Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101206

Financial Crisis
»Croatia: Crisis, Less Pastry Shops More Chocolate
»Greece: Spirit of Zorba Against Austerity
»Italy Struggling and Demoralised, Says Study
»Italy: Inflation and Weak Economy May Shrink Traditional Christmas Meal
»Pressure Mounts to Boost Eurozone Rescue Fund
»Report: Exit Strategies for EU Med Partner Countries
»UK: Middle Class Face £450 VAT Rise: 20% Rate ‘Will Slash Spending Power of Families’
»UK: Proof That Work Just Doesn’t Pay: Child Poverty Among Unemployed Families is Falling … But Increasing in Working Homes
»White House and Republicans Near Sweeping Deal on Tax Cuts, White House Aides Say
»Who Owns America?
 
USA
»Big Sis Invades Walmart- Establishes Christmas Snitch Patrols
»Civil Rights Commission Blasts Justice Department’s Corruption
»FBI Plan to Infiltrate Mosque With ‘Jihad Spy’ Backfires When Muslim Worshippers Throw Him Out for Preaching Violence
»Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Contempt of Congress
»Murdering While Muslim
»Washington Fights to Rebuild Battered Reputation
 
Canada
»ENI-Controlled Saipem Wins €744 Million Canadian Oil-Sands Contract
 
Europe and the EU
»American-Austrian Tensions: US Diplomats Gripe Over Vienna’s Limited World View
»BBC Still Fails on East London Mosque: Lets it Claim Hosting a Terrorist Preacher Was ‘Administrative Oversight’
»French Mother and Son on Trial for Revenge Bank Robberies
»Germany: Flight Bomb Threat Possibly Linked to Vietnamese Deportation
»Global Warming University in Shock Ban on Academic Freedom and Debate
»Italy: Northern League Symbol School Must Wave Italian Flag
»Italy Launches Health Card for Pets
»Leading Rabbi Says Europe Risks Being ‘Overrun’ By Islam
»Malmö Tunnel Provides Shortcut to Copenhagen
»‘No Future for Dutch Orthodox Jews’
»Orthodox Jews Should Leave Holland Because of Anti-Semitism: Bolkestein
»Spain: Zapatero Loses Catalonia, Nationalists Win
»Sweden: Bildt a ‘Medium-Sized Dog’: US Embassy
»Swedish Hunter Shoots Elk, Mistakenly Kills Skier
»Swiss People’s Party to Target Schengen Membership
»Swiss Experts Downplay Assange Asylum Chances
»UK Condemns Leak of ‘Critical Infrastructure’ List
»UK: 13,500 Patients ‘Left to Starve’ On NHS Wards: Elderly Suffering Most as Malnutrition Cases Hit New High
»UK: College Principal James Safo Raped African Student Repeatedly After Threats
»UK: MP Caught in Alleged Honeytrap Defends Decision to Employ Blonde Russian ‘Spy’
»UK: So Why Did the Kremlin Target This Muddled Little Man?
»UK: Who’ll Fear Jail if We Bow the Knee to Men Like This?
»Who’s Afraid of the EDL?
»Wikileaks Reveals Potential Terrorist Targets
»Wikileaks Names Two Italian Sites in Diplomatic Cable
»Wikileaks Goes Underground … in a Bunker Deep in Sweden
»Wikileaks: Swiss Bank Freezes Julian Assange’s Account
 
North Africa
»Copts Rally at Egyptian Supreme Court, Demand Release of Detainees
»Egyptian Bones Could Help Solve Canine Conundrum
»Egypt: It’s 100% Safe to Swim in the Water, Says Egyptian Minister Despite German Tourist Being Eaten by a Shark (And Some People Actually Believe Him)
»‘Mossad May be Behind Egyptian Red Sea Shark Attacks’
»Shark Kills German Woman at Red Sea Resort
»Tunisia: Journalists, 44% Women
 
Israel and the Palestinians
»14 Year-Old Admits to Starting Carmel Fire
»Caroline Glick: Empowering Israelis to Express Themselves
»Dutch MP Wilders and Israeli MK Eldad: Jordan is Palestine
»Fire: Netanyahu Thanks Erdogan After Icy Relations
»Settlements Hold Key to Israel’s Survival: Dutch MP
»Wilders Urges Israel to Build More West Bank Settlements
»Wildfire is Out, Rain Has Come
 
Middle East
»Al Qaeda ‘Frankenbomber’ Plot to Implant Explosives in Suicide Bombers
»Cables Reflect Tensions Over Terrorism Funding
»Gulf Arabs Meet Amid Alarm Over Iran Atomic Plans
»Interview With Saudi Prince Turki Bin Faisal: ‘America’s Credibility is the Victim of These Leaks’
»Iraq: Two More Christians Murdered Overnight in Baghdad
»Saudi Arabia: Women and Fatwa, New Controversy
»Turkey Close to Launch Nuclear Project With Russia
»Turkey: Artist Makes Love With Partner in Performance in Istanbul
 
South Asia
»British Soldier Killed by Friendly Fire From U.S. Aircraft in Afghanistan
»Cleric Puts Price on Head of Pakistani Woman
»Pakistan: At Least ‘50’ People Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack
»Pakistan: Lahore High Court Issues Stay Order in Asia Bibi’s Appeal Against Blasphemy Sentence
 
Far East
»An American Portrait of China’s Next Leader
»Japan: Super Rubber Made of Nanotubes Stretches Like Elastic, Oozes Like Honey
»‘True Democracy’ Within China’s Politburo?
 
Immigration
»Flanders: Roma Story Shocks Mr Bourgeois
»Italy: Two Separate Tragedies Raise Gusts of Intolerance
»UK: MP’s Russian Aide Spy Suspect to Fight Deportation Bid
 
Culture Wars
»Switzerland: Teddy Bear to Trigger Emotions in Gun Law Vote
 
General
»Cancun, A Case of Lowered Expectations
»Computer Games Are Addictive and Use Psychological Ploys First Tested on Lab Rats
»U.S. Strains to Stop Arms Flow
»‘Warmest Year on Record?’ the Truth is Global Warming Has Halted
»Wikileaks and Claim of Warmest Year on Record, Expose Climate Criminality
»Wikileaks Will Release Encrypted ‘Doomsday File’ If Site Blocked

Financial Crisis

Croatia: Crisis, Less Pastry Shops More Chocolate

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 30 — The economic crisis and the drop in purchasing power in Croatia is also affecting the consumption of chocolate, the sale of which increased by 10% in one year.

According to statistical data distributed today, Croatians are increasingly staying out of pastry shops, but still have a sweet tooth and are eating more chocolate. Plain chocolate registered the greatest increase in sales (23%9 because it is the most suitable to bake cakes and candy at home. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Greece: Spirit of Zorba Against Austerity

Eleftherotypia, 02 December 2010

The composer Mikis Theodorakis, a symbol of the Greek uprising in 1974 against the “Colonels’ Regime”, has come out swinging against the austerity plan that’s supposed to re-establish fiscal order in Greece. “Disobey the government’s decision,” says the man who wrote the music to Zorba the Greek. Today’s edition of the left-wing daily Eleftherotypia leads with that slogan, and reports that Theodorakis has started up an “independent citizens’ movement called Spitha to put up direct resistance to the pressure from the US, IMF and EU”. The composer feels “we’re ceding national sovereignty to foreign powers” and envisages “a movement to help Greeks express their concerns and work up ideas on how to face the crisis”, explains Eleftherotypia.

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


Italy Struggling and Demoralised, Says Study

Society ‘marked by emptiness’ according to Censis

(ANSA) — Rome, December 3 — Italy was portrayed as demoralised and in decline in social and economic thinktank Censis’s annual report on the state of the nation, released on Friday.

It said Italy had endured the recession with “an evident struggle to get by and with painful marginalization in the labour market”.

The report added that almost 40% of Italians had no savings and that 91% of families with a single breadwinner who was unemployed were at risk of poverty.

The thinktank said Italian society had become too apathetic and needed to rediscover its “desire” to be able to avert a “parallel decline” of motivation and respect for the law.

“We are in a society dangerously marked by emptiness,” the report said, citing episodes of domestic violence, bullying, promiscuity, petty crime and overspending as examples of how Italians are seeking to deal with a widespread malaise.

Over two-thirds of Italians, 68%, were either worried (28%) or very worried (40%) about not having a big-enough pension for a dignified lifestyle when they retire.

The report conceded that the state of Italy’s public finances, with the government passing a hard-hitting austerity budget earlier this year to rein in the deficit, made addressing these issues even harder. Senate Speaker Renato Schifani said the report highlighted the complexities of the current social and economic climate and the need for legislators to be brave enough to make “profound choices” in parliament. Consumer associations Federconsumatori and Adusbef said the study portrayed a “distressing” picture, adding that they calculated Italian consumers’ spending power had fallen 9.6% since 2007.

They pinned the blame on the country’s political class and said the current instability made things even worse, with a confidence vote due on December 14 that could cause Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government to fall.

The associations said whoever is in charge after the confidence vote must take urgent measures to revive the economy and invest in research and innovation.

Censis Director General Giuseppe De Rita, meanwhile, suggested Berlusconi should do more to encourage Italians to take their destinies into their own hands.

“A leader should restore the Italian people’s sense of responsibility,” De Rita said.

“Young people looking for work think leaders should solve their problems. Instead, it’s necessary to tell them to put in more effort, work harder and get involved in the destinies of our companies”. It was not a totally grim picture though.

Italy’s research sector and its much-maligned civil service were presented as sources of hope by Censis.

“Universities and research centres can play an important role (in boosting growth),” the report said.

“They are adapting to the scarcity of public resources and are trying to go it alone, including via the creation of highly innovative companies”.

The thinktank said Italian universities had managed to increase the amount of funding devoted to research in the 2004-08 period by over 68% despite reductions in public money.

Italian students have carried out a series of chaos-sowing demonstrations in recent weeks against a government reform package in parliament they say will strangle the nation’s higher education, while the government argues it will boost efficiency and reward merit.

Censis added that the civil service, seen by many in Italy as bloated and underperforming, could also be a “driving force for innovation” thanks to the introduction of new computerized processes for members of the public and enterprises. The nation’s voluntary sector is another strong point, Censis said, with over a quarter of Italians saying they do voluntary work.

It said 26% of people donate some of their time to help fellow members of their community and over a third of them, 34%, were young people under 30 years of age.

Helping out at hospitals and clinics and providing assistance to the elderly and disabled in their homes are two of the most common forms of voluntary work, it said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Inflation and Weak Economy May Shrink Traditional Christmas Meal

(AKI) — Lacklustre economic growth and the rising cost of food will prompt the cuisine-conscious Italians to trim more than a Christmas tree this year. Cash-strapped Italian families are expected to save money by reducing the the trimmings on their tables during their traditional Christmas meals, according to a report by Rome-based consumer advocacy group Adoc.

“Higher prices will force one family out of three to forego the dinner, drastically changing the menu, perhaps transforming it to a smaller-than-normal holiday meal by buying quality over quantity,” said Adoc president Carli Pileri in the report.

Inflation has pushed up food prices 3.4 percent compared with last holiday season, according to Adoc, with the cost of some Christmas food items jumping much more. An Italian would pay 13 percent more this year for Panettone, a traditional Christmas cake. Dried dates cost 17 percent more, the price of salmon, often eaten on Christmas eve, has risen an average of 12.1 percent, while risotto will cost more with the price of rice advancing 20 percent.

Italy’s economic output should grow only 1.1 percent next year and expand 1.4 percent in 2011, according to a forecast by the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. The Commission forecast Italian growth to be 0.5 percent lower than the average of the EU member countries. Exports will be the “principle vehicle” for Italy’s “moderate” growth, the EC said.

Italy’s economy contracted 5.1 percent in 2009 amid the harshest economic slowdown in more than six decades.

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


Pressure Mounts to Boost Eurozone Rescue Fund

Belgium, the current EU presidency, has called for an increase in the funds available from the eurozone’s rescue fund, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) making similar calls.

Speaking on Saturday (4 December) to reporters, Belgian finance minister Didier Reynders issued the suggestion just as the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank were making similar calls.

“I’m in favour of an increase in the permanent mechanism but if it’s possible to do that earlier, why not?” Mr Reynders told Brussels reporters.

He added that he saw no “real difficulty until 2013 for the current facility.”

However, he added that the existing pool of resources should be expanded by “a huge amount of money, because if we don’t do that, you always have speculation.”

The IMF has urged the EU to hike its bail-out fund, Reuters reports, based on a document from the international lender it has seen. Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the ECB, also said on Friday that the EU should boost its €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility.

There are growing concerns that while there will be enough cash that can be lent to Ireland and Portugal, a Spanish bail-out would breach the lending ceiling.

EU finance ministers are due to meet Monday and Tuesday to discuss the rapid deterioration in recent days in the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, a break-down that has only worsened despite the announcement of an €85 billion rescue for Ireland.

The ministers are expected to focus their talks on the Irish situation and give the green light to the package, but worries about both Portugal and Spain will also be discussed.

On Sunday, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr Trichet and economics commissioner Olli Rehn held talks to discuss the growing crisis.

Separately, the head of the eurozone and Luxembourg’s prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker and Italian finance minister wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times on Monday arguing it was time for the launch of European bonds, a move, they said that would finally send a message to the markets that European leaders would do whatever it takes to defend the euro currency.

Eyes this week will also be turning once again to Greece.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou will speak to Mr Barroso about extending the payment period for its €110 billion loan agreed in May.

Other European leaders have made positive noises about extending the schedule, but the request comes at a difficult time for the country.

Monday is the two-year anniversary of the murder of Greek teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police officer, an event that kicked off riots across the country that lasted for three weeks.

Students and other young people have announced a series of demonstrations in 17 cities while the police on Sunday announced the arrest of six individuals after having discovered a series of caches of guns and explosives.

Two of the suspects were wanted by the police in connection with the militant anarchist group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, allegedly the perpetrators of a letter bomb campaign against EU targets in November.

The government has also instituted a 21-hour traffic ban on all cars in central Athens ahead of the demonstrations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Report: Exit Strategies for EU Med Partner Countries

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 3 — After a decade of economic growth averaging 4 to 6% a year in the Mediterranean partner countries, the recession in the developed countries (especially Europe) affected them, with a sharp drop in external demand and international financial flows. In total, GDP growth was reduced to 3.7% in 2009.

Now it is time to make exit strategies, according to a study commissioned by the European Investment Bank (EIB) from the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Science Institutes (FEMISE), and published by the Enpi website (www.enpi-info.eu). According to the report, as the world emerges from the crisis, the partner countries have a twofold challenge: convergence with the northern Mediterranean countries, and the creation of jobs to cater for the 60 million people who will be entering the labour market by 2030 (which implies an annual growth rate of 7 to 8%). In this context, the Mediterranean partners must define a global strategy based on further opening their economies internationally, developing new activities and focusing on more inclusive growth that will work towards a reduction of inequalities. Three levers are identified as particularly important: progress towards South-South integration, in order to offer investors a market with, potentially, more than 200 million consumers; continuing to improve the business climate and creating an environment conducive to private investment; systematically targeting FDI that leads to transfers of technology and high value added specialisation for local SMEs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Middle Class Face £450 VAT Rise: 20% Rate ‘Will Slash Spending Power of Families’

The New Year’s rise in VAT will cost the average middle-class family up to £448 a year, a report by a leading economist claims today.

The hike is the equivalent of a £2billion overall loss in disposable income and will affect many households ‘harder than they expect’, a study into the impact of the tax rise has warned.

VAT goes up from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent on January 1. The rise was announced in June’s Emergency Budget by Chancellor George Osborne.

In his report HSBC’s chief economist Dennis Turner describes the policy as ‘ambitious, not to mention risky’.

He said the VAT rise would see the average family lose £225 a year in spending power.

But for middle-class families, the average loss could be almost double that figure.

Mr Turner concluded: ‘The UK is likely to suffer another collective financial headache owing to the January 2011 rise in VAT. Not only will household expenditure on goods subject to the sales tax rise by more than £6billion, consumers will also face a drop of more than £2billion in discretionary income.’

This would affect married pensioners or young couples with no dependants the most, he warned.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Proof That Work Just Doesn’t Pay: Child Poverty Among Unemployed Families is Falling … But Increasing in Working Homes

Child poverty is rising among working families while generous benefits cut it for the unemployed, a report has revealed.

The study by the respected Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an indictment of Labour’s record in power — and casts doubt on the Coalition’s ability to deliver its pledge to ‘make work pay’.

It reveals that while the policy of lavishing benefits on the unemployed has helped tackle some aspects of child poverty, many working families have fallen behind.

Child poverty in workless families fell in 2008/9 to 1.6million, despite the impact of the recession.

But during the same period child poverty among working families rose to 2.1million — the highest on record.

The figures continue a trend that began five years ago and mean that 58 per cent of children in poverty now live in homes where at least one parent works.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


White House and Republicans Near Sweeping Deal on Tax Cuts, White House Aides Say

The White House and Congressional Republicans are near a deal on sweeping tax legislation, including an extension of the Bush-era tax rates for all income levels. The deal would also include a one-year reduction in payroll taxes for workers, administration aides said.

[Return to headlines]


Who Owns America?

Lincoln said: “The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but is the Government’s greatest creative opportunity…”

On February and March, 1862, and March 1863, Lincoln received Congressional approval to borrow $450 million from the people by selling them bonds, or “greenbacks”, to pay for the Civil War. They were not redeemable until 1865, when three could be exchanged for one in silver. They were made full legal tender in 1879.

Thus, Lincoln solved America’s monetary crisis without the help of the International Bankers, thereby enraging them.

The London Times later raged about Lincoln’s greenbacks: ‘If that mischievous financial policy which had its origin in the North America Republic during the late war in that country, should become indurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off its debts and be without debt. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.’ “

In 1876 the German Chancellor Bismarck said about Lincoln: “He obtained from Congress the right to borrow from the people by selling to it the ‘bonds’ of States…and the Government and the nation escaped the plots of the foreign financiers. They understood at once, that the United States would escape their grip. The death of Lincoln was resolved upon.”

Lincoln himself once said: “The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few and the Republic is destroyed…I feel at the moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”

[…]

On June 10, 1932, McFadden, said in an address to the Congress: “We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks… Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are not Government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers… The Federal Reserve Banks are the agents of the foreign central banks…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

Big Sis Invades Walmart- Establishes Christmas Snitch Patrols

WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department’s national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country—launching a new partnership between DHS and Walmart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

“Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Civil Rights Commission Blasts Justice Department’s Corruption

An interim report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights blasts Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department for stonewalling an investigation into the DOJ’s handling of a civil rights case involving the New Black Panthers and allegations of voter intimidation.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Friday released its report on the Justice Department’s commitment to even-handed enforcement of the civil rights laws entitled “Race Neutral Enforcement of the Law? DOJ and the New Black Panther Party Litigation: An Interim Report.” The news media’s silence on the report is deafening and deserving of a separate investigation, according to enforcement officials.

The Commission on Civil Rights investigated an incident that occurred in Philadelphia during the 2008 presidential election in which two New Black Panther Party members stood at the entrance to a polling place in full paramilitary garb shouting racial slurs, one of them brandishing a police baton commonly known as a nightstick.

[…]

The Justice Department’s efforts to stonewall the Civil Rights Commission’s investigation were largely successful until two career staff attorneys testified before the Commission in defiance of the Department’s ban, at great professional risk to themselves.

These individuals, Christopher Coates and J. Christian Adams, both testified that the Department’s reversal of the New Black Panther Party litigation reflected a culture within the Justice Department that believes voting rights laws should not be enforced in a race-neutral fashion. Both witnesses testified that some DOJ personnel refused to work on voting cases in which the defendant was black and the victim white, and that those who worked on such cases suffered harassment within the Department.

Mr. Coates further testified that current political appointees have openly stated their opposition to race-neutral enforcement of voting rights laws, testimony that remains unchallenged by the Department.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


FBI Plan to Infiltrate Mosque With ‘Jihad Spy’ Backfires When Muslim Worshippers Throw Him Out for Preaching Violence

An FBI informer sent to infiltrate a California mosque was made the subject of a restraining order after scaring Muslim worshippers with demands for holy war.

Craig Monteilh was known to members of the Irvine Islamic Center as Farouk al-Aziz, an apparently devout and at times over-zealous Muslim.

But when he began speaking of jihad and plans to blow up buildings, senior figures at the mosque reported him the FBI — the very people who sent him.

Now the FBI is facing criticism for its use of such stooges which have backfired in a number of cases.

The law enforcement agency’s problems have been confounded after Monteilh, a petty criminal with forgery convictions, went public with claims he received $177,000 tax free in 15 months for his work.

Shakeel Syed, of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California which represents more than 75 mosques told the Washington Post: ‘The community feels betrayed.

‘They got a guy, a bona fide criminal, and obviously trained him and sent him to infiltrate mosques.

‘And when things went sour, they ditched him and he got mad. It’s like a soap opera, for God’s sake.’

The emergence of details of the FBI’s attempted infiltration comes after an Oregan man was arrested for planning to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

An explosive device he was discovered in possession of had been supplied to him by an undercover FBI agent and was made by FBI technicians in a case of apparent entrapment.

The FBI defended its tactics, claiming such operations had prevented further terrorist atrocities in the wake of 9/11.

Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said that in certain circumstances, if there is evidence of a crime, FBI agents may ‘conduct an activity that might somehow involve surveillance in and about a mosque.’

He added: ‘I know there’s a lot of suspicion that that’s the focus, that we’re looking at the mosques, monitoring who is coming and going. That’s just not the case.’

Monteilh claims he was already working for the FBI when he was approached about infiltrating mosques and was told ‘Islam is a threat to our national security’.

He agreed and became Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle, a French Syrian in search of his Islamic roots.

He was trained by the FBI and claims he was told to infiltrate mosques in Orange County and two other counties.

Worshippers said that in Monteilh’s 10 months at the mosque, he became almost manic in his devotion, attending prayers five times a day but he was secretly recording conversations.

However, when he began to tell Muslims he had access to weapons they became convinced he was a terrorist and ironically reported the informant to the FBI.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Contempt of Congress

Even for a man known for his arrogance, Barack Obama’s treatment of the Senate in connection with the New START Treaty is astounding. His demand that Senators approve this defective accord during the few days remaining in the lame-duck session amounts to contempt of Congress. It must not be tolerated, let alone rewarded.

To be sure, Mr. Obama is not the first chief executive to hold the legislative branch in low esteem. Still, his highhandedness when it comes to the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to play a real role in treaty-making seems particularly contemptuous, and contemptible.

The Obama administration’s insistence that Senators accede to his efforts to relegate them to rubber-stamps is without precedent. As a bipartisan group of fifteen former senators recently observed, never before in the history of the U.S. Senate has the deliberation and vote on an arms control agreement been truncated by their being conducted during a lame-duck session.

The effort to ram the treaty through before Christmas is no more justified than it is precedented. The claim being made by the administration and its surrogates that uncertainty about Russian activities necessitates such haste is laughable. President Obama himself is responsible for allowing previous verification arrangements to lapse. He did so over a year ago and seemed untroubled until now about there being no monitoring systems in place. And the insights this accord’s limited inspection and monitoring arrangements will afford are hardly up to the job of detecting the Kremlin’s inveterate cheating and other strategically ominous developments…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Murdering While Muslim

With no faith of their own, the idea that the terrorists are motivated by religion never seems credible to the politically correct.

Recently a nice Muslim fellow from Chicago by the name of Mohammad Alkaramla was convicted of sending bomb threats to a Jewish High School. Like most serial killers, his neighbors described him as peaceful and friendly. Just the sort of chap you want to invite to a barbecue or a bombing. His defense was that he wasn’t threatening to kill Jewish students because he was the follower of a bigoted religion, but because he was upset over his ex-wife leaving to return home to Jordan.

Mohammad Alkaramla joins a long list of Muslim terrorists who did what they did only because of “personal problems”. There was that great guy with the Facebook profile who only tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square because of a home foreclosure. And a devoted army psychiatrist in Fort Hood who tried to kill a bunch of soldiers because he had contradicted PTSD from the drinking water in Texas. But the media was quick to assure us in every case, that these weren’t Muslim terrorists. Just distraught homeowners and workplace shooters who happened to be “Murdering While Muslim”.

But Mohammad didn’t threaten violence against his ex-wife’s lawyer or Royal Jordanian Airlines. Instead he threatened to blow up a Jewish High School which in all likelihood had nothing to do with his ex-wife leaving him. Instead his message read, “Will Give You until 01.15.2009 to back OFF from Gaza in Palestine or will set our explosive in your areas”. This was not the message of an angry ex-husband, but of an angry Muslim.

In one of the more ridiculous defenses, his father claimed that Mo A. was worried about his wife and son living near Gaza. “He went crazy like with stress. … He thinks Gaza is by Jordan. All he knows is what he sees on the TV.” There’s just one problem with this defense. Mohammad Alkaramla is actually from Jordan. So for this to be true, Mohammad would have to be clueless about the nearby geography of his own country. And since most Jordanians are actually Palestinian Arabs, and Jordan at one point annexed the West Bank, but not Gaza, this is one of the least plausible defenses ever.

But apparently we’re expected to believe that Mohammad could take the time to research Jewish targets for his hate—but not the area where his wife and son were going to be living.

[…]

Authorities, who still pretend that being a Muslim is a somehow incidental factor to engaging in Muslim terrorism.

The best ally of such defense strategies is that “Murdering While Muslim” is also the official position of the authorities, who still pretend that being a Muslim is a somehow incidental factor to engaging in Muslim terrorism. Accordingly we don’t profile Muslims at airports, because absolutely anyone could be a Muslim terrorist. Except an actual Muslim. And so we strip search Christian 6 year olds just to be on the safe side. The safe side being the side that doesn’t offend Muslims, who are not by any means the people trying to blow up the planes.

Muslim terrorists are just people who happen to commit acts of Muslim terrorism for various personal reasons, while incidentally also being Muslim. Much like Communist agents spied for the Soviet Union, while incidentally also being Communists. When the evidence is undeniable and the terrorists themselves insist on quoting the Koran and telling us that we’re all going to perish in the wrath of Allah’s suicide bombing fires, then the media is forced to concede that maybe they might be Muslims after all. But troubled and confused Muslims who misunderstand their religion in response to personal stress.

Conversely, people who attack Muslims are never assumed to be anything other than rabid bigots seething with hate. Muslim cabbie slasher Michael Enright was an arts student with a drinking problem, and he was so drunk that after the attack he sat down in the middle of traffic. According to a police report, he was highly intoxicated and had an empty bottle of scotch on him. His friends said that he was not anti-Muslim in any way. But the media has never stopped framing the narrative in one way.

[…]

When Faishal Shazhad, that nice guy with the Facebook profile who tried to kill hundreds of people in Times Square, appeared in court, he blew away the media narrative that he was a terrorist because he was angry at his home foreclosure. And so the judge in the case was reduced to debating the Koran with him, and telling a devout Muslim that she knows his religion, better than he does. That sad conclusion highlighted the extreme level of liberal denial of Islamic terror. A denial so pervasively repressive that rather than accept the truth of Islamic terror for what it is, they will actually argue with Muslims terrorists, trying to convince them that they don’t know their own religion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Washington Fights to Rebuild Battered Reputation

Few leaks have ever caused so much anger and shock as the publication of the US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been trying to repair the damage done to Washington’s reputation, while some on the right have even called for Julian Assange’s execution. By SPIEGEL Staff.

Her face has seemed frozen in place for days. She looks peaked, thin-lipped and serious, very serious. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently enduring the consequences of what is probably the biggest indiscretion in the history of diplomacy, and it shows.

Clinton, who has embarked on a damage-control trip around the world, sharply condemned the publication of the embassy cables by the website WikiLeaks, calling it a “very irresponsible, thoughtless act that put at risk the lives of innocent people all over the world.”

“Secretary Clinton is literally working night and day in conversations with countless leaders around the world to try as best we can not only to express regret but to work through these issues,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns told US lawmakers. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said he would be “very surprised if some people don’t lose their lives” as a result of the leaks.

In the Spotlight

On Wednesday of last week, Hillary Clinton was in the Kazakh capital Astana for a long-planned summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It was her first major appearance on the international stage in the wake of the leaks, and she knew that it could be an embarrassing one.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the 70-year-old ruler of Kazakhstan, was standing on a large stage in the Palace of Independence, waiting for 38 heads of state, as well as other senior politicians from around the world. He was the host of the event, the first OSCE summit since 1999. The head of each delegation had to walk up a small staircase onto the stage to shake the Kazakh autocrat’s hand.

Finally it was Hillary Clinton’s turn. Wearing a dark-blue suit, she climbed up the stairs and walked toward Nazarbayev, smiling broadly. As she stood on the stage with Nazarbayev, Clinton knew that the spotlight was on her, as the head of the US State Department, the government agency responsible for writing so many unflattering psychological profiles and political assessments of politicians worldwide.

Some of the people Clinton’s ambassadors wrote about were now sitting in the room in front of her. They included Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, whom the diplomats characterized as “pale and hesitant” and likened to a comic-book character, and the president of Turkmenistan, who, according to the cables, is “a practiced liar” and “not very bright”.

Host Nazarbayev is apparently fond of warm weather, has about 40 horses in his stable and owns a palace in the Arab Emirates. Nazarbayev has already told the Americans that he will get over the revelations…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Canada

ENI-Controlled Saipem Wins €744 Million Canadian Oil-Sands Contract

Milan, 3 Dec. (AKI) — Eni-controlled Saipem, the oilfield services company, won a C1 billion dollar (744 million euro) contract to develop plants that extract oil contained in Bituminous sands — commonly known as oil sands — in Canada.

The contract was awarded by Canada’s Husky Energy for the Sunrise Energy Project, Milan-based Saipem said on Friday in a statement.

The contract is for the engineering, procurement and construction of two plants that will produce a total of 60,000 barrels per day of bitumen, Milan-based Saipem said today in a stock exchange statement.

The first oil is expected to be processed in 2014.

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

Europe and the EU

American-Austrian Tensions: US Diplomats Gripe Over Vienna’s Limited World View

American diplomats in the Austrian capital expressed “frustration,” extreme disappointment and concern about the country’s politicians. Cables obtained by SPIEGEL indicate deep dissatisfaction in Washington about the limited interest Austria’s chancellor and foreign minister have apparently had for foreign policy.

Around 1,700 of the reports written by the US Embassy in Vienna, which were provided to SPIEGEL, indicate that the relationship between the United States and Austria was tense in recent years. In the cables, the US diplomats repeat several times that they were “frustrated,” “extremely disappointed” or “concerned” about their Austrian counterparts.

Referring to Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, they write: “It has become clear that Faymann has no personal interest in foreign affairs.” In the US diplomats’ view, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger “has seemed to focus largely on economic penetration” for Austrian business interests. Defense Minister Norbert Darabos, the cables continue, is not just “uninterested in foreign and international security policy,” but is also “openly hostile to deploying Austrian troops on dangerous missions abroad.”

In addition to offering negative assessments of Austrian politicians, the cables reveal a number of issues that contributed to tensions, including Austria’s refusal to accept any prisoners released from the Guantanamo detention camp and the business relations between a few Austrian companies and Iran and North Korea. The cables repeatedly mention the state-owned energy company OMV, firearms manufacturer Steyr-Mannlicher and the Raiffeisen Banking Group.

In 2006, two representatives of Raiffeisen Bank were asked to explain to the US Embassy their role as trustees for a natural gas deal with the Russian-Ukrainian joint venture RosUkrEnergo. According to the report, the two managers said that “Russian and Ukrainian leaders were fully involved … Putin and Yushchenko know everything about (the) RUE” gas deal. The US ambassador criticizes the Austrians’ role in the deal, saying: “It was hard not to suspect that the Trusteeship was simply a fig leaf to cover an unsavory arrangement.”

On the whole, the US diplomats conclude that in their host country there is a “gap between Austria’s self-proclaimed vision of itself in the world, and its increasingly limited performance.”

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


BBC Still Fails on East London Mosque: Lets it Claim Hosting a Terrorist Preacher Was ‘Administrative Oversight’

As I’ve noted, the BBC has this year broadcast a couple of programmes that were essentially propaganda for the hardline East London Mosque. The programmes faithfully followed the mosque’s PR script that it is a beacon of liberalism and tolerance; only mosque officials and supporters were interviewed. The substantial evidence of the East London Mosque’s links with extremist and hate preachers was entirely ignored, and the mosque’s many critics, Muslim and non-Muslim, were nowhere to be heard. Yesterday, Radio 4’s Sunday programme aired a report marking the mosque’s centenary and, in the words of the presenter, “sharing in the celebrations of the worshippers.” This time the BBC did a little better. They did, at least, interview one solitary critic, Delwar Hussain, sandwiched among three mosque supporters. They raised the mosque’s most controversial visitor, Anwar al-Awlaki, the terrorist preacher linked to at least eight attacks, including 9/11. However, adequate journalism this was not. Here is the BBC’s version of the most recent Awlaki meeting at the mosque, in January 2009: “Reporter: In recent years [the mosque] has been the focus of some criticism, hosting as it does other Muslim groups not formally part of the East London Mosque itself. And that, says Dilowar Khan [director of the mosque], is why an administrative oversight occurred recently, allowing the recorded sermon to be heard, on their premises, given by the radical Islamist and alleged inspiration behind a number of terrorist attacks, Anwar al-Awlaki. Booking procedures, says Mr Khan, have now been tightened. Dilowar Khan, mosque director: It needs to be noted that the mosque actually condemned the views of Anwar al-Awlaki — on record, on our website, you would see that, when he supported the shooting at Fort Hood [after the meeting at the mosque]. That was the time it became apparent to most of the Muslims that his views are not compatible with the Muslims in the West.” For Mr Khan to claim that Awlaki’s booking was an “administrative oversight” and that nobody knew of Awlaki’s views at the time is, like many claims made by the East London Mosque, simply untrue. Five days before Awlaki was due to speak there (not juAs I’ve noted, the BBC has this year broadcast a couple of programmes that were essentially propaganda for the hardline East London Mosque. The programmes faithfully followed the mosque’s PR script that it is a beacon of liberalism and tolerance; only mosque officials and supporters were interviewed. The substantial evidence of the East London Mosque’s links with extremist and hate preachers was entirely ignored, and the mosque’s many critics, Muslim and non-Muslim, were nowhere to be heard. Yesterday, Radio 4’s Sunday programme aired a report marking the mosque’s centenary and, in the words of the presenter, “sharing in the celebrations of the worshippers.” This time the BBC did a little better. They did, at least, interview one solitary critic, Delwar Hussain, sandwiched among three mosque supporters. They raised the mosque’s most controversial visitor, Anwar al-Awlaki, the terrorist preacher linked to at least eight attacks, including 9/11. However, adequate journalism this was not. Here is the BBC’s version of the most recent Awlaki meeting at the mosque, in January 2009: “Reporter: In recent years [the mosque] has been the focus of some criticism, hosting as it does other Muslim groups not formally part of the East London Mosque itself. And that, says Dilowar Khan [director of the mosque], is why an administrative oversight occurred recently, allowing the recorded sermon to be heard, on their premises, given by the radical Islamist and alleged inspiration behind a number of terrorist attacks, Anwar al-Awlaki. Booking procedures, says Mr Khan, have now been tightened. Dilowar Khan, mosque director: It needs to be noted that the mosque actually condemned the views of Anwar al-Awlaki — on record, on our website, you would see that, when he supported the shooting at Fort Hood [after the meeting at the mosque]. That was the time it became apparent to most of the Muslims that his views are not compatible with the Muslims in the West.” For Mr Khan to claim that Awlaki’s booking was an “administrative oversight” and that nobody knew of Awlaki’s views at the time is, like many claims made by the East London Mosque, simply untrue. Five days before Awlaki was due to speak there (not just by “recorded sermon,” by the way; there was also a “live telephone Q&A”) this newspaper alerted the mosque to the fact that Awlaki had been described by the US under-secretary for intelligence, in a speech more than two months before, as a spiritual leader of two of the 9/11 hijackers. His links with terrorism had in fact been endlessly publicised, including in Parliament, from about 2003 onwards. The mosque ignored us and allowed the meeting (which was advertised with a poster showing New York under bombardment) to proceed. Even as recently as six weeks ago, the chairman of the mosque and Mr Khan’s boss, Mohammed Abdul Bari, continued to defend not cancelling the meeting and allowing Awlaki to speak. On two earlier occasions, one of them at the mosque, Awlaki was also hosted by a group which very much is “formally part of the East London Mosque” — the Islamic Forum of Europe, the hardline Islamic supremacist body which controls the mosque and of whom no mention whatever was made by the BBC. A senior official in the IFE wrote in 2008 of his “love” for Awlaki. The BBC could and should have checked all this in five minutes on Google — my own recent post on the matter has links to all the relevant primary sources. And if it had caught Mr Khan out in that lie, perhaps it might have raised doubts over his other claims about the mosque’s liberalism. So committed, in fact, is the East London Mosque to liberalism and community cohesion that it has hosted dozens of other extremist preachers — from Bilal Philips, described by the US as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, to Haitham al-Hadad, who believes that music is a “prohibited and fake message of love and peace,” and Murtaza Khan, who told worshippers that women who wear perfume should be flogged. Contrary to any attempt to distance them from the mosque, many of these and other speakers have been officially hosted by it. In 2008, for instance, Philips was invited to deliver the official Friday sermon. The BBC could and should have mentioned this, too. It should not be the BBC’s role to “share in the celebrations” of anything, let alone the East London Mosque.st by “recorded sermon,” by the way; there was also a “live telephone Q&A”) this newspaper alerted the mosque to the fact that Awlaki had been described by the US under-secretary for intelligence, in a speech more than two months before, as a spiritual leader of two of the 9/11 hijackers. His links with terrorism had in fact been endlessly publicised, including in Parliament, from about 2003 onwards. The mosque ignored us and allowed the meeting (which was advertised with a poster showing New York under bombardment) to proceed. Even as recently as six weeks ago, the chairman of the mosque and Mr Khan’s boss, Mohammed Abdul Bari, continued to defend not cancelling the meeting and allowing Awlaki to speak. On two earlier occasions, one of them at the mosque, Awlaki was also hosted by a group which very much is “formally part of the East London Mosque” — the Islamic Forum of Europe, the hardline Islamic supremacist body which controls the mosque and of whom no mention whatever was made by the BBC. A senior official in the IFE wrote in 2008 of his “love” for Awlaki. The BBC could and should have checked all this in five minutes on Google — my own recent post on the matter has links to all the relevant primary sources. And if it had caught Mr Khan out in that lie, perhaps it might have raised doubts over his other claims about the mosque’s liberalism. So committed, in fact, is the East London Mosque to liberalism and community cohesion that it has hosted dozens of other extremist preachers — from Bilal Philips, described by the US as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, to Haitham al-Hadad, who believes that music is a “prohibited and fake message of love and peace,” and Murtaza Khan, who told worshippers that women who wear perfume should be flogged. Contrary to any attempt to distance them from the mosque, many of these and other speakers have been officially hosted by it. In 2008, for instance, Philips was invited to deliver the official Friday sermon. The BBC could and should have mentioned this, too. It should not be the BBC’s role to “share in the celebrations” of anything, let alone the East London Mosque.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


French Mother and Son on Trial for Revenge Bank Robberies

A French shopowner mother and her alleged accomplice son went on trial Monday for carrying out five bank robberies to “get revenge on the state.”

She said at the time of her arrest that she had a “hatred of the justice system” after doing time in 2005 because of involvement in a car theft carried out by her then-husband. “She felt the bank represented a system that was comparable to the state, which crushes the most disadvantaged,” police investigating the case said. Levy was ruined after her shop went bankrupt in the early 2000s. Ahead of the trial, she told a local radio station that she wanted to “get her own back on society, to get revenge on the system” and that she had no regrets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Germany: Flight Bomb Threat Possibly Linked to Vietnamese Deportation

A bomb threat that delayed a flight from Berlin’s Schönefeld airport on Monday may have been in protest of the deportation of some 45 Vietnamese passengers, a media report said.

Federal police gave the all-clear signal on Monday afternoon after searching the Aeroflot plane and passengers without finding explosives, a spokesperson told daily Berliner Morgenpost.

The flight with 140 passengers was scheduled to take off for Moscow at 9:50 am, but authorities stopped it after police received a bomb threat from a Berlin number, along with reports of several faxes with a similar message sent to media outlets just 30 minutes before the plane was set to take off.

“We take the threat seriously,” federal police spokesman Jörg Kunzendorf told the paper, adding that bomb-sniffing dogs had also been deployed.

The sender of the faxes identified himself as “Kommando Abu al-Walid al Ramedi,” and said he wanted to honour the “fight of the Chechen people.”

But an unnamed source told the paper that the threat was likely linked to the deportation of 45 Vietnamese nationals on the flight.

Early on Monday morning human rights activists tried to prevent the departure of the Vietnamese deportees with a blockade of the state facility where they were being held in Grünau. Police forced the activists out of the way twice along the route to the airport, the paper said.

Another 42 activists demonstrated at the airport, leading to scuffles with police. Six activists were banned from the building, police spokesman Jens Quitschke told the paper.

In June 2009, some 200 people protested at the same airport against the mass deportation of 109 Vietnamese asylum-seekers in Germany and Poland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Global Warming University in Shock Ban on Academic Freedom and Debate

Extremist pro-green Swedish university shackles academic freedom and bans all teaching that doesn’t conform to dogma of human-caused global warming.

The latest victim targeted by global warming fascists is Swedish professor, Dr. Claes Johnson who is smacked down for speaking the truth by his employers, the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. Ban Linked to Sensational Revelations in Johnson’s New Book

It’s no coincidence that Johnson, a world-leading mathematics professor has been silenced in the very week his co-authored climate skeptic book, ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’ has stormed the science best seller listings after rave reviews.

Johnson is among 22 leading international experts who have dared to join forces and speak out in a blockbuster of a book that exposes the fraudulent science and calculations built into the theory of man-made global warming. The two-volume publication skillfully shreds the lies of government climatologists that faked the warming effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by falsely multiplying the numbers three times over.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy: Northern League Symbol School Must Wave Italian Flag

Town also ordered to pay for removal of remaining emblems

(ANSA) — Rome, November 30 — An Italian town that caused a huge furore by plastering the local school with a Northern League symbol was ordered Tuesday to fly the Italian flag.

A court in Brescia said Adro’s town council must permanently display the red-white-and-green Italian banner and the flag of the European union at the school after upholding a petition by the CGIL trade union.

The school in question made headlines in the national news for weeks after reopening following a renovation in September with the party’s Sole delle Alpi (Sun of the Alps) flower on its windows, desks, wastepaper baskets, doormats and keep-off-the-grass signs.

The town’s Northern League Mayor Oscar Lancini then ignored an order by Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini for the symbol to be removed following complaints that politics should be kept out of the classroom.

Local education chiefs eventually intervened in October, sending workers to remove most of the symbols.

Mayor Lancini justified his actions by saying the symbol is also linked to the area’s Celtic heritage and that local people who had helped finance the school’s restoration wanted it there.

This did not stem a huge outcry, with the intervention of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, parents’ groups, opposition parties and even members of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, which is allied with the League.

“The Sole delle Alpi cannot be considered a symbol that represents Adro’s local history and culture,” the judge of the Brescia court said in announcing his decision.

“It was a full-blown saturation of the school environment with the symbol of a party”. The court also ruled that the town must pay to have the remaining symbols removed, such as those on the school’s roof, and to have the ones that have been covered up permanently taken off.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy Launches Health Card for Pets

National data bank will let owners chart four-legged friends

(ANSA) — Rome, December 3 — If confirmation were needed that domestic animals are fully fledged members of Italian society, it has arrived with a new digital health card for pets. The card — valid for all pets especially Italian families’ best loved four-legged friends, dogs, cats and rabbits — aims to help the authorities avert the spread of dangerous animal diseases by making it possible to set up a national pet-health data bank.

The initiative, launched by the health ministry in collaboration with the Italian National Veterinarians Association (ANMVI), will also enable owners to keep better track of their pets’ health.

“This data will permit the ministry to monitor epidemics,” Health Ministry Undersecretary Francesca Martini explained. “This will be useful for joint operations by private veterinarians and public authorities. “It will also be helpful to have information on the nature of animal deaths from non-natural causes.

“The card will have more data on than we have for humans, who only have a social security card”.

The service costs owners 28 euros a year per animal and will enable them to provide a full profile of a pet’s health even if they visit a vet who is not familiar with the animal.

It also comes with a toll-free number owners can call in case they lose their pet.

The creators hope the card will help to reduce the number of abandoned animals too. ANMVI Senior President Carlo Scotti emphasized the importance of the move.

“Today we have been able to construct a veterinarian network which allows patients to connect with us more quickly,” Scotti said.

Owners wanting to sign their pet up for the service can register on the www.amicopets.it website. After the health card is delivered to the owner’s home it will then be up to their primary care vet to register the data in their files on the pet. The information will be available 24 hours a day after that.

According to ANMVI statistics, 50% of Italian households own a pet. If you exclude fish and birds, Italians most frequently own cats (almost 7.4 million), dogs (almost 6 million) and rabbits.

‘Unusual’ pets are popular too, including iguanas (50,000), snakes (10,000) and other exotic animals (500,000).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Leading Rabbi Says Europe Risks Being ‘Overrun’ By Islam

EUOBSERVER / JERUSALEM — One of the luminaries of the international Jewish community, Rabbi David Rosen, has warned that Europe risks being “overrun” by Islam unless it rediscovers its Christian roots.

Speaking to journalists at a meeting in Jerusalem on Friday (26 November), Rabbi Rosen, the director of inter-religious affairs at the Washington-based American Jewish Congress, said that a predominantly secular and liberal Western European society is under threat from the rapid growth of Islamic communities which do not want to integrate with their neighbours.

The Arab quarter in Brussels. ‘Those who do not have a strong identity are easily overrun by those who do’ Rabbi Rosen said (Photo: aldask)

“I am against building walls. My humanity is my most important component. But Western society very clearly doesn’t have a strong identity. I would like Christians in Europe to become more Christian … those who do not have a strong identity are easily overrun by those who do,” the rabbi warned.

“I think there is a pretty good chance that your grandchildren, if they are not Muslim, then they will be very strong Roman Catholics,” he told one Italian reporter. “I don’t think a tepid identity can stand up to the challenge.”

Rabbi Rosen’s views are shared by a number of Jewish commentators, who look at the demographic growth of Muslims in Europe with the same trepidation as the demographic growth of Arabs in Israel.

“You have a problem that you don’t see: You are in love with the idea of multi-culti, but you don’t speak Arabic. In an era of liberalism, how do you protect your way of being? What is the contract [with Islam]?” Moti Cristal, a professional Israeli negotiator in the private-sector conflict resolution firm Nest Consulting, said.

Nachman Shai, a member of parliament for the centrist Kadima party in Israel, noted that the alleged soft threat to Western European identity is matched by the hard security threat of radical Islamist groups.

“If you follow the current streams in the Arab world, and you all have Muslim communities in your own countries now and you read about these developments, and you can see them there too, then you see that the Muslims are moving to the extreme, not to the centre, not toward compromise. They keep their own traditions. They keep their own way of life and they are becoming more and more religious and more and more radical,” he said.

The politician explained that Israel is surrounded by an arc of militant Islam stretching from Iran, through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Israel believes that EU neighbour and enlargement candidate Turkey is also moving further to the right in a deep strategic shift that goes beyond its disappointment with the slow pace of the accession process and may be based on Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan’s ambition to become the new leader of the Muslim world.

“Syria is another link in the axis of evil, our axis of evil, which starts in Iran, goes through Lebanon and then unfortunately, one day, Turkey too,” Mr Shai added.

The Israeli point of view is likely to resonate in some parts of Europe, which has seen an upsurge in anti-Islamic far-right parties in the past two years of economic crisis. And it fits with the recent outbreak of Islamist terror plots in EU states such as Belgium and Germany.

But the point of view is also rooted in the Jewish struggle to create a safe homeland for the Jewish people in a territory that sees competing claims from the native Arab population.

Mohammad Darawshe, the co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, a New-York-based NGO working to promote co-existence between Israel’s Jewish and Arabic citizens, noted, in a potential lesson for Europe, that Israeli authorities’ unwillingness to share wealth and power with the 1.4 million Arab Israelis who make up a fifth of the population is in itself a cause of tension.

“I live in a country where I am reminded every day that I do not belong … We are seen as an extension of the Palestinian Arab enemy, a sort of fifth column in the state,” he said.

Referring to growth in “racism” in the Jewish Israeli establishment, Mr Darawshe cited a recent survey by Tel Aviv University which showed that 65 percent of Jewish high school children do not like the sound of Arabic music, do not want to live next to Arabs and do not have any objections to the state imposing further limitations on Arab Israeli rights.

“They’re not stupid kids and they’re not racist kids. But they are hearing these things from someone older than them,” he said.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Malmö Tunnel Provides Shortcut to Copenhagen

More trains and faster service between two cities after rail project’s completion

Malmö’s new rail tunnel officially opened on Saturday, ahead of time, under budget and with a promise of making travel to and from Copenhagen far easier.

“Ten years have passed since the Øresund Bridge opened,” King Carl XVI Gustaf said during the opening ceremony. “And today, it is natural to live on one side of the strait and work on the other. The new tunnel now allows us to further strengthen the bonds between the two countries.”

Citytunneln is expected to impact the entire Øresund region and is expected to cut the travelling time between Copenhagen and Malmö by ten minutes. Trains will also begin departing every ten minutes between the two cities, instead of every 20 minutes.

Whereas before, commuters from Copenhagen had to travel in a circle and then stop and back into Malmö Central Station, the new line travels in a straight line directly into the station.

The new tunnel also makes way for a new underground station at Malmö Central Station, as well as two new stations.

The 17km Citytunneln connects the Øresund Bridge to Malmö Central Station to the surrounding rail lines.

Its final cost of 8.5 billion Swedish kronor was 1 billion kronor less than projected. Construction began in March 2005 and was not expected to be completed until the spring of 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


‘No Future for Dutch Orthodox Jews’

Prominent VVD politician Frits Bolkestein believes there is no future for ‘active’ Jews in the Netherlands. The conservative politician made his remarks in an interview with freesheet De Pers.

In the interview, Mr Bolkestein says that when he talks about active Jews he means those who are recognisable as such, for instance Orthodox Jews. The former EU Commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of “the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing”.

He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government’s proposals for fighting anti-Semitism.

Earlier, Mr Bolkestein made similar statements in Het Verval (The Decline) by Manfred Gerstenberg, a recently published book about Jews in the Netherlands. Frits Bolkestein was political leader of the current coalition party VVD between 1990 en 1998. He later served as European Commissioner from 1999 until 2004.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Orthodox Jews Should Leave Holland Because of Anti-Semitism: Bolkestein

Jews should consider leaving the Netherlands and going to America or Israel because of anti semitism, particularly among Dutch Moroccans, former VVD leader Frits Bolkestein told free newspaper De Pers.

Bolkestein said he sees no future in the Netherlands for Jews who stand out, such as orthodox Jews. Arabic tv senders are largely to blame for the anti-Jewish sentiment, the former EU commissioner said.

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


Spain: Zapatero Loses Catalonia, Nationalists Win

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — The end of the legislature has begun badly for Spain’s Socialist premier Jose’ Luis Zapatero, who lost control of Catalonia in yesterday’s elections: one of the two largest and wealthiest regions in the country alongside Madrid (already controlled by the PP) and which traditionally supports Socialists. The Catalan regional elections were won by the nationalists of the Convergencia i Unio under Artur Mas, with 62 seats of the 135 in Barcelona’s new parliament (having held 48 in the previous one) according to still partial results (with 87% of ballots counted), ahead of the PSC socialists (local emanation of Zapatero’s PSOE) under the outgoing ‘governor’ Jose’ Montilla, who dropped to only 29 representatives (compared with 37 previously). With the Socialists the left-wing three-party alliance which had governed the region for the last seven years went down. The Republican separatist left ERC has dropped from 21 to 10 seats, the green party of the left from 12 to 10. The Partido Popular (PP) — traditionally weak in Catalonia — has gained support and now holds 18 seats from a previous 14 with its best result ever. The centrists Ciutatadans is stable with 3. In the new parliament there will also be a new entrance in the form of the new separatist party under former Barcelona Football Club president Joan Laporta. CIU leader Artur Mas will likely be the new Catalan president. For the moment it is not clear what majority he will govern with. Anything is possible, as are all structures, from a single-party minority with external support to coalitions with the PP, Socialists or separatists. However, beyond the effects that the elections will have on Catalan political balances, Spain is focusing especially on the impact that it could have on the long race over the coming 14 months to the national elections in March 2012. The popularity of Zapatero, who has not clearly stated whether or not he will run for a third consecutive time, is at its lowest level ever, as are intentions to vote for the PSOE across the country. Polls show the Socialists as well behind Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular, which if election were held today would probably win an absolute majority in the Madrid parliament. Local and regional elections are scheduled to be held in 2011 across the entire country. The heavy defeat suffered by the Socialists and their left-wing allies in Catalonia have worsened PSOE leaders’ concerns. In the 2008 general elections the strong Socialist vote of Catalonia, along with those of Andalusia and the Basque Country, had resulted in Zapatero’s victory over Rajoy. PP members are celebrating and are demanding that early elections be held.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Bildt a ‘Medium-Sized Dog’: US Embassy

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt is compared to a “medium-sized dog” in a cable sent from the US embassy in Stockholm and released by WikiLeaks.

The note, written ahead of a May 2009 trip by Bildt to Washington to meet with US National Security Advisor James Jones, also described Bildt as a respected politician who speaks frankly, but who has “limited political skills,” according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

According to SvD, Bildt figured more prominently than almost any other Swedish political figure in US diplomatic correspondence from Stockholm released by WikiLeaks.

In a report authored by the American embassy’s second in command, Robert Silverman, Bildt is portrayed as a politician who believes in his own power.

He is, according to the US embassy, “A Medium-Sized Dog with Big Dog Attitude.”

Current US ambassador Matthew Barzun also urges his colleagues in Washington to be well-read and to clearly state their views when meeting Bildt who can “otherwise easily dominate a conversation, spiked with comments of dry humour,” in a September 2009 note.

The report also describes Bildt as being respected in Sweden, having a great deal of knowledge about international affairs, and an impressive network of contacts.

Silverman adds in his cable that Bildt is given a great deal of leeway to shape Swedish foreign policy, but that he isn’t especially close to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Barzun also describes Bildt as being given a “long leash” to formulating foreign policy, which can sometimes irritate Reinfeldt aides who aren’t always informed ahead of time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Swedish Hunter Shoots Elk, Mistakenly Kills Skier

A single shot fired by a Swedish hunter that first hit an elk continued to travel, hitting a 71-year-old skier and killing him on Saturday, police have concluded in their initial investigation.

The investigation revealed that the hunter only fired one shot in the accident in Annerstad west of Ljungby in southern Sweden.

The accident occurred at noon on Saturday. However, police waited until the evening to inform the skier’s relatives of the tragedy.

Police in Kronoberg county remained extremely reticent about details involving the hunting accident on the grounds of the continuing investigation, but also for the sake of the hunter and her hunting companion, who were shaken up after the incident.

Henrik Barnekow, a hunting consultant at the Swedish Hunters Association (Svenska Jägareförbundet) in Kristianstad, told news agency TT that it is not uncommon for a shot to pass through an elk or any other game. However, he has never heard of a bullet continuing on to kill someone.

“However, there have been incidents of a bullet ricocheting out of the game, continuing and killing the hunter’s dog situated near the prey,” he added.

According to Barnekow, it is the hunter’s responsibility to ensure that there is a so-called safety area behind the target: a hill or firm ground behind the animal where the bullet can land safely if the shot misses.

“Forests do not count as safety areas,” he noted.

If a bullet from a hunting rifle does not stop, it could continue travelling for up to 4 to 5 kilometres, according to Barnekow.

Christina Nilson-Dag, the association’s communications director, said that it is extremely rare for people who are not personally involved in the hunt to suffer from hunting accidents, adding that a single incident occurs at most every 10 years.

In 2002, an 80-year-old elk hunter in the Sundsvall region killed a 41-year-old Lithuanian berry picker that he believed was as a moose. The hunter was convicted of aggravated manslaughter, but was not sentenced to prison due to his advanced age.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Swiss People’s Party to Target Schengen Membership

Flush from victory at the polls last Sunday, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party has sealed its programme for the next four years.

One week after voters approved the party’s initiative to expel foreign criminals, delegates at an open-air meeting in canton Vaud agreed that the party should push for Switzerland’s withdrawal from Europe’s Schengen Area and the introduction of restrictions on development aid.

More than 40 motions were approved. Delegates unanimously voted in favour of demanding that the government renounce its membership of the single-border Schengen Area.

Also on the international front, the party will call on the government to cut aid to those developing countries whose citizens are considered a great financial burden to the Swiss asylum and justice systems. [That is probably a conclusion similar to Norway’s Siv Jensen, who has accurately pointed out that foreign aid to rogue states is spent on luxury goods and weapons for ruling tyrants and terrorirsts — DL]

The Swiss People’s Party will also now push to tighten entrance criteria for foreign students applying to Swiss universities, and for the authorities to ensure fees cover all of the costs incurred by these people.

Other new measures include a nationwide ban on begging in public spaces, tolerance of crosses and crucifixes as symbols of Switzerland’s Christian culture, and lower taxes on business assets of private persons and private companies.

Party president, Toni Brunner, said the gathering in an open field near Gland stood for “freedom of speech and assembly”, in a dig at the authorities of Lausanne.

For security reasons, the party’s request to hold its meeting in halls in Lausanne were turned down. [Like the mayor of Brussels forbidding any gathering in commemoration of 9/11 — DL]

The Swiss People’s Party is the largest in parliament, with 29 per cent of the seats. The next biggest is the centre-left Social Democrats with 19 per cent.

           — Hat tip: DL[Return to headlines]


Swiss Experts Downplay Assange Asylum Chances

Swiss asylum experts have cast doubt over the success of the possible request for political asylum revealed by Julian Assange, the embattled founder of Wikileaks.

In separate developments, the Swiss Pirate Party, which registered the new Wikileaks.ch domain name earlier this year, said the Swiss registrar had confirmed it would not block the site. But Swiss Post said it was closing Julian Assange’s bank account.

On November 4 the Australian founder of Wikileaks told the Swiss French-language television news that he was considering seeking political asylum in Switzerland. The Federal Migration Office refuses to comment, but observers suggest he will have a difficult task gaining political asylum.

“We believe that Assange is unlikely to receive political asylum in Switzerland, due to the necessary procedures needed,” Manon Schick, spokeswoman for Amnesty Switzerland, told swissinfo.ch.

Assange, who is reportedly staying in Britain, has come under growing pressure from politicians in the United States and around the world after his whistleblower site started publishing excerpts from a cache of 250,000 American diplomatic cables last week…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


UK Condemns Leak of ‘Critical Infrastructure’ List

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Britain on Monday (6 December) condemned WikiLeaks for publishing a classified US list of “critical infrastructure” in European countries which could form terrorist targets. German tabloid Bild also said the whistleblower is playing into terrorists’ hands.

“We unequivocally condemn the unauthorised release of classified information. The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States, Britain and elsewhere,” a communique from Prime Minister David Cameron’s office reads.

A spokesperson for EU anti-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerchove declined to comment on the release.

Overnight from Sunday to Monday, the WikiLeaks published a cable dating to 18 February in which the US government lists what it considers “critical foreign infrastructure” around the globe, including Europe.

The inventory is drawn up from a strictly US perspective, not a national or European one. An attack on these facilities “could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States,” the cable says.

UK military assets make up the biggest part of the list, along with Germany’s labs and bomb-testing facilities.

Among potential British targets are BAE Systems’ facilities in Presont, Lancashire for being “critical to the [fighter jet] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” the one in Southway, Plymouth Devon, described as “critical to extended range guided munitions” and the one in Chorley for its role in the Joint Standoff Weapon program, which develops “precision strike weapons” launched from fighter jets. Scotland’s MacTaggart Scott engineering company, producer of propulsion units for submarines is also on the list for being “critical to the Ship Submersible Nuclear” program.

A spokeswoman for BAE Systems on Monday said: “BAE Systems recognises its role as a custodian of key industrial and military assets. We would be concerned at any activity which compromises this.”

Germany did not react officially on Monday morning. The mass-circulation Bild published an article with the headline “This is how WikiLeaks is playing into the terrorists’ hands,” however.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


UK: 13,500 Patients ‘Left to Starve’ On NHS Wards: Elderly Suffering Most as Malnutrition Cases Hit New High

The number of patients becoming malnourished in hospital has doubled in just three years.

Official figures show that a record 13,500 patients fell victim to some form of nutritional deficiency last year.

Most are frail and elderly pensioners who are simply ‘left to starve’ because they are too weak to feed themselves.

Concern is mounting among campaigners and relatives that nurses are now too busy to carry out basic duties of care, such as helping the most vulnerable to eat and drink.

Meal trays are being left on tables out of reach of bedridden patients and then taken away, completely untouched.

Details of the shocking figures come days after the Daily Mail launched a campaign with the Patients Association to end the appalling neglect of the elderly on NHS wards.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: College Principal James Safo Raped African Student Repeatedly After Threats

A college principal, who repeatedly raped one of his African students while threatening her with deportation if she resisted, has today been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

James Safo, 62, ‘controlled, degraded and systematically sexually abused the victim’, Croydon Crown Court was told.

Judge Simon Pratt said the attacks constituted a grave ‘abuse of power’ and was ‘one of the most serious cases of rape I have ever dealt with’.

The court heard the trained nurse left his 30-year-old victim haunted ‘day and night’ by her ordeal.

Ghana-born Safo of Kenley was the principal and owner of The Secretary College, Croydon, and also owned four care homes. His victim was studying for an NVQ at the college which offers courses in healthcare.

She was also employed at one of Safo’s care homes and lived as a tenant in one of his houses.

Judge Simon Pratt told Safo, a first-time offender: ‘Your course of conduct lasted 18 months or so and involved you abusing your position as college principal and employer to force her to have private meetings so your sexual attacks could happen.

‘You threatened to make life difficult for her with the Home Office by reporting she was in breach of her visa and liable to deportation from this country.’

Safo was convicted after a six-week trial on four counts of rape, one attempted rape and one sexual assault between June, 2007 and December, 2008.

Ghana-born Safo of Kenley was the principal and owner of The Secretary College, Croydon, and also owned four care homes. His victim was studying for an NVQ at the college which offers courses in healthcare

He was acquitted of sex attacks on two other employees and students and a similar complaint was dismissed in 2001.

The victim told police: ‘Images of what this man has done to me haunt me day and night.’

She was pregnant during one of the rapes and later suffered a miscarriage.

Miss Hanna Llewellyn-Waters, prosecuting, said as the victim’s landlord he effectively controlled her life and was guilty of ‘intimidation and coercion’.

Judge Pratt told Safo: ‘There cannot be a more serious abuse of power, it is a serious aggravating factor. The rapes and attempted rape were violent.

‘She described one rape as brutal and whether that rape caused her miscarriage is hard to say, but she will live the rest of her life believing it did.

‘She will have to carry the burden of what you did to her for many years to come. This is one of the most serious cases of rape I have ever dealt with.

‘It involved a betrayal of trust by an employee and college principal and a campaign of blackmail to keep her under control with threats you could have her deported.

‘The offences rely in your desire for power over others as well as sexual gratification,’ added Judge Pratt.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


UK: MP Caught in Alleged Honeytrap Defends Decision to Employ Blonde Russian ‘Spy’

A womanising MP who employed a suspected Russian spy has defended giving her a job and insisted: ‘I’m not naive.’

Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, 64, who sits on the defence committee, was introduced to Katia Zatuliveter on one of his regular visits to the Eastern Bloc superpower.

He employed the 25-year-old blonde as a parliamentary assistant — handing her at least three years’ access to official documents on defence policy.

But she now faces deportation after being detanied and questioned by officers at intelligence service MI5 on suspicion of espionage.

The Portsmouth South MP, whose constituency is home to a Royal Navy base, said Miss Zatuliveter passed a two month security check.

Speaking from his home in Portchester, he said: ‘There were no dodgy deals, no favours and no shortcuts. I’m not naive.

[…]

Yesterday it emerged that:

  • The suspected spy’s father and sister are both recruiting Russian students to come to Britain.
  • She almost won a post with a large UK defence organisation until British security officials warned the firm off.
  • MPs expressed alarm that she had got her job in the first place and appeared to have sidestepped vetting checks.
  • Security sources fear at least 20 similar spies could be working in Britain under false identities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: So Why Did the Kremlin Target This Muddled Little Man?

The idea of a Kremlin mole in the office of an obscure Liberal Democrat MP will strike many as absurd. Why would mighty Russia bother to spy on a minor figure in a minor British political party?

Yet such complacency is woefully misplaced. The material I have uncovered while researching a book about Russian espionage in the West is chilling. Kremlin spies in Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere pose a serious threat to our safety and well-being.

Serving and retired officials urgently wish to raise the alarm. This summer some of them, unprecedentedly, spoke to a BBC radio programme called Why Russia Spies.

They highlighted Russian nuclear bombers’ regular probes of our air defences to reveal both our electronic capabilities and our willingness to respond to provocation.

Meanwhile, Russian submarines lurk in the waters outside our Trident base in Scotland, hoping to pick up the acoustic signatures of the vessels which carry our nuclear deterrent. Such efforts, if successful, could disable our defences.

Russia wants to steal our technological know-how to plug the deficiencies in its own shambolic military and hi-tech industries. It also continues to try to penetrate our security and intelligence services.

Most sinister of all is its attempt to gain first-hand insights into our government’s decision-making — and to influence it. This task has become all too easy. Our counter-intelligence resources are already overstretched by Islamist extremism and resurgent terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Worse, Britain and most other Nato members have dropped their guard, becoming soft targets for the Kremlin’s expert spycraft.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Who’ll Fear Jail if We Bow the Knee to Men Like This?

The TV prison comedy series Porridge, starring the late Ronnie Barker as old lag Norman Stanley Fletcher, was made between 1974 and 1977 and has since been repeated endlessly. He is called ‘Fletcher’ by the chief warder, whom he addresses as ‘Mr Mackay’.

How dated this seems now that prison officers at high-security Belmarsh jail have been told they must address the convicted murderer Colin Gunn ‘in an appropriate manner’. The killer has decided on ‘Mr Gunn’.

Prison Officers’ Association chairman Colin Moses calls this ‘political correctness gone mad’, adding: ‘Staff feel very much at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to respect and decency.’

Serving a 35-year sentence for ordering the shooting of grandparents John and Joan Stirland — seemingly because they were related to someone who had crossed him — gang boss Gunn complained to the prisons and probation ombudsman that he was not being treated with sufficient respect.

His complaint was upheld. A Prison Service spokeswoman says: ‘Previous directors-general have made it clear that, as part of the process of treating prisoners decently, staff should be encouraged to address prisoners in an appropriate manner.

‘This will generally mean addressing the prisoner by his or her forename or by the use of “Mr”. It is implicit in this requirement that prisoners also address staff appropriately.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Who’s Afraid of the EDL?

NOTE: This documentary ‘Who’s Afraid of the EDL?’ does contain some strong views and language which some might find offensive.

The English Defence League has protested all over the UK against ‘radical Islam’ and now the group want to go global. For this Asian Network Reports Special, Reporter Catrin Nye spent three months following and getting to know the people behind the EDL. They say they are a ‘single issue group’ but is it really just ‘radical Islam’ they are fighting against? And what makes a British Asian Sikh join an organisation that other British Asians say is racist? Guramit — or Amit as he prefers — is the groups spokesperson and events organiser. He has become one of their most high profile members after the leader Tommy Robinson. Already aware that plans were underway to take the message of the EDL further than the streets of Britain’s towns, Catrin is allowed access to the groups first meeting with an American Rabbi. She then travels to Amsterdam where EDL members go to show support for the European Defence League and the Dutch followers of Geert Wilders, the Netherlands very own anti-Islam MP. Finally, Catrin manages to persuade the leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson to meet and debate for the first time with Mohammad Ayoub, founder of youth magazine ‘The Revival’. It’s in this face to face meeting that Tommy is challenged and finally lays his cards on the table.

           — Hat tip: shirlinoz[Return to headlines]


Wikileaks Reveals Potential Terrorist Targets

Wikileaks released another sensitive US diplomatic cable over the weekend, this time detailing overseas sites Washington considers vital to global security and threatened by terrorism — among them several German assets.

The controversial whistleblower site published the cable late on Sunday, listing potential targets that experts told British daily The Times were a “gift for terrorist organisations.”

The list of “critical infrastructure and key resources located abroad” detailed hundreds of pipelines, important data cables, and businesses belonging to international industrial and pharmaceutical giants. If destroyed, these sites could damage US interests, the diplomatic communique said.

In Germany such sites included the BASF headquarters in Ludwigshafen, which was described as the “world’s largest integrated chemical complex,” and Hamburg’s port.

Other crucial sites include the northwestern coastal city of Norden and the North Sea island of Sylt, where two important underwater data and communication cables connecting North America and Europe reach land.

The list was the result of a February 2009 order from Washington for officials to compile a list of international assets critical for the United States.

The plants of industrial giant Siemens were also listed for “essentially irreplaceable production of key chemicals” and the production of hydroelectric dam turbines and generators.

Other companies included Dräger Safety in the northern German city of Lübeck, “critical to gas detection capability,” and Junghans Fienwerktechnik in the southern city of Schramberg, “critical to the production of mortars.”

A number of German pharmaceutical companies that produce critical vaccines, medications and medical tests, including insulin and a small pox vaccine, were also included on the list.

Britain and the US condemned Wikileaks’ decision to publish the list among a bundle of some 250,000 secret diplomatic documents obtained by the site.

“There are strong and valid reasons information is classified, including critical infrastructure and key resources that are vital to the national and economic security of any country,” US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley told The Times.

“Julian Assange may be directing his efforts at the United States but he is placing the interests of many countries and regions at risk. This is irresponsible.”

But Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson told daily The Financial Times that the release proves the US government uses embassy officials for intelligence gathering, despite claims to the contrary.

“In terms of security issues, while this cable details the strategic importance of assets across the world, it does not give any information as to their exact locations, security measures, vulnerabilities or any similar factors, though it does reveal the US asked its diplomats to report back on these matters,” she told the paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Wikileaks Names Two Italian Sites in Diplomatic Cable

Rome 6. December (AKI) — WikiLeaks whistle-blower web site has released a new secret US State Department cable listing Italian infrastructure sites as vital to the American national security.

Sites noted in the cable span the world and include two Italian locations: a facility that produces Digibind, a pharmaceutical for treating snake bites as well as Trans-Med, the gas line that transports Algerian natural gas in Italy.

The cable dates to February 2009 and is signed by secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Compilation of the list would help “prevent, deter, neutralize or mitigate the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate or exploit” sites deemed of “vital” importance to the United States, the cable said.

The exposure of the infrastructure sites around the world is considered one of the more controversial documents leaked to date from the explosive web site founded by 39 year-old Julian Assange (photo).

Other international sites on the cable include cobalt mines in Congo, munitions and chemical manufacturers in Germany, a smallpox vaccine plant in Denmark, undersea cable landings and energy facilities, such as Russia’s Nadym Gas Pipeline Junction and Qatar’s Ras Laffan Industrial Center.

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


Wikileaks Goes Underground … in a Bunker Deep in Sweden

Hounded by cyber attackers and dropped by its American server, internet activist site Wikileaks has turned to a Swedish company located in an underground nuclear-proof Cold War bunker to host it.

Bahnhof’s serving and hosting centre looks like it was plucked right out of a James Bond movie.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Wikileaks: Swiss Bank Freezes Julian Assange’s Account

The Swiss post office’s bank, PostFinance, has frozen the accounts of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

The whistle-blowing website says the freeze includes a defence fund and personal assets worth 31,000 euros.

Wikileaks has published hundreds of secret US diplomatic cables, angering the US government and triggering moves by several companies including PayPal and Amazon to end their services.

Meanwhile, a warrant for Mr Assange’s arrest has reached the UK authorities.

Sources have told the BBC that the European Arrest Warrant for Mr Assange arrived on Monday afternoon.

Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange in connection with allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, which he denies.

He is believed to be in hiding somewhere in south-east England. Once the police have located him, he would be expected to appear at a magistrate’s court within 24 hours, pending extradition to Sweden, says the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Setbacks for Wikileaks Sweden first issued an arrest warrant for Mr Assange on 18 November but it was invalidated by a procedural error. A new warrant was issued on 2 December.

The move by Switzerland’s PostFinance to freeze the Wikileaks accounts is the latest setback to hit the whistle-blowing website since it began publishing the US cables last week.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Copts Rally at Egyptian Supreme Court, Demand Release of Detainees

by Mary Abdelmassih

Cairo (AINA) — Dozens of Copts and a number of Muslims protested on December 4th in front of the Supreme Court in Cairo to call attention to the use of deadly force by State Security against Coptic protesters, which occurred on November 24 in Talbiya, Giza. The clashes between Copts and security forces resulted in 4 Coptic deaths as well as 120 injuries (AINA 12-3-2010).

Protesters demanded the release of all detainees, including children and minors, and called for the resignation and prosecution of the Governor of Giza and the Chief of State Security in Giza, “who gave orders to open fire on the unarmed Coptic protesters,” said Dr. Naguib Ghobrial, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, who organized the rally.

The protesters held photos of those who died and those who were arrested in the demonstrations. They also held banners and chanted slogans against the Governor, who is viewed by many as being responsible for the incident by assuring the Church congregation, less than 24 hours before sending security forces to storm the church, that he had changed the permit and congratulated them on the new church.

One banner said “it is easier to get a permit for a nightclub than a church in Egypt.”

Ghobrial explained to the media that Copts are unable to build a church without the consent of supreme executive and security authorities, especially the State Security service which is the one entrusted with the approval of the building of any church.

Unlike Muslim citizens, who only need a municipal license to build mosques, the Copts require presidential approval for a church, based on the 1856 Ottoman Hamayoni Decree, in addition to ten humiliating conditions laid down by the Ezaby Pasha Decree of 1934, before being considered for a presidential decree. These include the approval of the neighboring Muslim community.

Dr. Ghobrial said that it was not possible that a government treats its citizens according to two standards. “Muslims enjoy building their mosques without any fuss while Christians go through a grueling bureaucratic procedures just to build toilets in a church, or get a Presidential decree to build a church.”

The Demonstrators called on President Mubarak to support the passage of a unified law for building places of worship, which experts believe would eliminate sectarian strife. Seventeen years ago Coptic Pope Shenouda III proposed to the parliament speaker the unified law for building places of worship. However, the bill languishes in Egypt’s parliament, which session after session delays putting it on its agenda.

The incident of the church in Talbiya gained the sympathy from the Muslim inhabitants of the area, who for the large part refused to join security forces in their attacks against the Copts.

“For the first time we were joined by Muslims in the rally,” said Ghobrial. “We wanted to relay a massage to the government to change its treatment of the Copts, who ought to be treated equally to Muslims.”

After the demonstration Ghobrial presented a legal memorandum to the Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, calling for the release of the prisoners and detainees of the Talbiya incident as soon as possible.

“We told him that it is impossible that the anniversary of the Christmas Eve Massacre of January 6, 2010 comes and our children are detained in the Egyptian prisons,” said Ghobrial. “Or maybe this is another Christmas gift from the government” (AINA 1-7-2010).

Dr. Ghobrial said that the Attorney General promised to release the detainees “as soon as possible.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]


Egyptian Bones Could Help Solve Canine Conundrum

Scientists are still trying to explain how the gray wolf could evolve into over 400 breeds of dogs, ranging from the pug to the pinscher. One aid in solving this riddle has been found in an unlikely place: a giant animal shrine from ancient Egypt.

At first, he panned for gold in the East Indies. Then he poked around in Stonehenge. And then, during his forays into the Orient, he discovered mankind’s oldest legal codes.

Later, in 1897, French adventurer Jacques de Morgan found himself standing in a dark crypt in Egypt, knee-deep in bones that crackled and snapped with every step he took: He had discovered the world’s largest dog cemetery.

De Morgan’s pioneering discovery was soon forgotten in professional circles. But now, more than a century later, researchers from Cardiff University, in Wales, have turned their attention to the dog mausoleum once again and are conducting excavations at the site. Paul Nicholson, a lecturer in archaeology from the university who is leading the dig, says that thousands of mummified dogs were once placed into niches in the cavern.

Bizarre Animal Cults

Most of the canine corpses date back to the period after 748 B.C., when black pharaohs ruled along the Nile and animal cults took on bizarre forms. Indeed, some 130 cemeteries for bulls, snakes, baboons, fish and mice have already been discovered. And more than 180,000 cats have been found buried in a single mass grave near the village of Istabl Antar.

In Saqqara, a village just south of Cairo, there were two ritual sites for dogs. The one currently being investigated lies directly beneath the Temple of Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of the underworld. Priests would descend a staircase to the stone-lined cellar, where they would made sacrifices to Anubis with victims taken from a kennel in the temple district.

Private individuals would also come to Saqqara to have their deceased dogs embalmed. And when dog owners died, their beloved pets were often constrained to join them in the afterlife — by being either strangled or bludgeoned to death. Countless ribs and leg and ankle bones lie in the passages around the cavern.

The Canine Conundrum

Researchers are now trying to determine the breeds, ages and genders of the animals sacrificed at this site. But their efforts aren’t aimed at solving any Egyptian riddle, per say, but to helping elucidate the mysterious family tree of the dog.

Famous Austrian zoologist and animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz was wrong when he posited that dogs descended from the golden jackal. Indeed, scientists now have genetic proof that dogs derive from wolves, fellow members of the canis genus.

Scholars believe that wolves first started to have peaceful interactions with Stone Age humans about 30,000 years ago. A canine jawbone recently discovered in Switzerland and estimated to be 14,000 years old already bears clear signs of domestication: smaller fangs and a shorter snout than the wolf’s…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Egypt: It’s 100% Safe to Swim in the Water, Says Egyptian Minister Despite German Tourist Being Eaten by a Shark (And Some People Actually Believe Him)

[WARNING: Graphic content.]

  • Tourism minister insists diving will continue because ‘sharks will not attack divers’
  • Foreign Office warns Britons to avoid cheap dive tour operators
  • Thomson and First Choice warn holidaymakers to stay out of the water
  • Just days earlier officials claimed they had caught two deadly predators
  • Four holidaymakers injured in shark attacks last week
  • Killer shark may have been attracted to waters by dead cattle and sheep thrown overboard before Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha

Egyptian officials have insisted it is safe for tourists to go back into the water despite a 70-year-old German woman being killed in Sharm el-Sheikh after another shark attack.

While many holidaymakers have steered clear of the water and British travel companies halted all boat trips and diving excursions, others were pictured swimming and snorkelling in the Red Sea despite the killer fish still being on the loose.

The latest attack has echoes of the 1975 Steven Spielberg film Jaws, where hunters capture a shark they claim is behind a fatal attack only for the fish to strike again when officials said it was safe to go back into the water.

[…]

The German pensioner died after her arm was torn off by the shark. Four other tourists suffered horrific injuries in similar incidents.

Just days before authorities had reassured tourists that they had captured two sharks — an oceanic whitetip and a mako — and the water were safe again for swimming.

Witnesses told how the woman screamed for help after a whitetip tore off her arm and part of her thigh. She is said to have died within minutes.

[…]

U.S. shark expert Samuel Gruber said the spate of incidents recalled Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie Jaws.

He said: ‘It seems the shark in one day bit more than one person. In all my years reading about shark attacks and writing about them you never hear about sharks biting more than one person.

‘Then for it to happen again is almost like a Jaws scenario.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Mossad May be Behind Egyptian Red Sea Shark Attacks’

Egyptian authorities leaving no stone unturned in bid to discover mysterious shark attacks which left German tourist dead. ‘Mossad plot not out of the question,’ says South Sinai governor

Shark attacks on tourists in the Red Sea have triggered a flurry of speculation as to what could have caused them, with suggestions ranging from overfishing to an Israeli plot to harm Egyptian tourism.

The body of a 70-year-old German woman washed up on the shore at Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea after an attack on Sunday. Officials said the shark had taken a chunk out of her right thigh and bitten through her right elbow.

Egypt had just lifted a ban on swimming in parts of the area imposed after three Russians and a Ukrainian were injured in shark attacks last week.

The government has invited international experts to help locate the killer shark but officials were at loss as to what could have caused its behavior.

“There is not one reason that will be ignored. We are seeking any reason that causes a change in shark behavior,” Ahmed el-Edkawi, assistant secretary for the South Sinai region, told Reuters.

Some said sharks had been drawn to shallow waters after cattle being shipped in for last month’s Islamic feast of the sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, had died and were thrown overboard.

Others suggested it could have been part of a secret plot by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

“What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark (in the sea) to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm,” South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha was quoted as saying by state news site egynews.net.

           — Hat tip: DonVito[Return to headlines]


Shark Kills German Woman at Red Sea Resort

A shark mauled to death a German woman tourist snorkeling off Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, in the third shark attack in Egypt’s popular Red Sea resort in a week, local officials said.

Mohammed Salem, director of South Sinai Conservation, said she died after a shark attacked her in Naama Bay, only one day after Sharm el-Sheikh reopened its beaches following two other attacks in which Russians were mauled.

“There has been a death unfortunately. She was a German lady. We have taken everyone out of the water,” he said.

Medical officials said the woman was pulled out of the water dead after the shark had mauled her thigh and arm.

Conservation experts said on Friday they captured two sharks, an oceanic whitetip and a mako, which they believed had mauled the two Russian swimmers last Tuesday and Wednesday. A Ukrainian suffered bruising on coral. Government workers had dumped chum in the water to bait the two sharks.

The resort’s mayor, Gamal al-Mahdi, told news agency AFP the beaches were reopened after authorities deemed there was no further threat off the coast, which attracts between three and four million tourists a year.

However, an Egyptian NGO warned on Saturday that at least one of the sharks behind the attacks was still at large.

South Sinai governor Mohammed Shosha has said the sharks could have turned frenzied after a ship transporting livestock dumped dead sheep into the sea, while marine experts said overfishing may have forced them closer to shore.

The string of attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh was “unprecedented,” according to an expert on sharks, Samuel Gruber, who heads Miami’s Bimini Biological Field Station.

“The shark in one day bit more than one person. In all my years reading about shark attacks and writing about them you never hear about sharks biting more than one person,” he said, apart from feeding frenzies on shipwreck survivors.

“Then for it to happen the next day is almost like a ‘Jaws’ scenario,” he said, referring to the 1975 iconic Hollywood movie about a killer great white shark.

Gruber said finding the predator or predators would be extremely difficult.

“It’s really pretty much a crapshoot. Finding the actual shark is like trying to find a needle in a haystack,” he said.

Salem said the first shark to have been captured, the oceanic whitetip, was identified as the same one filmed by divers just minutes before it surfaced to attack the snorkelers.

The mako believed to have attacked the swimmers on Wednesday was also recognised by witnesses, according to the South Sinai Conservation head.

But the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association said on Saturday that the captured oceanic whitetip was a different one from the shark caught on tape.

Statistics compiled by the International Shark Attack File reported 61 worldwide attacks in 2009, five of them fatal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Journalists, 44% Women

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 30 — In Tunisia, out of a total of 1,109 professional journalists, 495 (i.e. 44%) are women. Female journalists in the public sector overtake their male colleagues with a percentage of 54%. The figures were released at a meeting of 32 female journalists from the Arab world, meeting in Tunis for a cycle of professional training organised by the Tunisian Ministry for women, the family, childred and elderly people, in collaboration with the African Centre for the perfection of journalists and communicators (CAPJC). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

14 Year-Old Admits to Starting Carmel Fire

A 14 year-old resident of Usfiya, a village on top of Carmel Mountain, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of unintentionally starting the Camel fire.

The boy has admitted that he was in the forest on Thursday morning smoking a water-pipe and threw the charcoal from the pipe into a forest clearing near Usfiya. He witnessed the ignition of a large fire and fled the scene and returned to his school without telling anyone about the fire.

On Tuesday morning the boy will appear before the Haifa Magistrate’s Court for a remand hearing.

On Sunday two other Usfiya brothers were arrested on suspicion of starting the fire but have since been released.

Four other suspects from around the country have also been arrested on suspicion of deliberately starting smaller fires following the Carmel fire. Over 20 smaller fires were started around the country and were put out by firefighters and did not cause any injury. As of Sunday the flames have died down.

The fire which started on Thursday morning has taken the lives of 42 people, destroyed 10,000 acres of forest and over 4 million trees.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]


Caroline Glick: Empowering Israelis to Express Themselves

Imagine if 100 million Americans participated in the Tea Party movement. And then imagine that the movement had no impact on American politics. Finally imagine that in the wake of the Tea Party movement, Republicans embraced President Barack Obama’s positions on spending and taxation.

These scenarios are of course, unimaginable. Anywhere from a million to ten million people participated in Tea Party protests in the US over the past year. That is, perhaps three percent of Americans.

Yet this was sufficient for the citizens’ movement calling for fiscal restraint, spending and tax cuts to have a defining impact on the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. The Republican establishment is being challenged and in many cases unseated by Tea Party politicians…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]


Dutch MP Wilders and Israeli MK Eldad: Jordan is Palestine

Dutch politician Geert Wilders was in Israel on Sunday and gave a speech in Tel Aviv at a conference of the HaTikvah movement, headed MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union).

Before the conference, MK Eldad spoke with Israel National News TV and explained his own proposed two-state solution in which two states refers to the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan.

Wilders, who is the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom and who has been a staunch critic of Islam, started his speech by saying that Israel “is an immense source of inspiration for me.” He added that he is “not ashamed to stand with Israel, but proud. I am grateful to Israel. I will always defend Israel. Your country is the cradle of Western civilization. We call it the Judeo-Christian civilization with good reason.”

Wilders blamed the Arab leaders as well as Islam for what he called “the plight of the Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon, Gaza, and other places,” and said that ‘Palestine’, where many say that the PA Arabs should return, is, in fact located in Jordan.

“Israel, including Judea and Samaria, has been the land of the Jews since time immemorial,” said Wilders. “Judea means Land of the Jews. Never in the history of the world has there been an autonomous state in the area that was not Jewish. The Diaspora of the Jews, which began after their defeat by the Romans in 70 [C.E.], did not lead to the departure of all the Jews from their ancient homeland. Jews had been living in the Jordan Valley for centuries until the Arab invaders drove them out in 1948, when the provinces of Judea and Samaria were occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, which abbreviated its name to Jordan in 1950. And until 1967, when Israel regained the ancient Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria, no one, not a single Islamic scholar or Western politician, ever demanded that there be an independent Palestinian state in the so-called West Bank.”

He added that Israel must not trade land for peace and not “assign Judea and Samaria to another Palestinian state — a second one, next to Jordan,” since, as he said, the conflict in the Middle East is not a conflict over territory, but rather an ideological battle…

           — Hat tip: shirlinoz[Return to headlines]


Fire: Netanyahu Thanks Erdogan After Icy Relations

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, DECEMBER 3 — Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu sent a personal message of thanks, after months of icy relations, to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because Ankara sent two water bombers, which are currently working to fight the huge fire that has broken out on Mount Carmel, near Haifa. Turkey was one of the first countries to respond to the request for international aid launched yesterday by Netanyahu after it became evident that the Israelis needed to turn to outside help. The episode is the first exchange of courtesies — in addition to a chance for contact between the premiers — since the start of the serious deterioration in relations between the two countries (long-time strategic allies) that started about two years ago and which resulted in a full-blown crisis after the Israeli attack on the Palestinian aid flotilla headed towards the Gaza Strip, ending on May 31 with the death of 9 Turkish activists. The Israeli Foreign Ministry reported today that the scooper aircrafts and teams working on the ground have arrived or are in arrival to the Carmel area from Bulgaria, Jordan, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Romania, Azerbaijan, Croatia and Russia. Among the first aid sent — in addition to the Turkish aircrafts — are fire-fighting helicopters from Cyprus sent by Great Britain. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Settlements Hold Key to Israel’s Survival: Dutch MP

Israel must keep on building settlements in the occupied West Bank to defend itself against the forces of Islam out to destroy the Jewish state, visiting ultra-rightwing Dutch MP Geert Wilders said. According to a transcript of a speech late on Sunday at a Tel Aviv conference organised by a far-right Israeli party, Wilders said settlement building was a “strategic” necessity essential to Israel’s survival. “For the sake of its own survival and security, Israel needs defendable borders,” he said. “A country that is only 15 kilometres (nine miles) wide is impossible to defend,” he said, referring to the shortest distance from the West Bank to the Mediterranean — often referred to as Israel’s “narrow waist.” “That is the strategic reason why Jews need to settle Judaea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical term for the West Bank. Wilders, who has repeatedly been accused of inciting anti-Islamic hatred, was visiting Israel at the personal invitation of MP Arye Eldad, head of the ultra-nationalist Hatikva party. Islam, and not Israel, was to blame for the conflict in the Middle East, he charged. It “conditions Muslims to hate Jews. It is a religious duty to do so. Israel must be destroyed because it is the homeland of the Jews.” Newly-relaunched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ran aground at the end of September after the expiry of a temporary Israeli ban on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. The Palestinians say they can not negotiate while Jewish settlers build on land they want for a future state, but until now Israel has refused to consider a new freeze. The international community considers all Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Wilders Urges Israel to Build More West Bank Settlements

Geert Wilders on Saturday called on Israel to build more settlements in the West Bank in defiance of international demands for a construction freeze on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Wilders stated that building must continue so Israel can create defensible borders — by annexing the West Bank, the paper quoted Wilders as saying.

Later, in a speech in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Wilders called on Jordan to open its borders to Palestinians who wish to settle there.

Arab leaders and Islam not Israel are to be blamed for the plight of Palestinian refugees, Wilders said.

‘The truth is that Jordan is Palestine, the truth is that Samaria and Judea are part of Israel, the truth is that Jerusalem may not fall, the truth is that Israel is the only democracy in a dark and tyrannical region, the truth is that Israel is the linch pin of the West,’ Wilders said.

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


Wildfire is Out, Rain Has Come

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, DECEMBER 6 — The enormous wildfire on Mount Carmel, near Haifa, has been put out, the police announced this morning.

The arrival of rain — after one of the longest periods of drought and exceptional heat in the country’s history — made it easier for the fire brigades last night to extinguish the remaining three hotbeds that were still burning. The newspapers report that the first estimates of the damage caused by the fire total around 2 billion shekels (400 million euros). While the state of emergency in the areas that were threatened by the flames is being withdrawn, more and more voices are heard criticising the lack of preparation of the fire fighters in dealing with large-scale wildfires, especially regarding the insufficiency of equipment and resources. The fire fighters themselves have reported this insufficiency various times, but the governments have apparently ignored these reports over the years. Interior Minister Eli Ishai (of the ultra-orthodox Shas party) is criticised most harshly, because his Ministry is responsible for the fire brigades. Ishai has responded that he is the victim of a “persecution” by the press. He claims that he has done more than other Ministers to improve the fire-fighting services.

The police has announced that two more young men in the Druze village of Issafiya have been detained for questioning. They are suspected of causing the fire “by negligence”. Other people in the same village will be detained, the police added.

The blaze started on Thursday and has caused the death of 42 people. It has damaged or destroyed 250 houses and burnt around 5000 hectares of woodland, causing serious damage to flora and fauna.

This morning the policewoman Ahuva Tomer, 52 years of age, died in hospital. She suffered burns all over her body on Thursday when she tried to rescue prison guards from a bus which had turned over and had been surrounded by the flames.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Al Qaeda ‘Frankenbomber’ Plot to Implant Explosives in Suicide Bombers

Al-Qaeda fanatics may be planning a horrific ‘Frankenbomber’ suicide attack by implanting explosives into a human body.

Defence analysts logged conversations between users of a online forum in which Muslim extremists debate terrorism methods which could beat new US aviation security checks.

The alarming posts included one by a user who claimed to be a surgeon, promising a ‘new kind of terrorism’.

Threat: The new methods for smuggling as bomb on a plane discussed on a terrorism forum could breach tight US security checks

It called on bomb makers and doctors to create the perfect solution to murder ‘larger numbers of unbelievers and apostates.’

The post said: ‘What is your opinion about surgeries through which I can implant the bomb… inside the operative’s body?

‘I am waiting for the interaction of the experienced brothers to connect the two sciences together and produce a new kind of terrorism, Allah willing.’

Monitoring of the site by the SITE Intelligence Group also revealed that stitching a bomb into the abdominal cavity made of plastic or liquid explosives — such as semtex or PETN — was judged the best method.

‘It must be planted near the surface of the body, because the human body absorbs shocks,’ advised one terrorist.

Worrying attack: A Saudi Prince was injured in a suicide bombing in which the would-be killer carried explosives inside his body

The forum discussion comes as US passengers reacted angrily to ‘intrusive’ body searches involve pat-downs and scanners in a security crackdown.

Such searches would not detect a ‘Frankenbomber’ implanted with explosives, it is believed.

Mark Rossini, a former senior FBI counter-terror expert told the New York Daily News: ‘In the same way that drug smugglers have placed bags of narcotics in the body cavities of animals and had people ingest condoms filled with drugs, it would not be out of the realm of Al Qaeda operational planners to conceive of such a technique.

‘No technique is off-limits to Al Qaeda to achieve its destructive goals.’

In August last year, Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef was injured when a suicide bomber with explosives carried inside his body managed to breach security and detonate the device.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Cables Reflect Tensions Over Terrorism Funding

Leaked diplomatic cables show continued U.S. frustration with the lack of cooperation from Arab and Muslim countries in fighting terrorism financing, almost a decade after stopping the flow of funds to extremists became a central part of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

While al Qaeda’s ability to raise funds has been hampered, and by some accounts is at its lowest level since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. officials struggle to persuade allies such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to crack down on the illicit financing of other extremist groups.

That is particularly important since some of those other groups, such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba of Pakistan, are graduating from regional to global terrorism threats.

The latest batch of leaked cables was reported by the New York Times and the Guardian Sunday, a week after the self-described whistle-blower website WikiLeaks started publishing its cache of a quarter-million U.S. diplomatic cables.

U.S. politicians continued to take aim at Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over the weekend. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) called Mr. Assange a “high-tech terrorist.” WikiLeaks, under virtual fire all week, has an additional cache of sensitive U.S. documents prepared for publication if its website is closed down, the U.K.’s Sunday Times reported.

The cables related to terrorism financing include dispatches from 2007, 2009 and 2010. They show that, nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. officials continue to press countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan to make fighting terror financing a bigger priority.

However, the cables do show notable progress in just a few years. A cable from 2007 reports that President George W. Bush was “quite concerned” and sent a letter to Saudi King Abdullah.

A dispatch from earlier this year, in contrast, highlighted Saudi Arabia’s “important progress in combating al-Qaida financing emanating from the country…Al-Qaida’s ability to raise funds has deteriorated substantially, and it is now in its weakest state since 9/11.”

A senior U.S. administration official, while declining to comment on the leaked cables themselves, said, “The U.S. government has made terrorist financing a high priority and raised the issue consistently with countries all over the world, especially in the Gulf, and, as a result of those efforts, we have put substantial financial pressure on al-Qai’da. One of the principal reasons for this progress is an increased prioritization of this issue by Saudi Arabia. In the past 2 years, for example, we’ve seen the Saudi Arabian government disrupting terrorist financing networks, seeking to delegitimize the practice of funding terrorism, and holding terrorist financiers publicly accountable.”

Still, there are concerns. Donors in Saudi Arabia, for example, are described in a December 2009 cable from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups world-wide.”

Qatar’s counterterrorism record is described as “the worst in the region” in the same cable. The Gulf nation last week won the right to host the World Cup in 2022.

Kuwait, alone among its neighbors, doesn’t have a law against terror financing.

Pakistan systematically blocks efforts by the U.S. and United Nations to curtail the financing of extremist groups.

The cables illustrate that the battle against terrorist financing is stymied by many of the same forces that have bedeviled it for years.

Islamic charities continue to be a significant source of funding for extremist ideologies, despite years of talks about regulating charitable giving in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Mrs. Clinton’s 2009 cable singled out three Saudi charities: the International Islamic Relief Organization, the Muslim World League, and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

“[T]hese groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas,” the cable says.

Even when foreign governments take the threat of al Qaeda seriously, extremist groups that don’t pose a security threat to them are given greater leeway. The cables chide Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for not taking action against the Taliban and LeT, for example.

Terrorism is funded by a range of activities, many of which are difficult to target with regulatory measures. The Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, for example, have used drug smuggling and kidnapping to raise large amounts of money in recent years.

Kidnapping ransoms bring millions of dollars a year to al Qaeda’s North African affiliate. In Yemen, al Qaeda operatives are believed to have staged a 2009 bank robbery that netted $500,000.

Importantly, terrorist attacks are cheap, meaning even small amounts of money reaching extremists can have an impact. The October air-cargo plot hatched in Yemen, for example, cost just $4,200, according to an article in the English-language magazine of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. By some estimates, the Sept. 11 attacks cost about $500,000.

While the cables primarily detail U.S. frustrations with Gulf and South Asian countries, pushback against the U.S.-led fight against terrorism financing is wider spread. One cable details German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anger with fellow German politicians who voted against measures to track terrorist financing in the European Parliament.

A cable from February notes: “the German public and political class largely tends to view terrorism abstractly given that it has been decades since any successful terrorist attack has occurred on German soil.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Gulf Arabs Meet Amid Alarm Over Iran Atomic Plans

Kuwait’s emir called for a peaceful resolution to the standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear program as the leaders of six U.S.-allied Gulf Arab nations opened two days of talks here Monday, dominated by their growing concern over Iran.

The annual summit in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, is held in the wake of the publication of leaked U.S. diplomatic memos that revealed deeper concern by Gulf leaders over Iran’s nuclear program than had previously been expressed publicly — even a desire by several to see the United States destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, coincides with the start in Geneva on Monday of a new round of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. The West says Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward acquiring nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge, insisting that its objective is to generate electricity.

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said the six GCC nations — Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain — wanted to see an end to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program through “dialogue, peaceful means and adherence to the principles of international legitimacy.”

The six nations, he told the summit, wanted to see “a peaceful settlement of this file that ensures the stability and security of the area.”

Arab leaders have long kept a relatively calm public face about Iran, wary of provoking its powerful neighbor across the Gulf. But the U.S. diplomatic memos from recent years posted on the website WikiLeaks the past week revealed the depth of their worry, filled with warnings of Iran’s drive for hegemony, of a potential arms race if Iran develops a nuclear weapon and of sentiments that Iran was pushing the region to war.

Ahead of Monday’s talks, Maj. Gen. Ali al-Kaabi, the UAE’s deputy chief of staff, underlined the need for a region-wide missile defense system, warning of the threat of ballistic missiles — a thinly veiled reference to Iran.

“We must be prepared to defend our people, our nation and our region against any emerging threat,” told a defense conference on Sunday, according to the state-backed daily The National.

“Many countries have ballistic missiles, some of which are working on weapons of mass destruction like nuclear, chemical or biological,” he said. “If any of these weapons were launched, thousands or even millions of lives could be lost.”

The United States has sold Patriot missile defense systems to several Gulf countries, including the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar — drawing complaints from Iran. Al-Kaabi’s comments suggested a desire among some Gulf leaders to expand and coordinate missile defenses.

An Emirates government official underlined that the GCC wants to be part of the negotiations between Iran and the West. “We are not part of the problem, but we want to be part of the solution,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told The Associated Press. “We cannot continue to live in the shadow of this threat.”

The summit opened at the opulent surroundings of the Emirates Palace, a showpiece seaside hotel in Abu Dhabi. The six robed leaders sat around a round table on throne-like chairs under a giant crystal chandelier.

The leaders will also look into long elusive issues like monetary union between member states as well as greater cooperation in economic planning.

The threat from an increasingly active al-Qaida in Yemen, an impoverished and mostly lawless nation in the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is also high on the agenda.

Al-Qaida in Yemen is blamed for a series of attempted terror attacks in the United States over the past year in addition to a failed attempt on the life of a Saudi counterterrorism official. The six Gulf nations are concerned that the group, if left unchecked, could turn more of its attention toward them.

The six nations are grouped in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose military, political and economic alliance founded in 1981 in large part as a response to Iran’s Islamic Revolution two years earlier and the threat that it could export its militant brand of political Islam to them.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Interview With Saudi Prince Turki Bin Faisal: ‘America’s Credibility is the Victim of These Leaks’

Former Saudi Arabian intelligence head Prince Turki bin Faisal worries that the US diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks could harm US credibility. He spoke with SPIEGEL about the diplomatic fallout, his country’s relations with Iran and Israel, and the historical burden his country bears for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

SPIEGEL: Your Highness, a few days before the publication of the US State Department’s secret cables, US Foreign Minister Hillary Clinton called America’s most crucial allies to warn them. Did you get a phone call too?

Turki: No, I am not the foreign minister.

SPIEGEL: But you did serve Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most important ally in the Arab world, as ambassador to the US. Now, intimate details of that partnership have been revealed. What consequences will that have for your relations with the US?

Turki: America’s credibility and honesty are the victim of these leaks. People, including officials, will no longer speak to American diplomats frankly.

SPIEGEL: What does that mean for your country?

Turki:: We have overcome more serious issues in the past. In 1945, for instance, my grandfather, King Abdulaziz, met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy. Roosevelt tried to convince King Abdulaziz to support the aspirations of the Jewish people suffering in Europe and allow them to migrate to Palestine. My grandfather objected. Why should the Palestinians suffer for what the Nazis had been doing? So they agreed that Roosevelt would not take any action on this issue without consulting his Arab friends.

SPIEGEL: And then?

Turki: As it turned out — from papers which were subsequently leaked — Roosevelt’s successor Harry Truman had a Jewish poker friend. This man called him up and said: “Listen Harry, you better do this for old times’ sake.”

SPIEGEL: And so the US recognized Israel without informing the Saudis?

Turki: All of the former commitments went up in the air. The Kingdom was definitely affected by this and felt let down. But we had different interests as well: the development of oil resources, the anti-colonial struggle against the British and the French, the coming communist menace. So, of course, we continued our relations with the US while expressing our public opposition when the occasion arose.

SPIEGEL: And this is what you expect after the WikiLeaks revelations, too? Public opposition but the continuation of relations?…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Iraq: Two More Christians Murdered Overnight in Baghdad

The killings prompt exodus. Some 500 families fleeing from Baghdad and Mosul to the north. That might not hold up to the influx of refugees. Meanwhile, the government promises 400 dollars in aid to every family that leaves.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — An Christian elderly couple was killed in their home last night: the latest in a long series of bloody episodes involving Christians. According to the little information so far provided by an Interior Ministry spokesman gunmen broke into the couple in the neighbourhood of Baladiyat, a predominantly Shiite area . Hikmat Sammak and his wife, Samira had sold their house in Baghdad and gone to live in Ainkawa-Erbil in the north. Two days ago, they had returned to Baghdad to complete the transaction and sell their furniture. During the night the criminals broke into their home, bound them and stabbed them to death. Today, their bodies have been transferred to the monastery of St. Matthew at Ba Ashika for burial.

This latest act of violence came the same day Benedict XVI in his Angelus asked the faithful to pray for an end to the violence involving Christians and Muslims, that is sowing death in Iraq. Within hours of the murderer gen. Qassim Atta told a news conference that those responsible for deadly attacks on Christians, and other attacks in the country, are fifteen “non-Iraqi” Arabs, a euphemism for foreign terrorists.

And in this situation of growing insecurity the exodus of Iraqi Christian families to the north of the country continues. After the barrage of attacks on churches and private property of the community in Baghdad and Mosul about 500 families are now moving into the semi autonomous region of Kurdistan, according to estimates reported by the newspaper Azzaman. In Sulaimaniyah alone, at least 85 families arrived within two weeks. The displaced people leave behind them homes, possessions and their work, as well as parishes and monasteries, among the oldest in Christendom.

Their pain is not relieved by the guarantee of a government “in progress”. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is forming the new government on behalf of President Jalal Talabani. The Prime Minister has ensured that the new government will be formed by Dec. 30. But the political deadlock that has continued for nine months in Iraq gives little hope to the Christian community. After stopping a cell of al Qaeda held responsible for the 31 October at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in the capital, the authorities have promised to give 400 US dollars to every family who decides to leave their homes. “They are crumbs” some Christians have said: the sum can not even pay one month’s rent for an apartment in the North.

The Kurdish government in Erbil has promised to help the incoming refugees, but experts believe it will be difficult to manage such a large influx of migrants. Not everyone, however, has decide to flee. Especially in Mosul, Christians live in fear but there are many who prefer fear to the pain of leaving their homes. Once a community of around one million faithful Christians in Iraq since 2003 have seen their presence almost halved. (LYR)

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


Saudi Arabia: Women and Fatwa, New Controversy

(ANSAMED) — ROME, DECEMBER 6 — The result of an electronic survey on the participation of women in the Group of Great Theologians that was organised recently on the sidelines of the Women’s Forum, an initiative of Khadija Bint Khuwailed, the wife of King Abdullah, has triggered new controversies on the role of women in the Kingdom. Ninety percent of the 2,500 women who participated in the survey are in favour of women’s participation in the permanent Fatwa committee (official religious institute), according to the website of Al Jazeera. The forum ended with two recommendations, the first regards an advisory role of women in the ‘Committee of wise men’, the second recommends their participation in the support committee for the Great Mufti (the cleric who emits the fatwa). The result of the poll and the two recommendations come, according to the website, at a time in which much criticism is heard in Saudi Arabia on the fatwas that forbid, for example, women to drive cars or to work together with men. The results of the most recent survey are not surprising, an expert in religious policies told Al Jazeera. The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, added that as early as 2007 some experts in religious law wanted women to be included in the fatwa committees, particularly when these committees deal with women. “These requests are part of the pressure of liberals who want to weaken the role of the religious system in dealing with questions concerning the situation of women”, the expert concludes. Khaled Al Dakheel, social policies science professor at the University of King Saud, has a different opinion. In his eyes, the poll’s result reflects the current developments in the Saudi society. “The religious system”, the professor underlines, “does not want to fall into step with the complete changes of society, of which women form a part. They still have an 19th-century mentality”. The high percentage of the survey shows, according to the professor, the existence of a cultural and social movement in the Kingdom that wants to give priority to the women’s issue, which would otherwise be marginalized by the political system. Giving women a role in decisions on fatwas, according to the director of the legal office of the Authority for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice, is being thoroughly studied. The issue, he continues, needs to be coordinated with the relevant authorities.

Abdullah ben Manee, member of the committee of wise men and advisor of the royal chancellery, believes that women, having the same duties as men, can play a role in the committee and contribute to the fatwas. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey Close to Launch Nuclear Project With Russia

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, DECEMBER 3 — Turkish officials will meet their Russian counterparts later this month to push the button for actual launch of the nuclear power plant project, Anatolia news agency reports. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz will have a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin on December 13 or 14 to discuss details of works aimed at setting up a project company. In May, Turkey and Russia signed a deal for construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant on the southern coast. “The project on nuclear power plant is moving toward an actual process. Once the project company is established, we will be engaged in licensing of the land in Akkuyu, construction site delivery and solution of possible problems on the site,” Yildiz told reporters at an energy conference in Istanbul on Friday. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Artist Makes Love With Partner in Performance in Istanbul

Turkish contemporary artist Sükran Moral, who is known for her extraordinary and provocative works, made love with a female partner during her latest performance “Amemus” (Lovemaking) on Thursday at the Casa Dell Arte Gallery in Istanbul.

Guests at the event, who had no idea what they were about to see, were shocked when a young woman, wearing only a g-string and bra, went onto a bed on the stage and started to have sex with the artist Moral, who was wearing the same.

“Excuse me, but they had real sex in front of people; I mean it was not a fiction or anything,” said one of the viewers. Most of the audience left the venue in the first 10 minutes. “I was really embarrassed. Everyone was in shock,” said another guest. After 20 minutes, as viewers were leaving the venue, Moral was still having sex with her partner.

Speaking about the event, Moral said her performance did not have a singular purpose. “Generally speaking, the purpose was to bring a new expression to the language of performance art and of course to break taboos. My goal was to annoy the viewers of the performance. I don’t want to make a performance that does not annoy people and make them excited and confused.”

She said: “I have always had a problem with taboos in all my performances. Sexuality is one of the fields banned by governments. Making love in this performance is an artistic event. It is not a ‘sexual show’ but discussing a moral problem.”

Because of the reactions and for security reasons, Moral has canceled her exhibition of the same name, which was to feature photos of the performance and was scheduled to open Dec. 9.

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

South Asia

British Soldier Killed by Friendly Fire From U.S. Aircraft in Afghanistan

A British soldier might have been killed by friendly fire from a U.S. aircraft while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said today.

The unnamed soldier from the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed on Sunday while taking part in an operation to find and disrupt insurgents in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.

‘Initial reports suggest that the death was caused as a result of a friendly fire incident,’ the ministry said in a statement.

‘The incident will be the subject of a full investigation however first reports indicate that an attack on an insurgent position by a U.S. aircraft, requested by and agreed with British forces on the ground, may have been the cause.’

The statement said the investigation was under way. The soldier was the 346th member of the British armed forces to have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion to topple the Taliban.

The tragedy comes as it is revealed there has been a sharp rise in the number of Afghans who see insurgent attacks against American troops as justified compared to a year ago, according to a new poll.

The survey by international media outlets also showed Afghans are losing confidence in the United States, British and Nato to secure their country, and they are more willing to see a negotiated settlement with the Taliban than they were last year.

The perception that violence against US forces is warranted is up most sharply in provinces where fighting has been the most intense and in areas where there has been an increase in deaths, the survey said.

Violence has picked up this year as tens of thousands of US and Nato troops have flooded the country, especially Taliban strongholds in the south.

Last year’s poll was conducted at a time when former Nato commander General Stanley McChrystal issued strict guidelines limiting the use of force in an effort to reduce civilian casualties.

The US-led Nato coalition is still pushing to limit killings of civilians.

The poll found 27 per cent of Afghans see insurgent attacks as justified, up from 8 per cent last year. The sharp increase this year brings the number back to levels seen earlier in the nine-year war.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points, was based on face-to-face interviews with a random sample of nearly 1,700 Afghan adults in all 34 of the country’s provinces. It was conducted by ABC News, the BBC, ARD German TV and The Washington Post.

The number of Afghan civilians killed or injured soared 31 per cent in the first six months of the year, but they were largely caused by Taliban attacks, according to the United Nations.

Casualties from Nato and Afghan government forces dropped 30 per cent, compared with the first half of 2009, mainly because of curbs on the use of airpower and heavy weapons, the U.N. has said.

Just 36 per cent of those polled expressed confidence in the U.S. and Nato to bring stability, down by 12 percentage points from last year and down by 31 percentage points since 2006.

The survey also said 73 per cent favor a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, up by 13 percentage points since 2007.

Also Monday, two Nato service members were killed in insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan where Afghan and international troops are penetrating Taliban strongholds, the military coalition said.

Nato did not disclose the nationalities or any details on how the service members died.

In the main southern city of Kandahar, meanwhile, a policeman was killed in a roadside bomb explosion, said Asadullah Khan, a doctor who saw the body in a Kandahar hospital.

President Hamid Karzai is trying to get traction on a new peace and reconciliation programme, which has two objectives: to reconcile with top Taliban leaders who agree to renounce violence, embrace the constitution and sever ties with terrorists, and to lure foot soldiers off the battlefield to reintegrate into Afghan society.

The plan, which is just starting to be developed across the nation, seeks to attract 25,000 to 35,000 fighters with promises of jobs, literacy and vocational training, and development aid for their villages.

On Monday, Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the country’s newly formed peace council, and Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a top adviser to Karzai, travelled to Kandahar to discuss Afghanistan’s peace and reintegration program with provincial governors in the south.

Nato spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said Monday that more than 600 insurgents have laid down their weapons in recent months and joined the peace process with the Afghan government.

The coalition is highlighting the programme to demonstrate progress in the war, which will be the focus of President Barack Obama’s review of the war strategy to be released within days.

Blotz said there have been 25 cases of fighters wanting to switch sides, including about 150 insurgents in Baghlan province in the north. Local Afghan officials have also reported reintegration activity in Herat, Badghis and Nangarhar provinces.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Cleric Puts Price on Head of Pakistani Woman

Fears are growing for the safety of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death under Pakistani blasphemy laws, after a religious preacher and a major newspaper issued a call for ordinary Muslims to behead her if the courts do not carry out the hanging.

A Punjabi court found the mother of five guilty of insulting the prophet Muhammad last month, acting on complaints from her Muslim neighbours. She was the first woman to be sentenced to hang under a harsh 1980s law that is frequently abused to persecute minorities.

The case has inflamed public opinion, drawing protests from both the liberal minority and religious extremists.

On Friday the imam of Peshawar’s oldest mosque, Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, offered a 500,000 rupee (£3,800) reward to anyone who killed Bibi if the court fails to hang her.

The call to violence was endorsed by Nawa-i-Waqt, Pakistan’s second largest selling newspaper, which yesterday hailed Qureshi as a leader of Muslims. “The punishment handed down to Aasia Bibi will be carried out in one manner or the other,” the Urdu daily said.

The extremists have been supported by conservative judges in the Lahore high court, which last week blocked an offer by President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon the woman. Legal experts have questioned the legality of the order.

Meanwhile human rights activists fear Bibi could be killed before her case can come to appeal. At least 10 Pakistanis accused of blasphemy have been killed while their cases were being heard since 1990. In 1997 a Lahore judge who acquitted a teenage boy of blasphemy was gunned down in his chambers.

Given the price on Bibi’s head, supporters worry she could be killed in Sheikhupura jail, where she is being held, or on the steps of the courtroom. “She is in grave danger because her case has become a lightning rod for a confrontation with extremists,” said Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch.

Initially sympathetic to Bibi’s plight, the government has all but abandoned her to extremist forces. The president dithered on his initial offer of a pardon until it was blocked in court. Last week he appointed a hardline Islamist to head the Council of Islamic Ideology — a body that determines whether Pakistan’s laws are in conformity with Islam.

Last week the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, distanced himself from election promises by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party to repeal laws that discriminate against minorities.

Efforts by two senior PPP members, Punjab governor Salman Taseer and former information minister Sherry Rehman, to support Bibi have met with active hostility from within their own camp. Rehman’s proposed watering down of the blasphemy laws is opposed by her own law minister, Babar Awan, who last week announced that “no one should think of finishing” the blasphemy law.

While Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are rooted in a British colonial law from 1860, the failure to repeal them underscores the country’s very modern crisis of governance.

In a report on Pakistan’s creaking criminal justice system published today, the International Crisis Group called for the repeal of all laws that “provide legal cover to the persecution of religious and sectarian minorities”.

Meanwhile the woman at the centre of the furore is clinging to the hope that an appeal will spare her life. She says she was convicted on hearsay, following a row in a field over a glass of water. In a Kafka-esque twist her accusers refuse to specify the alleged blasphemy, saying it would only compound the insult to Islam.

Even if Bibi is acquitted, however, it would be impossible for her to return home. Her family has fled its home after receiving numerous death threats — “they say, ‘we’ll deal with you if we get our hands on you’,” her husband told the BBC — while Muslim prayer leaders in her Punjabi village have vowed to kill her if a judge sets her free.

Her local imam told a reporter that he “cried with joy” after she was sentenced to hang.

Human rights activists say that, if free, Bibi will have to flee into exile, and Canada and Italy have already offered asylum.

But first Pakistan’s troubled judicial system must run its course. The next hearing is scheduled for late December.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: At Least ‘50’ People Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack

(AKI) — The death toll from a a terrorist attack rose to 50 after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a federally administered tribal area of northwest Pakistan.

Two suicide bombers on a motorcycle carried out the attack as a tribal assembly of elders, or ‘jirga’ was meeting in the building in the town of Ghalalnai, close to the border with Afghanistan.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and imposed a curfew.

According to a report on the Arab Al-Jazzera satellite news channel the number of dead is likely to rise because at least 20 injured victims of the blast are in serious condition.

In July, a similar attack on a government office in the area killed 55 people.

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


Pakistan: Lahore High Court Issues Stay Order in Asia Bibi’s Appeal Against Blasphemy Sentence

A new order by the High Court makes it harder to discuss the controversial legislation and prevents the government from issuing a pardon for the convicted Christian woman. The appeal date against her death sentence has not yet been decided.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — On Monday, the Lahore High Court issued a stay order preventing any amendment to the blasphemy legislation until further judicial action. The petition calling for the order was filed by one Muhammed Nasir who claims that parliament has no right to amend the blasphemy law.

In its order, the court ruled that no bill regarding the blasphemy law could be presented until it delivers a verdict on the case. It also issued notices to the federal government for 23 December. It postponed the hearing of the petition filed for Asia Bibi’s pardon in the blasphemy case, although it did not set a date to hear the case.

In an earlier ruling, the court had stalled pardon moves for Asia Bibi, directing President Asif Ali Zardari and the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseeri to restrain from making any move to pardon the convicted woman until 6 December. Today, it decided to extend the stay order until 23 December.

Although the president was not made a direct party among the respondents, the chief justice categorically issued directions to the president saying, “No action shall be taken either by the president of Pakistan or anybody working under the authority of the functionaries performing duties under supervision of the governor of the Punjab.”

In the meantime, more and more people are joining the petition campaign launched by AsiaNews at salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it. So far, about 7,000 people have signed the petition online or on paper.

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

Far East

An American Portrait of China’s Next Leader

It is thought that Xi Jinping will become China’s next president. But who is he? A source close to Xi has provided US diplomats with a detailed portrait of the up-and-coming functionary — and says he is neither corrupt nor a fan of democracy.

He isn’t corrupt, and money seems unimportant to him. He apparently has enough. He likes the United States, and was at one time fascinated by the mysteries of Buddhism and Asian martial arts.

On October 18, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party appointed 57-year-old Xi Jinping vice-president of the powerful Central Military Commission. This makes it all but certain that he has been chosen to succeed Hu Jintao as Communist Party leader and Chinese president in 2012 and thus become one of the most powerful men in the world, if not the most powerful.

But who is Xi Jinping?

Even the Chinese people are more familiar with his wife. 47-year-old Peng Liyuan is a famous folk singer who tours the country boosting morale by trumpeting her love of China, the Party, spring and pretty peasant girls as a two-star general in the People’s Liberation Army. For many years she was a firm fixture on CCTV’s New Year Gala, the most important event on Chinese television.

Parents’ Protective Umbrella

Now, however, considerably more is emerging about her husband. The US Embassy in Beijing has remarkably precise information about China’s future leader. Xi is “extremely ambitious,” and a good man, according to the US source. He also comes from a good home. Xi is the son of former guerilla fighter and later Deputy Prime Minister Xi Zhongxun — a “princeling,” one of an influential class of sons and daughters of loyal functionaries that steadily rise up the Communist Party hierarchy under their parents’ protective umbrella.

Xi grew up in the sheltered environment of the nomenklatura. He spent his childhood in the Beijing district reserved for high-ranking officials. Although China officially doesn’t have any classes, the neighborhood is strictly divided by rank: Members of the Politburo get a better apartment, a larger official car and are permitted to shop in nicer stores than mere ministers or deputy ministers. The scions of these families know from an early age that they have been chosen to one day “take their rightful place in the Chinese leadership,” as one of the embassy dispatches notes.

In 1966 Chairman Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to remove opponents from the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party. Encouraged by the motto “bomb the headquarters”, the loyal Maoist elite pulled the rug out from under their own feet. Red Guards ran through the streets looking for supposed “Soviet spies” and “counter-revolutionaries.” Xi’s father landed in prison, and the younger Xi was sent into the countryside to work in the fields.

In the early 1970s Xi and many princelings were permitted to return to Beijing. But while many of his young contemporaries set about enjoying their newfound freedom, Xi chose a different path. “He chose to survive by becoming redder than red,” the US embassy’s source says.

Unlucky in Love

In 1974, despite the fact that his father was still in prison, Xi joined the Communist Party, a decision which lost him the trust of fellow princelings, who felt betrayed by the move. Whereas his friends gorged themselves on Western literature, Xi read the works of Karl Marx and even joined a “workers’, farmers’ and soldiers’ revolutionary committee.” It was an open secret among the princelings that Xi’s first degree in Marxism was not authentic. Xi then went on to study at the prestigious Qinghua University in Beijing. He first enrolled in chemistry and Marxism before going on to earn a PhD in law in 1979.

Upon leaving university, XI joined the army, working as a secretary in the offices of the central military commission in Beijing, although his precise rank remains unknown. Connections and old-boy networks are important within the Communist Party, and Xi’s army job was clearly the result of an exchange. It appears he was hired by General Geng Bao, one of his father’s former comrades-in-arms. In return, Xi senior — who had since risen to Party leader in the southern province of Guangdong — appointed Geng’s daughter to an attractive position.

Xi had less luck in his private life. His first marriage, to the elegant and educated diplomat’s daughter Ke Xiaoming, quickly fell apart. According to the US source, the couple lived in his parents’ apartment in the exclusive Nanshagou district of western Beijing, where they “argued almost every day,” according to a US dispatch. Eventually, Ke returned to England, while Xi remained in China…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Japan: Super Rubber Made of Nanotubes Stretches Like Elastic, Oozes Like Honey

Now and then we stop to marvel at the feats of carbon nanotube researchers, who use these infinitesimal tubes to build materials of adamantine strength and impressive electrical conductivity. But what if you could marry the robustness of nanotubes to the stretchiness of viscous liquids? You’d be Xu Ming and his fellow Japan-based scientists, who have creating a super rubber that—unlike normal rubber—does not crack and fall apart at extreme temperatures.

Xu’s team outlines its creation in a study for this week’s edition of the journal Science.

Made entirely of carbon, it can flow and stretch slowly like thick honey and spring back to its original form, said [Xu].”It looks like a metal sponge that is porous, it is made from trillions of entangled carbon nanotubes,” she said in a telephone interview. “When you stretch and release it, it can come back slowly (to its original shape).” [ABC News]…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


‘True Democracy’ Within China’s Politburo?

Can one find democracy in China? According to a US source in Beijing, the country’s Politburo is more interested in consensus than decrees — on all issues except for Tibet. But, US diplomats allege, most of the country’s top functionaries maintain close ties with various industries.

Is there any place in dictatorial China where votes are taken and discussions held — rather than orders given and decrees issued? Indeed there is. And it is where one would least expect it: In the heart of Chinese power.

If one is to believe US diplomatic sources in Beijing, “true democracy” prevails in the Politburo of all places, within that little-known group of top apparatchiks consisting of 24 men and one woman.

No one outside China’s ruling cadre knows who at the top of China’s power structure decides what and why. No one knows who thinks what, who is allied with whom and who really has influence. Public debates are rare. But by talking to leading functionaries, experts from the US Embassy in Beijing managed to get a glimpse inside of China’s inner circle.

The newly revealed US embassy dispatches provide surprising details. Hardly any decisions, no matter how sensitive they might be, are decreed by head of state Hu Jintao or head of government Wen Jiabao. Decisions instead tend to be taken collectively by top Communist party functionaries. When vital policy issues, such as relations with Taiwan or North Korea, are up for decision, all 25 Politburo members are involved. Lesser issues are resolved by the nine-member standing committee.

‘A Consensus System’

The committee, though, does not decide by vote, according to cables sent from US diplomats back to Washington. Instead, issues are weighed up and discussed for as long as it takes to arrive at a consensus. In the decision making process, to be sure, Hu Jintao’s “views carry the greatest weight,” US diplomats quote a source with access to the inner power circle as saying. “It is a consensus system,” the source said, “in which members can exercise veto power.”

It is a system that ensures that none of the Communist party functionaries becomes too powerful. But it is a principle, US diplomats have been told, that doesn’t apply to one particularly touchy issue: that of the Dalai Lama and Tibet. On that subject, China’s president and Communist party head Hu Jintao “is firmly in charge.”

In his eyes, the Dalai Lama is a traitor and a separatist. Rebels are to be severely punished or re-educated — a view that Hu himself applied during his time as Communist party chief in Tibet from 1988 to 1992. Those who would prefer a milder approach risk their careers, US diplomats have been told…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Flanders: Roma Story Shocks Mr Bourgeois

The Flemish Integration Minister Geert Bourgeois (Flemish nationalist) has said that his message has been totally misunderstood. Mr Bourgeois also voiced his sense of shock after reading an article on the website of the Bulgarian daily “Standart”.

Mr Bourgeois made his comments after seeing how the website reported the Flemish Government’s Roma Plan that he unveiled on Friday.

Belga “Standart” reports that Roma travellers will be given access to those parts of the labour market where there are shortages under the headline “Bulgarian Roma Welcome in Belgium”. It notes that restrictions on entry to Belgium for people from Bulgaria and Romania have been relaxed.

“Standart” bases its report on the Flemish Government’s new policy on Roma travellers. Flemish Integration Minister Geert Bourgeois is shocked by the report: “Flanders is portrayed as a land of milk and honey, but this is a representation of our plan that is totally inaccurate.” Mr Bourgeois, who now fears a new influx of Roma travellers, added: “our message is not one of ‘Come here’.”

Speaking to VRT News the Integration Minister said that the Flemish Government hoped to achieve the opposite.

He is now doing everything in his power to make sure that the Bulgarians get the right message. He intends to contact the Belgian embassy in Sofia, the Bulgarian press agency and Bulgarian papers to ensure matters are put straight.

The Flemish Government’s Roma Plan aims to ensure that the influx of Roma travellers is dealt with more effectively in cities like Ghent (East Flanders). It was drawn up after several local authorities that experienced major problems with Roma sounded the alarm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Italy: Two Separate Tragedies Raise Gusts of Intolerance

Moroccan arrested for murder, compatriot kills seven with car

(ANSA) — Rome, December 6 — Two separate tragedies in which Moroccan migrants were implicated at the weekend have raised gusts of intolerance from some quarters in Italy.

A 22-year-old man from the North African country was arrested Sunday on suspicion of the kidnapping and murder of a 13-year-old girl who went missing in the northern town of Brembate Sopra near Bergamo nine days ago.

On the same day a 21-year-old Moroccan allegedly under the influence of drugs killed seven cyclists and injured three others, one of whom is in a critical condition, after losing control of his car at Lamezia Terme in the southern region of Calabria.

A banner reading “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” was put up by one local at Brembate Sopra after news spread of the arrest of the 22-year-old, who has denied killing Yara Gambirasio, whose body has not been found.

Another called on migrants to get “out of Bergamo”, while racist comments and calls for lynchings appeared on some facebook pages.

The girl’s family, in contrast, appealed for calm and Brembate Sopra’s Northern League Mayor Diego Locatelli said there should be no “manhunt”.

But this tone was not shared by other figures in the League, the junior partner in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government alliance and a party which frequently takes hardline stances on migration issues.

“We have so many criminals in Italy that we don’t need to import them,” said League Senator Piergiorgio Stiffoni in reference to both cases. “Let’s send them all back home” League MEP Matteo Salvini echoed those sentiments: “You can now read about the link between immigration and violence every day in police reports,” Salvini told Monday’s edition of daily newspaper La Repubblica.

“Uncontrolled immigration has caused damage. Those who preached the policy that there’s room for everyone have what is happening on their conscience,” he added, suggesting that even migrants with the necessary documents should not be allowed to enter Italy if they do not have a job. One commentator said intolerance helped some Italians feel they knew who their enemies were in a danger-riddled modern world, even though the threat often stems not from migrants, but from family members, as shown in two other recent high-profile murder cases here.

“This time it’s not ‘one of us’, it’s ‘one of them’…

Finally things are back in their place,” wrote Chiara Saraceno in an opinion piece in La Repubblica entitled “the racism of pain”. “The villains are other people, doubly unknown because they are strangers and foreigners. “It’s reassuring to seek a scapegoat on whom you can vent the anxiety of no longer feeling in control of a given area or your everyday existence — not because immigrants are here, but because the rules of the game have changed”. However, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a League heavyweight, said it was wrong to read too much into reactions to these tragedies. “I wouldn’t want the display of a banner at Brembate, which I and the town’s Northern League mayor have condemned, to come to be seen as a symbol of a community which is actually hard working and welcoming,” Maroni said on Italian radio Monday.

“In the north there is a model system of reception and integration for immigrants and aside from that, obviously, there are individual cases”. The Moroccan community in Lamezia Terme, meanwhile, said they were mourning with the families of the dead cyclists and asked not to be judged by the deeds of one man.

“We are on the side of the victims and their families and to show it we closed our shops and businesses today” Hassan Qablaoui, a representative of the town’s Islamic centre, told ANSA.

“We’ll have a meeting with police soon to assess whether it is appropriate for us to attend the funeral.

“We are all saddened and we think the driver must pay for what he did, but we also want to prevent the whole community’s image being overshadowed. We are not all like that”. A police car was stationed outside the home of the driver’s family on Monday to deter any possible revenge attacks, although the situation appeared calm.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: MP’s Russian Aide Spy Suspect to Fight Deportation Bid

An MP’s aide arrested over suspicions she has been spying for Russia says she will fight her deportation and feels sure she will win.

Katia Zatuliveter, 25, a Russian working for MP Mike Hancock, made her first comments in an e-mail to Pavel Fedenko of the BBC Russian Service.

It was sent from the immigration centre where she has been held since Thursday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said the government was “vigilant” about the risk of foreign spies in Whitehall.

Mr Hague said he could not comment on that case, but there was nothing wrong with MPs employing foreign-born staff — many of whom did “outstanding” work.

In the e-mail, Ms Zatuliveter said: “I was arrested on Thursday at 7am and was told I would be deported. Nobody explained me why and this is my main concern.

‘Outstanding service’ “I was not told about the arrangement of the flight. I am in the process of appealing against the deportation and absolutely sure I will win it (if there is justice).”

The Home Office has not confirmed whether there are plans to deport her.

[.]

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Switzerland: Teddy Bear to Trigger Emotions in Gun Law Vote

The committee behind an initiative to ban Swiss men from keeping their military-issue guns at home has launched its campaign.

The people’s initiative, launched by the centre-left Social Democratic Party, pacifist and medical organisations, will be put to a nationwide vote on February 13.

The initiative committee presented its website and slogan, “Protect families — vote yes to prevent gun violence” on Sunday. Pictured is a teddy bar with blood dripping from a bullet hole in its chest.

The initiative calls for army weapons to be kept in arsenals and for a national gun register to be created. It also wants to ban private individuals from buying or owning particularly dangerous guns such as automatic weapons and pump-action shotguns.

According to the committee, around 2.3 million weapons are in circulation in Switzerland, of which 1.7 million are current or old army-issue rifles and pistols.

They claim army weapons are responsible for around 300 deaths a year and having access to a gun makes fatal incidents easier, especially gun suicides.

Women in particular support the initiative, the committee added. And it said psychiatry and doctors’ organisations backed the plan because, if approved, it would reduce the high rate of suicides in which guns are used.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga will present the government’s position at a news confernce on Monday.

The cabinet and parliament have already spoken out against the initiative, saying current gun laws are strong enough to prevent misuse.

Keeping military firearms at home is a long-standing tradition for the Swiss militia army, which is supposed to be ready for a call to arms in times of crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

General

Cancun, A Case of Lowered Expectations

A year on from the Copenhagen climate conference we ask whether anything good came out of it and what the prospects for COP16 in Cancun look like

‘Climate is dead,’ opined former Bush advisor Karl Rove recently. He didn’t mean it in a literal sense, of course, but a political one. After last year’s train wreck in Copenhagen, during which the goal of a legally binding international agreement to limit global warming was shattered by political intransience, vested national interests and the new realities of a shifting global power structure, few would disagree with him. And when his climate-sceptic Republican party made substantial gains in the US mid-term elections, effectively scuppering Obama’s stated climate goals, it seemed like the final nail in the coffin for climate activists.

So what can we expect from Cancun? Well, we know what not to expect. There will be no binding treaty to limit global warming — it’s not even on the agenda. The event in Mexico, which is to be attended by negotiators from 193 countries (but precious few heads of state: they learned their lesson last year in Copenhagen) will be more of a damage limitation exercise than anything else. The trauma caused by the failure of the COP15 talks has threatened to derail the entire UN process for tackling climate change, and if nothing can be agreed upon now it could set the process back by years. Denmark’s very own Connie Hedegaard, who last year was the president of COP15 and is now the EU’s climate chief negotiator, has said that a disappointing outcome to Cancun would ‘put the whole process in danger.’

Cancun, on Mexico’s tropical southern coast, is a far cry from ice-bound Copenhagen. It is also a far from propitious place to hold an international conference: its name in Mayan means ‘nest of snakes’. It was here that other agreements foundered, including major world trade talks. Nothing good, it seems, ever comes out of Cancun. Yet the talks couldn’t be more urgent. 2010 is likely to be the hottest year on record and, in the months up to September alone, some 21,000 people had died in climate related disasters, say Oxfam. So what, if anything, can Cancun hope to achieve?

Well, apart from re-establishing the credibility of the UN climate process, delegates will be focusing on three main areas: forests, money and adaptation. There is a good chance that a deal can be struck to limit the huge devastation of forests that goes on worldwide and contributes significantly to atmospheric carbon. And then there’s the money promised last year to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. If Copenhagen achieved anything it was the Copenhagen Accord, a three-page document hastily thrown together at the last minute by Britain’s then prime minister Gordon Brown, which ‘promises’ to provide 100 billion dollars a year to poorer nations by 2020 to help them adapt. This is also seen as key to helping developing nations decarbonise their growth i.e. avoid the wasteful pollution that is traditionally associated with rapidly growing poor nations, allowing them to leap-frog onto a clean development path…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Computer Games Are Addictive and Use Psychological Ploys First Tested on Lab Rats

Computer games are dangerously addictive and contain powerful psychological devices designed to make some fans play compulsively, a Panorama investigation will reveal tonight.

A simple technique based on a 1950s study of rats feeding themselves by pressing a lever, which encourages repeat behaviour by rewarding it at random, has effectively been adapted for use in gaming and is feared to encourage addiction.

The situation is so serious that the industry body United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment is now calling for more research on the issue and promising to publish advice for parents helping them to look out for excessive and problem gaming traits in their children.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Strains to Stop Arms Flow

American officials say they have been frustrated in their efforts to block Syria, Iran, North Korea and other countries from selling arms to militants.

[Return to headlines]


‘Warmest Year on Record?’ the Truth is Global Warming Has Halted

A year ago tomorrow, just before the opening of the UN Copenhagen world climate summit, the British Meteorological Office issued a confident prediction. The mean world temperature for 2010, it announced, ‘is expected to be 14.58C, the warmest on record’ — a deeply worrying 0.58C above the 1961-1990 average.

World temperatures, it went on, were locked inexorably into an ever-rising trend: ‘Our experimental decadal forecast confirms previous indications that about half the years 2010-2019 will be warmer than the warmest year observed so far — 1998.’

Met Office officials openly boasted that they hoped by their statements to persuade the Copenhagen gathering to impose new and stringent carbon emission limits — an ambition that was not to be met.

Last week, halfway through yet another giant, 15,000delegate UN climate jamboree, being held this time in the tropical splendour of Cancun in Mexico, the Met Office was at it again.

Never mind that Britain, just as it was last winter and the winter before, was deep in the grip of a cold snap, which has seen some temperatures plummet to minus 20C, and that here 2010 has been the coolest year since 1996.

Globally, it insisted, 2010 was still on course to be the warmest or second warmest year since current records began.

But buried amid the details of those two Met Office statements 12 months apart lies a remarkable climbdown that has huge implications — not just for the Met Office, but for debate over climate change as a whole.

Read carefully with other official data, they conceal a truth that for some, to paraphrase former US VicePresident Al Gore, is really inconvenient: for the past 15 years, global warming has stopped…

           — Hat tip: Bewick[Return to headlines]


Wikileaks and Claim of Warmest Year on Record, Expose Climate Criminality

Some accused me of extremism for asking if the deliberate climate deception constituted crimes against humanity. People don’t want to believe such a massive deception could occur, especially if government is involved. It’s why they dismiss those who see what is happening as conspiracy theorists. There are conspiracies, defined as a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful. Cabal may be a better description of their actions; “the artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot (as to overturn a government); also: a group engaged in such artifices and intrigues.” However, deliberately altering data is unlawful and harmful.

There are two big problems created by the exploitation of climate for a political agenda; lack of scientific understanding and lack of knowledge about the political manipulation and criminality practiced. They are interdependent. People don’t grasp the extent of the criminality because they don’t understand the science. It’s why people didn’t understand the implications of the false IPCC Reports and leaked CRU emails.

Now WikiLeaks reveals the extent of government involvement in the deception. The leftist British paper, The Guardian, blames the US with the headline “WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord” and the charge that, “Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage.”

They ignore the fact that all nations are involved. Maurice Strong embroiled all the world’s weather and climate bureaucracies when he organized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change through the WMO. Anthony Watts describes what the WikiLeaks material exposes. “What really strikes us is the fact that all this Copenhagen/Cancun stuff has nothing to do with the Climate, or saving the World. It’s about political positioning, money, and plain old fascism cult promotion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Wikileaks Will Release Encrypted ‘Doomsday File’ If Site Blocked

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

One of the files identified this weekend by The (London) Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.

Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.

The military papers on Guantanamo Bay, yet to be published, believed to have been supplied by Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May. Other documents that Assange is confirmed to possess include an aerial video of a US airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians, BP files and Bank of America documents.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Robert Marchenoir said...
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Robert Marchenoir said...

"A 14 year-old resident of Usfiya, a village on top of Carmel Mountain, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of unintentionally starting the Camel fire. The boy has admitted that he was in the forest on Thursday morning smoking a water-pipe."

Smoking a water-pipe ? That's quite fashionable among Arab youths these days. Can someone tell us whether water-pipe smoking is practised at all by Israel Jews ?