Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110518

Financial Crisis
»German Chancellor on the Offensive: Merkel Blasts Greece Over Retirement Age, Vacation
»Merkel Tells Southern Europeans to Work Longer
»Single Market: Mario Monti — “States Must Take Responsibility”
»Strauss-Kahn Affair: A Great Manager, Except of Himself
»Strauss-Kahn’s Successor: Why the New IMF Head Can’t be European
»UK: Over 250,000 Civil Servants to Vote on National Strike in Protest Against Coalition Cuts
»Activist Criticized for Obama Protest
»Democrat Party Has Been Apologists for Socialism’s and Communism’s Excesses
Europe and the EU
»Debt Crisis: Athens Laments Strauss-Kahn’s Fall
»Dominique Strauss-Kahn Resigns From I.M.F.
»EU ‘Not Marginal’ On World Stage, Ashton Says
»EU Steps Up Pressure for Maritime Emissions Deal
»Italy: Gelato Worth Its Weight in Gold
»Italy: Milan Prosecutors Seek Action Over Anti-Judicial Posters
»Italy Slams Switzerland and Blocks Tax Deal
»Nazi Hunters Call on Belgium’s Justice Minister to be Sacked
»Queen Elizabeth in Ireland
»Rising Anti-Semitism Among Muslim Pupils in Brussels
»Spain: 250,000 Euros From Personal Income Tax to Church
»Sweden: New Blast Hits Malmö Nightspot
»The Full-Blown Return of Anti-Semitism in Europe
»UK: Defence Chiefs Launch Probe Into Soldiers’ Far-Right EDL Photos
»UK: The £800,000 Benefit Cheats: Gypsy Swindlers Flew Into Britain From Romania Just to Pick Up Their Cheques
»UN: 1 Out of Every 8 Citizens Pays Bribes
North Africa
»Algeria: Massacre of Single Women
»Dutch F-16s Join Libyan Raids, But Don’t Take Part in Bombing
»GB’s Armed Forces: Killing Gaddafi “Compatible With Roes”
»Libya: Younis: Gaddafi in Tripoli Suburbs, Always on the Move
»Morocco: Accusations Against Judiciary, Paper Editor in Jail
»Top Bishop Praises Lampedusa Residents
»Tunisia: Military Court Closes Internet Sites
»U.S. Unveils $2 Billion Aid Package for Egypt
Israel and the Palestinians
»EU: Concern Over Israel Block on PNA Tax Revenue
Middle East
»Bahrain: Emergency Law: First Woman Sentenced
»British Tourist Faces Year in Dubai Jail After Calling Prophet Muhammad a ‘Terrorist’ In Row With Shopkeeper
»Has the Arab Spring Stalled?
»Iran: Execution of Two Brothers in Iran — Habibollah Latifi May be Next!
»Saudi Arabia: King’s Daughter’s Challenge, No Niqab
»Syria: Former President Khaddam, Army Intervention Needed
»Syria: Iran Releases Al Jazeera Reporter Missing in Syria
»Yemen: Saleh to Defend Himself at All Costs; More Casualties
South Asia
»‘Red Rout’ As India’s Communists Fall
Far East
»Chinese to View Sensitive U.S. Sites
»Japan: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Actually Occurred Just 16 Hours After Earthquake, More Meltdowns on the Way
Australia — Pacific
»Beer for Space Tourists: More Taste: Fewer Wet Burps
Sub-Saharan Africa
»The Booty Business: Price Tag for Somali Piracy Surges
»African Migrants Fleeing Libya Describe Boat Ordeal
»EU Looks at Sweden’s Border Controls
»Tragedy With Immigrants Off Preveza — One Child Dead, One Missing
»Unsafe in Libya, Unwanted in Europe: Exiles of the Arab Spring
Culture Wars
»Cyprus is Least Gay-Friendly EU Country, Study Says
»Czech Sexuality Tests Not Legal, EU Commission Says
»EU Officials Tell Africa to Shape Up on Gay Rights
»UK: ‘Black Women Are Less Attractive Than Others’: Controversial LSE Psychologist Sparks Backlash With His ‘Scientific’ Findings
»Uttering ‘Jesus’ In School ‘Not Protected Free Speech’
»Lonely Rogue Worlds Surprisingly Outnumber Planets With Suns

Financial Crisis

German Chancellor on the Offensive: Merkel Blasts Greece Over Retirement Age, Vacation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday evening blasted Greece and demanded that Athens raise the retirement age and reduce vacation days. Germany will help, she said, but only if indebted countries help themselves.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel Tells Southern Europeans to Work Longer

Chancellor Angela Merkel has attacked southern European countries such as Greece, where people retire early and take lots of holidays, saying they can no longer enjoy such lifestyles at the cost of other EU members like Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Single Market: Mario Monti — “States Must Take Responsibility”

Twice appointed as a European commissioner, initially for the internal market and later for competition, Mario Monti is one of the main specialists — and defenders — of the European single market. In 2010, Commission President José Manuel Barroso asked him to write a report on A New Strategy for the Single Market. Presseurop met with him in Florence, on the occasion of the Festival d’Europa.

In answer to the question: do you believe that initiatives which seek to water down the principles of the single market, including freedom of movement, have been prompted by the current crisis, or is there a deeper reason? Mario Monti argues that “current economic difficulties have certainly been a contributory factor,” but at the same time complains of a “tendency to make do with a lesser level of acceptance and enthusiasm” than at the outset of the single market.

The President of Milan’s Bocconi University is concerned about what he terms “a weariness with integration,” which was evident in the French and Dutch referenda of 2005, and a “weariness with the market in its current form.” In the light of the financial crisis, “many people wondered: Is a market economy the right solution?” For the former commissioner: “It is obviously the only solution,” although its functioning and supervision should be improved.

Like Europe’s political and legislative processes, the single market has a complexity that often contributes to disinterest or even euroscepticism on the part of its citizens. “It is hard to explain the benefits, which are real though often not readily apparent, of the single market,” points out Mario Monti. For this reason, he argues that we should “adopt a targeted approach to change certain single market policies,” and, as the author of the New Strategy for the Single Market, he is pleased that many of his “suggestions have been taken up by specific Commission proposals.”

These will still have to obtain the support of member states and their leaders, who are often under pressure from national elections and economic difficulties. Under no illusions about the necessity of their participation, Mario Monti believes that European Council President Herman Van Rompuy should devote a council session to the single market, “so that the highest echelons of our governments are seen to assume their responsibility.” When this has been done, the former Commissioner argues that “they will not find it so easy to stay out of the picture” when called on to take part in the shared drive to create growth and jobs, and to safeguard the long-term solidity of the euro.”

In the wake of the announcement of the Portuguese bailout package, and at a time when Greece continues to prompt concerns and rumours about the fate of the single currency, should Europeans expect a worsening of the crisis?

“I hope the worst of it is behind us,” says Mario Monti, who points that “regardless of what happens, Europe will be in a much better situation to deal with it.” The EU has been “very quick to make up up for lost time” and today it has a governance “that is much more effective,” remarks the former commissioner.

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

Strauss-Kahn Affair: A Great Manager, Except of Himself

La Repubblica Rome

The arrest of the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has deprived the international arena of a key player for Europe, who was able to include a social dimension in IMF intervention in crisis-stricken states.

Federico Rampini.

An immense vacuum has opened up at the summit of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At a critical moment for the Greek bailout and the stability of the Eurozone, a key player in the “emergency intervention” in crisis stricken sovereign states, which continue to threaten the global economy, has been destroyed by a scandal. And the IMF has been deprived of the man who did much to reinforce its role: Dominique Strauss-Kahn aka DSK.

Right now, the IMF has to cope with an unprecedented internal emergency, which may be resolved by the arrival of a Chinese or Brazilian president — an outcome that would affirm the hegemony of emerging countries and mark the end of “Europe’s right” to appoint the president of the IMF. If this proves to be the case, the European Union will have paid a very high price for the shameful fall from grace of one of its most promising leaders.

The impact of the shock has been considerable: the cancellation of the 15 May summit between DSK and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which was supposed to address dangerous disagreements over the Greek crisis; an emergency meeting of the IMF executive board in Washington; and the temporary appointment of deputy managing director, American John Lipsky, to take over at the IMF.

DSK emerged as a providential figure

On Monday 16 May, a headless IMF delegation presented itself at the Eurogroup meeting, which is to decide on urgent cures for Greece and agree in principle to the appointment of Mario Draghi at the head of the European Central Bank (ECB). In Germany, the Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble, who was forced to intervene to reassure markets before they opened, declared that “the solution to the Greek problem has not been blocked, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest will not have an impact on negotiations.”

It is an assertion that is easy to say, but the extremely serious nature of the loss to the global economy has surfaced in the form of extreme reactions in France, where the quest to identify behind the scenes manipulators is a testament to the extraordinary personality of DSK — that is, in terms of his professional career. In 2007, when he took over as its managing director, the IMF was apparently destined for extinction. In the first six months, while the markets were still unaware of the subprime bubble, Turkey reimbursed “the last loan” granted by the IMF, which had nothing else left on its books. Everything was going too well. There were no countries in need of aid.

Then, in just a few months, apocalypse struck and the world was plunged into a financial crisis on a scale unprecedented since the Great Depression. As the energetic head of a revitalised IMF, which rediscovered its vocation for intervention, DSK emerged as a providential figure hurrying from crisis to crisis in Pakistan, Ukraine, and Iceland, and quickly became identified with the critically important task of putting out fires on the periphery of the EU without arousing jealousy in Brussels or Europe’s member states.

Chaos has returned to the markets

While Ireland, Portugal, Greece became regular stops on his international tours, DSK broke with the dominant neoliberal ideology by demanding greater controls on the movement of capital and new banking system rules. He also spoke out against social inequality and appointed a Chinese economist as his special advisor. In the throes of the crisis, even the United States came to appreciate the presence of a French socialist, who had vision for the reforms needed to counter the excesses of all powerful markets. Even more enthusiastic, the Europeans lavished him with praise.

Over 18 months his long-standing personal relationships with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet, and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou as well as his good standing with Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama proved to be precious weapons in the battle over measures to prevent the break-up of the Eurozone.

Were it not for this affair in the Manhattan Sofitel, DSK would now be attending a 16 May meeting in Brussels to act as a mediator between Germany, the ECB and the European Commission which will decide on a 60 billion loan for Greece to ward off the restructuring of its public debt. Chaos has returned to the markets where Greek bankruptcy is expected to herald the fall of Ireland and Portugal along with any number of other countries…

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

Strauss-Kahn’s Successor: Why the New IMF Head Can’t be European

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in jail, and the debate over his successor as IMF head has already begun. German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to see another European get the job. But that would be a fatal signal to emerging powers such as China and India.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Over 250,000 Civil Servants to Vote on National Strike in Protest Against Coalition Cuts

Over 250,000 civil servants are to vote on a national strike in protest at Government cuts to jobs, services and pensions.

The Public and Commercial Services union annual conference in Brighton decided on the vote today.

Voting will begin next week and the result will be released in the middle of June.

The voting coincides with a walk-out by teachers on June 30.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘National action with other unions is key to our strategy, which is designed to escalate and put pressure on the Government before it is too late.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Activist Criticized for Obama Protest

RALEIGH (WTVD) — You might expect to see President Obama’s effigy disrespected in another country. But just three weeks ago, something similar happened at a Tea Party rally at the North Carolina State Capitol.

Tea Party activist Randy Dye pulled out a plastic representation of President Obama’s head and poured water over it. He then kicked it.

“That’s a mask I bought at a Halloween shop,” he explained to ABC11. “Basically, I was just telling the public that I think he’s all wet.”

The rally happened on April 16 — Tax Day — and Dye said he was demonstrating against the recent federal budget compromise to fund the rest of this fiscal year.

“Barack Obama used the military family’s paychecks as blackmail during the so-called budget compromise,” said Dye. “Some things in life are just too stupid to tolerate and Obama is one of them.”

“When he claimed that if the budget was shut down, that our military wouldn’t be paid, I have two sons in the military — that was so unpresidential I couldn’t believe that he did that,” Dye continued.

But many can’t believe Dye did what he did.

“This is just not the kind of thing that has a place if you want to be taken seriously,” Chris Fitzsimon with NC Policy Watch offered.

And for some, it cuts even deeper.

“It’s racism, it’s unadulterated racism,” said Cornell Adams.

Adams — who as a Raleigh civil rights leader in the 1960s — says regardless of the context of Dye’s speech, the image still hurts.

“There’s nothing in there that’s positive. It’s all negative,” he offered.

But Dye says it was all about policy and had nothing to do with race.

“I don’t care if the president was white or purple. If he was any president, I would have did that. I would have done the exact same thing,” he said.

Former FBI agent Frank Perry says it’s well within Dye’s First Amendment rights to do what he did — even kicking the head — and saying President Obama shouldn’t be “tolerated.”

But Perry says it could mean a visit from the Secret Service.

“The Secret Service could see it as at least justifying a contact and an interview,” he said.

Dye says he hasn’t been contacted by the Secret Service but does stand by his actions. And while some at the rally applauded what he did, others did not. The rally’s organizer later said it was inappropriate.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

Democrat Party Has Been Apologists for Socialism’s and Communism’s Excesses

I recently shared a message with, Gina Miller, who writes a darned good column []. I was telling her that we all need to continue telling folks that their Grand-Pappy’s Democrat Party does not exist. For that matter, neither does their Daddy’s GOP. Both have drifted so far Left that some form of major political upheaval is all but inevitable to restore balance. Let’s just hope that throwing their Big Government ideas overboard [like tea?] does not happen too late for America’s sake.

When the GOP makes a “hard bargain,” we find out later that they celebrated “being had.”

Why do I think this? I think this particularly because the Democrat Party has been apologists for Socialism’s and Communism’s excesses. They have willingly flirted with and carried water for European Collectivist Movements since the days of the New Deal. They have turned American elections into cheap and tawdry exercises of bread and circus. They specialize in smear, slander, libel, scandal, wagging the dog, acting mean and nasty while blaming the other guy for “dirty tricks” or “being racist,” or being a “bigot.” Everything they do imposes burdens on freedom, but they do it very well. To their way of thinking Big Government is better: Freedom is slavery; Slavery is freedom. I find them usually to be arrogant, overconfident, and decidedly misguided bores. And, the GOP old-timers have been dragged along for the ride for so long that they have acquired a kind of political Stockholm Syndrome. Much of the current collectivist agenda has started to seem less radical to them. When the GOP makes a “hard bargain,” we find out later that they celebrated “being had.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Debt Crisis: Athens Laments Strauss-Kahn’s Fall

Eleftherotypia Athens

At a time when Greece is preparing to negotiate a new loan in its bid to overcome the crisis, the departure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) from the IMF is cause for concern, writes Eleftherotypia, which remarks that he had a better understanding than most of the Greek problem.

One of the major consequences of the events in New York will be their effect on the Eurozone and in particular on the Greek crisis. Experts expect that both of these problems will be rendered more serious by the absence of DSK — an international leader in a non-European organisation who was known for his keen understanding of the challenges and problems faced by Europe and Greece.

Last year, he was the first to respond to Greece’s appeal for financial aid, well before the Europeans had decided on their strategy after prolonged negotiations with Germany. He also tended to have a better understanding of the problems faced by Greece (and southern countries in general), than governments in many northern European countries.

According to several sources, at a meeting scheduled for Sunday 15 May, he was hoping to persuade Chancellor Angela Merkel that Greece would need more time to repay its bailout loans — in fact, he was the first to have voiced support for this demand. Unfortunately, this meeting did not take place. On Monday 16 May, he was supposed to take part in a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers to discuss a number of solutions and to take some serious decisions in the run-up to the European summit in June. Now this meeting will go ahead without him.

As a European and a potential candidate in the next French presidential election, DSK felt obliged to demonstrate greater interest in Europe and in the fate of weak countries than an Asian IMF leader might have done.

This sudden tragedy will have consequences in Greece, where many issues have yet to be settled: negotiations with the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF experts on the payment of the fifth tranche of the 110 billion euro bailout package are still ongoing, while discussions on the provision of a further loan for Greece have only just begun. Now they will have to go ahead without the key player, which DSK undoubtedly was. Only time will tell if the events that took place in the New York Sofitel will have a decisive influence on the outcome of this particular match.

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

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Resigns From I.M.F.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned Wednesday as head of the International Monetary Fund after explosive allegations that he had sexually attacked a cleaning lady in a midtown Manhattan hotel room.

His resignation comes just days after he was taken off an Air France plane at Kennedy International Airport and arrested in connection with the alleged attack.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, had been expected to declare his candidacy for the French presidency soon. He was seen as the figure most likely to oust President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In issuing his resignation Wednesday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn said, “I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all all of the allegations that have been made against me.”

[Return to headlines]

EU ‘Not Marginal’ On World Stage, Ashton Says

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday said the bloc’s response to events unfolding in the southern neighbourhood is not at all “a marginal activity”, citing evacuations from Libya, the opening of an office in Benghazi and humanitarian aid.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Steps Up Pressure for Maritime Emissions Deal

EU member states have stepped up pressure for an international agreement to curb emissions from the maritime and aviation sectors, stressing that a system of carbon pricing for ships and planes would help capitalise a $100 billion climate fund.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Gelato Worth Its Weight in Gold

Two tourists in Florence pay €27 for a cone and a tub. Ponte Vecchio shop says price list was displayed

MILAN — One large cone and one tub of ice cream: €27, roughly the same as a gram of gold. That could be why the experience of two tourists in Florence prompted some people to think there was a new “filigree” flavour. Sara and Hans Peter Ehrlich from Freiburg, Germany, are unlikely to forget their stroll over Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. The two — they say not very good —ice creams they ate at the counter came with a sting in the tail. “When they told me about it, I thought their might have been a language problem but then they showed me the receipt. I could see they were telling the truth”, explains Caroline Wasserfuhr, owner of the Valdera bed and breakfast where the couple were staying. It was Ms Wasserfuhr who consoled the two tourists with a bottle of red wine to soothe away any brooding thoughts along the lines of “typical Italians”.

Meanwhile, the ice cream bar in question points out that the price list is displayed on the wall, as required by law. Nonetheless, the incident invites parallels with the Grand Opulence Sundae, the ice cream served on sheets of edible gold leaf by Serendipity in New York for a modest $1,000. Average monthly sales, one. “The ice cream business is growing all the time. Lots of people are investing in the sector, particularly during a crisis”, notes Gabriele Poli, inventor of the Festival del Gelato, to be held in Florence, as it happens, from 25 to 29 May. “It’s no coincidence. Gelato was invented here in 1536, when at Cosimo de’ Medici’s request, Bernardo Buontalenti served guests at court with a cold cream made from milk, honey, egg yolks and a splash of wine, aromatised with bergamots, lemons and oranges”.

A noble beginning that led to the more prosaic present day. But it’s not the same story everywhere. “There’s no justification for a price like that. My cones cost €4, tops”, says Florence-based ice cream maker, the appropriately named Bernardo Minniti. His ice cream shop a short distance from the church of Santa Croce is mentioned in the Touring Club guide (“The Italy of ice cream”) and the French Routard guide. “The two German tourists paid because they had an ice cream on Ponte Vecchio, but that doesn’t mean the product was excellent. At major tourist spots, the eye-catching trays of ice cream are fluffed up with air and colouring agents. A good gelato doesn’t look as if it has been whisked and doesn’t drip from the cone”, says Mr Minniti…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Milan Prosecutors Seek Action Over Anti-Judicial Posters

(AGI) Milan — Milan prosecutors have requested justice ministry go-ahead to proceed against Giacomo Di Capua and Roberto Lassini. The two are under investigation for contempt of the judiciary as part of the enquiry into posters attacking magistrates that have appeared in Milan in recent weeks. The move was announced by prosecutor Edmund Bruti Liberati in a statement saying that the request has been forwarded to the minister of justice.

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

Italy Slams Switzerland and Blocks Tax Deal

Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti has thrown a spanner into a Swiss-EU tax agreement by calling the savings tax directive a “paper tiger” written by Switzerland.

Speaking at a European finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels, an angry Tremonti criticised the directive as a “toothless instrument” that was legally worthless since it didn’t even allow for sanctions.

In recent years Switzerland has come under pressure from its neighbours, including France and Italy, as well as the United States to crack down on tax dodgers and abolish its traditional banking secrecy. Non-EU member Switzerland has been resolutely against an automatic exchange of information.

“Switzerland is not a member of the EU — the EU has become a member of Switzerland,” he said, adding that the directive accommodated third countries above all and was manipulated by member states.

Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann — also in Brussels on Tuesday for a separate meeting — noted that Tremonti had “expressed his opinion clearly” but said now wasn’t the time to react to his comments.

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

Nazi Hunters Call on Belgium’s Justice Minister to be Sacked

Jewish Nazi hunters have called for Belgium’s justice minister to be sacked after he backed an amnesty for thousands of Second World War Belgian collaborators.

By Bruno Waterfield

Stefan De Clerck, a Flemish Christian Democrat, has polarised Belgium, fuelling the country’s one year political crisis, by supporting a blanket amnesty for the 56,000 Belgians who were convicted of collaborating with the Nazis after the war.

“Perhaps we should be willing to forget, because it is the past. At some point one has to be adult and be willing to talk about. perhaps to forget, because this is the past,” he said at the weekend.

The Simon Wiesenthal centre has sent a letter to Yves Leterme, the Belgian Prime Minister, accusing the minister of a “betrayal of history, his obfuscation of its lessons and his contempt for the very concept of justice.”

Around 25,000 Belgian Jews were deported to Auschwitz from the Mechelen army barracks, north of Brussels, after being rounded up by authorities that often enthusiastically collaborated with the Nazis despite strong resistance from Belgium’s people.

Only 1,207 survived and in 2007 the Belgian state he Belgian state apologised for “a collaboration unworthy of a democracy with a policy that was disastrous for the Jewish population”.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Queen Elizabeth in Ireland

Royal Charm Offensive Has Irish Eyes Smiling

Her outfit was a symbolic green, and a rare smile was planted firmly on her face — Queen Elizabeth II made all the right gestures at the beginning of her state visit to Ireland. But a fear of violence continues to overshadow the four-day stay.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Rising Anti-Semitism Among Muslim Pupils in Brussels

Commission for the Interior, General Affairs and Civil Service of Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Question 05 by Mr Tanguy Veys to the Minister of Interior about “rising anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils in Brussels” (No. 4660)

05.01 Tanguy Veys (VB): Mr Chairman, Madam Minister, last week was a colloquium on the new book “Young in Brussels: findings from the JOP monitor Brussels”. It is a substantial document of 426 pages, written by Nicole Vettenburg, Mark and John Elchardus Put.

This work was immediately attracted attention because the key chapter 8, entitled “Anti-Semitism in Brussels,” about thirty pages the problem of rising anti-Semitism in Brussels, and especially among young Muslim students, is mapped.

This study was based on the Youth Research Platform. I quote VUB sociologist Mark Elchardus about rising anti-Semitism in Brussels Muslim pupils. According to the professor, it is a “very high and disturbing figure. “Worse, those anti-Jewish feelings have nothing to do with a low educational or social disadvantage, as is the case with racist natives. In Brussels native students is 10% anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism that is theologically inspired students and there is a direct link between Muslim and anti-Semitic feelings cherish. For Catholics with anti-Jewish feelings are not as strong and that makes those negative feelings more difficult to combat. “Thus Elchardus.

In the aftermath, I learned that apparently already this publication, in 2003, a report by the Vienna Center for Research on Antisemitism, in his review of anti-Semitic incidents in the European Union, says that in Belgium a marked increase in such incidents to observe. It mentions some serious incidents of violence on individuals, synagogues and commercial vandalism, graffiti and threatening an apparently unstoppable wave of hate speech on the Internet. The authors of this report introduce a declaration that xenophobia is higher in Belgium than in other European countries, a finding which was also confirmed by the recent international research on citizenship, which took place in 2010.

Minister, were at 2 837 students — I think this is a representative sample — a few questions and results are the following.

The responses show that 31.4% of students who feel that Jews want to dominate everything that 29.9% think the most Jews think they are better than others, that 28.6% think that if one does business with Jews , one additional well to be careful and, finally, that 28.4% think that Jews provoke war and blaming others.

Minister, in a first reaction from the Jewish community these figures are confirmed. I quote from Jewish News which states that “all Jews in Brussels more inconvenienced by this worrying mentality and would barely dare to go on the street with a yarmulke.” I also read that “In some districts of Brussels, the Jewish traders completely disappeared from the scene and the synagogue in Anderlecht are often victims of fire bombs against the wall. The satellite of anti-Semitic Arab channels also remains in Brussels Muslim homes feed the anti-Semitic imagery in Brussels youth. “Finally, we also note that the problem is that the Brussels universities, and I remember, Madam Minister, I if he will also have questioned themselves complicit in the problem. It is known that especially Brussels universities do not hesitate to give lectures antisemitic or anti-Israeli actions to organize on campus.

Madam Minister, in view of this alarming situation, I sounded like your response and your attitude towards the results of this study Young in Brussels of the Youth Research Platform.

If you came to the conclusion that there is a growing form of anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils in Brussels? Have you have figures? If not, how is it that you will not have figures?

Imagine this kind of growing anti-Semitism also found in other cities with high concentrations of Muslims, I think in the first instance to Antwerp, and there are even a non-negligible Jewish community there? If so, how much you have figures? What are those numbers? If you have any figures, why not?

What are the current measures such as the Embassy of Israel to Jewish schools, synagogues, shops, offices and homes to this anti-Semitism?

Have you recently taken measures to rising anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils a halt and to take measures, both at the Embassy of Israel to Jewish schools, synagogues, shops, offices and homes, in order to secure more? If so, what and if not, why not?

2.5 Minister Annemie Turtelboom : Mr Chairman, Mr Veys, I have also taken note of the publication of the report. I’ll go through it with great interest.

The anti-Semitism, like repeatedly finding. When it increases, the phenomenon demands our attention. I therefore welcome the study conducted by us and again stresses the dangers of antisemitism.

I ask my staff an analysis of the research. In anticipation of their analysis, I wish therefore no early response in this respect it.

During the investigation, given the international context and based on evaluations of OCAD, since 9 / 11 reinforced measures to ensure increased vigilance.

The official Israeli interests are in our country under constant threat level 3. For schools and various other interests of the Jewish community are continuing measures in force. These measures concern both enhanced patrols and protection of persons and protection of buildings.

For safety reasons, I can obviously not give further details in this respect.

05.03 Tanguy Veys (VB): Madam Minister, thank you for your reply.

I hope the reading of the thirty pages from the document on anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils beat, can happen very quickly. I also hope that through your departments can respond very quickly.

Thank you also for the explanation of the current measures, as provided by you in your capacity as interior minister was performed.

You give no figures on incidents in the area of ​​anti-Semitism. I suspect however that they are in your possession. I hope I at a later date on deez figures will be coming back.

The incident is closed.

[Return to headlines]

Spain: 250,000 Euros From Personal Income Tax to Church

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 17 — Spain’s Catholic Church was granted 250,000 euros from the voluntary contributions on 2010 revenue statements, which correspond to the payment of 2009 personal income tax. The news was reported today by Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, manager of the episcopate of Ciudad Real and director of the office for support to the Spanish Church. Barriocanal, quoted by the Efe agency, explained that, compared to the previous year, the number of statements with contributions allocated to the Church increased by 65,983, for a total of 7,260,138 million voluntary contributors and a total donation of 250,000 euros. The representative of the bishops claimed that “This is a very positive figure in the general context of the economic crisis”, a sign that “people have confidence in the Church”.

As usual, in these days the bishops are launching a promotional campaign for voluntary contributions from income tax with the slogan “putting a X on the Church is convenient”, and which insists on financing for the thousands of volunteers engaged in social work and in delivering assistance to the poor.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: New Blast Hits Malmö Nightspot

Another explosion shook Malmö, in the south of Sweden, in the early hours of Monday when an explosive device detonated outside of the floating nightclub Prince Bernhard.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Full-Blown Return of Anti-Semitism in Europe

It is an anti-Semitism that is widespread in the Muslim population that settled in Europe, and it would be easy to think that it is strictly an Islamic phenomenon, but the anti-Semitism as it exists today in the Muslim world was heavily influenced by the old European anti-Semitism. And what the Muslim immigrants bring with them can easily find resonances in European non-Muslim populations. Copies of fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arabic are sold in Islamic bookstores from one end of the continent to the other,and they also circulate abundantly again in many European languages, under the mantle or via internet.

It is also an anti-Semitism that allows the far right to restate its rejection of “ cosmopolitanism “ — an adjective on the European continent that has always been used to point out the Jews — in a context where, because of the European economic decline, nationalist tensions and isolationism sound more and more seductive. It is an anti-Semitism that the left does not want to fight, because for it, the Muslims are oppressed, and the left is always on the side of those it defines as oppressed, whether or not the oppression is caused by the terrible governance inside those countries, or scapegoated onto someone else. European anti-racist movements say they are very concerned about “ Islamophobic racism “, but they are totally reluctant to discuss the anti-Semitism in the Muslim populations.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: Defence Chiefs Launch Probe Into Soldiers’ Far-Right EDL Photos

Defence chiefs are investigating a claim that soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment have been photographed showing their support for a far-right anti-Islam group.

Several pictures are under investigation.

One shows soldiers from regiment — which recruits in Cumbria — posing next to the flag of the English Defence League (EDL) at a homecoming parade for the regiment in Blackburn last year.

Eight soldiers are seen standing next to the flag, bearing the words: “EDL supports Duke of Lancaster Regiment.”

Another more controversial picture shows a uniformed solider, allegedly in Helmand Province, his face hidden by a black scarf as he brandishes a pistol and stands in front of before the EDL flag.

An active branch of the organisation hit the headlines in Carlisle last month when one of their members was jailed for publicly burning the Koran in the city centre.

The pictures — which have not yet been confirmed to be genuine — could help radicalise some Muslim, and inflame divisions between Islam and the West.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that an investigation was now underway, but suggested that some of the soldiers who appear in the photos may have been hoodwinked into posing next to the EDL flag.

“Individuals are free to join political parties but they’re not permitted to take an active role in political campaigning and must abide by our values and standards in all they do,” she told the News & Star.

“Instances of unacceptable behaviour in the armed forces are investigated, and appropriate action taken — up to and including dismissal.

“An investigation is already underway into allegations that individuals have breached army regulations through their involvement with the EDL.”

Kevin Caroll, 41, who is joint EDL leader, said the organisation was opposed to racism, but the Cumbrian branch is currently publishing an on-line video crammed with anti-Islamic slogans.

The first of these shows a medieval crusader in battle armour, under the slogan: “Jihad works both ways.” Another slogan tells viewers: “Let the crusade begin.”

Patrick Mercer, a former chairman on the Commons counter terrorism sub-committee, urged servicemen to steer clear of the EDL. He said the pictures could be used as propaganda by extremists in Afghanistan. “That could only damage our cause,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

UK: The £800,000 Benefit Cheats: Gypsy Swindlers Flew Into Britain From Romania Just to Pick Up Their Cheques

A family of professional benefit cheats who made regular flights into Britain to collect state handouts was jailed yesterday.

The Romany gypsy gang — also suspected to have been involved in a child-trafficking ring — swindled taxpayers out of more than £800,000 in a ‘flagrant and persistent’ attack on the benefits system.

Some members were based in Britain while others flew in from Romania to collect tax credits, income support, child benefits and housing benefit.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UN: 1 Out of Every 8 Citizens Pays Bribes

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 17 — Corruption in the western Balkans is a widespread phenomenon: in 2010 one citizen out of every eight paid a bribe to a public officer. And the average number of bribes, for those who pay them, amounts to approximately five every year. These are some of the figures included in the latest report by the UN Office for drugs and crime (Undoc) on the population. The survey interviewed a total of 28,000 people in seven countries of the region: Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia. EU commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fule commented that “The European Commission is closely monitoring the situation and recognises its importance, given that without a doubt it is one of the most relevant criteria for all candidates or potential candidates that want to achieve their European perspective”.

According to figures included in the report, which was financed by the European Commission, 1 out of every 6 interviewed people was directly or indirectly affected by the phenomenon, including those who then decided not to pay up. This corresponds to 16.8% of adults from 18 to 64 years of age in the western Balkans, approximately 2,475,000 people. Undoc researcher Enrico Bisogno explained that “Corruption is considered an important issue that must be dealt with, not only by the EU, but by the citizens themselves. In effects the interviewees rank the problem in third place, right after unemployment and poverty and ahead of security and education”.

The most ‘risky’ categories are policemen, doctors, customs officers, nurses, land registry officers, judges and attorneys.

He added that “It is clear for example that there is a problem in the health sector, since doctors and nurses rank at the top”. However one of the most glaring figures also concerns the origin of corruption: in more than 40% of all cases it is the citizens that make the offer, while in 30% of cases it is a public officer that makes an implicit demand and in more than 10% of cases and explicit request.

In almost 70% of cases money is preferred compared to other kinds of ‘favours’, but food and beverages are also acceptable (20%). The phenomenon has a high impact in countries such as Albania and Bosnia, while the number of payments is greater in Kosovo, with an average of 11 per year. The most expensive bribes are taken in Macedonia, where the average is equal to 1,212 euros, followed by Montenegro (480 euros), Croatia (410 euros), Serbia (349 euros), Bosnia (222 euros), Kosovo (174 euros) and Albania (103 euros). The objective for 28% of the interviewees is to “gain better treatment”, for another 28% to “speed up procedures”, but for 16% it is a matter of “avoiding the payment of a fine” and for 12% the money helped to “wrap up the procedure”. Only 1.5% of those who pay bribes report the episode of corruption to the authorities. According to 30% of the people “nobody cares” about the fact, while 22% of the people see corruption as “a normal practice”, and only 18% sees it as a gesture of gratitude. One out of five stated that they benefited from the bribe, so reporting it would be pointless. And for those who did? In 40% of cases nothing happens and in 18% of cases they are advised to forget about it, while only one out of four times a formal proceeding is opened against the public officer.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Massacre of Single Women

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, MAY 17 — They were all about 50-years-old, divorced, widows or unmarried, and lived alone. 17 of them were killed in a few months in Algeria, almost always at home, in large or small cities and in villages. They did not know each other, held no contacts, but are now part of the numbers of a phenomenon that is scaring Algeria: single women murdered for a few worthless jewels or simply for pleasure. From the start of the year 17 have been killed and not by the same hand, but as the result of a violent process which Algeria has to deal with and ask itself if the result of social degradation or some other factor. There is no mystery, since the Algerian police has always managed to track down and arrest the perpetrators, but rather a drama that is apparently the one posed by women’s loneliness in a Country, like others in North Africa, where a single woman is deemed an anomaly. But these women, the victims of this massacre, are still there accusing an entire society, which perhaps does not understand them or does not understand or share their decisions.

Of the last two women on this macabre list, one lived in Mohammadia, the other in Ruisseau, a working-class neighbourhood in Algiers. Neither of the two was aware of the existence of the other, but their end was the same: slaughtered at home by amateur robbers (they were caught almost immediately), their bodies were discovered by neighbours.

Another thing they had in common, like most of the victims, was that they knew their murderers, who at some point had done small jobs for them to whom they showed kindness and perhaps generosity. They were repaid with death. The murderer of one of them is a man, the other was murdered by kids who stormed the victim’s house killing her and taking anything that could be sold, even for a few dinars.

Now, while the police emphasises, with good reason, that none of the murderers went unpunished, the people are asking themselves what is happening, above all whether the solidarity that fuels neighbourly relations in Arab societies is being lost. And, among the causes, they identify the restlessness of the younger generations that, only a few days ago in Algiers, as in other cities, fuel an atmosphere of blind violence that often erupts unannounced, amidst assaults and robberies, thefts and murders. Often they come from the restless banlieue, but they also include kids from normal families that have no real problems in life.

The main driving factor is boredom, the kind of boredom that, to pass time, makes them shout late at night to wake people up, but in recent years drugs have also become an issue. And the government has issued an alert to watch out: the police is warned.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Dutch F-16s Join Libyan Raids, But Don’t Take Part in Bombing

Dutch F-16 fighter jets are flying with Nato-led missions over Libya but are not involved in actual bombing, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday, quoting defence briefings.

The Dutch jets are giving protection to their Nato partners and passing on information about troop movements and bomb damage to the command centre, the paper says.

Since the start of the mission, Dutch F-16s have carried out 180 flights. Officially, they are in the region to monitor the no-fly zone and weapons embargo.

The documents stress that Dutch aircraft are not allowed to take part in bombing but are trying to help their allies. ‘If you are patrolling above Libya, you want to be as useful as possible,’ the paper quotes lieutenant colonel Johan van Deventer as saying.

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

GB’s Armed Forces: Killing Gaddafi “Compatible With Roes”

(AGI) London — The head of British armed forces stated taht killing Gaddafi is “compatible wiith Nato’s rules of engagement “. London urges intensification of bombing to avoid the Colonel to remain in power. General Sir David Richards explained to the Sunday Telegraph that Nato is not targeting infrastructures, but, if we want to put more pressure on Gaddafi, we will need to have a broader range of targets.

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

Libya: Younis: Gaddafi in Tripoli Suburbs, Always on the Move

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 18 — Muammar Gaddafi “sleeps in a different house of one of his trusted military commanders every night. He is in the suburbs of Tripoli,” said General Abdul Fatah Younis, former Interior Minister and second in command of the Gaddafi regime in an interview with news show Tg1. The former closest associate of Gaddafi was the first to switch to the rebel’s side, refusing to carry out an order to conduct an aerial bombardment on thousands of protestors in February. Now he is the military commander of the rebels and knows all of the Libyan leader’s military potential. “Gaddafi has positioned extremely powerful SCUD missiles which can be fired to a distance of 350 km and there is a danger that he may use them against us in the final stages, when he loses all hope,” he added. Due to a fear of being betrayed, according to Younis, Gaddafi has reportedly “kidnapped the family members of his closest associates. They cannot flee”. Finally, the former right hand man of the colonel is sure of one thing: “Gaddafi will be killed by the Libyans.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Accusations Against Judiciary, Paper Editor in Jail

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, MAY 10 — The editor of the Al Massae newspaper, Rachid Nini, was arrested last Friday on suspicion of “discrediting a decision made by the judiciary”, it has emerged today. The MAP agency reports that Nini was also accused of “attempting to pervert the course of justice and of having published information on criminal acts that never took place”.

An appeal to grant the journalist provisional freedom has been turned down.

The charges against Nini are thought to focus on an article published by Al Massae on the functioning of security apparatus in the country, in the context of terrorist attacks in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Top Bishop Praises Lampedusa Residents

From alleged racists to rescuers, Bagnasco says

(ANSA) — Lampedusa, May 18 — Italy’s top bishop visited Lampedusa Wednesday and praised the Sicilian island’s inhabitants for how they had coped with an unprecedented influx of migrants from North Africa.

“Let Italy and Europe not forget Lampedusa,” Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said after touching down on this stepping stone between Africa and Europe.

“In the first stage of the (migrant) assault,” he said, “the community risked being depicted as racist but then it showed generosity, reaching a peak in the latest shipwreck, a few days ago, which could have been a tragedy but was not because people didn’t hesitate to dive into the sea to rescue (migrants)”.

Lampedusa was flooded with about 25,000 migrants from Tunisia in the first months of the year, followed recently by thousands of boat people suspected to have been sent deliberately by the Gaddafi regime in war-torn Libya in unseaworthy vessels which have risked foundering.

Three people drowned in the latest shipwreck but over 500 were saved.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Military Court Closes Internet Sites

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 13 — The examining magistrate of the military tribunal in Tunis has ordered the closing of four websites, accusing them of spreading news that incites to violence and that is damaging for the army’s prestige. Based on this decision, the Defence Ministry has ordered to blackout the Facebook sites: jalel.brick, takriz, ouajihbdreddine, youssefpatriote.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

U.S. Unveils $2 Billion Aid Package for Egypt

Few game-changing proposals are emerging to defuse soaring tensions in the Middle East as a busy week of diplomacy unfolds with President Obama’s address to the region and his meeting with Israel’s prime minister.

Against the backdrop of Middle East uprisings that have intensified animus toward Israel and growing momentum for global recognition of a Palestinian state, American and Israeli officials are struggling to balance national security interests against the need to adapt to a transformative movement in the Arab world.

The White House unveiled a $2 billion multiyear economic aid package for Egypt, which officials say would largely shift existing funds. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel prepared to arrive in Washington with a familiar package that he hoped would shift the burden of restarting the peace process from Israel to the Palestinians.

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

EU: Concern Over Israel Block on PNA Tax Revenue

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 10 — The European Union has expressed its “concern” at Israel’s decision to freeze tax revenue and customs duty usually banked by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on goods coming in to the Palestinian Territories. “We are concerned at the decision regarding funds that should legitimately find their way to the PNA, according to agreed procedures,” Maja Kocijancic told journalists today. “This move punishes above all President Mahmoud Abbas and the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, not Hamas,” added the spokesperson for the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton. Asked for an opinion on the deal between Hamas and Fatah, Kocijancic explained that “we have no new elements, but it could be a positive step. We must have a look at the deal and see what kind of interim government is formed, what commitments and actions are undertaken”. The spokesperson also said that “over the years we have stated that Palestinian unity is necessary for the two-state solution”. The latest developments in the Middle East will be examined in greater detail during the next Council of EU Foreign Ministers, which is due to be held in Brussels in two weeks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain: Emergency Law: First Woman Sentenced

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 18 — The first woman has been charged in Bahrain according to the emergency law imposed in the oil-rich emirate as a result of the popular uprisings that shook the country in March, with citizens demanding greater democracy and less discrimination between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

The Gulf News reports that Fadilah Mubarak Ahmed was sentenced to four years in prison for resisting arrest, incitement against the regime and participation in protests with criminal intent.

The woman is said to have been driving at high speed towards a checkpoint listening to anti-monarchist comments on the radio at full volume. Once stopped, the woman is reported to have tussled with a policeman.

Hundreds of people are being held in Bahrain’s prisons over their involvement in the protests in March and their links to the demonstrations. Many have been released, but at least two people have died in jail, according to human rights organisations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

British Tourist Faces Year in Dubai Jail After Calling Prophet Muhammad a ‘Terrorist’ In Row With Shopkeeper

A British tourist called the Islamic prophet Muhammad a terrorist in a heated row with an electronics salesman in a Dubai shopping mall, a court heard yesterday.

Andrew Graham, 40, faces spending a year in a Dubai jail if he is convicted of insulting Islam.

The holidaymaker was wandering through the Mall of the Emirates when he got into an argument with Hassan Habeeb, a 21-year-old salesman from Pakistan.

During the row, Graham allegedly said that ‘Muslims in Pakistan are not normal because they kill each other and kill people outside Pakistan’.

Mr Habeeb tried to tell the Briton that Muslims are ‘peaceful people and are all brothers who help each other’.

In a written statement produced before the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours yesterday, the Pakistani salesman said: ‘He laughed and said that I’m crazy and that prophet Muhammad was not a peaceful man but he is a terrorist.’

Mr Habeeb then became angry and tried to punch Graham, only for a customer to intervene, it was said.

The tourist was then taken to a police station and charged with swearing in public and insulting Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Has the Arab Spring Stalled?

Autocrats Gain Ground in Middle East

Burning churches in Cairo, dead and wounded in Syria, Libya and Yemen, and a deathly silence in Bahrain. The Arab protest movement has come to a standstill, and the kings, emirs and sultans are rallying to launch a counterrevolution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iran: Execution of Two Brothers in Iran — Habibollah Latifi May be Next!

Last night two young brothers Abdollah (29) and Mohammad (27) were executed by the Islamic Regime in the city of Isfehan. Two brothers had been arrested in March of 2010 and “convicted” after mock trials without defence lawyers on charges of “involvement with anti revolutionary groups”, “armed opposition” and being a “mohareb” (enemy of God).

Last night thousands of activists awaited by their phones, TV’s and computers waiting to see whether the executions would be carried out. Thousands of activists had come together on facebook and twitter, circulating news about the brothers, writing to the authorities and hoping that the executions would be halted.

Around 7am Isfehan time the Fatehi brother’s mother went inside the prison and was able to visit them one last time, although the prison guards refused to take the handcuffs off of Abdollah and Mohammad so that they could hug their mother one last time before executions. Moments after she came out of the prison two ambulances were seen going inside the prison, and the family was told to collect the bodies of the two brothers from the morgue.

While many of us are grieving the murder of two young political activists we are also faced with the immanent possibility of more executions, starting with the possible execution of Habibollah Latifi which may be carried out as early as tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: King’s Daughter’s Challenge, No Niqab

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 16 — One small gesture and one great challenge. Princess Adila, the youngest daughter of the Saudi king Abdullah, has decided to abandon the traditional niqab, the veil that leaves only the eyes uncovered and that has become the symbol of the most conservative form of Islam, and has opted to wear the more modern foulard, which shows all of the woman’s face and some of her hair.

The new look chosen by the princess, which has been noted on a number of websites and television channels, has provoked mixed reactions, according to the Middle East Online website. The photo of Princess Adila has been greeted with great hope by Saudi women, who dream of freedom from the “captivity imposed by men” and from medieval traditions. Fundamentalists, though, have reacted angrily.

“The niqab has nothing to do with Islam,” said the princess, justifying her decision. “It is a question of tradition and nothing else. Here in Saudi Arabia, some women cover their faces while others cover only their hair. Personally, I have nothing against the hijab, that covers only the hair. On the contrary, I think that the hijab is more in line with the principles of Islam than the niqab. I think that we are all free to choose, but the niqab must not be allowed in areas that need security measures”.

The Middle East Online site adds that Princess Adila is also against the law that forbids men and women from frequenting public places together. “Why can’t people maintain mutual respect in the workplace as they do in hospitals and during the pilgrimage [to Mecca]? “ Adila asks. “I believe that change will come gradually with laws against abuse”.

“Our expectations cannot be contained. We are trying to reform the condition of Saudi women in all areas”. But Princess Adila focusses on one in particular: “violence against women and young girls” and arranged marriages between young and adolescent girls and adult or old men. Marriages “between a 12-eyar old girl and an 80-year old man” cannot be accepted, even if the girl’s parents give their blessing.

Princess Adila has become a household name in Saudi Arabia, not only for her opinions that go against the norms of society, but also because she is the president of a number of charity organisations and plays a very active role in society”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Former President Khaddam, Army Intervention Needed

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 16 — The international community must act as it has done in Libya and must carry out a military strike on the Syrian regime, so as not to leave protesters on their own. This is the view of the former Syrian President, 79-year old Abdel Halim Khaddam, who has given an interview published today in the Saudi pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

Khaddam, a Sunni from the port city of Banias, north-west of Damascus, which is one of the epicentres of the protest, was removed from office in 2005 and has been living in Europe ever since, dividing his time between Paris and Brussels, from where he heads the Syrian “National Salvation Front”.

“We do not want the international community to use double standards with the Arab uprisings, and we ask for direct military strikes against Syria, as has occurred in Libya,” said Khaddam, who for decades was one of the key figures in the regime, which in turn was dominated by factions of Alawites (a branch of Shia Islam) close to the late Hafez Al Assad, who led the country from November 1970 to June 2000 and who was the father of the current President Bashar Al Assad.

Khaddam also said that he had no aspirations of power in a potential post-Assad Syria. “The country’s [future] leadership will have to be made up of Syrians living in the country and not based abroad,” said the former regime number two. “Personally, I have no aspirations of power and will not return to power. I think that the role of fathers has ended. Now it is up to the new generation of young people,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Iran Releases Al Jazeera Reporter Missing in Syria

(ANSAmed) — TEHRAN, MAY 18 — Dorothy Parvaz, the Al-Jazeera reporter with the Iranian, American and Canadian nationality who was missing since her arrival on April 29 in Syria, has returned to Doha after spending time in an Iranian prison. Iran’s prosecutor, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, has confirmed that the 39-year-old reporter was handed over by the Syrian to the Iranian authorities after she was detained for trying to enter Syria on an expired Iranian passport and without a visa, for press activities. “After an investigation it turned out that there were no problems with her passport, and the journalist was released yesterday”, the magistrate specified. Syria and Iran have formed a close alliance against Israel, and Tehran has condemned the demonstrations in Syria against the regime of President Bashar al Assad, calling them an Israeli and U.S. “complot”.

Al-Jazeera confirmed in a statement that Dorothy Parvaz is “in good health” and that she has arrived in Qatar, underlining that “they mystery of her disappearance continued until her release”. On May 11, after Al-Jazeera and international organisations like Reporters without Borders made requests for information, the Syrian embassy in the United States announced that the reporter had been handed over to Iran on May 1, to the country that had issued the passport shown by the woman. But up to a few days ago Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi insisted that he had “no information” about the reporter. Yesterday Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said that Iran was looking into the affair, adding that the woman had committed “several violations”, as the Syrian authorities underlined. Born in Tehran from an Iranian father and American mother in 1971, Dorothy Parvaz left Iran when she was 10 and lived in Dubai, Canada and the USA. She covered last March’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan for Al-Jazeera.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Saleh to Defend Himself at All Costs; More Casualties

(ANSAmed) — SANA’A, MAY 13 — While today in Sana’a there were fresh clashes and casualties, Yemen’s president said that he will defend himself “at all costs” and called the protestors “saboteurs”. “We will not stand by idly against these outlaws,” said Saleh, referring to opposition protesters. “The people of Yemen and the army will defend their institutions, neighbourhoods and villages. We will defend ourselves at all costs and with all means,” added the president, who was invited by the US State Department yesterday to initiate a democratic transition of power. Saleh also said that he wants to respond “by standing up to the challenge” of the protest.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

‘Red Rout’ As India’s Communists Fall

The Indian state of West Bengal said goodbye on Friday to three decades of uninterrupted rule by the world’s longest-serving, democratically elected communist government.

Early results from state polls made it clear that the Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI-M, had been swept aside in a landslide that marks the end of an era in India’s modern politics.

The victor was the Trinamool Congress Party of firebrand national railways minister Mamata Banerjee, the largest ally of the Congress Party in the federal ruling coalition.

“This is the victory of the people against years of oppression,” Banerjee told a huge crowd of cheering supporters outside her modest, one-storey residence in the state capital Kolkata.

“There will be end to autocracy and atrocities,” she said, adding she was “thankful and humbled” by the scale of the victory.

With counting still underway, Trinamool and its allies were leading in 218 of the state assembly’s 294 seats, with the Marxists at just 67.

If the final result reflects the same margin, it would effectively consign the once-powerful CPI-M to the political wilderness.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Banerjee from Afghanistan, where he is on a two-day trip, to congratulate the fiery unmarried 56-year-old who is now set for a more influential national role.

“It’s a profoundly important moment for the people of the state who had an intense desire for change,” said political analyst Sabyasachi Basu Roychowdhury.

Banerjee, a populist who casts herself as a champion of the poor, has ridden a wave of popular discontent with the communist government’s handling of the economy that has left industry in decline and the state neck-deep in debt.

“After 30 years it is like a revolution, a new chapter in the history of West Bengal has begun today,” said 34-year-old Nandita Deb, a history professor in Kolkata.

Dhiren Chottopadhyay, a jute trader in Kolkata, compared Banerjee with Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and change.

“She fought and fought for years, never gave up and today she will be smiling the most,” he said.

The Left Front had, until recently, won every election in West Bengal since 1977.

But straight successive losses in local and federal polls had left the communists struggling for survival.

“Accumulated problems led to this,” said senior CPI-M official Niloptal Basu as the scale of the defeat became clear. “Now we have to go back to basics.”

The anti-incumbency mood in West Bengal was fuelled by anger among farmers over being forced to sell fertile land holdings under a government job-creation drive to lure industry.

The drive to industrialize marked a shift from the communists’ early days in power when they gave land to some 2.5 million rural poor under India’s largest distribution scheme, breaking the hold of West Bengal’s land-owning elite.

But as land shortages grew with farms being divided among families and unemployment climbed, the government shifted gear and sought to bring back factories.

The diminutive Banerjee, whose mercurial nature and hot temper frequently land her in newspaper headlines, has promised to focus both on reviving industry and agriculture.

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

Far East

Chinese to View Sensitive U.S. Sites

Lawmaker sees law violation

China’s top military leader and a group of officers are set to visit sensitive U.S. military bases this week, in exchanges that defense and congressional officials say run counter to a 2000 law designed to limit such exchanges from bolstering Beijing’s arms buildup.

Chinese Gen. Chen Bingde, the military chief of staff, arrived in Washington on Monday for the first high-level military exchange since Beijing cut off military ties early last year to protest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

One source of concern, according to defense officials, is Gen. Chen’s planned visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, where the military conducts regular combat exercises, including one with cyberwarfare elements known as “Red Flag.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on investigations, said visits like those by Gen. Chen violate the limits set by Congress in a 2000 defense authorization law when they involve advanced U.S. weapons or military activities.

“We should not open to Chinese generals and admirals major military bases like the Norfolk Naval Station, the Army National Training Center, and Nellis Air Force Base, where our famous Red Flag air and cyberwarfare exercises are held,” Mr. Rohrabacher said.

“The People’s Republic is not an allied, or even a friendly country, and should not be given this kind of privileged access.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Japan: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Actually Occurred Just 16 Hours After Earthquake, More Meltdowns on the Way

The truth has finally come out, as officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) now admit that fuel in Reactor 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex melted just 16 hours after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the area on March 11, 2011. When asked why it took more than two months to reveal this critical information, TEPCO officials claim that a lack of data left the company unaware of the core’s true condition until only recently — and new reports indicate that other meltdowns could soon follow.

According to a recent report from The Mainichi Daily News (MDN) in Japan, TEPCO officials recently announced that, based on new data, water levels in the pressure vessel at Reactor 1 began to drop rapidly within just a few hours after losing power at 3:30 pm on March 11. By 7:30 pm, fuel was fully exposed, and by 9 pm, reactor core temperatures reached an astounding 2,800 degrees Celsius, or 5,072 degrees Fahrenheit. And by 6:50 am the next morning, a full meltdown occurred.


And shortly after the announcement about Reactor 1, The Telegraph reported that two more Fukushima reactors may soon suffer a meltdown as well. Efforts to cool fuel in Reactors 2 and 3 have failed, and experts say that if the reactors cores have not already melted, they soon will [url].

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Beer for Space Tourists: More Taste: Fewer Wet Burps

NASA may still frown upon knocking back a cold one during spaceflight, but Australians can now sample the world’s first beer designed for consumption by high-flying space tourists. The Australian brew, called Vostok “4 Pines Stout” Space Beer, contains both high flavor and low carbonation. Its rich chocolate and caramel flavor aims to remedy a supposed reduction in the sense of taste due to swelling of the tongue in space. Low carbonation means fewer problems with so-called “wet burps” experienced by astronauts or other space travelers. “If you burp in space, it’s usually wet because the liquid and gas doesn’t separate in your stomach like they do on Earth,” said Charles Bourland, a consultant for the NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Booty Business: Price Tag for Somali Piracy Surges

International piracy is emerging as a market in its own right, one that cost the global economy an estimated $8.3 billion in 2010. Efforts to contain the problem are having little impact, and the costs of lost booty, ransom and other costs associated with pirates could double within a few years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


African Migrants Fleeing Libya Describe Boat Ordeal

One in ten migrants fleeing the unrest in Libya dies. They often make the journey in old and overloaded boats.

So far, UNHCR says over 12,300 migrants have arrived in Italy and Malta from Libya over the past two months.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

“There was nothing in the boat, not even anything to eat, even nothing for the children. The boat was old and rotting, we thought it might even sink. We just prayed that we would make it here.”

Thousands of migrant workers are arriving in the tiny island of Lampedusa by boat.

They board old and rickety boats from the coast of Libya and make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

UNHCR estimates one in ten dies on the journey over from Libya.

Alex Amadin, a Nigerian migrant worker is recovering from one of those hazardous boat trips.

“Three weeks or two weeks plus, we’ve been locked inside house, now way to come out, no way to get food. So not to die in that place, we find ourselves into the boat and run away. So many people, pregnant women, women with children trying to save their lives. We all run into that one boat!”

Conditions on the journey were grim. Many of the migrant workers arrive traumatized and exhausted- both from the journey and by a conflict in a country which is not their home.

When the migrants arrive on the island, they get shelter and basic support at a reception centre. But according to its Director, Federico Miragliotea, they need more than practical help.

“What we find when we try to help these people is a great deal of anxiety and tragedy, they may not have many possessions but they have emotional baggage. When we talk to them we discover there is not just anxiety about the past, but also a need to start a better life. But they don’t have the means to start afresh, which is why they need our help.”

A little over a week ago, 1,400 people drowned at sea trying to escape the unrest in Libya.

But the dangers are not enough to deter others making this perilous journey.

Barbara, Molinario is with UNHCR:

“As it has usually been throughout the ten years we have seen landings at Lampedusa, the months where we have most landings are generally August, September and October.”

It’s thought that over a thousand people are planning to attempt the crossing from Libya with the next window of good weather.

Most will travel in unsafe boats. This means the sea may claim the lives of many more who only wanted to survive.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

EU Looks at Sweden’s Border Controls

The European Commission is now to look at Sweden’s border controls

Denmark’s announcement last week of its decision to introduce permanent customs controls at its borders has caused the EU Commission to react with an investigation.

But arguments by the Danish government and Danish People’s Party that it is simply doing what Sweden already does, has caused the Commission to investigate the situation in Sweden.

“We have previously been told by Sweden that it does not have permanent customs controls. But when an argument of parallelism is being used by the Danes, and if it is seen as being permanent, we must investigate,” a centrally-placed EU Commission source tells Berlingske.

During a speech in The Hague yesterday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that freedom of movement in the EU is a vital part of the European project.

“The right to free mobility is embodiment of the European project — one of the most tangible results of the EU’s efforts and central to both our economy and identity. Free mobility is to Europe what a foundation is for a building. Remove it and the entire structure is undermined. This is why the Commission will not compromise on this principle,” said Barroso, who is prepared to take Denmarkt to court if the border agreement proves to run contrary to the EU Treaty and Schengen agreement

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

Tragedy With Immigrants Off Preveza — One Child Dead, One Missing

A man and an eight year old boy were recovered dead from the sea are of Nicopolis bay in Preveza, West Greece. Another boy, allegedly the twin brother of the dead has been missing. The Coast Guard had rushed to the area after being informed about an overturned boat. Twenty two people were rescued so far. The boat was carrying illegal immigrants and was sailing towards Italy.

The immigrants were rescued and transferred to the old town hall of a nearby city.

The owner of the boat and captain of the horror trip was a 52-year-old Preveza resident, who was arrested by the police.

The incident happened in the early morning hours of Wednesday.

According to some Greek media, the immigrants had paid 5,000 euro per person in order to reach Italy. The immigrants were from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Unsafe in Libya, Unwanted in Europe: Exiles of the Arab Spring

Hundreds of desperate migrant workers have gathered near Calais

In a derelict industrial complex to the east of Calais they shiver under their sodden blankets dreaming of a Europe that simply doesn’t exist. Seney Alema and his friends are the northernmost vanguard of a human wave that has swept across the continent as Nato’s bombs continue to pummel Libya.

While Europe has applauded the steady toppling of North Africa’s dictators, the continent has been unwelcoming to the thousands of people who have fled the region — the separate states bickering over who should take the responsibility for the refugees’ fates.

When the war against Muammar Gaddafi broke out earlier this year, people like Seney were trapped. European powers scrambled ships to evacuate their own nationals but sub-Saharan migrants, who did the kind of jobs Libyans simply didn’t want to do, were left to fend for themselves.

As law and order broke down the beatings and robberies began. Some were press-ganged into fighting the rebels, others simply disappeared. So thousands are now fleeing across the Mediterranean in barely sea-worthy boats, hoping that somewhere like Britain will give them shelter.

“I didn’t really like my life in Libya but at least it was some kind of life,” explains Seney, a 17-year-old Eritrean with a pencil moustache who had lived in Tripoli for four years. “When the war broke out I fled inhumanity in Libya but I find inhumanity in Europe.”

Despite calls from France and Italy for the EU to “share the burden” of dealing with the migrant tidal wave that has been unleashed by the instability gripping north Africa — specifically Tunisia and Libya — Britain has refused to take in a single “Arab Spring” refugee.

Some East Africans caught up in the tumult are inevitably trying to head to Britain, where there are already sizeable communities of compatriots waiting for them. In the past few days small groups of such exhausted refugees have been arriving in Calais, after making a dangerous journey by boat from north Africa to the European mainland — usually Italy — and then up through the continent.

Their current home is a rubbish-strewn squat on the outskirts of town with broken concrete walls and no running water — euphemistically nicknamed Africa House. Night after night they try to smuggle themselves onto lorries heading towards Britain in a game of cat and mouse that often has fatal consequences.

Unlike the fleeing Tunisians — most of whom are economic migrants tricked by unscrupulous traffickers into thinking that Europe will welcome them — the east Africans from Libya bring some harrowing stories of a conflict that has unleashed a maelstrom of prejudice and violence against sub-Saharans across the country.

“As soon as war broke out Libyans turned on the black people,” says Alemu Mkonere, a scar-faced 23-year-old who left Eritrea four years ago and wound up working as a labourer in Tripoli. “A lot of my friends were killed, many of them were Ethiopians. The police came looking for them and told them to fight for Gaddafi. We never heard from them again. Life was bad before the war but after it became impossible.”

Eventually Alemu found a boat heading to Lampedusa, the tiny Italian island which has been inundated with migrants risking their lives to sail across the Mediterranean. “We nearly didn’t make it,” he recalls. “The pumps broke down so we had to scoop the water out to stop us sinking.”

Last week brought reports that a ship carrying 600 people, mostly Somalians, had sunk off the coast of Libya. The UN estimates that 10 per cent of those making the crossing were drowned.

The official figures show that 10,300 people from Libya and 24,000 from Tunisia have landed on Lampedusa so far this year.

With populist anti-immigrant parties on the rise across Europe there is talk of abandoning the 1985 Schengen Agreement, which allows free border crossing between 25 countries (Britain has never signed up).

Denmark has already unilaterally announced that it is resuming border controls. Ministers will meet in Brussels this week at the behest of France and Italy to see whether temporary border measures can be brought in.

Many migrants in camps on the French side of the channel believe that tightening Europe’s internal borders won’t work.

Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, Iranians, Afghans and Iraqis still make up the vast majority of migrants in the Calais area.

One of them, Fouad Mousavi, a 23-year-old from Tehran who arrived in Calais five days ago, explained: “It’s taken me eight months to get this far. In that time I crossed the Turkey-Iran border, where Kurdish groups kidnap you and Iranian troops shoot at you… You can put anything in front of me, I’ll find a way around. I have no other choice, there’s nothing left in Iran.”

Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, Iranians, Afghans and Iraqis still make up the vast majority of migrants in the Calais area. But overall numbers are dramatically down on previous years. The UN estimates around 150 refugees are currently in Calais, a much smaller amount than the 700 that would normally be found at this time of year in 2009 and 2010.

The behaviour of the French police — the CRS riot police and also the Police Aux Frontiers — towards migrants across north eastern France is to make daily life so unbearable for the migrants that they will do anything to try and cross the English Channel — or simply move on.

Raids on the squats and jungle camps are a daily occurrence. Refugees and relief workers complain that officers frequently pour water over blankets and spoil food. Migrants are routinely arrested, taken to a detention centre outside town, then eventually released to trudge back to their camps by foot.

As a result, the camps have simply spread east across the coast up into Belgium and the Netherlands. At the southern edge of the town of Grand-Synthe a small tented commune has sprung up in a wood containing Iraqis and Afghans.

Back in Africa House, where many of the new arrivals have asylum claims that have yet to be tested, there is widespread anger at how little sympathy they have received on reaching Europe.

“I had an idea of what Europe was — a place where human rights are important,” says Eritrean national Terefa Girou. An unaccompanied eight-year-old girl kicks a football against the wall behind him. But there are no human rights here. How can Britain and France be so cruel? They bomb Libya and when people flee they make us live like this.”

Some of the interviewees’ names have been changed at their request

A problem to divide Europe

The presence of migrants in Calais has long been a sore point between Britain and France.

The French say they are left to deal with the illegal migrants who want to settle in the UK. Britain has also refused to take a single refugee from either Libya or Tunisia.

Meanwhile Italy, forced to deal with thousands of North African migrants landing on Lampedusa, is issuing temporary papers that allow them to travel freely throughout Europe — especially to France, the preferred destination for the majority of Tunisians.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Cyprus is Least Gay-Friendly EU Country, Study Says

Cyprus is the least gay-friendly EU country followed by Italy, Latvia and Malta according to a new report out by gay-rights group ILGA-Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Czech Sexuality Tests Not Legal, EU Commission Says

The practice by Czech authorities of checking via ‘phallometric tests’ if an asylum seeker is really homosexual and thus a potential victim in his home country is not in line with EU asylum laws and fundamental rights, EU home affairs chief Cecilia Malmstrom has said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Officials Tell Africa to Shape Up on Gay Rights

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — EU development commissioner Andris Piebalgs and his predecessor, Louis Michel, have spoken out against homophobia at a meeting of EU, African and Caribbean politicians.

Michel, currently a Liberal Belgian MEP, who built a big name for himself in Africa during his five years in charge of disbursing EU aid to developing countries, said: “I have saved for last a consideration that is dear to my heart. The right to be different is at the heart of human rights. I would fail in my duties if I made no reference to a sensitive subject in this assembly.”

“I wish to say with the greatest determination that we will never accept that governments or politicians may use, or even exploit, any ‘cultural’ argument in an attempt to justify the hunt and demonization of homosexuality.”

Piebalgs said the EU is rooted under the EU treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights to combating anti-gay hatred.

The two EU personalities made the comments in Budapest on Tuesday (17 May) to mark international anti-homophobia day.

African and Caribbean societies display some of the highest levels of intolerance toward gay people.

Uganda last week postponed a vote in parliament on a bill threatening same-sex lovers with the death penalty. Human Rights Watch on Wednesday published a letter to the government of Cameroon saying its detention of Jean-Claude Mbede for three years for arranging a date with his lover is unconstitutional.

The NGO said jail sentences for gay men in some African countries can amount to death sentences because of violent assaults including sexual violence, by other inmates.

Almost all the EU institutions on Tuesday issued high-level statements to mark the international event.

The bloc’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, said: “The EU calls on all States to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and human rights violations against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” She noted that 80 countries worldwide criminalise homosexual acts and seven use the death penalty against gay people.

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: “We in the European Union can take some pride in being at the vanguard of combating homophobia … It is something that distinguishes Europe from many other parts of the world.”

North and west-lying EU member states are world leaders in terms of anti-discrimination laws. But cultural and rights gaps exist in south and east-lying countries.

The Polish centre-left SLD paty on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Sejm proposing that same-sex couples should be able to legally register ‘civil unions’ and to claim almost the same level of rights as married couples. But the ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO) party and the right-wing opposition PiS parties immediately came out against it.

PO chief Tomasz Tomyczkiewicz said the law is against the Polish constitution. PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski said “You can now say that the SLD is the party of homosexuals.”

Hungary, which recently voted through a new constitution that also contains an implicit ban on gay unions, was, in its role as the rotating EU presidency, the only major EU institution to stay silent on homophobia on Tuesday.

For their parts, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton and UN human rights envoy Navi Pillay voiced similar views to EU leaders.

Mentioning Serbia and Uganda as targets for US pro-tolerance diplomacy, Clinton said: “These are not Western concepts: these are universal human rights.”

Pillay, a native South African, said: “Under international law, states have an obligation to decriminalise homosexuality and to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Black Women Are Less Attractive Than Others’: Controversial LSE Psychologist Sparks Backlash With His ‘Scientific’ Findings

A controversial psychologist has caused outrage after publishing an article claiming black women are less attractive than those of other races.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, attempts to justify his theory using scientific methods in an astonishing blog post on Psychology Today.

Using findings from a study of physical attractiveness by Add Health, he claims the results show that ‘black women are… far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.’

He then tries to come up with reasons for his perception of the report.

‘Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women,’ he says.

‘However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women.’

Kanazawa also uses genetic reasoning to try to add some weight to his theory.

‘Because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races,’ he says.

He then realises that this contradicts the findings of the report — which claims that black men are more attractive than those of other races.

‘But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.’

Kanazawa eventually settles on hormonal reasons to back up his theory.

‘The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone,’ he says.

‘Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races… women with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.’

The post has since been removed from the Psychology Today amid a backlash.

A writer at The Root described the piece as ‘so outrageous that we almost thought it was a hoax of some sort’.

The website’s editor-in-chief, Kaja Perina, has so far not issued an apology but told NPR: ‘Our bloggers are credential[ed] social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing.

‘We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons. Because the post was not commissioned or solicited by PT (in contrast to a magazine article), there was no editorial intent to address questions of race and physical attractiveness.’

Kanazawa has an online column on Psychology Today called ‘A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature’.

It includes posts with titles such as: ‘Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?’, ‘If Beautiful People Have Daughters, Why Do Posh and Becks Have Three Sons?’, ‘More Intelligent People Are More Likely to Binge Drink and Get Drunk’ and ‘Girls Are More Intelligent Than Boys, But Men Are More Intelligent Than Women’.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Uttering ‘Jesus’ In School ‘Not Protected Free Speech’

‘Then they confiscated a little girl’s pencils since they mentioned God’

A hearing is scheduled Monday before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that could determine if students in elementary schools have the protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The case arose in the Plano Independent School District in Texas where Thomas Elementary School Principal Lynn Swanson and Rasor Elementary School Principal Jackie Bomchill were sued for restricting student speech when it referenced “God” or “Jesus.”


“Then they confiscated a little girl’s pencils after school because they mentioned ‘God,’“ the Institute reported.

But that’s not all, the group said.

“They even banned an entire classroom from writing ‘Merry Christmas’ on cards to our troops serving in Iraq.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Lonely Rogue Worlds Surprisingly Outnumber Planets With Suns

Astronomers have discovered a whole new class of alien planet: a vast population of Jupiter-mass worlds that float through space without any discernible host star, a new study finds. While some of these exoplanets could potentially be orbiting a star from very far away, the majority of them most likely have no parent star at all, scientists say. And these strange worlds aren’t mere statistical anomalies. They likely outnumber “normal” alien planets with obvious parent stars by at least 50 percent, and they’re nearly twice as common in our galaxy as main-sequence stars, according to the new study. Astronomers have long predicted the existence of free-flying “rogue alien planets.” But their apparent huge numbers may surprise many researchers, and could force some to rethink how the planets came to be.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]