “In this respect, the EU is determined to stem the funding of terrorism and measures taken are an essential tool to reach the objective”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU to Appeal Decision Removing Hamas From Terror List

The European Union says it will appeal against a court decision to strike Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from the bloc’s terrorist list. Hamas has labeled the push to keep it blacklisted as “immoral.”

The EU added Hamas to its list of terrorist organizations in late 2001. Last December, the General Court of the European Union — the bloc’s second- highest tribunal — ruled that Hamas should be taken off the blacklist It said the decision to include the group there in the first place had been based on media and internet reports rather than sound legal judgments.

In a statement released Monday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said EU institutions would now look at remedial actions to avoid similar terror list annulments in the future.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France’s Moment of Truth

by Michel Gurfinkiel

The French people appear united in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders.

The jihadist killing spree in Paris last week has been described as “France’s 9/11” by Le Monde, the French liberal daily newspaper. Indeed, just like the American 9/11 fourteen years ago, it was a moment of truth: for France as a nation, for the French political class and — last, but certainly not least — for French Jews. The question, however, is not so much whether one sees the truth or not, but rather what one is supposed to do once truth has been seen.

America’s instincts after its own 9/11 were sound: it understood that it was in a state of war and that it had to react accordingly, but it wavered about what war to wage and what strategy to follow. As a result, the War On Terror, in spite of considerable American and Western investment, pugnacity, and heroism, has been largely inconclusive and even, in many respects, a failure. Likewise, whatever the emotional or philosophical impact of the present French 9/11, either in France or abroad, it is not clear whether it will translate — or can translate — into adequate policies…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

France: Paris Attacks Challenge ‘Lone Wolf’ Theories

The attacks in Paris and the radical Islamist cell dismantled in Brussels have challenged the idea of the “lone wolf” terrorist who works alone, without the help of a jihadist organisation, analysts said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France: Le Pen: ‘Muslims Must Help Fight Islamist Terror’

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party says Muslims themselves must help France fight Islamist terrorism and has called for more immigration restrictions and for jihadists to be stripped of their French citizenship.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Geert Wilders: The ‘Prophet’ Who Hates Muhammad

By Winston Ross

Less than 24 hours after the recent terror attacks in Paris, I caught a train in Amsterdam bound for the Binnenhof, the elaborate lakefront complex at The Hague and home of the Dutch Parliament. I was there for a hastily arranged meeting with Geert Wilders, a veteran member of the House of Representatives and Islam’s arch-nemesis in Europe.

Security was tight that afternoon. Twice on the labyrinthian route to his office, I emptied my pockets, walked through metal detectors and watched as guards dug through my camera bag. Behind the key card-controlled door to his office, I was a little surprised to find Wilders, alone and standing behind his desk.

No fan of understatement, Wilders wore a shiny black Armani suit and a bright green tie. But it was his trademark platinum-blond pompadour that stood out, a haircut that many in the Netherlands compare to Donald Trump’s rat’s nest. Wilders may look just as cartoonish as The Donald. But unlike Trump, he’s a legitimate force in politics. For nearly a decade, he’s served as the leader of Holland’s anti-Islamic political party, and he regularly uses his platform to denounce not only violent jihadists but all of Islam.

This stance has made Wilders a target for Muslim radicals. Death threats regularly arrive at his office, so seeing him sitting in a leather chair without armed guards, even behind so many checkpoints, is a bit unsettling. When I ask him how he’s doing, he raises his eyebrows and answers: “Surviving.”…

[Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘We Are Not Xenophobic’: PEGIDA

A spokesperson for anti-Islamization group PEGIDA has said the organization will not give up, despite death threats against the group’s founder. Police have temporarily banned the group’s weekly Monday marches.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: ISIS Threat Stops Monday PEGIDA March

UPDATE: A spokesperson has said that Monday’s cancellation of Germany’s anti-Islamic Pegida movement on Monday, was not the end of the ogranisation. A death threat against organizers from the Islamic State jihadist group was confirmed on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Germany: Police Union Doesn’t Have Time for Petty Crime

The German Police Union (DpolG) said on Monday that officers overworked with serious cases and terrorism should no longer be asked to investigate minor crimes.

In future, crimes such as insults, property damage and travelling without a ticket on public transport should be treated as civil offences, DpolG vice-president Arnold Plickert told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ).

“We have to make it dependent on the case”, he told the newspaper, saying that police should only be involved in the case of repeat offenders.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Greece: 13 Opinion Polls Forecast a Victory for Syriza

Kathimerini, hard to predict if Tsipras will govern alone

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 19 — Kathimerini daily has combined 12 surveys from research companies and a study conducted by the University of Macedonia.

The average between the 13 polls — reports — shows that 29.5 percent of participants will vote SYRIZA, 25.7 prefer New Democracy, 6 percent will vote To Potami (The River), 5.2 percent prefer Golden Dawn, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) gets 4.8 percent, 4 percent will vote PASOK, Independent Greeks (ANEL) get 2.6 of voters, the Socialist Democrats Movement will receive 2.2 percent of the vote, while 10.9 percent of participants are still undecided.

If that crucial 10.9 percent of undecided voters would choose one of the parties, a rather arbitrary estimate of how their votes will be distributed shows the following results: SYRIZA 34.7 percent, New Democracy 30.2 percent, The River 7 percent, Golden Dawn 6.2 percent, KKE 5.6 percent, PASOK 4.7 percent, ANEL 3 percent, Socialist Democrats Movement 2.6 percent. It should be noted that about 3 percent of the total vote is the minimum required for a party to win seats in Parliament.

It is hard to estimate if SYRIZA can form an autonomous government. That will depend on how many small parties will stay out of the House. The more parties out of the House, the lower the percentage of votes needed to form an autonomous government.

For example, if small parties get 12 percent of the vote, the first party gets the 151 seats needed with 35.6 percent of the vote.

Figures show that the percentages of Independent Greeks and the Socialist Democrats Movement will be crucial in deciding if the elections winner can form an autonomous government or not.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

In Defense of Europe’s So-Called Far Right

by Daniel Pipes

Last week, the government of France sponsored a national solidarity rally in which a great array of foreign leaders and all domestic political parties joined together in a “sacred union” (a term that recalls World War I) against the massacres at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the kosher market.

Make that all the political parties except one — the National Front (NF) headed by Marine Le Pen, ostensibly excluded because it does not subscribe to “republican values.” In reality, it was barred because, uniquely among French political parties, it opposes immigration; and French politicians fear that the NF will gain massive new support in the aftermath of the recent massacres.

The Paris attacks got Marine le Pen invited to the meet the French president but not to march in his parade.

Although myself a classical liberal with libertarian tendencies, in the center of the Republican party in the United States, I welcome the strengthening of the National Front and many of the other parties vilified as being on the “far right.” Here is why:…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Islamist Threat Evolving, More Dangerous, European Officials Say

European security officials are scrambling to meet what they say is a changing and more complex threat from jihadists — both from sleeper cells and fighters returning from Middle Eastern battlegrounds — made clear in the deadly Paris attacks.

European police agency chief Rob Wainwright said the security landscape is “more difficult, more challenging” than at any time since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It is an extremely dangerous time, stressed British Prime Minister David Cameroon, who said the threat was “severe” and an attack “is highly likely.”

The three days of violence that left 17 dead in Paris last week — starting when gunmen stormed into the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo January 7 — have left the world reeling, with questions being raised about how the perpetrators slipped through the cracks.

The two Charlie Hebdo attackers, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, had ties to jihadist groups in Yemen and Syria. Cherif and a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four hostages at a Jewish supermarket, had each spent time in jail where they were further radicalized.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Italy: Environmental Education to Become Compulsory in Schools

Italian students to study, beginning in kindergarten

(ANSA) — Rome, January 14 — Environmental education will become a compulsory subject in Italian schools, from kindergarten through secondary levels, as of next year, the government said Wednesday.

The joint project, organized by the ministries of environment and education, will include studies in 10 basic topics, from waste to biodiversity.

Sources said about 150 pages in project guidelines have been developed, focused on training students to think about their place in the environment around them.

“It’s a very important project that will have a large impact on the whole country,” said Barbara Degani, the undersecretary of environment.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Pakistani Halted With False Passport Released

Man had requested political asylum in Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, January 19 — A Pakistani national who sparked an alarm at Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Sunday when he was stopped trying to board a flight to London with a false passport has been released, police sources said Monday. The man has been reported to prosecutors for holding and using a false document, the sources said, adding that the man had requested political asylum in Italy last year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Expels Moroccan for Islamist Extremist Web Messages

Unnamed 49-year-old ‘expelled last week’

(ANSA) — Milan, January 19 — The interior ministry ordered the expulsion last week of a 49-year-old Moroccan national who posted Islamic fundamentalist messages on social media, sources said Monday.

The man, whose name has not been released, was an occasional construction worker and resided in the Milan and Varese areas.

He also reportedly attended Milan’s main mosque on Viale Jenner, many of whose adepts have been investigated and arrested since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jihad in France: It’s Just Beginning

by Guy Millière

The demonstration gathered nearly four million people, but seeing in it a mobilization against terrorism, jihad and anti-Semitism would be a mistake.

The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia attended, shortly after his nation had just finished flogging the young blogger Raif Badawi with the first 50 lashes of his 1000 lash sentence. Badawi is being flayed alive — “very severely,” the lashing order said. He has 950 lashes to go.

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestinian unity government, which includes Hamas and supports jihadist terrorism as well as genocide, was at the forefront — smiling. Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, was originally not invited. He came anyhow. He was told not to speak. He spoke anyhow. As a sign of disapproval, French officials left before his speech.

Although six Jews were among the seventeen victims, the anti-Semitic dimension of the attacks was barely spoken about.

The words “Islam” and “jihadist” were not mentioned. President François Hollande said, against all evidence, “Those who committed these acts have nothing to do with Islam.”…

           — Hat tip: RL [Return to headlines]

Mogherini: Dialogue Necessary With Islam

Alarm on foreign fighters on the agenda of foreign ministers

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini gives a press briefing prior to a European foreign affairs council in Brussels

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday that “terrorism is not a problem between the West and Islam: we need an alliance with our partners and dialogue”, before taking part in a Council of foreign ministers on the fundamentalist challenge following the attacks in Paris.

The meeting of European diplomacy chiefs takes place amid tight security with Belgian armed forces around European institution buildings for the first time.

Meanwhile, secret services and investigators are hard at work to neutralize the threat represented by dormant terror cells, mainly of foreign fighters — EU passport holders who fought in Syria under ISIS and have now returned home.

The Council will first be discussing the phenomenon of foreign fighters and ways to reduce risks connected to the threat they pose. No specific measures are expected to be taken, though the 28 foreign ministers — who will also meet with Arab League secretary Nabil El Araby this morning — will surely try to give new impulse to the cooperation between national intelligence services, particularly in the exchange of information. This aspect, as emerged when Paris was hit by the attacks, that requires further steps so it can fully contribute to the fight on terror.

More in general, as outlined by a European source, “it is not about adopting new measures but about putting in practice what has been already proposed more quickly”.

Among measures on standby are the institution of a common Passenger Name Record (PNR) for flights, particularly those between EU countries and non-EU countries at risk. European Council President Donald Tusk has recently urged for action the European Parliament, where the draft directive has been blocked for a while over privacy concerns. It is also likely that, during the Foreign Council, Belgium will once again ask to formally summon a EU summit during an informal meeting already scheduled on February 12 so European leaders can discuss the jihadist terror threat. Also, the 28 are expected to discuss cooperation with Turkey, a key country connecting Europe with the territories occupied by ISIS forces.

After the Foreign Council meeting the word will go to the EU Commission, which on Wednesday will discuss the situation at a weekly meeting. This will also be an occasion to discuss Schengen and boosting controls with external borders, something also on the agenda of a summit of interior and justice ministers at the end of the month in Riga.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pan-Muslim Body Urges Restraint After Cartoon ‘Hatred’

A pan-Islamic human rights body on Sunday urged Muslims to show restraint despite what it called the “hatred” displayed by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s human rights body accused Charlie Hebdo of “ridiculing the most revered personality” of Islam but urged the world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims “to continue to exercise restraint”.

The appeal came after thousands around the world demonstrated against a new cartoon published by the French weekly last week.

The new cartoon is an “intolerant, disrespectful and manifest expression of hatred as well as insensitivity” toward Muslims, said the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, an expert advisory body established by the Saudi-based Muslim bloc.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

PEGIDA Supporters Outnumbered by Opponents on German Streets

Despite the cancelation of Monday’s PEGIDA march in Dresden, police officers have been patrolling the streets of the city. Followers and opponents of the anti-Islamization movement marched in other German cities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Proposal: Jobs and Therapy for Returning Jihadis

Sweden’s national coordinator against violent extremism, Mona Sahlin, says she supports a proposal to offer jobs and psychological help for Swedes who return from fighting with militants.

The proposal, from the Centre Party’s Rasmus Persson, a local government commissioner in the town of Örebro, has proven controversial and has been criticised by other politicians and on social media, with many saying it would mean rewarding violent extremists who return to Sweden after fighting alongside terrorists.

However, on Sunday the Social Democrat Sahlin told newspaper Svenska Daglbadet that the proposal is a “good example”.

“First of all, not everyone who returns has committed heinous acts. Those who have should of course be punished, but others who have gone down there have perhaps more or less been tricked into something they could not have imagined beforehand. Those people return as soon as is humanly possible,” Sahlin said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Unions Call for Higher Taxes to Pay for Construction Boom

A group of blue-collar unions are calling on the Swedish government to drop its goal of having a budget surplus each year, and instead wants it to raise taxes and borrow more to increase the pace of housing construction.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Values Rise in Italian Coop Banks on Reports of Changes

Renzi govt said to be planning reform to voting shares

(ANSA) — Rome, January 19 — Shares in several of Italy’s biggest cooperative banks, known as ‘popolari’, jumped in trading Monday on reports the government of Premier Matteo Renzi was preparing to debate changes to improve governance.

Ubi shares rose by 9%, Bpm shares were up 12.36% and Banco Popolari rose by almost 9% as the FTSE Mib overall advanced by 1.36% to 19,516.

Renzi’s government has said little as yet about possible changes to banking laws affecting the popolari.

But Italian media have said that the plans to be debated on Tuesday will include changing the present system that gives every shareholder one vote regardless of the size of that person’s investment.

Bloomberg reported that the proposals are designed to improve corporate governance of the banks and said the popolari have faced criticism in the past for concentrating power in the hands of local shareholders and local unions.

Maurizio Gasparri of the centre-right Forza Italia said Monday that Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) should not push through such important changes using decrees or other sorts of legislation but must instead put them up for a full parliamentary debate.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Calls for Anti-Terror Alliance With Arab Countries

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Monday called for an anti-terror alliance with Arab countries to boost cooperation and information-sharing in the wake of deadly attacks and arrests across Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday that “we need an alliance. We need to strengthen our way of cooperating together.”

Mogherini later met with Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al-Araby. She also attended a meeting of the EU foreign ministers who are preparing for a summit of EU leaders in February focused on terrorism.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Chaos in Yemen, Country ‘Close to Coup’

Clashes with rebels, Houthi storm news agency and TV

Gunmen of the Shiite Houthi Group raise guns as they attend a gathering as heavy clashes erupted between presidential guards and rebels in Sanaa, Yemen

(by Virginia Di Marco) (ANSAmed) — ROME — Yemen is one “step from a coup”, Information Minister Nadia Sakkaf said Monday after intense clashes were reported this morning in Sanaa close to the presidential palace between Houthi Shiite rebels and the military. The minister added that militants stormed the official news agency and a television station.

The massive presence of armed men and previous clashes, including very recent ones, between the main tribes and the Houthi also in the governorate of Marib cause growing concern.

National media reported witnesses as saying that over the past few days, along the governorate’s borders, some “30,000 fighters” have been deployed, with “six tanks, 450 different types of military vehicles and a significant heavy artillery arsenal”.

Ahmed Al-Asbahi, deputy security chief of Marib, said: “Regular defense forces are awaiting orders from their chiefs.

At the moment, we have had no indications, so our plan is to remain neutral”.

Concern is high in particular over oil wells and pipelines in the region. Most of Yemen’s production of oil and derived products come from Marib: the sector represents 70-80% of local GDP and one-fourth of national production. Attacks on infrastructures by rebels are not a new phenomenon: between 2012 and 2014 several were recorded with an economic damage that the ‘Yemen Times’ estimated at around 7 billion dollars.

The clash between the Houthi and Yemen’s local, tribal and central powers has been ongoing for years. After a ceasefire agreed with the government in Sanaa in 2010, tensions quickly returned to grow during protests connected with the Arab Spring uprising that affected the country in 2011.

Soon violence resumed at a regional and national level: last September, Houthi fighters took the capital Sanaa. In spite of further truce agreements at various levels (also recent ones), between 2014 and 2015, the attacks continued on both sides, including bloody suicide attacks that killed dozens.

In the rich Marib region, last November, a compromise was reached — in theory currently in place — between tribal authorities and the Houthi, under which the latter cannot access the area unless expressly authorized. But at the beginning of January, a convoy of military weapons directed towards the capital was seized by local tribes who said they wanted to arm “against the Houthi who are planning to conquer the governorate”.

Salah Al-Ezzi, a member of the Houthi political office in Sanaa, said he was uncertain whether the Houthi will abide by what is provided in the November agreement, giving his version of events. “Members of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are active in the area: local residents should join us, the Houthi, to expel them from the governorate. But if they won’t do it, we have the right to think about it on our own”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Hezbollah Enraged by Airstrike on Syria, ‘Death to Israel’

Mughniyeh’s funeral in Beirut; attacks killed Iranian general

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 19 — ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ were called out on Monday by the thousands of people who took part in the funeral of Jihad Mughniyeh in the southern areas of the Lebanese capital. Hezbollah member Mughniyeh was killed on Sunday by an Israeli airstrike in the Golan Heights along with five other fighters from the Shia militias.

Tension in the region is rising after the announcement that a general from Iran’s Pasdaran also died in the attack.

Jihad, 21, was the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a key military commander of Hezbollah killed in 2008 in Damascus in an attack his companions said Israel was behind. There are concerns that the Lebanese militias, tightly allied to the Iranian and Syrian regimes, may now carry out an act of retaliation in either Syrian or Lebanese territory.

Along Lebanon’s southern border are about 10,000 UN peacekeepers as part of the UNIFIL mission, including a few thousand Italians. The funeral of Jihad Mughniyeh, whose body was wrapped in a Hezbollah flag with dozens of others held high around the procession in the Shia Gobeiri district, was carried to the Raudhat Al-Shaheedein (‘Garden of Two Martyrs’) cemetery to be buried alongside that of his father. In attendance were Hashem Safiyeddin, head of Hezbollah’s executive committee, and MP Mohammad Raad, head of its parliamentary group, but not its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. The latter has rarely appeared in public out of concern of possible attacks since the 2006 summer war against Israel. In an interview last week, Nasrallah warned that his militias have rockets able to hit Israeli territory. Iran’s Guardians of the Revolution have said that among the seven killed in Sunday’s attack was Pasdaran general Mohammad Ali Allahdadi. Tehran, alongside Hezbollah, is Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s main ally in the civil conflict that has been devastating the country since 2011. It claims that it has only military advisors in the country and no troops involved in fighting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Man Arrested for Filming Officers Publicly Beheading Woman in Street

Saudi authorities have arrested a man who filmed a viral video of authorities publicly beheading a woman in the street, according to local media reports.

Saudi news outlets revealed that the man had been arrested but did not state what he would be charged with.

However, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that filming the incident would be classed as a cybercrime under the country’s strict form of Sharia law, based on the Quran.

The Burmese woman, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, was hacked to death by sword in the holy city of Mecca after being dragged through the street and held down by four police officers.

She was convicted of the sexual abuse and murder of her seven-year-old step-daughter.

In the video she can be heard saying in Arabic: “I did not kill. There is no God but God. I did not kill.”

“Haram. Haram. Haram. Haram. I did not kill … I do not forgive you … This is an injustice,” she continues.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

FP: Bulgaria is the New Battleground in Fighting Russian Energy

Bulgaria, a country playing a “central role in Europe’s emerging energy picture”, is becoming “the latest wishbone in the struggle between Moscow’s efforts to to assert its energy dominance over Europe and the West’s efforts to cage that gassy bear,” according to Foreign Policy.

Its article titled “Sofia’s Choice” explores the clash of energy agendas of the US, Europe and Russia in Bulgaria, “a small, Russophile country”.

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

Hundreds of Thousands Rally Against ‘Immoral’ Charlie Hebdo in Chechnya

Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Russia’s Chechnya region on Monday against what its Kremlin-backed leader called the “vulgar and immoral” cartoons of the prophet Muhammed published by French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Mixing pro-Islamic chants and anti-Western rhetoric, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov criticized Europe to chants of “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) as the protesters stood along the main thoroughfare of Chechnya’s capital, Grozny.

Some carried signs declaring “I love my prophet Muhammed” in English and others waved flags, as security service helicopters flew overhead and police stood by.

In a sign that it had President Vladimir Putin’s backing, the rally was shown live on state television. The Kremlin may see the protest as a way to vent pressure from Russia’s Muslims after a similar rally was banned in Moscow.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Leaders Hail Muslim Prophet, Assail West at Huge Chechnya Rally

A huge crowd turned out in the capital of Russia’s tightly controlled, mostly Muslim Chechnya region for a state-sponsored demonstration against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader assailed the West in speeches at a rally the Interior Ministry said drew 800,000 people, suggesting that moral flaws were the root cause of the Islamist militant attacks in Paris last week and that Western governments are fanning Muslim anger for their own geopolitical gain.

“This is a protest against those who try to insult the religious feelings of Muslims all over the world. This is a protest against those who deliberately incite a worldwide fire of religious and ethnic hatred,” Ramzan Kadyrov, who faces sanctions in the West over rights abuses, told the rally.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Indonesia: For Jakarta’s Wahid Institute, The State is Behind Sectarian Violence

According to a report by the prestigious institute, 51 per cent of cases of violence can be attributed to public officials and agencies. Police and security forces are negligent or share responsibility in attacks on minorities. Although the number of cases of violence has dropped, government policy has not changed. Even reformist newly elected president Jokowi has been inattentive to minority rights.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Government officials and civil servants are behind many episodes of sectarian violence, this according to a recent report by the Wahid Institute, a Jakarta-based interfaith organisation founded by late Indonesian president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, an iconic figure in interfaith dialogue.

Most of the religious attacks or abuses are the work of police and members of the security forces at the district and local levels. Last year for instance, government officials were involved in 80 cases, which corresponds to 51 per cent of all attacks. In another 78 cases (49 per cent), people from non-governmental groups were involved.

According to the Wahid Institute, police and security officials are to blame because they have failed to go after religious fundamentalism and the acts of violence perpetrated by extremist Islamic groups.

Often the police are negligent, inattentive or uninterested in doing their job, thus favouring attacks against Christians, including Catholics, as well as Muslim minorities.

The acts of violations of minority rights by state officials include the arbitrary cancellation of building permits for houses of worship, and the closing of churches and prayer houses even when they have all the necessary documents.

Added to this is a ban on celebrating religious services over the weekend, often imposed to appease the country’s extremist groups.

The study shows, however, a 42 per cent drop over the previous two years in the number of cases in which freedom of worship is violated: 158 cases were recorded in 2014 compared to 245 in 2013.

Nevertheless, a drop in violence has not been matched by changes in government policy towards freedom of worship and religious freedom.

“Discriminatory laws and regulations are still in place without significant intervention by the state,” said Yenny Wahid, president of the institute.

The daughter of the former president added that hundreds of Shias and Ahmadis have been denied their basic rights because they “are not mainstream Islamic groups.”

So far, reformist newly elected President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has shown little concern for the protection of religious minorities.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has often been the scene of attacks or acts of intolerance against minorities, whether Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or people of other faiths.

Unlike the rest of the country, Aceh province enforces Islamic law (Sharia), after the central government signed a peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

In many other parts of the country (such as Bekasi and Bogor in West Java), a more radical and extreme vision of Islam is also growing. (MH)

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

45 Niger Churches Burned in Hebdo Riots

10 killed, 3 days of mourning

(ANSA) — Niamey, January 19 — At least 45 churches were burned and at least ten people killed in recent protests in Niger against French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s Mohammed cartoons, the government in Niamey said Monday.

It called three days of mourning.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Cameroon Army Frees 24 Boko Haram Hostages

80 people were kidnapped on Sunday by the militant group

(ANSA) — Rome, January 19 — The Cameroon army freed 24 people on Monday who had been kidnapped Sunday by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, African news website Koaci said.

The operation is still underway, with troops from the military’s rapid intervention battalion, who have been stationed near the Nigerian border for weeks to block Boko Haram attacks.

Boko Haram is a militant group fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government and establish an Islamic state.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Argentina Special Prosecutor in 1994 Bombing Investigation Found Dead

BUENOS AIRES — A special prosecutor who had accused Argentine President Cristina Fernandez of ordering impunity for Iranian suspects in the South American country’s worst terrorist attack was found shot dead, authorities said Monday.

Alberto Nisman, who was set to testify Monday in a closed-door hearing, was found in the bathroom of his Buenos Aires apartment late Sunday, federal prosecutor Viviana Fein told Telam, Argentina’s official news agency.

“We can confirm that it was a gunshot wound, .22 caliber,” she said, adding that it was too early in the investigation to know what had happened.


A .22 caliber handgun and a shell casing were found next to Nisman’s body.

[Suicide seems unlikely in this case. — PW]

           — Hat tip: Papa Whiskey [Return to headlines]

Argentina: Nisman Dead, Updated

Hours before he was schedule to report/testify in a closed hearing to the Argentinian Congress regarding his investigation of Cristina Fernandez’s corrupt dealings with Iran, federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head.

He was found dead by his mother in the bathroom of his home,…

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

Argentine Prosecutor Who Alleged Cover-Up by President Dead

Alberto Nisman was investigating bombing of Jewish centre

(ANSA) — Buenos Aires, January 19 — A federal prosecutor in Argentina who had been investigating President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was found dead with a weapon close to his body, but authorities said they are not sure it was suicide.

Alberto Nisman, 51, had been threatened, said an opposition MP Patricia Bullrich, who said she spoke twice on the phone last Saturday with Nisman.

“We cannot exclude any hypothesis,” investigators said after Nisman’s body was found Sunday.

Nisman had alleged a cover-up involving Kirchner as he investigated the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died.

His mother found his body in the bathroom of his home, after body guards could not reach him by phone on Sunday, BBC reported on its website.

Nisman had been scheduled to present his allegations against Kirchner and others on Monday to a congressional committee.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Was Argentine Prosecutor Nisman a Suicide or Assassinated?

A few hours before a scheduled Argentine Congressional hearing, the body of General Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found locked inside his 13th floor apartment after his mother ordered the door broken in. Next to his body was a 22 caliber hand gun with a single spent shell. Was this a self inflicted death by the crusading 51 year old prosecutor who since 2005 was at the center of the 1994 AMIA Jewish Center bombing in Buenos Aires? Or was this as The Daily Beast suggested a possible hit by Iran:

In the world of intelligence, as distinct from the world of criminal justice, there has been little question that Iran was behind the AMIA bombing.

Last week, Nisman had launched new allegations that both Argentinean President Cristina de Fernandez Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had been involved in a cover up of a deal with Iran. In exchange for shipments of oil charges of Iranian involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing would be dropped. See our Iconoclast post on Nisman’s most recent allegations of corruption. President Kirchner is barred from running for a third term in October 2015. What is the song from the musical drama, Evita: “don’t cry for me Argentina”?

The Daily Beast concluded:…

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon [Return to headlines]

333 Immigrants Bound for Italy Intercepted in Turkey

Port of Mercin a principal departure point for Syrians

(ANSA) — Ankara, January 19 — The Turkish coast guard intercepted a mercantile ship on Monday with 333 immigrants heading to Italy, said the governor’s office in the port city of Mersin.

The mercantile ship Burcin, bearing the flag of the West African nation of Togo, was stopped just outside the Turkish port after the immigrants, most of whom were from Syria, boarded from four smaller boats.

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported online that Turkish police arrested 11 Syrians and 4 Turks aboard the Burcin, accused of human trafficking.

Turkey has become one of the principal routes for immigrants headed for the EU, and thousands of Syrians wait in Mersin, one of the principal ports of departure for Italian shores.

Italy’s Interior Minister Angelo Alfano visited Ankara last week to discuss cooperative measures with the Turkish government regarding illegal immigration and jihadist terrorism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Escape From Syria

Yazan dreams of getting to Europe, but when the boat carrying him and other refugees breaks down in Greek waters, a kilometer away from land, he does not get the rescue for which he had hoped. Yazan is one of some 70 refugees whose journeys Swedish Radio has followed during 2014. Several of them describe being abused by the coast guard, and never even reaching land.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

‘Religion of Peace’ is Not a Harmless Platitude

To face Islamist terror, we must face the facts about Islam’s history

by Douglas Murray

The West’s movement towards the truth is remarkably slow. We drag ourselves towards it painfully, inch by inch, after each bloody Islamist assault.

In France, Britain, Germany, America and nearly every other country in the world it remains government policy to say that any and all attacks carried out in the name of Mohammed have ‘nothing to do with Islam’. It was said by George W. Bush after 9/11, Tony Blair after 7/7 and Tony Abbott after the Sydney attack last month. It is what David Cameron said after two British extremists cut off the head of Drummer Lee Rigby in London, when ‘Jihadi John’ cut off the head of aid worker Alan Henning in the ‘Islamic State’ and when Islamic extremists attacked a Kenyan mall, separated the Muslims from the Christians and shot the latter in the head. And, of course, it is what President François Hollande said after the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris last week.

All these leaders are wrong. In private, they and their senior advisers often concede that they are telling a lie. The most sympathetic explanation is that they are telling a ‘noble lie’, provoked by a fear that we — the general public — are a lynch mob in waiting. ‘Noble’ or not, this lie is a mistake. First, because the general public do not rely on politicians for their information and can perfectly well read articles and books about Islam for themselves. Secondly, because the lie helps no one understand the threat we face. Thirdly, because it takes any heat off Muslims to deal with the bad traditions in their own religion. And fourthly, because unless mainstream politicians address these matters then one day perhaps the public will overtake their politicians to a truly alarming extent.

           — Hat tip: Mark H [Return to headlines]

Russia, China, India — the New Multi-Polar Order

Gone are the days when the US and Russia (read former Soviet Union) used to dominate the world politics. With the fall of ‘communism’ in the 1990’s, the US emerged as the lone ‘super power’ in the world.

However, time and again, China tried its best to counter the American influence especially at the UN with the help of Russia. Even the US’ emergence as the only super power prompted the EU members to strengthen ties with each other in the early years of this century.

In the last few years, the global political landscape has changed and developing nations, like India, Brazil and South Africa, have started countering the American hegemony.

Political analysts believe that Russia, China and India can jointly dominate the new multi-polar world order in the coming years. In an article published in Pravda, Francesco Brunello Zanitti — Programme Director of Southern Asia Research, Scientific Director of the Italian Institute for Advanced Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences, and senior member of Editorial Committee of ‘Geopolitica’ — has said that Kremlin’s new approach towards the two Asian powers can be considered as ‘a vector for a new multi-polar world order’

In December 2014, Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi signed a series of significant bilateral agreements and took a giant step towards global transformation from an uni-polar to a multi-polar world order. Zanitti explained that by imposing sanctions, the EU and the US brought Russia ‘closer’ to China and India in 2014. President Vladimir Putin has decided to strengthen ties with the two Asian powerhouses because he knows that China and India can serve Russia’s long-term strategic interests. The current political scenario in Eastern Europe and West Asia has made Kremlin’s job easy. Beijing and New Delhi, who have always considered Moscow as a ‘reliable’ partner, have no problem in strengthening economic and trade ties with Russia.

Even before the Ukrainian crisis, Russia, China and India started actively co-operating with each other in other multilateral organisations, like BRICS forum (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Such co-operations have provided them an opportunity to develop new platforms for bolstering political, economic and defence co-operation.

Analysts are also of the opinion that ‘close’ co-operation between the three powers will be beneficial for Asia in the long run. The current political situation in Asia is highly influenced by the Sino-Indian rivalry. In such a situation, friendship with Moscow could prompt Beijing and New Delhi to resolve their outstanding issues and maintain peace in the region. “While China looks favourably to economic consequences arising from its co-operation with Russia, India plans to revive its strategic partnership with Russia,” stressed Zanitti. According to him, a stronger energy relation between India and Russia can change the political equilibriums of Asia significantly.

In recent times, the Narendra Modi administration in India has taken ‘cautious’ steps as far as its relation with Russia is concerned. Although New Delhi has not backed Western sanctions against Russia, it has also not recognised Crimea as a legitimate part of Russia. At the same time, India did not criticise Moscow openly for the current Ukrainian situation. Prime Minister Modi, who is well aware of ‘the importance and priority assigned to Moscow in the strategic calculus of New Delhi’, has said that Russia will remain the most important partner of the South Asian nation in defence sector.

It is a fact that the Indian premier is eager to have stronger defence ties with US, but he knows that it is impossible to ignore Russia’s role. Otherwise, Russia could become a strategic military partner of Pakistan and a Russian-Chinese-Pakistani partnership would pose a serious threat to New Delhi.

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

The Problem With Islam

Op-ed: The distorted mutation that is Islamic fundamentalism has to be acknowledged; many Muslims recognize there is a problem, which is not just a handful of Jihadists involved in terrorism.

Any debate on Islam in Muslim countries and among Muslim communities in the West is like stepping into a minefield. When it comes to the media outlets and academe, for the most part, the subject of Islam sparks a convoluted and apologetic discourse; on the social networks, on the other hand, the discourse it prompts is a racist one.

The thing is there’s a problem. It’s hissing and bubbling. Many Muslims realize there’s a problem. The Egyptian president spoke recently of “a need to effect a substantial change in Islam.” And in 2004, Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the former general manager of the al-Arabiya television news channel, said: “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”…

           — Hat tip: K [Return to headlines]

Why Our Ears and Noses Never Stop Growing

While the rest of our body shrinks as we get older, our noses, earlobes and ear muscles keep getting bigger. That’s because they’re made mostly of cartilage cells, which divide more as we age. At the same time, connective tissue begins to weaken.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

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