Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110728

Financial Crisis
»Dutch Pension Funds Unwilling to Join Greek Rescue Plan
»Germany: The Economy Storming the World
»Gridlock in Washington: Europe Losing Patience With US Debt Delays
»Italy: Economic Concerns Drive Bond Spread Higher
»Spain: Indebted Regions Demand Stay of Execution
»New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole in Global Warming Alarmism
Europe and the EU
»Aquaculture: Greece a Major Fish Supplier for Key Markets
»Diana West: the Shameful Spinning of the Norway Massacre
»Emissions in the EU: US Vilifies Carbon-Trading Scheme for Airlines
»European Union: Without the South, The North Loses Europe
»France: Paris Boom in Street Vendors, Tension With Police
»Italy’s ENI Bolsters Position in Belgian Gas Market With New Purchase
»London Metropolitan Police Arrest Teenager Hacker
»Murder in Berlin: The Lost Honor of the Sürücü Family
»New York Times Reader Kills Dozens in Norway
»On Norway Shooter’s Email List: ‘Shocked’ Rightist Belgian Politician; Nazi Sympathizer by Associated Press, Published: July 27
»Report: Norwegian Murderer an Ardent Supporter of Israel
»UK: Doorstep Lectures on Travelling Without Your Car as Army of Advisers Teach Families About ‘Sustainable Travel’
»Border Dispute With Kosovo: Serbian Attackers Shoot at NATO Soldiers
»Kosovo: Border Stand-Off at Border as Serbs Blame NATO for Helping Albanians
North Africa
»Algeria: Killed Terrorist Son of FIS Member
»Egypt: Minya: Young Pregnant Coptic Woman Attacked by a Muslim Man Over Coptic Church Bell
»Libyan Rebels’ Chief of Staff is Charged With Treason
»Muslim Attack on Christians in Egypt Provoked by Installation of Church Bell
»Tunisia: State of Emergency Extended Indefinitely
Israel and the Palestinians
»Music: Ayman: Hard to be a Rapper in Gaza
»PNA: Abbas Adversary Dahlan’s House Searched
»‘US Paying Salaries for Jailed Palestinian Terrorists’
Middle East
»Jordan: Study: Only 20% of Tourism Workers Are Women
»Saudi Arabia: Islamic Activists Against Terrorism Law
»Tehran Diary: ‘We Drink to the Freedom That Will Come One Day’
»Turkey: Municipal Patrol Acts Harshly Toward Patrons, Say Restaurant Owners
»Turkey: Rising Rates of Women’s Suicides Ring Alarm Bells
South Asia
»Attack in Norway, Hindu Radicals Among Terrorist’s “Models”
»Honour Killings: Man Guns Down Six Daughters
»Indonesia: Moratorium on Export of Workers to Malaysia to End
Culture Wars
»‘One Night Stand’: Teeny Magazine Blasted for Sexual Aggression Tale
»Anders Breivik T-Shirts, Anyone?
»It’s Dim Up North, So People Need Bigger Brains
»Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas
»Oozing Biofuel: Algae Could Solve World’s Fuel Crisis

Financial Crisis

Dutch Pension Funds Unwilling to Join Greek Rescue Plan

Dutch pension funds are not interested in putting money into a second rescue plan for Greece, RTL news reports on Thursday, quoting from a letter to finance minister Jan Kees de Jager.

The letter was sent to the minister by the pension fund association at the beginning of this month. It states that the duty of the funds is to represent the interests of workers, employers and pensioners, but not the Greek government or Greek general public.

A spokesman for the association told RTL the organisation’s position has not changed since eurozone countries agreed a €159bn bail-out last week. Of that, €50bn will come from the private sector.

Dutch banks ING and Rabobank have agreed to cooperate, RTL says.

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

Germany: The Economy Storming the World

Financial Times Deutschland, 27 July 2011

The German business press is bubbling with delight. Following Handelsblatt’s front page lead with “Germany, the slot machine,” it’s the Financial Times Deutschland’s turn to brag: “German industry is storming the global economy.” The reason for the delight can be found in the World Investment Report, released on July 26 by the United Nations. Since 2008 foreign investments by the French, British and Japanese have gone into free-fall, while investments from Germany have gone up by 35 percent, making Berlin the second largest investor in the world after the United States. Emerging countries, led by China, have attracted half of the investments. Once merely cheap production factories, those countries are increasingly becoming consumer markets. In its editorial, FT Deutschland sees a chance to put an end to German gloom: “Anyone who has struggled in recent years to follow the debates, watch TV or read books on decline came away with one thing: Germany is losing […]. But the fears were exaggerated. […] Investing in production facilities abroad benefits everyone. The economy is not a zero sum game.”

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

Gridlock in Washington: Europe Losing Patience With US Debt Delays

European leaders have long expressed confidence that the US would find a resolution to its ongoing debt impasse. But now there is growing concern that it won’t. German Finance Minister Schäuble has urged US lawmakers to act responsibly and others have warned of unpredictable consequences if they don’t. For weeks, investors had seemed uncharacteristically calm in the face of the US inability to agree on a solution to the looming default. Traders who have become accustomed to running in panic from the euro at the slightest sign of debt concern in the European Union have shrugged off the Washington stalemate. “They’ll make a deal,” seems to have been the attitude.

That now seems to have changed. Stocks plunged on Wall Street on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones index dropping 200 points and interest rates on US bonds shooting up. Investors have also begun rushing to buy credit default swaps as an insurance policy against default. Europe too is concerned . Just as the US urged the euro zone recently to accelerate its efforts to solve the Greek debt crisis, European leaders have now begun demanding action in Washington.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, widely respected in the US capital for his forthrightness, is the latest. “Everyone in the US should be aware of their responsibility for the global financial markets,” Schäuble told the daily Passauer Neue Presse on Thursday. He added that he remained confident a solution would be found, but “even then, America’s problems won’t be solved. The core of those difficulties is exorbitant debt and the economic prospects. Americans have to find long-term solutions to create solid fiscal and growth policies.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Economic Concerns Drive Bond Spread Higher

‘We should be alarmed’, says ex-premier Prodi

(ANSA) — Rome, July 28 — There was fresh concern about Italy’s economic future when the spread on the country’s 10-year bonds soared to 330 points after the latest bond auction on Thursday.

Italy sold 2.7 billion euros of its 10-year benchmark bond, less than the maximum target of 3 billion euros amid speculation about the future of Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti and fears that the Greek financial crisis could spread to Italy.

Milan’s FTSE Mib index closed 0.34% higher at 18,558 points. Former Italian premier Romano Prodi expressed concern about a decision by Deutsche Bank to cut its exposure to Italian debt and offload 7 billion euros in Italian bonds.

In its second-quarter results, Germany’s biggest lender said it had cut net Italian sovereign exposure from 8 billion euros at the end of 2010 to 997 million euros at the beginning of July.

“It upset me, I want to say that’s the end of any link of solidarity,” Prodi said during a conference on economic plans for the region of Emilia Romagna, surrounding Bologna.

“I am very disturbed, we should be alarmed, without blaming globalisation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Indebted Regions Demand Stay of Execution

ABC, 27 July 2011

In Spain, the debate over regional deficit limits has grown increasingly heated. Announcing that the country’s “regional governments are now on a war footing,” the daily ABC reports the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council, which is to meet on 27 July in Madrid, will “highlight the new power in the regions ushered in by the 22 May elections.” Now under the majority control of the right-wing People’s Party, the regions are demanding that José Luís Zapatero grant them a ten-year moratorium on the reimbursement of their debts to the state. Cutting these debts, which now amount to 19 billion euros is “an overriding necessity if we are to balance public accounts,” remarks the conservative daily, which is critical of the “waste and poor management” of recent years. Negotiations on the regional deficits will take place in the wake of the final session in parliament (held on 26 July) in which “the house said its goodbyes to Zapatero,” because early general elections are now on the cards for the autumn, points out ABC.

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


New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole in Global Warming Alarmism

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.

The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate…

           — Hat tip: RB[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Aquaculture: Greece a Major Fish Supplier for Key Markets

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JULY 27 — Aquaculture is playing a major role in the global production of food, as natural stocks dwindle and demand increases worldwide. With its abundant seas, history of fishing, and access to export markets, Greece is ideally situated to continue its role as a major supplier of seafood -both fish and shellfish — to key markets.

For select varieties, as ‘INvest in Greece agency’ reports, Greece is the top producer in the EU; it is first in production of both European gilthead sea bream and Mediterranean sea bass, with a 72% share of each variety. The country produces 370,000,000 fry and 150,000 tons of sea bream and bass, supplying EU markets. More than 85% of the fish is exported. In addition, the aquaculture industry supports more than 10,000 jobs, primarily in regional Greece -both on islands and in remote areas. In recent years the aquaculture industry has consolidated significantly, through mergers and acquisitions, and today, even though more than 100 firms operate in the sector, six listed companies in the Athens Stock Exchange control over 70% of domestic production.

Aquaculture has developed into an industry with national importance; farmed sea bream and sea bass are among the four most important products of Greece (together with olive oil, tobacco and cotton), holding second place in Greek agricultural product exports. Production value amounts to 400 million Euro and 75 million Euro for fish and fry respectively. In Greece companies operate 333 floating fish farming production units and 39 fish hatchery stations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Diana West: the Shameful Spinning of the Norway Massacre

On Tuesday, I read a New York Times online report about a press conference held by Geir Lippestad, the defense lawyer for admitted Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. I found one of Lippestad’s statements of interest, and saved it for future reference. Little did I know it would disappear from the news website.

The statement was: “Asked if the rampage was aimed at the Labor Party or at Muslim immigrants, Mr. Lippestad said: ‘This was an attack on the Labor Party.’“

The lawyer’s statement is the first credible assessment of motive, and as such it is a significant piece of the story. So why did The New York Times cut it from the final version of the story online and in Wednesday’s newspaper?

The answer, I think, has much to do with how Lippestad’s opinion fails to accelerate the rush of Times insta-spin, and could even slow what looks like a swift-moving drive to limit free speech about Islamization in the West.

The “updated” Times report that omits Lippestad’s statement now features comments from Jonas Gahr Store, Norway’s foreign minister. Sure, Store’s comments are significant, but why they obliterated the defense lawyer’s statement, I don’t know. But I can guess.

Lippestad believes his client was attacking the Labor Party, not Muslim immigrants. The final version, minus Lippestad’s comment, reports on an official, post-attack event: the foreign minister’s visit to the World Islamic Mission, a large Oslo mosque, “to express solidarity,” as the Times explains, with Norwegian Muslims. Over the weekend, Store visited a church as well, but the Times doesn’t mention that. The overall patina to the mosque event then, certainly minus Lippestad’s assessment, becomes one of Muslim aggrievement — an artificial creation given that the majority of Breivik’s victims are most likely non-Muslim. Such aggrievement, however, fits the Times’ anti-anti-jihad narrative to date, also dovetailing with machinations on the Left.

We may assume Norway’s Labor Party, like all parties on the European Left, draws votes from a majority of Norway’s Muslims for its support of Islamic immigration and the cultural, legal and financial accommodations that follow. Indeed, it’s the resulting pattern of Islamization across Europe that drove what has been absurdly glorified as Breivik’s 1,500-page “manifesto.” After I checked out the nine times my own name appears — all in cut-and-pasted essays by the Norwegian blogger Fjordman — I learned via counterterrorism expert Jarrett Brachman that the “manifesto” is partly plagiarized from the Unabomber…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Emissions in the EU: US Vilifies Carbon-Trading Scheme for Airlines

Starting in 2012, airlines with flights to the EU will have to pay for certificates to emit CO2. But the United States has balked at the expensive plan. Their resistance threatens to spark a majar trade dispute.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Union: Without the South, The North Loses Europe

Le Temps Geneva

The countries of southern Europe are facing huge problems. But this no reason to neglect them or shove them towards the exit: the fate of the EU is linked to its southern countries, writes a reporter from Le Temps,

Richard Werly

The numbers are in, and they’re pitiless. The figures from Greece — the debts of about EUR 350 billion, equivalent to 160 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) — are a rallying call to all those, with Germany in the lead, who are out to pillory the past mismanagement and fraud (proven) engaged in by Athens.

The numbers from Portugal aren’t much better: a public debt of 126 billion euros, or 88 percent of its GDP. And Italy, bringing up the rear, is hauling a debt of about 1.8 trillion euros, or nearly 120 percent of its GDP — and what’s worse, the inefficiency of its public services has been illustrated on television screens around the world by the chaotic garbage collection in Naples. The case of Spain, let us note immediately, is different. In Madrid the authorities are facing primarily a spiral of private debt comparable to that of Ireland, where the rescue package from the EU aims to refloat the banking sector. At 680 billion euros, representing about 64 percent of GDP — against 1.65 trillion for France, or 84 percent of French GDP — Spain’s sovereign debt is now in the sights of the rating agencies.

Added to this, the critics will note, is the divided island of Cyprus. A member of the EU since 2004, the island is now in its turn calling for help after being brought low by the July 11 explosion that killed 13 people and left the main power station a heap of rubble. The cost of rebuilding and recommissioning the plant will exceed one billion euros, experts predict. The government in Nicosia, however, is already facing a steep bill of nearly 50 billion in public debt, or 71 percent of its gross domestic product. In relation to the other numbers, the one billion is insignificant indeed. And yet…

Destiny of Europe has always been bound to the Mediterranean

What to do, then, above and beyond the reforms meant to rein in spending, to bring in more tax revenues and set off on a round of massive privatisation, as is about to be pushed for in Greece? To draw drastic economic conclusions with a shrug of the shoulders is one option. Some German lawmakers have even been suggesting that Athens auction off a few sunny islands to replenish its coffers. It’s a method that, indeed, some European powers were able to fall back in the past, such as when Napoleon sold French Louisiana (covering almost the entire central and western United States of today) to the newly independent state for fifteen million U.S. dollars in May 1803 — the history behind how he financed his insatiable appetite for war.

The same Cassandras, or very nearly, are now chomping at the bit to discuss the exit of Greece from the euro area, forgetting that the Lisbon Treaty does not allow a member country to be expelled. The calculation is a simple one: to turn the single currency into a club of virtuous European countries geographically anchored in the north.

But the political reality of the continent is intractable, and the shibboleth of a quick and easy expulsion, brought up again and again by the populists on the hard right such as the Dutch Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, denies the obvious: that the destiny of Europe as a historical power has always been bound to the Mediterranean. Severing the EU from its southern borderlands would be a political contradiction, given that the strategic and economic policy issues that are played out there are crucial. And let’s not mention the colossal contribution of Greece to European thought, or the manner in which the commercial and capitalist identity of European was forged in the Mediterranean, as shown by Fernand Braudel…

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

France: Paris Boom in Street Vendors, Tension With Police

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 28 — Paris has seen a sharp rise in street vendors and the police are meeting with ever greater difficulty to deal with the situation, which is becoming “uncontrollable”. According to Le Figaro, the number of street vendors “continues to grow” in Paris as well as in the Cote d’Azur. The French daily noted that one can see hundreds gathered at the Trocadero, the well-known esplanade in front of the Eiffel Tower, on the Champs-Elysees and Versailles in front of the palace of the Sun King. Le Figaro underscored that the street vendors often lack working papers and are mostly Indians, Sri Lankans, Senegalese and Romanians, and that relations with police grow tenser by the day. For the first time the tension took a violent turn on July 17, when policemen riding horses and bicycles were hit by miniature metal Eiffel Towers thrown by the street vendors. It is a worsening of relations which the police blame on the judicial impunity the street vendors enjoy. “We are now having to deal with vindictive vendors who join together in groups of thirty or fifty as soon as they see that we can take away their merchandise. It is the only punishment that they really fear,” was how one police officer summed up the situation. Meanwhile, over the past few months the police have confiscated over 19 tonnes of Eiffel Tower miniatures hidden in a number of shops run by Chinese shopkeepers, The merchandise had been set aside to supply street vendors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s ENI Bolsters Position in Belgian Gas Market With New Purchase

Rome, 27 July (AKI) — Italy’s largest energy company Eni on Wednesday said it agreed to pay around 157 million euros for Swedish Vattenfall’s gas and power business in Belgium as the Italian company seeks to strengthen its presence in the Belgian market.

The agreement with Vattenfall includes the acquisition of Nuon Belgium, which has about 550,000 electricity and gas connections, as well as its subsidiary Nuon Wind Belgium and Nuon Power Generation Walloon, Rome-based Eni said.

Eni, Europe’s biggest natural gas distributer, became a major player in Belgium when it acquired the country’s largest gas company Distrigas in 2008.

Eni said it expects to close the latest purchase by the end of the year and that it is contingent on the approval of European anti-trust officials.

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

London Metropolitan Police Arrest Teenager Hacker

(AGI) London — London’s Metropolitan Police Service arrested Ryan Cleary, 19, on charges of masterminding the hacking collective LulzSec and Anonymous and breaking into the networks of Cia, Sony and NewsCorp. He was arrested today in the Shetland Islands, in Scotland as part of a “pre-planned, intelligence-led operation,” .

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

Murder in Berlin: The Lost Honor of the Sürücü Family

Hatun Sürücü died in 2005 when her youngest brother shot her for the sake of their family honor. What followed was a family’s self-destruction. A new documentary reconstructs the story, and interviews the murderer for the first time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New York Times Reader Kills Dozens in Norway

by Ann Coulter

The New York Times wasted no time in jumping to conclusions about Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who staged two deadly attacks in Oslo last weekend, claiming in the first two paragraphs of one story that he was a “gun-loving,” “right-wing,” “fundamentalist Christian,” opposed to “multiculturalism.”

It may as well have thrown in “Fox News-watching” and “global warming skeptic.”

This was a big departure from the Times’ conclusion-resisting coverage of the Fort Hood shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Despite reports that Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as he gunned down his fellow soldiers at a military medical facility in 2009, only one of seven Times articles on Hasan so much as mentioned that he was a Muslim.

Of course, that story ran one year after Hasan’s arrest, so by then, I suppose, the cat was out of the bag.

In fact, however, Americans who jumped to conclusions about Hasan were right and New York Times reporters who jumped to conclusions about Breivik were wrong.

True, in one lone entry on Breivik’s gaseous 1,500-page manifesto, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” he calls himself “Christian.” But unfortunately he also uses a great number of other words to describe himself, and these other words make clear that he does not mean “Christian” as most Americans understand the term. (Incidentally, he also cites The New York Times more than a half-dozen times.)

Had anyone at the Times actually read Breivik’s manifesto, they would have seen that he uses the word “Christian” as a handy moniker to mean “European, non-Islamic” — not a religious Christian or even a vague monotheist. In fact, at several points in his manifesto, Breivik stresses that he has a beef with Christians for their soft-heartedness. (I suppose that’s why the Times is never worried about a “Christian backlash.”)

A casual perusal of Breivik’s manifesto clearly shows that he uses the word “Christian” similarly to the way some Jewish New Yorkers use it to mean “non-Jewish.” In this usage, Christopher Hitchens and Madalyn Murray O’Hair are “Christians.”…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

On Norway Shooter’s Email List: ‘Shocked’ Rightist Belgian Politician; Nazi Sympathizer by Associated Press, Published: July 27

BRUSSELS — A right-wing Belgian politician said Wednesday he was shocked and dismayed to learn he had been sent an email by the perpetrator of the Norway massacre shortly before a powerful bomb exploded in Oslo.

Tanguy Veys, a member parliament for the anti-immigration Belgian Vlaams Belang party, said Wednesday he had never met nor even heard of Anders Behring Breivik, who has admitted carrying out the bombing and shootings that killed at least 76 people in Norway.

So receiving the email was a setback, he said.

“I was connected with a terrorist act, and I didn’t want to be connected with a terrorist act,” Veys said.

The email, with Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto of three books attached, was sent Friday, about 90 minutes before the bomb went off.

Veys said the email — written in English — went to about 1,000 addresses.

Other recipients may have been less shocked. One email address on the list led to a Facebook site ostensibly for an Italian whose profile picture included Nazi emblems and a skull. As the person’s only interest, the page listed “firearms.”

Another of the addresses led to the site of a man who claimed to be a member of the anti-immigration British National Party…

[Return to headlines]

Report: Norwegian Murderer an Ardent Supporter of Israel

A document published by Norway murderer Anders Behring Breivik revealed his support for Israel and his hatred of Islam.

Anders Behring Breivik, who committed the massacre in Norway on Friday in which over 90 people were murdered, spoke out in the past against Islam and said that he is a strong supporter of Israel, Channel 2 News reported on Sunday.

According to the report, in an English document he published on the Internet before the massacre, Breivik called himself a strong supporter of Zionism, praised Theodor Herzl the founder of Zionism, and attacked the European political establishment because he saw it as being anti-Israel.

Breivik commended Israel for not giving most of the Muslims who live under its control civil rights, as opposed to the various European countries. He also praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for including the Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas parties in his coalition.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

UK: Doorstep Lectures on Travelling Without Your Car as Army of Advisers Teach Families About ‘Sustainable Travel’

Hundreds of thousands of English families are to be visited by travel advisers who will tell them to stop driving their cars.

Armed with bus timetables and cycle route maps, they will knock on doors and lecture on the need for ‘sustainable travel’.

The doorstep campaign by the army of taxpayer-funded ‘personal travel advisers’ is part of a £156million effort by ministers to persuade people to leave their cars at home when they go to work or the shops, or take children to school.

Of 39 councils who will share the ‘sustainable transport’ money, 32 have said they will use some of it for advising individuals on how they can get around without their car. About 300,000 families are liable to get a visit.

Darlington has already run trials using paid advisers to go door to door. It will now get £375,000 for a scheme to visit all 45,900 homes in the area.

In Hereford, the 74,282 homes in the city will be visited twice, once for advisers to give information on public transport and cycling, and three months later to check whether the advice is being followed.

Blackpool has offered its residents a questionnaire on the way they travel, which asks for personal details, information about journeys made, and asks questions such as ‘what prevents you from cycling?’ and ‘do you know where your nearest bus stop is?’

Ministers have told MPs that the spending is good value for taxpayers.

Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker said in a statement to MPs that the money will ‘support authorities in delivering local economic growth while cutting carbon emissions from transport.’

He added: ‘The Department is confident that the overall package of proposals included in this first round represents high value for money.’

John O’Connell of the Tax Payers’ Alliance said: ‘Schemes like these represent poor value for money for taxpayers. They don’t address the real issues facing commuters on congested roads or packed trains.

‘With tighter budgets, silly schemes should be consigned to the scrap-yard.’

On the streets of Darlington last week travel advisers said they were meeting mixed success. With trolleys full of pamphlets in tow, Alex Clarke, 21, and Chris Chance, 28, who were on contract for the council, said some members of the public were more receptive than others.

Mr. Chance said: ‘Some people we’ve spoken to have never considered using any other form of transport than a car.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]


Border Dispute With Kosovo: Serbian Attackers Shoot at NATO Soldiers

NATO reinforcements have been sent to Kosovo’s northern border with Serbia after a group of angry Serbs attacked and set fire to a border post there. They also reportedly opened fire on NATO troops nearby. The incident highlights growing tensions between ethnic Serbs and Kosovar Albanians.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kosovo: Border Stand-Off at Border as Serbs Blame NATO for Helping Albanians

Pristina, 27 July (AKI) — Tensions at Kosovo’s border with Serbia showed no signs of easing on Wednesday, while local Serbs and Belgrade officials blamed NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR) of helping Albanians.

The tensions rose on Tuesday after Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci sent special police units to take over two northern border crossings with Serbia, Brnjak and Jarinje, in an effort to enforce embargo on imports of Serbian goods.

Local Serbs, who make up the majority of northern Kosovo’s population, responded by setting up road blocks and a Kosovo policeman was killed in an exchange of fire. Several people were reported injured, but no details have been revealed.

Serbian government negotiator Borko Stefanovic has spent two days on the scene, talking with KFOR commander, German General Erhard Buehler, to resolve the dispute. Serbs demand that European Union police and local Serb policemen guard the two crossings.

Stefanovic said late on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached for withdrawal of special police, which Thaci denied. After Wednesday talks, Stefanovic said Buehler hadn’t kept his promise and accused KFOR of siding with majority Albanians.

In fact, Stefanovic said that KFOR had flown special police and customs officers by helicopter the Brnjak and Jarinje crossings. “KFOR shouldn’t be an instrument of Pristina government, they know it, and that’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

But in an atmosphere abounding with contradictions, Buehler said special police had withdrawn from border crossings and only regular police, including local Serbs and customs officials were left to do the job.

Buehler said his job was to keep peace and order and called on local Serbs not to hamper KFOR operations. “I’m not saying this without reason, because a KFOR helicopter was shot at this morning,” he said without elaborating.

Kosovo’s majority Albanians declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade opposes and Serb population in the north doesn’t recognize Pristina government which has practically no control over northern part of Kosovo.

Kosovo independence has been recognized by 77 countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 EU members.

As tensions continued, local Serbs, who had spent the night at barricades, continued to block the roads with tree trunks and heavy trucks, forcing KFOR to fly supplies to border posts be helicopters.

In the meantime, with no solution in sight, Serbian government has called for an urgent session of the UN Security Council to discuss the latest Kosovo turmoil.

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

North Africa

Algeria: Killed Terrorist Son of FIS Member

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 27 — One of three terrorists killed on Monday in Thenia, when the car packed with explosives in which the men were travelling was fired on by Algerian security forces, has been identified as the son of Ali Belhadj, the former number two of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS).

The news was published in today’s Arabic-language newspaper Ennahar, which quoted “reliable sources”, the AFP agency reports. The identification is thought to have come about after DNA tests were carried out on the three dead men.

Abdelkahar Belhadj, who was 23, is thought to have joined Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2006, taking on the nom de guerre of Mouawia, in honour of one of the companions of the Prophet Mohamed. Ennahar says that no contact has been established with the terrorist’s father for confirmation of the report.

According to the police version of events, the three terrorists, who were travelling in two separate cars, found themselves at a road block as they attempted to reach the motorway taking them to Algiers, some 60 kilometres away, where they were planning a bloody attack close to the start of holy month of Ramadan. Sources quoted by the newspaper say that the attack was due to be carried out in a place “packed with people, in the centre of Algiers”. The second would-be bomber, meanwhile, was due to drive the other car packed with explosives to a government building.

When he disappeared in 2006, Ali Belhadj accused the Algerian secret services of kidnapping his son, a charge that has always been denied. “Mouawia” had been sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 for a series of attacks. His father, who spent twelve years in prison, was freed as part of a national reconciliation law launched by the Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in an attempt to put an end to years of Islamic terrorism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Minya: Young Pregnant Coptic Woman Attacked by a Muslim Man Over Coptic Church Bell

The wounding of the woman led to a clash between Christians and Muslims in the small village of Ezbet Jacob Bebawi that left six people injured. The attacker was opposed to the new bell in the local Coptic church. A source talks to AsiaNews about the lack of police presence and anti-Christian violence after Mubarak’s fall.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — More clashes between Christians and Muslims in Minya (Upper Egypt). On Monday, Ezbet Jacob Bebawi, a small village just outside the city of Samalout, saw a group of Muslims attack with iron rods and farm implements a group of Copts who had come to the rescue of a pregnant Coptic woman who was being beaten by a young Muslim.

Security forces brought the clash to an end but not before people were injured. However, they arrested only Christians in connection with the event, including the husband of the woman, the latter for weapon possession.

According to Fr Estephanos Shehata, of the Samalout Coptic diocese, “The real reason behind this assault was the church bell, which has greatly angered the Muslims in the village.”

The clergyman explained that most residents of the village are Christian, and that until recently, there were no problems with local Muslims.

Christian villagers believe the assault was premeditated, noting that the village has a very weak presence of security forces.

At present, they fear another attack, especially since Muslims have been slowly congregating in the village.

Following the fall of Mubarak, Christian communities in Upper Egypt and regions far from the capital have been the victims of Muslim attacks.

A source told AsiaNews that the situation is due to poor security and police indifference. Muslim culture and illiteracy also play a fundamental role, which increases the chances that both sides will act on rumours.

“Sectarian diatribes and clashes have always been commonplace in Upper Egypt,” the source said. “In our country, 45 per cent of the people are illiterate. People are influenced by imams and Muslim extremists and do not act rationally but by instinct. In this climate of widespread impunity, violence has increased, sometimes for futile reasons, which often lead to religious conflicts.”

As long as the constitution is not changed, Christians will be in danger in Egypt, the source said. “Democracy is still far despite the winds of change brought by the Jasmine Revolution. Secular-oriented people are still a minority”.

The young Christians and Muslims who played such a large role in the protests in Tahrir Square must enter in politics and work to ensure that the Arab spring does not turn into hell. (S.C.)

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

Libyan Rebels’ Chief of Staff is Charged With Treason

(AGI) Benghazi — Little is known about the fate of Abdel Fatah Younis, the rebels’ military chief, arrested on charges of treason, According to one of the general’s bodyguard, Younis was coordinating the military operations around Marsa el -Brega, when NTC agents arrested him on charges of treason.

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

Muslim Attack on Christians in Egypt Provoked by Installation of Church Bell

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — An exchange of harsh words on July 25 between Ruth, a Christian woman, and Gassem Fouad, a Muslim man who had parked his tricycle in front of her home, escalated into assault by the man on Ruth and other Christian villagers, and the arrest of one Copt. After Ruth, who is 5 months pregnant, was assaulted, a Muslim mob waited for Coptic farmers to return from the fields, where they were intercepted and beaten with iron rods and pipes.

Security forces managed to contain the situation.

Six Christians, including Ruth and her sister-in-law Hannan, were hospitalized with concussions, head injuries and broken limbs. No Muslim was injured.

None of the Muslim perpetrators was arrested. Ruth’s husband, Kirillos Daniel, was accused of possessing a weapon — a rifle found thrown where the Christians were attacked, and is under detention.

In an interview on CTV Coptic TV, Father Estephanos Shehata, of the Samalout Coptic dioceses, said “The real reason behind this assault was the church bell, which has greatly angered the Muslims in the village.” He said the dilapidated church in the village of Ezbet Jacob Bebawi, outside Samalout, north of Minya, was given permission to renovate and this was completed last week, and the church bell was reinstalled.

“This is the first time such an incident has taken place in this village,” said Father Estephanos, “which is 60-75% Christian, and the reason is definitely the presence of the church bell.”

Christian villagers believe this assault was premeditated and they fear their church faces imminent attack, especially since Muslims have been slowly congregating in the village, which has a very weak presence of security forces.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: State of Emergency Extended Indefinitely

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 27 — The state of emergency that is in place in Tunisia, decreed on January 14 with expiration date July 31, has been extended indefinitely. The new decree was signed by interim President Foued Mebazaa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Music: Ayman: Hard to be a Rapper in Gaza

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, JULY 27 — The one he joined in Tunis a few weeks ago was his first concert in two years. Because in Gaza, he explained, only the music approved by Hamas can be played. Now, after those few days of freedom spent at the speed of light, young rapper Ayman Mghamis has come back to Gaza City.

And from there he spoke about the reality he found again.

“We are still trying to make concerts in the Strip, but we are facing many obstacles”, he said in an interview to ANSAmed.

“When we got on the stage during our last concert and played some rap music it was a miracle. The Strip’s government, Hamas, sees hip-hop as a different culture, not acceptable by our community. This is a totally mistaken notion because, since we started in 2002, we talked with the people of Gaza and explained this culture to them, and how it was created by the black people. But after the election (the one in 2006 when Hamas soundly beat Fatah which led to the war between the two factions and the movement gaining control of the Strip, editors’s note) everything has become more difficult for us”. Ayman, a little over the age of 20, belongs to the group named P.R. The Palestinian Rappers, whose website ( explains how 2003 marked the birth of a group of youngsters who discovered hip-hop as “a peaceful way to protest against the occupation of their land”. But, Ayman added, “the Hamas government has an ideology that I really wish I could understand! They see music as something out of religion, but authorise hotels and restaurants to hold parties. For example, we should have played for the exhibit of a Swedish photographer, but while they did not authorise us they allowed a girl with sexy clothes to get on stage and sing some old music!”.

“Most of our songs are political”, Ayman confirmed, and focused on conflict, or rather on “the struggle” with Israel’s government. “But we also talk about unemployment, the conflict between the Palestinian people, and also romantic stories”.

Ayman has been living in Gaza since 1997, when he arrived there with his family and his father, who was then killed during the Israeli bombings of the Cast Lead operation. Now he feels the duty to help his family, and is working to rebuild his house.

“I did not expect to become a rapper”, he reminisces of when he could still feel truly young, “but when I came to Gaza, after having lived in Lebanon and in Tunis, everything was different”. And when “I started to play hip-hop it became the blood in my veins, because now I can speak and say ‘no’, even though there is nobody to listen to me, but at least I can say what I want and how I want. For me, music is my voice”.

So what did leaving the Strip for a few days of freedom in Tunisia, to join the Creative Commons regional meeting, mean to you? “I have my freedom in the Strip as well, but the problem is the way of thinking of the people. Tunis is an open country, and I felt the difference in mentality compared to Gaza. It is clear that the consequence of the Israeli occupation is not only to kill bodies, but also to kill culture”.

Do you think that initiatives such as the Freedom Flotilla can help? “We believe in the strength of nations, in their capability of putting an end to this situation. But Gaza does not need food and that of kind of help. It is not a humanitarian case, we are facing a political crisis. The nations should take a stance with their leaders, in a sort of Intifada against them, so that they can have an effect on Israel”.

As for the chances of a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, Ayman is sceptical. “Up to now nothing has happened and now everything is more complicated than before”. In the meantime, however, the people of Hamas “act as though they own the Country and we should obey them in everything. We do not have the right to say ‘no’ to anything, and if they tell us to join a demonstration it is only to show the media that they are open and that they believe in democracy”.

Furthermore, “they always accuse Abu Mazen for every step he takes, to prove on their media that they are the only ones to hold out against the occupation”. Instead the Pna’s president, he concluded, “is trying to gain recognition around the world (for the State of Palestine, ed’s note), trying to put an end to this situation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

PNA: Abbas Adversary Dahlan’s House Searched

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JULY 28 — Security forces from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) raided and searched the house of Mohammed Dahlan this morning in Ramallah, a former Fatah strong man in the Gaza Strip and an open adversary to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. This was reported by a number of well-informed sources who said that the police had arrested Dahlan’s bodyguards and seized weapons and the cars owned by the Palestinian representative, who had entered the Palestinian territories after a lengthy absence abroad. Dahlan went back with the intention of appealing the June 11 decision to expel him from Fatah’s Central Committee on suspicion of subversive activities against President Abbas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘US Paying Salaries for Jailed Palestinian Terrorists’

By Herb Keinon

Media watchdog tells congressmen PA spends over $5 million a month from US-provided budget in salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons.

he Palestinian Authority spends more than $5 million a month paying salaries to terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons, according to a Palestinian Media Watch report presented to congressmen in Washington on Tuesday.

According to the report, written by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, such payments contravene US law, which prohibits funding of any person who “engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity…

           — Hat tip: J-PD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Jordan: Study: Only 20% of Tourism Workers Are Women

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 27 — Only 20% of people working in Jordan’s tourism sector are female. This is according to a study carried out by the European Training Foundation (ETF), which focussed on a total of 234 businesses: 86 hotels, 68 travel agencies and 80 restaurants, most of which were based in Amman (86%).

Travel agencies are the best employers of women, with 49%, while only 11% of hotel staff are female with the figure as low as 9% in restaurants. Excluding Royal Jordanian Airlines from the sample, the percentage of women in the tourism sector falls as low as 12%. Overall, women make up 23.3% of Jordan’s working population, according to ILO figures for 2009).

The prospects for the future of female employment in the sector are far from bright. Only 8% of staff hired in the 12 months leading up to the report are women. The study also showed that 80% of the businesses asked stated that very few women, if any, had applied for positions. Some 60% of employers, meanwhile, said that they had difficulty in finding female staff with the suitable qualifications.

The negative image of the tourism sector, hotels and restaurants in particular, must also be taken into account, with a significant number of women wary of sexual harassment, long hours, transport problems and the difficulties in reconciling their jobs with their family life.

The European Training Foundation, which produced the report, is an EU agency set up to contribute to the development of school and training systems in Europe’s partner countries. The report was presented in Brussels during seminar organised by the Euromed Gender Equality Programme.

The EGEP is financed by the European Union as part of neighbourhood policy, which involved nine partner countries between 2008 and 2011: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Islamic Activists Against Terrorism Law

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, JULY 28 — After Amnesty International, a group of Saudi Islamic activists has also condemned the draft of the new anti-terrorism law in Saudi Arabia. The group fears that the law could be used to suppress all forms of dissent in the kingdom. “This provision is against Islamic law because it sees criticising the government as an act of terrorism,” the website of the Islamic party Umma reads. The party has asked all believers to take sides against the law.

In the past days Amnesty International spoke out against the law, underlining that it includes 10 years in prison for anyone who brings the integrity of the king or the crown prince into dispute, that it expends the period people can be held without trial to an indefinite period, also for peaceful demonstrators, and that it uses vague definitions for terrorism.

The Saudi authorities have responded by blocking Amnesty International’s website in the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tehran Diary: ‘We Drink to the Freedom That Will Come One Day’

It has been two years since the disputed presidential elections in Iran, which sparked street protests leading to dozens of deaths and countless arrests. The opposition is in disarray and the government seems stronger than ever. Four Tehran residents give a glimpse into life in the Islamic Republic in diary entries they wrote for SPIEGEL.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Municipal Patrol Acts Harshly Toward Patrons, Say Restaurant Owners

Members of the municipal patrol acted extremely rudely and abused restaurant owners and customers as they removed outdoor tables and chairs over the weekend in Beyoglu’s Cihangir and Galata neighborhoods, according to restaurant operators.

Officers appeared without an official warning in prominent places throughout Cihangir, removing tables by force while customers were still sitting there and eating, Gökçe Bedo, the owner of a tavern told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“More than 20 officers suddenly gathered here and hit one of the customers who refused to stand up as she did not understand the reason for the operation,” said Bedo, adding that she was considering filing a complaint against the officers.

The owners have blamed the municipality for the attitude of the officers who carried out the operation; many have also added that they had not violated the rule that bans chairs and tables in front of their facilities.

Last Tuesday, the owners of cafes and restaurants in Galata neighborhood received a notice from the municipal patrol, saying tables and chairs outside restaurants and cafes should be removed.

“We had a municipality commission decision that allowed us to put our chairs and tables within two and a half meters of our establishments,” Murat Yalvaç told the Daily News.

Another owner, Ilhan Boztas, told the Daily News that before the officers had arrived in Galata, they saw riot police, who are not often seen in the area. “The municipal patrol collected the tables, chairs and other objects — umbrellas and planters, for example — while the customers were eating.”

The officials have not returned the furniture they removed and much of what was taken has been destroyed, said many of the cafe owners.

“A German tourist was crying due to the rudeness of the officials,” said Boztas adding that even undercover policemen tried to stop the municipal patrol officers due to their alleged harshness.

Some, however, argued that a few owners had abused the laws, causing officials to exercise power disproportionately. Pelin Dinçer, a former restaurant owner in Cihangir, told the Daily News that some had violated the law by putting the tables on the sidewalk, preventing pedestrians from passing by easily.

A worker at one restaurant speaking on condition of anonymity said the operations began after Turkey’s prime minister visited the Asmalimescit neighborhood, an area close to Galata that is known for its outdoor cafes and bars.

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

Turkey: Rising Rates of Women’s Suicides Ring Alarm Bells

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 28 — The number of suicide cases, particularly among young women, has risen dramatically in the Turkish southeastern province of Sanliurfa, daily Hurrieyt reports quoting a local journalist who cites family pressure as a major cause. The total number of suicides in the province has reached 149 in the first six months of 2011, journalist Gul San said in her report, which was supported by the Women’s Associations Federation. Based on the data provided by the Sanliurfa courthouse, San concluded that two-thirds of the suicides were committed by women, most of whom were single and between the ages of 15 and 35. “Young women who commit suicide (often) do so because of their family’s oppression,” San told the Hurriyet daily. “Many families immigrate from villages to cities but cannot adapt to the lifestyle. Their daughters want to be able to act freely and have a social life, a boyfriend or different clothes. When they aren’t allowed (to do so), they (may) hurt themselves.” Other data San highlighted in her report show that ¿anl¿urfa women over the age of 40 often commit suicide due to their husband’s taking a second wife.

“Second-wife cases have risen dramatically since Turkey removed visa requirements with Syria,” she said. “This also (resulted) in a rise in suicides in the region. Many women choose to (kill themselves) because they cannot stand this situation.” According to San’s report, the number of suicide cases is also high among men in Sanliurfa, primarily for economic reasons.

Although San’s report says that 125 people committed suicide in Sanliurfa in 2010 and 149 in the first six months of 2011, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, gives much lower figures. According to TurkStat’s data, there were 46 suicides in the province in 2010, 45 in 2009 and 69 in 2008.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Attack in Norway, Hindu Radicals Among Terrorist’s “Models”

In a 102 pages manifesto, Anders Breivik defines the Hindu radicals “important allies and resources. “Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights Prashant: “Christians must explain to the world that these killings have nothing to do with Christianity or with the message of Christ.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Hindutva ideology is one of inspirations claimed by the Oslo and Utoya killer, Anders Breivik, who massacred over 90 people in the 22 July attacks. The Hindu radicals of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are referred to in the Norwegian aggressor’s 102 page manifesto as no less than “important resources”. Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the Jesuit Centre for Human Rights Justice and Peace Prashant, said that the acts in Norway were “atrocious” and that he was “shocked” and “disgusted” by what Breivik has written about India.

For Fr Prakash, the most sinister aspect of Breivik’s hindutva references is his meticulous campaign to unite Christian, Jewish and Hindu right-wing extremism: “This effort is intended to polarize those parts of society who are against Muslims.” And this “is not a good omen — the Jesuit continues — for a world order that is fighting to affirm acceptance, friendship, multiculturalism and the inherent dignity of every human being.”

Fr. Prakash Breivik “laudes Hindutva ideology” referring to it as an “important ally in the global fight to reduce the growing prosperous democracies in the world.” In addition, in the manifesto the bomber emphasizes the systematic attacks by radical Hindus against Muslims in India. “Ironic — for the priest — as fundamentalists consistently target Christians.” For this reason, “Christians around the world must not only condemn the actions and ideologies of Breivik, but publicly declare that these awful massacres that have nothing to do with Christianity or with the person and message of Jesus Christ” .

Harsh condemnation also from Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), and Lenin Raghuvanshi, a lay activist and director of the Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr). Both express solidarity for the victims of the massacre, carried out with “monstrous” methods. “ What adds salt to the wounds — said Sajan George — is the Norwegian mass killer’s manifesto hails Hindutva ideology,” which continues to undermine the stability of India.

“No sane person — says Raghuvanshi — will ever accept extremists of any kind to upset the agenda of a society in search of development.” He hopes that Norway will “maintain the harmony that it has built over the years, and not give way to panic.” (N, C)

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

Honour Killings: Man Guns Down Six Daughters

Faisalabad: A man gunned down six of his daughters on suspicion that two of them were in relationships with boys in the neighbourhood.

On Tuesday morning, Arif Mubashir called his teenage daughters to his room and shot them while the rest of the family, including their mother, watched. His wife Musarrat called the police after the incident.

Mubashir shot the girls after their brother said two of them were in a relationship. He told police officials that he had killed his daughters because they were both “without honour”. The man said his daughters Sameena, 14, and Razia, 16, were in a relationship with college boys from the neighbourhood and the sisters had helped each other. “I should have been told immediately but the girls sided with each other. They were both corrupt,” Mubashir told Tandlianwala Police Inspector Javed Sial.

Police officials have taken Mubashir into custody and filed a case against him. “He does not regret what he did. He boasted that he would do it all over again if he had to,” Sial told reporters.

Pakistan has repeatedly been termed as one of the least women-friendly countries. In June, the Thompson Reuters Foundation ranked Pakistan as the world’s third most dangerous country for women.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.

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

Indonesia: Moratorium on Export of Workers to Malaysia to End

Jakarta, 28 July (AKI/Jakarta Post) — The Indonesian government says it will soon revoke a moratorium on the export of migrant workers to Malaysia, citing the latter’s “improving” stance regarding their treatment.

“The moratorium on sending (workers) to Malaysia has been in place for two years. Besides, we’ve already signed a new pact with Malaysia,” National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers chief Moh. Jumhur Hidayat said Thursday.

Jumhur added that the Malaysian government stance on the issue of Indonesian migrant workers had improved, citing clauses in the ruling that migrant workers must retain their own passports, among other things. Previously, their passports were often taken by employers and agencies that placed them in Malaysia.

The new agreement also stipulates that the workers now have the right for one day off per week, and provides “clearer” work contracts and rules on improved payments.

The memorandum of understanding, a non-binding agreement, was signed by Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar and Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam in the Indonesian city of Bandung in May.

The moratorium was imposed in June 2009, following several incidents in which migrant workers’ were mistreated.

For similar reasons, the Indonesian government has also issued a moratorium on the export of Indonesian workers to Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

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

Culture Wars

‘One Night Stand’: Teeny Magazine Blasted for Sexual Aggression Tale

Bravo magazine is an institution among German teens for its blanket coverage of pop stars like Justin Bieber, but also for its frank sexual advice column and educational photo stories of sex encounters between teens. A feminist blog is accusing the magazine of glorifying sexual aggression.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anders Breivik T-Shirts, Anyone?

From everything written about (and by) him thus far, Breivik appears to have achieved Che Guevara’s ideal of a perfectly cold-blooded killing machine.

At last count 32 year-old Anders Breivik is accused of 76 murders—to which he both confesses and boasts.

According to the Black Book of Communism, the Castroite firing squads founded and lovingly mentored by Che Guevara, murdered from 12-14 thousand Cubans. During the early months of the bloodbath, the 32 year-old Che Guevara was either delivering the coup ‘de grace to the victims’ (including boys as young as 17) skull, or was at his office window at Havana’s La Cabana prison, watching his darling firing squads at work.

And Che Guevara was no less boastful than Breivik. “Yes—certainly we execute,” Che Guevara boasted while addressing the hallowed halls of the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1964. “And we’ll continue executing as long as it is necessary. This is a war to the DEATH against the revolution’s enemies!” Che’s Guevara’s image is considered the most reproduced image of the century, gracing everything from T-shirts to posters, from thong undies to skateboards, from cellphones to infant “onezies.” Che Guevara also serves as poster Idol for many fervent activists against the death penalty.

[Return to headlines]

It’s Dim Up North, So People Need Bigger Brains

People from northern parts of the world have evolved bigger brains and larger eyes to help them to cope with long, dark winters and dim skies, scientists said on Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

ScienceDaily (July 26, 2011) — Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Oozing Biofuel: Algae Could Solve World’s Fuel Crisis

Genetically modified blue and green algae could be the answer to the world’s fuel problems. Bioengineers have already developed algae that produce ethanol, oil and even diesel — and the only things the organisms need are sunlight, CO2 and seawater.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]