Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100923

Financial Crisis
»Booming China Lures Key Professors Home From US
»Declaration of Recovery is a Lie
»Failures in Money Control Becoming More Obvious
»Obama’s Latest Stroke of Brilliance… Let Corrupt Regimes Decide How to Spend US Aid Money
»“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?” Ask Stuart Dunnings, III
»At Bargain Ticket Prices Obama Can’t Even Fill a 650 Seat Room!
»Bill Clinton and the Ground Zero Mosque: A Perfect Fit
»Pakistani Radicals Go Wild After Female Terrorist Sentenced in New York City
»U.S. Walks Out as Iran Leader Speaks
»Wake Up! He’s a Communist!
Europe and the EU
»Abba Stars Sue Denmark’s Far-Right
»Finland: Environment Minister Discloses Links to Government-Sponsored Mining Project
»Finland: Defence Forces to Recruit Somalis for Peacekeeping Mission
»Holy See Defends Laundering Probe Bankers
»Netherlands: Indonesian Ambassador ‘Unwise’ To Say PVV Voters May be ‘Psychotic’
»Tongue-in-Cheek Maps of European Stereotypes
»UK: CCTV of Serial Rape and Murder Suspect
»UK: Jobless Couple Demand Bigger Home for Family of Eight
»UK: Men Arrested in Gateshead Over Suspected Koran Burning
»UK: Police ‘Failing to Tackle Yob Behaviour’
»UK: Parents’ Fury After Police Send Riot Van to Hand Out Parking Tickets Outside Disabled School
»UK: Six Arrested After Burning of Koran on 9/11 ‘For the Boys in Afghanistan’ Is Posted Online
»UK: Shame of Muslim Cleric Who Exposed Himself in Bristol Park
North Africa
»Muslim Brotherhood: We Plan to Participate in Egypt Polls
Israel and the Palestinians
»Obama Calls for Peace in the ‘Holy Land’ of Israel and Palestine Within a Year
Middle East
»Stuxnet Computer Worm ‘Targeted Iranian Nuclear Power Station’ In World’s Most Sophisticated Virus Attack
South Asia
»India: Supreme Court Orders Ayodhya Mosque Verdict Postponed
»India: Photos: The Awful Squalor Found at the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village as Time Runs Out for Organisers
»Indonesia: Sumatra: Fundamentalists Kill Three Police Officers in Revenge Attack
Latin America
»Colombia FARC Rebel Mono Jojoy Killed — Army
»Austria: Majority Approve Debate Following Sarrazin’s Claims
Culture Wars
»Mosque Trip Violated Rights, Lawyer Says
»UK’s Homosexual Population Size Revealed: Just 1.5% of Britons Say They Are Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual
»F.D.A. And European Regulators Severely Restrict Avandia, Citing Heart Risks
»So That’s Why Bono Calls it the One Foundation

Financial Crisis

Booming China Lures Key Professors Home From US

SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 23) — When Weiping Li came from China in 1982 to study engineering at Stanford University, he didn’t plan to stay long. But after earning his Ph.D., he found that the best opportunities were in the United States, and he was pleased to land a job as a professor of electrical engineering at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

He became a U.S. citizen and raised a family. But earlier this year, he left the U.S. to work in a country where the economy is booming and universities are investing in the future: his native China.

Recruited under a Chinese government program called the “Thousand Talents,” Li was named dean of the prestigious information science division of the University of Science and Technology of China. As an incentive, the university gave him a 2,000-square-foot house and a tax-free relocation payment of nearly $150,000.

“I see it as an opportunity,” said Li, a USTC alumnus. “It’s just like why we came to the U.S. The U.S. at the time had more opportunities than we could imagine in China in 1982.”

Professor Yigong Shi, who walked away from a top research position in the United States to become the dean of life sciences at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University in 2008, poses beside bottles of bacterial culture in a university lab in Beijing.

Frederic J. Brown, AFP / Getty Images

Li is one of hundreds of top Chinese-born scientists who are returning to their homeland to take prestigious posts at universities and research laboratories. China’s goal is to jump-start innovation in science and technology, an area that has lagged behind even as the country’s economy has surpassed Japan to become the second largest in the world.

Known as “sea turtles,” the returning scientists are offered the chance to set up their own laboratories, head university departments, or take other high-level jobs in academia and business. Two returnees from Europe have been appointed government ministers of health and science and technology.

“They are going after the A-grade players,” said Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur-turned-academic with ties to Harvard Law School, Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley. “They are basically doing everything they can. They give you labs. They give you everything you want. They make you feel like a national hero.”

High-profile returnees include Yigong Shi, who left Princeton University to become life sciences dean at Tsinghua University; Rao Yi, who left Northwestern University to become life sciences dean at Peking University; and Shiyi Chen, who left Johns Hopkins University to become dean of engineering at Peking University.

China has waited patiently for decades for some of its brightest and most accomplished scientists to return. Until recently, it could not offer high-quality research facilities, adequate funding or an attractive research environment.

But in the past few years, the government has invested heavily in infrastructure, constructing campuses and science parks to accommodate what it hopes will be a boom in homegrown technological advances, particularly in such fields as nanotechnology, computer science and pharmaceuticals. The government’s goal is to turn new discoveries into products as quickly as possible.

Richard Appelbaum, a professor of sociology and global studies at UC Santa Barbara, said he recently visited a vast new research facility outside Shanghai.

“This is a science park the size of a city,” he recounted. “It’s all brand-spanking-new buildings that have been put up by the government of Suzhou. They are occupied by all these startup companies, working in biology and at the interface of nano and biology. It’s all very impressive, at least to an outsider.”

With the “Thousand Talents” program, China is not only luring “sea turtles,” but also showing new flexibility by negotiating part-time deals with “sea gulls,” who split their time between universities in China and the U.S.

One “sea gull” is UC San Francisco professor Chao Tang, who also is founder and director of the Center for Theoretical Biology at Peking University, where he teaches part of the year.

A leader in the field of quantitative biology, Tang said holding positions at the two universities gives him the best of both worlds: He can stay connected with experts in his field in the U.S. while still being part of the transformation of science in China.

Tang recognizes that people with his skills provide a crucial component that China is lacking as it attempts to accelerate its capacity to innovate.

“They need people like us to be leaders, to build up institutes, to build up centers, to build up departments and to attract young people around us,” he said. “They have almost everything else: money, buildings, bright students. But what is needed is what is called the ‘soft environment.’ People plus the system. To build a system you need people.”

U.S. researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to win federal grants, and public universities such as University of California have been faced with massive budget cuts. Meanwhile, top scientists in China are more concerned about how to spend money than how to get it.

“At our center, I don’t know anyone who is worried about grants,” Tang said. “Should we spend the time to write another grant? How can we spend it? That’s always the attitude.”

Tang said he is building a new lab for his center at Peking University modeled after his lab at UCSF. Peking University has tried to persuade him to return to China permanently, he said; he may make the move once his children are older.

“I always had the sense that I should give back to China, that I should find a way to pay back, or to help them with education and science,” he said. “For me it’s very tempting. They are developing very fast.”

Tang said the U.S. should not be concerned about a brain drain to China and will benefit from cooperation between scientists in the two countries.

“I think it’s for the good,” he said. “People go back to China and they have ties here. There is more collaboration and healthy competition. I think the U.S. needs competition. I think the U.S. has been comfortable for too long.”

Professor Hao Li, who works with Tang at both UCSF and Peking University, said he also has been recruited to return to China and is considering making the move when his children are older. He said the sense of a resurgent China is compelling.

“You get the feeling this country is really doing something new,” he said. “The economy is doing well and they have resources to put in different areas; they have the money to put into science and technology.”

He said the primary issue for Chinese universities is what kind of program a researcher wants to undertake.

“From the university’s side, they want to know what you want to do back there,” he said. “What kind of program do you want to run? They are not just interested in a good research lab. They are more interested in building a field. The emphasis is on leadership.”

In deciding whether to return full time, Hao Li said he faces a difficult personal decision.

“It’s not an easy thing to say I am going to leave this place where I have been working 10 or 20 years,” he said. “You build lots of connections. Overall it’s still clear that research here, like biology at UCSF, is way above Chinese universities. There are years to go for them to catch up.”

In his new role as dean at USTC, Weiping Li recently returned to the U.S. on a recruiting mission with other university leaders. The delegation met with officials at American schools, including UC Berkeley and Stanford, and held recruiting events around the United States.

At one event in Santa Clara, Calif., in the heart of the Silicon Valley, about 200 people — many of them USTC alumni — came to learn about the possibility of finding a university position in China. Unlike the previous generation of students, many plan to return to China soon, in part because of the opportunities there and in part because it has become much harder since 2001 to get a visa to remain in the U.S.

USTC is seeking to increase that proportion of its faculty that holds overseas degrees from 8 percent now to 30 percent as quickly as possible, Weiping Li said. “We are looking for any qualified people,” he said. “Every quarter we do a review and hire. It’s not on an annual basis. It’s on a quarterly basis.”

In taking his new post, he said he was not simply motivated by the financial incentives or a duty to repay his homeland; he saw a chance to take on a new challenge.

“China has resources, buildings and labs and infrastructure,” he said. “We have great students. We have all the lab equipment, and buildings going up so quickly. The only thing is, who is going to sit in these offices?”…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Declaration of Recovery is a Lie

David Rosenberg of Gluskin-Sheff weighs in on the NBER’s claim that the recovery ended in June of 2009:

Well, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) made it official yesterday, and told us what Statistics Canada apparently knew back in April — the recession ended in mid-2009. The equity market rejoiced, which itself is amusing since supposedly the stock market is a discounting mechanism, but it goes to show that old news sells well. At the same time, there goes our “single-scoop” theory and the same bulls that told us how all we would get was a soft landing heading into 2008 are telling the masses that double-dips never happen.

Just remember this: the NBER also told us some years back that the prior recession ended in November 2001. Yet because we had a limbless recovery — one hand and one leg perhaps — the bull market in stocks and bear market in bonds was delayed for a year and a half back. And this recovery, with its sub 1% pace of real final sales, goes down as the weakest on record.

So, the recession technically ended 15 months ago; tell that to the 15 million unemployed and the 42% share of these ranks that have been looking for a job fruitlessly for at least six months.

[Return to headlines]

Failures in Money Control Becoming More Obvious

As quantitative easing again gets underway the failure of QE1 becomes more obvious. The crisis worsens and the illusion of any recovery is light years away. Over the past three years almost $13 trillion that we know about has been thrown down a rat hole to bail out banking, Wall Street, insurance and selected elitist entities. The dollar figure is probably much higher. We will never know, because the privately owned Federal Reserve makes its own rules. Everything they do is a state secret. The five successful quarters were only a mirage. The funds have been vaporized among lending and financial institutions worldwide. There has been no accounting and there never will be as long as the Fed is not audited and investigated. We are in an inflationary depression and have been since February 2009. Massive injections of liquidity do not work, nor have they worked for centuries under these conditions. You cannot resurrect an insolvent country in a system that is corrupt. The controll ers of the US economy are about to lead the American economy and financial structure into a great dark pit. The US and the world is soon to face a global breakdown deliberately engineered by the forces of darkness. As usual the Fed was late in applying remedial therapy and that will prove costly. The funding of US debt by foreigners has become very costly and some are jumping ship and some are even using their dollars to buy gold. The game is changing, but will other countries risk a worldwide collapse by not rescuing the US economy? We don’t know but it doesn’t look promising. Monetization is coming and most nations are frozen in the headlights. Washington and NYC have applied pressure over and over again, but their arrogance has not gone unnoticed. There is a pretense of control as unemployment climbs and stability comes more into question. Headlining unemployment, U3, at 9-3/4% is dumb, when anyone with any sense can see U6 and the bogus birth/death ratio. Yes, unemployment is 21-5/8% and for those who want to see the truth it is visible worldwide. Real estate continues to descend, as the consumer reduces debt and consumption.

Much of the public is deeply disturbed and that has been borne out by the primary elections and the success of the Tea Party. People are thrashing around for answers with 14.3% living in poverty, 44 million on food stamps and every day more jobs are lost to free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing. It is not surprising that Tea Partiers and secessionists want to dramatically change Washington and make radical changes in how the one party-two party system works. People have finally had it. They know full well where trillions of dollars went. That the US and European banking system were temporarily rescued. These were the same people who caused the problem in the first place and the public unceremonially is thrown a bone, like some stray dog. It is time for Americans to use their voting power to remove these criminals they voted into office. After January 2, 2011, America will have a lame duck president and a gridlock that will keep congress from creating any furth er damage. This will only be the beginning as people vent their anger at Wall Street and banking and its den of thieves. This tidal wave of rejection will really manifest itself when the elitist insiders in retribution collapse the stock and bond markets. Mark our words that will happen over the next few years, as will dollar devaluation and debt default. The ball has just started to roll and where it will all end up no one knows. The temple of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street could very well be doomed to destruction. The public now understands that Wall Street and banking own the Fed and they really make all the decisions and are the creators of all inside information. they profit on almost every trade. They cannot lose. They own the game. That is why for the last 18 months there has been an exodus of funds from the stock market to bonds, gold and silver and commodities. Naked shorting is rampant and the SEC and CFTC do nothing about it. Front running, known as flash tra ding, rigs every trade. More than 70% of trades are computer, black box driven by pros. Is it any wonder gold and silver hit new highs every day, Weiner & Waxman bring legislation to regulate coin dealers, when in fact they want to collect data on coin and bullion buyers. America has turned into a cesspool.

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Latest Stroke of Brilliance… Let Corrupt Regimes Decide How to Spend US Aid Money

He’s so smart.

With unemployment at record levels, with the deficit skyrocketing, with the national debt piling up, Barack Obama announced a historic new development plan this week… for foreign countries. Under Barack Obama’s brilliant new development plan, corrupt regimes will decide how to spend US taxpayer-funded aid money instead of being dicatated to. President Obama announced the plan Wednesday at the United Nations. And, of course, he calls this another historic initiative.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?” Ask Stuart Dunnings, III

by Andrew Bostom


As reported in the Detroit News, Dunnings categorically rejected intense pressure from local Muslim leaders to pursue charges against a Lansing Michigan man who admitted to burning a Koran outside an East Lansing mosque. For example, Dawud Walid, executive director of the Hamas front and unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation jihad terrorism funding trial, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan, argued vociferously that the Koran burner, whose identity has been protected by local authorities, face federal charges. Walid fumed,

Not to prosecute this hate crime would send a terrible message to bigots that there will be no legal repercussion against those who intimidate Muslims at their houses of worship.

But Dunnings refused to abide the hypocritical, taqiyya-laden arguments by the Sharia-supremacist organization CAIR and its Michigan spokesperson. Prosecutor Dunnings simply “..didn’t find there was any violation of Michigan law.” Elaborating, Dunnings further denied there was any evidence of a “hate crime,” and he also affirmed that the act itself was Constitutionally protected free expression, as had been determined previously for flag burning

Burning a holy book, whose pages were found outside the Islamic Center of East Lansing on Sept. 11, doesn’t qualify as a hate crime…We don’t have a hate crime. There was no threat of physical intimidation because (the man who burned the Koran) was the only one there at the time…The act also was protected by the First Amendment.

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

At Bargain Ticket Prices Obama Can’t Even Fill a 650 Seat Room!

Over at the left-wing Daily Beast, Gail Sheehy has a story that should make every Obamaite tremble in fear of November 2. As Sheehy reports it, in New York President Obama couldn’t even fill a room that holds 650 even though they slashed the ticket prices from $500 to $100 a person to get in. On the 22nd Obama appeared in New York for a fundraiser but organizers found that attendees were harder to come by than ever. As Sheehy points out, this is six weeks before the elections.

Less than two months and Democrats can’t garner enough enthusiasm to sell 650 tickets to see the president up close and personal. Initially tickets were priced at $500 a person but as the event neared, panic set in and emails began to gush from the organizers offering bargain basement, slashed ticket prices in order to fill the room. Sheehy paid just $100 to stand in the same small room with The One and she only anted up after half a dozen emails pleading that she come.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bill Clinton and the Ground Zero Mosque: A Perfect Fit

by Srdja Trifkovic

Former President Bill Clinton declared his strong support for the Ground Zero mosque in an interview broadcast on September 12. He also suggested a clever new spin to the promoters of the project. Much or even most of the controversy, he said, “could have been avoided, and perhaps still can be, if the people who want to build the center were to simply say, We are dedicating this center to all the Muslims who were killed on 9/11.” Dedicating the mosque to the Muslim victims, he claims, would show that not all Muslims are terrorists: “We’ve all forgotten: There were a lot of Muslims killed on 9/11.”

First a trivial point: according to the Islamic activist sources, which are certain not to offer an underestimate, the number of Muslims killed on 9-11 in all three locations was 31, or about one percent of the total. (That number excludes the perpetrators themselves, but the same sources would claim that, since they were terrorists, they were not true Muslims anyway. Such claims are known as taqiyya.) Thirty one innocent lives is inherently “a lot,” but it is significantly less than three percent, which Islamic activists routinely claim is the share of their coreligionists in the overall population of the United States. There are two possible explanations for the discrepancy: either the activists exaggerate their numbers by some 300 percent, or two-thirds of the potential Muslim victims of 9-11 had been warned of the pending attack and wisely refrained from turning up for work. The gap is even more striking if we consider that the Muslim population of the Tri-State Region is at least twice the national average.

The substantive point concerns a key theological consideration regarding Muslim victims of Jihadist attacks, which Bill Clinton decided to omit from his pitch. He must have done so deliberately: it is inconceivable for a former President—with all the resources of research and expert opinion at his disposal—to make a high-profile pronouncement on the Muslim victims of a Jihadist attack, and yet to be unaware that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, has given an authoritative opinion on the matter. According to Muhammad, any Muslims killed in the course of indiscriminate attacks on “infidel” settlements are to be viewed strictly as collateral damage:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Pakistani Radicals Go Wild After Female Terrorist Sentenced in New York City

Aafia Siddiqui (DOB used: March 2, 1972) is an MIT alumna in biology, originally from Pakistan. She went missing in 2003 and has three children. In August 2008 she was captured outside an Afghan government building with documents giving recipes for explosives and chemical weapons. During questioning by FBI agents and U.S. military officers she grabbed a gun and started firing on the officials. She was shot in the gut by a soldier and started screaming that she wanted to kill Americans. She was brought to New York in August 2008 to face charges.


A New York court’s decision to sentence Pakistani neuro-scientist Aafia Siddiqui with 86 years of imprisonment for shooting at U. S. soldiers in Afghanistan has triggered outrage across the country with protesters taking to the streets in many places. Though the verdict came in around 10 p.m., protesters were up in arms in several cities of the country even as the American-educated neuro-scientist’s mother and sister were on television venting their anger at the American justice system.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. Walks Out as Iran Leader Speaks

UNITED NATIONS — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran made a series of incendiary remarks in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, notably the claim that the United States orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks to rescue its declining economy, to reassert its weakening grip on the Middle East and to save Israel.

Those comments prompted at least 33 delegations to walk out, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, all 27 members of the European Union and the union’s representative, diplomats said.

The annual General Assembly started formally on Thursday, with scores of presidents, kings and ministers expected to address the gathering over the coming week. The speeches often fail to break new ground or lack electricity, so the occasional theatrics inevitably attract considerable attention.

Mr. Ahmadinejad rarely disappoints on that scale, although he seemed to go out of his way to sabotage any comments he made previously this week about Iran’s readiness for dialogue with the United States. The theme of his often flowery speech was that the capitalist world order was collapsing and he cited three examples: the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

He said there were three theories about the origins of the Sept. 11 attacks, including “that some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.”

The United States Mission to the United Nations swiftly issued a terse response. “Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable,” it said in a statement.

It was not the first time Mr. Ahmadinejad espoused the theory, but never before so publicly. “The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view,” he said.

Mr. Ahmadinejad obviously delights in being provocative during his annual visit to the United Nations. He framed his comments about Sept. 11 as an examination of opinions, an approach he has used repeatedly in questioning the Holocaust.

But his assertion that the majority of Americans agree with him surely lacked any factual basis.

[Return to headlines]

Wake Up! He’s a Communist!

Make no mistake: The political struggle currently ensuing in America has long since ceased to be one of well-intentioned citizens disagreeing over policy. This is a matter of devoted, mainstream, well-informed Americans resisting the subjugation of our nation by communist operatives and their coalition of deceived supporters and committed acolytes.


Over the last 20 months, between the actions and policies of the Obama administration and developments that have taken place as a result of same, the background has become very much foreground. The machinations and designs of the administration have carried more urgency, and their words have become shrill. Likewise, terms like “progressive” and “socialist” have increasingly been replaced with “Marxist,” “communist” and “totalitarian” by their opposition.


So is nationalism now more “extreme” than communism? Because nationalism is what we need, and communism is what we’re getting.

You want extremism? How about the president appointing yet another anti-capitalist radical in Elizabeth Warren as the non-titular head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while circumventing Senate confirmation, to occupy an office devoid of political regulation? A woman who claims that capitalism doesn’t work — which admittedly it tends not to when government regulates business into near-insolvency, overtaxes companies and individuals and makes minimum wage demands that artificially drive up consumer prices.


Or, how about Obama signing executive order No. 13544, which officially adopted the Codex Alimentarius, a policy against which business interests have been fighting for decades? This one — a stealth proviso of Obamacare, by the by — is intended to bring access to all vitamins, minerals and natural health remedies and technologies under government control. This means that Washington can now classify all of these as “controlled” — like prescription drugs.

You mean the communists don’t care whether or not the American people want communism? Big shock, huh? Yes, the concepts of liberty, self-determination, and unalienable rights in particular are antithetical to the ideology of these posers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Abba Stars Sue Denmark’s Far-Right

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the Abba stars behind the hit musical Mamma Mia have instructed their lawyers to contact the Danish People’s Party after the far-right party used and changed one of their songs to honour its leader.

Andersson, who last year donated a million kronor ($145,694) to aid the EU election campaign of Sweden’s Feminist Initiative, has reacted angrily to the Danish anti-immigrant party taking liberties with his copyrighted material, reported news agency TT Spectra.

“They can bugger off,” Andersson told the agency.

Björn and Benny’s hit song Mamma Mia is the source of their anger after it given a revamp by the Danish People’s Party youth league in honour of the party leader, Pia Kjærsgaard.

The young nationalists amended the text to “Mamma Pia” and gave the leader a rousing rendition at the party congress, but declined to seek the permission of the Swedes first.

“Firstly, you can not just re-write songs as you like and secondly we want them to understand that we have absolutely no interest in supporting their party,” said Benny Andersson.

The multi-millionaire artists have now instructed their record company Universal to pursue legal action against the party.

Pia Kjærsgaard recently visited Sweden to support the campaign of the Sweden Democrats, speaking at a rally in Höganäs in Skåne. The party has been held up as something of a model for the party, but is not something that the former Abba stars want to be associated with.

“Abba never allows its music to be used in a political context. This is something that we have pointed out to the Danish People’s Party,” Andersson said to TT Spectra.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Finland: Environment Minister Discloses Links to Government-Sponsored Mining Project

Minister of the Environment Paula Lehtomäki has disclosed that her family owns close to 300,000 euros in shares in the Talvivaara Mining Company. Three years ago, the Finnish government decided to invest 60 million euros in infrastructure developments at the Talvivaara nickel mine.

A possible conflict of interest could occur next spring when government is to decide whether or not to grant the company a permit to extract uranium. The mine, which also contains cobalt, is located in Sotkamo, eastern Finland.

Lehtomäki’s husband owns 51,320 shares in the mining company. As of Wednesday’s rate, his shares were worth about 270,000 euros. In addition, Lehtomäki’s two minor children own around 3,550 shares, which are valued at around 19,000 euros. The shares were purchased early this year. Lehtomäki herself does not own a stake in the company.

On Tuesday, Lehtomäki told Parliament of her ties to the company.

She said she was disappointed in the brouhaha that has arisen over the situation. Lehtomäki added that she has not taken part in government decision-making concerning the company this year.

Lehtomäki, a Centre Party MP and former minister of foreign trade and development, was named as environment minister in 2007. During her maternity leave in 2005-06, she was replaced in government by Mari Kiviniemi, who is now prime minister.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Finland: Defence Forces to Recruit Somalis for Peacekeeping Mission

The Finnish Defence Forces plans to recruit Somali men and women living in Finland to serve as interpreters in the Atalanta crisis management operation in the Gulf of Aden. In addition to language skills, the recruits must have military training and be able to handle weapons.

The operation will rely on local interpreters as well as interpreters trained in Finland. The Defence Forces say the interpreters are central to the mission.

“Interpreters’ roles are extremely important. A large number of conflicts and problems arise from misunderstandings due to language. An interpreter will be able to overcome language barriers and improve the group’s safety,” says Joni Lindeman of the Defence Forces.

The Somali League says it is certain the job will attract applicants. This year around 100 Somalis living in Finland have taken part in military training.

The Finnish minelayer Pohjanmaa is to participate in an EU operation to repel pirate attacks on UN ships delivering food aid to Somalia.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Holy See Defends Laundering Probe Bankers

Vatican City, 23 Sept. (AKI) — The Vatican has moved to defend the president and chief executive of its bank, who are involved in a formal money laundering investigation. In a letter to the London-based Financial Times newspaper on Thursday, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said there had been a “misunderstanding” over two disputed money transfers and that it had been cooperating fully with Italian and international authorities.

“The current problem was caused by a misunderstanding (now being examined) between the IOR (Vatican bank) and the bank that received the tranfer order,” Lombardi wrote in the letter.

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported following a tightening of controls by the Bank of Italy.

Police said said on Tuesday they had seized some 23 million euros deposited by the bank at Italy’s Credito Artigiano bank as a precautionary measure and were investigating the Vatican bank’s president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and CEO Paolo Cipriani.

The suspect transactions involved 20 million euros sent to the German bank J.P.Morgan Frankfurt, and three million euros sent to the Banca del Fucino, an Italian bank.

Lombardi said since Gotti Tedeschi’s appointment a year ago he had been working “with great commitment to ensure the transparency of the IOR’s activities” and to put the Vatican on the “white list” of sovereign states deemed compliant with international money laundering norms.

“The Holy See reiterates its complete confidence in the managers of the IOR and its desire for complete transparency in the operations it undertakes,” Lombardi concluded.

The Italian bishops’ conference newspaper Avvenire called the probe “offensive and inexplicable”.

The probe risks straining relations between the Vatican and Italian authorities, especially over the issue of sovereignty and jurisdiction.

It is not the first time that the Vatican bank has been mired in scandal, however.

In November last year, investigators were reported to be probing the Vatican bank for suspected money laundering of 60 million euros via one or more accounts it opened with Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit.

IOR owned a small part of the Banco Ambrosiano and was held partially responsible for the a fraud scandal that led to the bank’s 3.5 billion dollar collapse in 1982. At the time Banco Ambrosiano was then Italy’s largest lender.

The bank was also entangled in the 1990s Enimont corruption trials involving government officials.

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

Netherlands: Indonesian Ambassador ‘Unwise’ To Say PVV Voters May be ‘Psychotic’

PVV leader Geert Wilders has urged the Dutch foreign minister to summon Indonesia’s ambassador to the Netherlands because of his ‘scandalous statements’ about the anti-Islam party and its supporters.

Ambassador Yunus Effendi Habibie says in an interview with Thursday’s Financieele Dagblad that the planned October visit by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhynono would be ‘very much in doubt’ if the PVV is part of the next coalition government.

‘Of course the president will not come here if there is someone in the cabinet who says Islam is backward. I do not want my president to be seen as a clown’ the ambassador told the paper.

The ambassador went on to say that the relationship between the Netherlands and its former colony would be hurt if Wilders joins the government.

And, he suggested, the people who voted for Wilders could be ‘psychotic’


Foreign minister Maxime Verhagen told Nos tv that the ambassador’s words about PVV supporters were ‘unwise’.

‘I did not think it wise how he described the PVV voters,’Verhagen said. ‘An ambassador should not make comments about the electorate.’

Verhagen said he planned to make contact with the ambassador later on Thursday.

Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. Wilders has repeatedly called for a ban on immigration from Islamic countries.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Tongue-in-Cheek Maps of European Stereotypes

Americans think Italy is full of “Godfathers” while for the French we are “Noisy Friendly People”

MILAN — There is a Europe of the common market and continent-wide peace, the Europe of Schengen and open borders. And there is another Europe of enduring stereotypes that survive the centuries. Proof comes from the London-based Bulgarian artist Yanko Tsvetkov, who has mapped some of the stereotypes that have always pervaded the Old World. Tsevtkov’s aim is to describe how the citizens of European Union countries see their neighbours and what was an experiment is now a runaway success with more than half a billion visitors logging on to the artist’s Mapping Stereotypes website to view the cheeky charts.

EUROPE SEEN BY ITALIANS — One of the first maps depicts how Italians see Europe but the overall picture is less than flattering. The only thing Italians know or admire about France is the “Première Dame”. Tsvetkov labels France seen through Italian eyes as the “Bruni Empire”. Our affinities with Spain are acknowledged (“Italian Dialects”) and Portugal is best known to Italians for its South American connections (“Brazil”). Stereotypes abound as we move on to Hungary (“Porn Stars”) and Romania (“Thieves”). Bulgaria means “Babysitters” and the former Yugoslav republics remain “Uncharted”. Russia registers on the Italian map only for “Gazprom”, our supplier of energy for winter heating, and Ukraine is the land of “Women with Braided Hair”. Poland for us will always be a “Papal State”. The United Kingdom means “Wembley Stadium” and Belgium, with its capital Brussels, is “Europe” whereas Holland is know only for “Hemp”. Paraphrasing Orson Welles’ one-liner in The Third Man, Switzerland to Italians means only cuckoo clocks whereas the precision-obsessed Germans are “Clock Addicts”. Sweden for us is “Volvoland”, Finland is the land of cellphone makers, Denmark is full of Vikings and Turkey brims with belly dancers. But perhaps the most penetrating stereotype concerns Italy itself. The country is split in two, the north being labelled the “Italian Republic” and the south “Ethiopia”.

ITALY AS OTHERS SEE US — Italy comes off no better if we look at the maps of the country as seen by other Europeans and Americans. For Americans, Italy is the land of “Godfathers” and for the French, we are “Noisy, Friendly People” while the Germans see us as the home of “Pizza and Museums” and the British bundle us in with the rest of the “Evil Federated Empire of Europe”.


Francesco Tortora

English translation by Giles Watson

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

UK: CCTV of Serial Rape and Murder Suspect

Police hunting for a serial rapist and killer have issued CCTV images of a suspect.

Detectives want to question him about the murder of Michelle Samaraweera, 35, and the rape of three other victims in Walthamstow, East London. Miss Samaraweera was raped and strangled in May, 2009. Her body was found in a park. She was last seen at about 1am doing late-night shopping at a nearby Somerfield supermarket.

The suspect was caught on camera going in and out of the store after Miss Samaraweera went in, and police believe he followed her when she left.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Jobless Couple Demand Bigger Home for Family of Eight

A jobless couple today demanded a bigger council house for their family of six children — all named after celebrities, soap characters and rappers.

Unemployed Wayne and Jenna Sandercock say it is ‘outrageous’ that their local authority won’t give them a bigger home for their brood.

Their latest children, born on September 5, are twins called Roni and Roxi — named after the blonde Mitchell sisters in BBC’s EastEnders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Men Arrested in Gateshead Over Suspected Koran Burning

Six Tyneside men have been arrested after filming themselves apparently burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Police said the men, all from the Gateshead area, were detained after a video appeared on the internet.

They were arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred and released on bail pending further inquiries.

Plans by a US preacher to burn copies of the Koran on 11 September resulted in widespread condemnation.

‘Mutual respect’

In a joint statement, Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council said: “The kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not representative of our community as a whole.

“Our community is one of mutual respect and we continue to work together with community leaders, residents and people of all faiths and beliefs to maintain good community relations.”

Two men were arrested on 15 September and a further four on 22 September.

In the video a group of men are seen pouring fuel over what appear to be copies of the Koran and setting light to them.

Plans by a US preacher Terry Jones to burn copies of the Koran, sparked worldwide protests and brought condemnation from American president Barack Obama.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Police ‘Failing to Tackle Yob Behaviour’

Police are failing to get to grips with neighbourhood yobs because they do not take the problems they cause seriously enough, a report has concluded.

The study says around 14 million incidents of anti-social behaviour take place each year — the equivalent of 26 every minute.

Figures unveiled by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) found that just two in five of those reporting problems were aware of any action being taken in response.

Just over half felt their call had made any difference, the report also revealed.

And the survey of more than 5,000 people who had reported anti-social behaviour (ASB) said one third had been intimidated by yobs as a result of their tip-offs.

It formed part of a wider study that suggested police should stop downgrading calls about ASB and that officers should take to the streets to intervene in problems earlier.

Chief inspector of constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor said combating ASB was not seen as “real police work” and “does not have the same status as ‘crime’ for the police”.

“The public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime,” he said.

“For them, it’s just a sliding scale of grief.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents’ Fury After Police Send Riot Van to Hand Out Parking Tickets Outside Disabled School

Police have been accused of being ‘heavy-handed’ after sending a riot van to hand out parking tickets at a disabled school.

Parents were stunned when the vehicle pulled up as they were helping the children in wheelchairs from the school to their cars.

Officers were accused of being ‘rude’ for dishing out on the spot penalties as they waited at Hilltop Special School in Maltby near Rotherham.

Many of the 90 youngsters at the school are ferried to and fro by council mini buses and taxis — and their drivers were also given stiff warnings.

The tea-time operation left parents and head teacher Peter Leach surprised — but South Yorkshire Police are unrepentant and have vowed to continued to target parents.

One of the victims Dave Phillips was handed a £30 fixed penalty when he stopped for five minutes to pick up his wheelchair bound son Matthew, aged 16.

He had driven 15 miles from his home in Retford, Nottinghamshire, and parked outside the school before being confronted by a police woman.

He said : ‘The police response has been heavy handed — and it’s the kids they are penalising not us. The police behaviour was unpleasant and completely unnecessary.

‘Nine officers and a police van created an intimidating atmosphere around the school. I was approached by a young policewoman who told me to “move” — not “excuse me sir” — it was just a total ignorant attitude .

‘I explained to the officer I was going to park here for five minutes to get my son. I said ‘He’s a wheelchair user and we have got a side loading lift’, — “not my problem” was the reply, “move it” so I said “no, I’m stopping here I’m going to put my son in.”

‘She said: “You shift” and when I pointed to my son in his wheelchair she replied: “Move it.” I refused and she gave me a £30 ticket — but it was her attitude that annoyed me more.

‘I’ve been parking in the same spot for the last 12 years, there are no yellow lines or restrictions to be seen.

‘Nine officers outside a disabled outside a disabled school, it’s disgusting . There was no courtesy, if that’s public policing it’s a disgrace.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Six Arrested After Burning of Koran on 9/11 ‘For the Boys in Afghanistan’ Is Posted Online

Six suspects were seized after allegedly setting fire to the Muslim holy book in the backyard of a pub.

The men, who hid their faces, then posted the video of the burning on the popular website.

In the film the gang are seen gathered round a copy of the Koran in the backyard of The Bugle pub in Leam Lane, Felling, Gateshead.

Appearing with what seems to be tea towels wrapped around their heads, the men show the holy book to the camera before dousing it with fuel from a red can and lighting it.

One man in a grey Adidas tracksuit and white trainers, who has a blue cloth wrapped around his head makes a series of obscene gestures towards the book as it burns.

Laughing, the track-suited gang shouts ‘This is for the boys in Afghanistan. September 11, international burn a Koran day, for all the people of 9/11.

‘This is how we do it in Gateshead, right.’

One man then attempts to add more fuel, but instead sets the plastic petrol can on fire.

He then kicks the book across the yard, leaving a trail of flames which he is forced to hastily stamp out.

Police visited The Bugle last Wednesday after the video was posted online.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of stirring racial hatred, and have since been released on bail.

On Wednesday four more Gateshead men were arrested and bailed. None were charged.

The incident follows tensions in America after an extremist Florida pastor threatened to burn 200 copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

Terry Jones, of the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Centre, was warned by President Barack Obama that the controversial plan could be used to recruit extremists.

The event was eventually called off after U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates personally contacted Jones and told him soldiers serving in Afghanistan would be put at greater risk by his protest.

It does not appear that Jones was ever threatened with arrest, however.

The pastor claimed he had agreed to cancel the event on the condition that controversial plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York were axed.

Claiming ‘victory for America’, he said Muslim leaders had agreed to move the location of the Islamic centre.

But Sharif El-Gamal, who is behind the proposals to build the 13-storey centre near the site where Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 people in 2001, denied that any talks had taken place and said the mosque would go ahead as planned.

Back in Gateshead, a barman at the Bugle, who refused to give his name, said: ‘I had nothing to do with the fire. I smelt the smoke so I went outside to put it out.

‘The police came to the pub and searched it. We were closed for hours.

‘They took my mobile phones, some empty boxes the phones had been in, some CDs and DVDs, and all the tea towels.

‘They arrested me and another man and took us to the station. They were asking questions about who had been burning the book.’

He claimed the pub has been targeted by the police because some customers had links to the English Defence League, a far-Right movement which protests against ‘Muslim extremism’.

Around 30 men mounted a three-hour peaceful protest outside Gateshead Police Station after the initial arrests were made.

In a joint statement, Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council condemned the book burning.

‘The kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not at all representative of our community as a whole,’ said the spokesman.

‘Our community is one of mutual respect and we continue to work together with community leaders, residents and people of all faiths and beliefs to maintain good community relations.’

Police confirmed the arrests were in relation to burning the book, not for making, distributing or watching the video.

‘On Wednesday, September 22, four men from Gateshead were arrested on suspicion of stirring racial hatred,’ a spokesman said.

‘The arrests followed the videotaped burning of what are believed to have been two Korans in Gateshead on September 11.

‘Two other men have previously been arrested and bailed in relation to this incident. Enquiries are ongoing.’

           — Hat tip: DT[Return to headlines]

UK: Shame of Muslim Cleric Who Exposed Himself in Bristol Park

AN imam invited from Libya to preach in Bristol has been jailed after pleading guilty to indecently exposing himself in the city centre.

Bristol magistrates heard Abrahim Ghait, a young imam celebrated for his knowledge of the Koran, exposed himself to a 28-year-old woman in Castle Park as she made her way home from the gym.

He also admitted an allegation that he showed a 12-year-old girl in the park his genitals in a separate incident.

Magistrates sent the 25-year-old, who had come to Britain on a visit to preach during the Muslim festival Ramadan, to prison for six weeks.

But his friend Mohamed El Haddad, the head of the UK Arabic Society which invited the imam to Bristol, said he believed Ghait had only pleaded guilty in the hope that he would get a non-custodial sentence, which would have allowed him to go home to Libya where he had urgent business.

Mr El Haddad said there was no way the imam would have committed the acts, and that it would destroy his future and reputation.

Magistrates were told that Ghait is a famous imam in Libya, lauded for having memorised the entire Koran by the time he was 17 and being able to recite lengthy passages from memory.

They were told that he had been sponsored by the Bristol-based UK Arabic Society to come to the UK and preach at mosques in the city during Ramadan.

Ghait was staying at a flat on Croydon Street in Easton when the incidents happened.

Richard Levene, prosecuting, told the court that on August 13 a 28-year-old woman was walking through Castle Park on her own at 7.45pm, making her way home from the gym. It was alleged she saw Ghait standing behind a bin near a footbridge, and as she walked towards him he stepped out, trousers down and exposing himself. The court was told that despite there being young children nearby he looked at the woman, then down to his exposed groin which he was holding, and then back to the woman, before she walked off and called the police.

Three days later, on August 16, it was alleged he performed a similar act in front of a 12-year-old girl.

The court heard that although Ghait could only speak Arabic, it was claimed he told the girl his genitalia was named “Lexie”.

He was later arrested.

Ghait then appeared before magistrates at a hearing intended to vary his bail application before the case went to trial. But instead he pleaded guilty to two charges under the Sexual Offences Act, of exposing his genitals with intention that someone would see them and be caused alarm or distress.

Sue Cameron, defending, said that Ghait had been through a huge culture shock in coming to the UK, and that he was from a very isolated background in the Libyan desert and didn’t really know much about the world.

The court was told that Ghait was very concerned about people in Libya finding out.

His defence also argued that he had extremely bad piles and was due to have surgery at home.

Magistrates jailed Ghait for six weeks on each charge, with the sentences served at the same time.

He was also put on the Sex Offender Register for seven years.

Ghait was invited to Bristol through the UK Arabic Society to lead prayers during Ramadan for the Somali Muslim community at the St Paul’s Settlement community centre on City Road.

Mr El Haddad and Mrs Cameron told the Evening Post that when Ghait first appeared before magistrates in Bristol on September 2, the bench had strongly indicated that a custodial sentence was unlikely.

Mr El Haddad said Ghait had only pleaded guilty to avoid having to wait in the UK for a trial, which had been due to take place in November, and in the hope of receiving a suspended sentence so he would not have to explain why he was away for so long. He also wanted to get back for his brother’s wedding and to study for a masters degree.

Mr El Haddad added: “The situation is unacceptable and I don’t believe he did it.

“He only pleaded guilty because he wasn’t expecting to go to prison, and because of the pressure on him to go back home quickly.

“There is no way that he would have done something like this. Do you think that a leader of a church would harm its community?

“It was a park, in the middle of the town, in the middle of the day.

“He was here leading people in prayer, it was in Ramadan when he was fasting, and he is not supposed to even look at a woman.

“He is a world-famous imam of a mosque in Libya and has spent 15 years learning the Koran.

“It is destroying the future of a key person. It is crazy, and I just can’t believe it.”

Ghait also visited Bristol to preach in 2007. He is one of 21 imams the UK Arabic Society, a charity, has brought to the UK from Libya in 2010 to preach.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Muslim Brotherhood: We Plan to Participate in Egypt Polls

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main opposition group, does not plan to heed calls for a boycott of November’s parliamentary elections, a senior member of the moderate Islamist movement said on Thursday.

“The official decision has still not been announced by the movement’s political bureau,” but “the plan for the Muslim Brotherhood is to participate in the legislative elections as in all elections,” the group’s spokesman Hamdi Hassan told AFP.

“We have said that we will boycott the vote if there is unanimity among the opposition parties on such a boycott, but this is not the case. Instead, the opposition parties are gradually announcing their planned participation, so the position of the Muslim Brotherhood is to do likewise.”

Hassan said the group planned to field “at least 160 candidates” for the 506 seats being contested, with the number potentially rising to allow members to run for some of the 62 seats reserved for women.

But he warned that if the government ended up “falsifying” the vote there would be “unprecedented violence, because the people no longer fear the security services.”

He also slammed a decision taken three years ago to replace the judges previously responsible for monitoring the polls with appointed officials.

The officially banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood clinched 20 percent of seats in the 2005 legislative polls by running as “independents,” in a surprise win that commentators said rattled the ruling National Democratic Party.

Earlier this month Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear chief turned Egyptian reformer, called for a boycott of the upcoming elections and warned of civil disobedience if demands for political reform are not met.

But the only other party to join him so far is the small al-Ghad party, whose founder Ayman Nur was the sole serious challenger to incumbent Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential election.

Members of Egypt’s liberal Wafd party voted in favour of participating in the November elections at their general assembly on Friday, although 44 percent supported a boycott.

Widespread irregularities were reported during elections in May for the Egyptian parliament’s upper house, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie saying security officials had removed posters of his movement’s candidates and prevented them from campaigning or meeting electors.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Obama Calls for Peace in the ‘Holy Land’ of Israel and Palestine Within a Year

Barack Obama today challenged the UN to push for peace in the Middle East in order to create an independent Palestine and secure Israel within a year.

Exhorting world leaders to push past years of cynicism and pessimism, the U.S. President urged them to press forward with renewed determination.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he admitted the peace process had encountered ‘few peaks and many valleys’.

But he warned that without an agreement, ‘more blood will be shed’ and ‘this Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity’.

As Obama spoke, Israel’s seat in the hall sat empty because it was a Jewish holiday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was present, listening to the president through a translator’s earphone.

Obama’s call for a Palestinian state drew a burst of applause from throughout the hall but his one-year timeline is hugely ambitious.

He made no mention of the militant Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip and refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the administration’s special Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell have been meeting with officials from both sides and other interested parties this week in New York but seem to have made little headway.

Faced with the real possibility of the collapse of negotiations, Obama implored the international community to get behind the idea of peace and forget favoritism to one side or the other.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Stuxnet Computer Worm ‘Targeted Iranian Nuclear Power Station’ In World’s Most Sophisticated Virus Attack

The world’s first cyber ‘super weapon’ may have been designed to attack a nuclear power station in Iran, experts believe.

A computer virus called Stuxnet has been described as the most sophisticated ‘worm’ ever created and has already infected more than 45,000 networks worldwide.

A ‘worm’ is a type of computer virus that can reproduce by sending copies of itself to any PC that is connected to the infected machine.

Now internet security experts fear that Stuxnet, which was first detected in June, is the first ‘worm’ specifically created to target real-world infrastructure such as power stations and water plants.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Supreme Court Orders Ayodhya Mosque Verdict Postponed

(Reuters) — The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Allahabad High Court to delay a potentially explosive verdict on whether Hindus or Muslims own land around the demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

The deferral of the verdict, which many fear could have sparked off religious riots, will be a relief for the government, which already has its hands full dealing with a rebellion in Kashmir and rushing against the clock to set right preparations for the Commonweath Games.

(For slideshow: Ayodhya braces for court Verdict, click here)

The decades-old case over the 16th century Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh state is one of the biggest security challenges in India this year, along with a Maoist insurgency and a Kashmiri separatist rebellion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.

Hindu mobs demolished the mosque in the town of Ayodhya in 1992, claiming it was built on the birthplace of their god-king Rama. The demolition triggered the worst religious riots since partition in 1947, and some 2,000 people died.

The Supreme Court prevented the lower court from delivering the judgement on Friday as originally slated and it is now unclear when the verdict will come.

The top court will now hear an appeal for a stay on the verdict on Sept. 28, filed by a person who said the matter could be settled out of court.

“The petitioner obviously believes that if the Supreme Court lends a helping hand, a soothing touch, it is possible that the warring parties will see reason and try and bring a solution,” Supreme Court lawyer Mukul Rohtagi told reporters.

The oldest of the suits being decided dates back to 1949, and Rama is one of the petitioners. Under Indian law, a deity is a legal person and can own property.


Lawyers for both sides said they were disappointed by the delay, saying the chances of a re(For more news visit Reuters India)conciliation after years of litigation were slim.

“I think that there is no chance of reconciliation,” said Zafaryab Jilani, the lawyer for the Muslim body fighting the case. “Both parties are rigid and ready for the court judgement.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by Ranjana Agnihotri, lawyer for the Hindu litigants, who added: “I think some politicians did not want this judgement to come out.”

Federal and state governments had been on top alert ahead of the verdict, beefing up security and banning public meetings, processions and bulk mobile text messages that could have been used to spread rumours and organise riots.

The verdict could prove a major political quandary for the government led by the Congress Party, a left-of-centre party with secular roots.

A verdict in favour of the Hindus would force the government to uphold the verdict, making it unpopular with Muslims, a key vote bloc.

A ruling for the Muslims would mean the government would have to push Hindu groups out of the site, a political minefield.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

India: Photos: The Awful Squalor Found at the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village as Time Runs Out for Organisers

New pictures released today have revealed the full squalor facing competitors arriving at the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village.

The pictures, taken by a BBC undercover reporter, show dirty bathrooms, exposed electricity cables, bedsheets covered in animal footprints, and flooding in filthy toilets and basins.

An advance party of English athletes is due to arrive in Delhi today despite safety and accommodation concerns that could see the team pull out of the crisis-hit Commonwealth Games, which start on October 3.

On Tuesday, 23 people were injured when a footbridge collapsed and yesterday the ceiling of the weightlifting arena fell in.


Child labourers were photographed yesterday installing seats at main stadium and women carted dirt on their heads as the last minute preparations continued.

The build-up to the October 3 opening ceremony has been plagued by construction delays, allegations of corruption, terror threats, monsoons and an outbreak of dengue fever.

There was more bad news for the organisers yesterday when part of the ceiling of the weightlifting arena fell in just 24 hours after a footbridge — near the Jawaharlal Nehru complex, the centrepiece of the Games — collapsed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Sumatra: Fundamentalists Kill Three Police Officers in Revenge Attack

The authorities confirm that this morning’s attack that left three agents dead was carried out in reprisal for a raid carried out against a group of terrorists last Saturday. Police chief warns that fundamentalists are robbing banks to finance their activities.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Security forces are baffled and outraged by the terrorist attack that claimed the lives of three police officers this morning in northern Sumatra province, a crime that strongly resembles another one that took place in Central a few months ago.

Police spokesman Inspector General Iskandar Hassan said that the attack was closely related to last Saturday’s police raid against a terror group in Aceh.

“About 12 people took part in the attack,” local Police Chief General Oegroseno said, in what amounts to an act of revenge for what happened last week. In any event, it “was unpredictable”.

The Indonesian government reacted angrily to what happened. Security Minister said that all his forces were on alert. “I issued orders to police to hunt them down,” he said, at all costs.

Across the country, the influence of Muslim terrorists appears to be increasing uncontrollably, and bank robberies are becoming the preferred method of self-financing. European terrorist groups had done the same in the 1970s, but for Indonesia, it is something new. Now, General Bambang Hendarso Danurix said, “Fundamentalists are increasingly showing signs that they too are getting into holdups as well”.

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

Latin America

Colombia FARC Rebel Mono Jojoy Killed — Army

BOGOTA, Colombia, Sept 23 (Reuters) — Top Colombian FARC rebel commander Mono Jojoy has been killed in combat, an army spokesman said on Thursday.

The death of Mono Jojoy would be severest strike against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since two top commanders died in 2008. Mono Jojoy, whose other name was Jorge Briceno, was considered the FARC’s top military chief.

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]


Austria: Majority Approve Debate Following Sarrazin’s Claims

A majority of Austrians regard Thilo Sarrazin’s controversial ideas a “justified approach” to re-discuss integration issues, a poll has shown.

Viennese researchers Karmasin found 51 per cent of Austrians said the outgoing Deutsche Bundesbank executive board member’s statements were a good starting point to kick off a discussion about Austrian immigration and integration issues. Only 39 per cent said they did not agree, magazine profil reports today (Mon).

German pollsters said recently six in 10 Germans consider the German Social Democrat’s (SPD) remarks — made in his new book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany Abolishes Itself) — a justified bid to start a fresh debate about immigration and integration of Muslims and other ethnic groups.

Another result of Karmasin’s survey is that 48 per cent of Austrians said Deutsche Bundesbank’s decision to dismiss Sarrazin over his claims were unjustified. Thirty-four per cent said the bank made the right decision.

Sarrazin sparked a Europe-wide debate by claiming willingness to work and intelligence quotient partly depended on people’s ethnic origin. Germany’s Muslim community was especially angered by his statements.

He said: “I don’t have to accept anyone who lives on social benefits, rejects the state (of Germany), does not care properly for the education of his children and permanently produces new headscarf-girls.”

Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache controversially said Sarrazin would deserve asylum in Austria. Strache called on the “Sarrazin hunters” to face reality. “They have no idea what’s going on and dream of an ideal world,” he said.

Strache also advised Social Democratic (SPÖ) Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl to “read Sarrazin’s book carefully”, adding that his party, the FPÖ, has been pilloried as well by pointing out where bad developments occur.

The FPÖ boss claimed the Viennese department has become an “Islamist party”. Häupl hit back by calling Strache “a stupid person”.

The Vienna FPÖ’s poster campaign features slogans such as the SPÖ “protects men who force their women to wear headscarves”.

The right-wing party is tipped to improve its share in the 10 October Vienna city election. It garnered 14.8 per cent in 2005. Pollsters OGM also said the FPÖ’s Styrian branch has the potential to double its share in the provincial ballot of 26 September (2005: 4.6 per cent).

Meanwhile, public opinion research firm IMAS said 42 per cent of Austrians thought foreigners, asylum seekers and immigrants were treated better by authorities than themselves.

           — Hat tip: AMT[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Mosque Trip Violated Rights, Lawyer Says

Threatens to sue Wellesley schools without resolution

A lawyer for the Wellesley mother who allegedly recorded five sixth-grade boys participating in an Islamic prayer service during a school field trip is arguing that taking students to any house of worship violates their civil rights.

Robert N. Meltzer, a Framingham lawyer who specializes in constitutional law, said that when the Wellesley School District took the students to a Roxbury mosque last May, the trip violated the students’ First Amendment rights because they were too young to consent to the religious message. Even if some of the students had not bowed their heads during the prayer service, Meltzer said, the trip would still have been inappropriate.

“We view this as a very simple constitutional law case,” said Meltzer, adding that he will file a federal class-action lawsuit against the school district if the disagreement cannot be resolved. “We believe that a school cannot bring middle-school children to any house of worship. Period.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK’s Homosexual Population Size Revealed: Just 1.5% of Britons Say They Are Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual

Just one in 100 people in the UK say they are gay or lesbian, the first ever survey of British sexual identity has revealed.

A further one in every 200 people are bisexual, according to the data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

More than 480,000 consider themselves to be gay or lesbian and a further 245,000 say they are bisexual.

The data revealed men were twice as likely as women to describe themselves as gay or lesbian while London was revealed to have the highest numbers polled and Northern Ireland the lowest.

[Return to headlines]


F.D.A. And European Regulators Severely Restrict Avandia, Citing Heart Risks

In a highly unusual coordinated announcement, drug regulators in Europe and the United States said Thursday that Avandia, the diabetes medicine made by GlaxoSmithKline, will no longer be widely available.

The drug’s sales will be halted entirely in Europe, and patients in the United States will be allowed to receive it only if they have tried every other diabetes medicine and have been made aware of the drug’s substantial risks to the heart.

The steps all but ensure that sales of Avandia — $1.19 billion last year, and $3.2 billion as recently as 2006 — will plunge to almost nothing as other regulators follow suit.

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So That’s Why Bono Calls it the One Foundation

All this time I thought that maybe ONE was an acronym or something, but it looks like the Bono’s organization is so named because just one percent of the money raised makes it to its promoted destination:

Bono’s anti-poverty foundation ONE is under pressure to explain its lavish salaries after it was revealed that only a small percentage of money it raises reaches the needy.

The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6m in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).

The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1m went towards paying salaries.

So ONE (percent)(tm) paid out around $8 million (US) to employees to monitor the disbursement of about $185,000? How did these guys not end up in charge of the stimulus?

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