Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111102

Financial Crisis
»As Government Verges on Collapse, Papandreou Fires Military Chiefs
»DNB: Eurobonds Only When All Euro States Have Debt Below 60 Percent
»Dutch Support for Eurozone Rescue Plan at Risk
»Earth to EU: ‘No’ Means No
»Greece: Govt Okays Referendum as Soon as Possible
»Greece: Default Fear: 2-Year Bond Soars to 96.7%
»Greeks Should be Asked ‘Do You Want to Keep Euro?’: France
»Greek Exit From Euro Zone Just a ‘Matter of Time’
»IMF: Arab Spring Countries Face Economic Slowdown
»Italy’s Bonds Under Attack Again
»Italy: Government to Hold Emergency Meeting
»Milan Leads European Market Tailspin
»Netherlands: Greek Referendum is a ‘Deal-Breaker’ Says Labour
»Smoking-Gun Document Ties Policy to Housing Crisis
»Some 15% of U.S. Uses Food Stamps
»The Greek Referendum: A Machiavellian Scenario
»‘We Are Looking Straight Into the Face of a Great Depression, ‘ Says Simon Johnson
»Americans ‘Hooked on Government’ As Record Number Get Benefits
»Born in the USA, But Now Among Somalia’s Islamist Terrorists
»Muslim-American Children Make Mock Pilgrimage to Mecca
»Naperville Panel to Reconsider Proposed Mosque Site
»Political Islam and the US
»Settlement Reached in Muslim Man’s Suit Against Youngstown
Europe and the EU
»Erdogan Criticizes German Attitude to Turks
»European Rabbis Rally Against Kosher Slaughter Ban
»France: Satirical Weekly Hit by Petrol Bomb Over ‘Sharia’ Issue
»France: ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Is Petrol Bombed
»France: Magazine Offices Gutted After ‘Muhammed Issue’
»France: Firebomb Guts Magazine That Ran Muhammad Pic
»French Satirical Paper Charlie Hebdo Attacked in Paris
»Help for German Industry: Merkel Joins the Global Hunt for Natural Resources
»Italy: Bossi Casts Doubts on Italy’s Future as Unified Nation
»Muhammad Depictions: French Satirical Paper Reportedly Attacked
»Satirical Magazine Firebombed in France
»Spain: Ceuta Border Opened Due to Flow of Moroccan Faithful
»Sweden: Family Torn Apart After False Sex Abuse Claims
»Turkish Prime Minister in Berlin: Erdogan Escalates Germany Criticism
»UK: Ahmadiyya Muslim Volunteers in Southfields and Morden Praised for Poppy Collection Drive
»UK: MP Given Protection After Visit to Mosque
»UK: Royal Award for Watford Arabic School
»Viking ‘Sunstone’ More Than a Myth: Study
North Africa
»Algeria: Armed Men Burn Alcohol Store
»Arab Spring Brings First Successful Multi-Party Election in Tunisia
»Are Christians Facing Extinction on the Arab Street?
»Egypt: The Coptic Kristallnacht
»Egypt: Salafists Veil Statue of Sirens in Alexandria
Middle East
»Equal Opportunities: Mideast Countries Low on Global Ranking
»Iran’s Nuclear Activity Under Scrutiny as Evidence of Weapons Threat Emerges
»Israel Speeds Up Ballistic Missile Tests as Speculation Grows of Attack on Iran
»Israel Considers Pre-Emptive Attack on Iran
»Lebanon: Muslim Naturalisation Question Reopened
»New Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Coming Caliphate
»Yemen: Al Qaeda Bomb Expert Targeted by CIA
»‘Astronauts’ To Emerge From 520-Day Mock Mars Mission
South Asia
»Pakistani Journalist: China Seeking to Establish Military Bases in Pakistani Border Region
»Thailand: Jihadists Murder Six Buddhist Civilians by Bombing Their Car and Then Raking it With Gunfire
Far East
»China’s 1st Space Docking Inspires Love Poetry
»German Official Concerned About ‘Persecution’ of Ai Weiwei
Sub-Saharan Africa
»South Africa: White Girl Burns in ‘Satanic Ritual’
»10 Brilliant Writers Robbed of a Nobel Prize
»Ancient Mars Water May Have Flowed Underground
»Is Junk Food as Addictive as Cocaine?
»Is Mental Time Travel What Makes US Human?
»The ‘Rich Club’ That Rules Your Brain
»The Top of the Hour is the Time for Prosperity
»World’s Nuclear Arsenals Growing, Think-Tank Warns

Financial Crisis

As Government Verges on Collapse, Papandreou Fires Military Chiefs

EU supremos Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel have called Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to a meeting in Cannes ahead of the G20 summit (3-4 November), following the shock announcement of a referendum on the EU’s latest bail-out deal. EU leaders are horrified at the Greek leader’s plans to put the rescue plan and its accompanying austerity measures before the people, fearing a No vote could sink the euro and plunge the European Union into political crisis.

Merkel and Sarkozy are to insist to Papandreou that the “only way to resolve Greek debt problems” is to adhere to the deal cobbled together at an EU summit in Brussels last week. Ignoring the fury in capitals across Europe and in the face of public opposition to his referendum plan from some of his own ministers, Papandreou won grudging backing from his cabinet colleagues late Tuesday night (1 November) for his plans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

DNB: Eurobonds Only When All Euro States Have Debt Below 60 Percent

THE HAGUE, 01/11/11 — The issue of Eurobonds can only begin when all eurozone countries have cut their national debt to a maximum of 60 percent of their Gross Domestic Poduct (GDP), the central bank (DNB) wrote yesterday in its DNBulletin.

DNB already indicated earlier that Eurobonds could only be contemplated as tailpiece of very strict budget discipline and convergence of the economies of the member states. Now the central bank has for the first time explicitly stated its conditions.

Eurobonds are centrally-issued communally guaranteed bonds for financing all state debt of the eurozone countries. A debt ceiling of 60 percent of GDP is the norm already included in the European Stability and Growth Pact.

In case Eurobonds were introduced, there would have to be a statutory bank on the issuing of debt paper by individual eurozone countries, both at European and national level. This would be necessary to prevent countries still building up extra national debt. An independent European budgetary authority would also have to monitor strict compliance with the statutory agreements.

To be able to maintain confidence in Eurobond financing, as ultimate sanction DNB is demanding the establishment of a European banks safety-net including a European guarantee system for savings accounts. This also implies European banking supervision. Currently, the national central banks are still responsible for banking supervision.

Opponents of Eurobonds fear that weak countries will use them to evade necessary cutbacks and reforms. Supporters consider that Eurobonds are a logical consequence of monetary union and see in them a weapon to defend against speculation against individual problem countries.

DNB President Klaas Knot said in a speech on Friday that the “unconventional measures” of the ECB must not last for too long. He was referring here to the buying up of state bonds. Incoming ECB President Mario Draghi said Wednesday that he wanted to go on with this for longer. Meanwhile, departing ECB President Trichet said yesterday that Draghi was misunderstood.

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

Dutch Support for Eurozone Rescue Plan at Risk

Adding to uncertainty over the fate of the latest eurozone rescue plan after Greece announced it will seek the approval of its people in a referendum, the Dutch parliament on Tuesday (1 November) said it will not yet support the plan.”There are too many loose ends,” said Ronald Plasterk, the Labour Party’s spokesperson for financial affairs, during a late-night debate with the government. “The package isn’t strong enough and is practically off the table now that the Greeks have bombed it.”

Earlier in the day, Plasterk called the Greek referendum “a deal-breaker”. “It cannot be that we work for months on the details of the rescue package, only to find out in January whether the very people it is intended to help even want it or not. I am very sorry, but a referendum is not an option.” Labour’s support is crucial for the rescue package to pass in parliament. The country’s minority government normally relies on the support of the staunchly anti-EU Freedom Party, who on Tuesday called the latest episode in the eurocrisis saga “a farce” and wished the government “lots of luck”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Earth to EU: ‘No’ Means No

With its infinite capacity to finesse any outcome that gets in the way of its objectives, the EU is already preparing the ground for a “No” vote in the Greek referendum — the holding of which looks now to be unstoppable in spite of all the official bullying from the Eurocracy.

On the Today programme, Richard Corbett, an advisor to the indefatigably optimistic president of the European Council Herman van Rompuy, ruminated on the implications of the Greek people opting for the N-word. “What, indeed, does a “No” mean?” he asked philosophically. Would it suggest that the deal was not good enough: that the Greek voters were simply demanding more money in return for their cooperation? (Which would, although he politely refrained from saying so, amount to blackmail.) Or would it suggest that the Greeks were refusing any loans or bail-outs altogether which would mean that the Greeks were “voting deliberately to default”? This nuclear option, he implied (although again, he did not say so explicitly) would be an absolute repudiation of the entire European project and thus utterly irresponsible.

What was most interesting in Mr Corbett’s response was not only what he did not say — the fact that he held back from the livelier and more blatantly anti-democratic language of yesterday’s outbursts from European leaders — but the notion that there could be room for ambiguity even in a resounding Greek “No” vote. This is profoundly insulting to the Greek government which could presumably be relied on to frame a referendum question which left little room for doubt as to what the implications of a “yes” or “no” verdict amounted to. But it is typical of the official EU atttitude which has always refused to take “no” for an answer when it was incompatible with the European political steamroller. Message to EU (with acknowledgments to the 1970s feminist movement): “No” means no. Deal with it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece: Govt Okays Referendum as Soon as Possible

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — At the end of a 7-hour-long meeting, the Greek cabinet came to an agreement on socialist Premier Giorgio Papandreou’s decision to call a referendum to allow the people to decide whether or not to approve the decisions made in the European summit on October 27. Cabinet supported the premier’s decision to call for a vote of confidence in Parliament and asked for the decisions made in the summit to be implemented. At the end of the meeting, government spokesman Ilias Mosialos announced that “the referendum will be held as soon as possible and immediately after the definitive draft of the main points of the deal from the European summit on October 27 is drawn up”.

According to information in the press, Papandreou defended his decisions regarding the referendum and the confidence vote scheduled for Friday night, and insisted on the need to move forward with reforms. Furthermore, the premier ruled out the possibility of early elections and forming a coalition government, pointing out that he has been the first person to ask for the opposition’s collaboration and was rejected by Nea Dimocratia — the main opposition party (centre-right) — and the Left Party. “Voting,” added Papandreou, “would be a way of escaping our responsibilities and would involve the risk of finding ourselves in front of a situation of bankruptcy.” As for Greece’s European partners and creditors, Papandreou insisted on the fact that they were informed about the referendum and that he believes that they will respect and support the efforts of the country, while he said that he “understands” the concerns of the markets regarding the referendum. At the G-20 conference, where Papandreou was invited by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he will say that “democracy is above the will of the markets”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Default Fear: 2-Year Bond Soars to 96.7%

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 2 — The yield on 2-year Greek government bonds has soared to 96.70% amid fears of a probable Greek default, after Athens announced that it would be holding a referendum on anti-crisis measures. The spread between 10-year Greek bonds and the reference German bund, meanwhile, has skyrocketed to 2,362 points, with interest up to 25.47%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greeks Should be Asked ‘Do You Want to Keep Euro?’: France

The Greek people should be asked if they want to keep the euro, not if they agree with the debt bailout deal clinched in Brussels, French Minister for European Affairs Jean Leonetti said Wednesday. Leonetti was speaking after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s shock announcement of a referendum on the bailout which sent world stock markets into turmoil ahead of the G20 summit in Cannes.

“I think that what needs to be said to the Greek people is that this referendum is not ‘do you agree with the deal that was made?’ but ‘do you want to stay in the eurozone or not?’“ Leonetti told LCI television. “That’s an acceptable question, either an austerity plan that is necessary to clear the debt in exchange for Europe’s solidarity, or, leave the euro, return to the national currency, but declare yourself bankrupt,” he said.

Leonetti cited the case of Argentina, which defaulted on its debt in 2001 and “took 10 years to recover”, despite its export capacity. “Greece has no exports. So that means there will be poverty for the Greek people,” he said. “You can’t criticise the idea of turning to the people to decide but the question has to be asked.”

“I think you have to be clear to the Greek people and tell them there’s no other solution to get out of the crisis than that proposed by the 17 (eurozone countries) at France’s initiative and you can’t say ‘I’m against the agreement and at the same time want to stay in the euro and I’m not defaulting.’“ Leaving the euro “would be more dangerous for Greece and for the Greek people than for the eurozone,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Exit From Euro Zone Just a ‘Matter of Time’

Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“The Greek exit from the euro zone seems like only a matter of time. This doesn’t mean an end to European solidarity. Greece will certainly need further support from its partners. But an exit would only be the very late acknowledgment of economic realities. Only with a national currency do the Greeks have any real chance of strengthening their competitiveness through currency devaluation.”

“But even this radical step won’t quiet the situation in Europe. The fear that Italy will also begin to tumble has long worried the financial markets…. Should debt-plagued Italy need to take shelter under the rescue fund, none of the EU resolutions made thus far would be adequate. Then the conflict between Germany and France over whether we’re willing to give all we have to guarantee the indebted countries will start anew. And that would mean that measures successfully rejected so far by Chancellor Angela Merkel — such as euro bonds or a bank license for the European rescue fund — would be back on the table.”

“The Greek prime minister is comparable to a Roulette player who bets everything on a single number. And unfortunately it seems like he’s not the only gambler among Europe’s politicians.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF: Arab Spring Countries Face Economic Slowdown

In its quarterly economic survey, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) points out that the three countries that have deposed their rulers — Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya — will face an economic slowdown in 2011 and perhaps through 2012. In Tunisia, the gross domestic product (GDP) will register no growth in 2011, compared with growth of 3.1% the year before. In the case of Egypt, GDP will grow by 1.2% compared with 5.1% in 2010. The prospects for oil-rich Libya are not promising.

The IMF writes that social turmoil has caused a sharp decline in tourism to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia during the first five months of the year. By contrast, the oil-rich Gulf countries which have not been affected by political turmoil are likely to register economic growth of about 7% this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Bonds Under Attack Again

Yield on 10-year bonds rises to 6.2%, Milan bourse drops 4%

(ANSA) — Rome, November 1 — Italian bonds came under renewed attack on the markets on Tuesday with yields setting new record highs for the period since the euro’s introduction in early trading.

The yield on Italy’s benchmark 10-year bond rose to 6.2% with the spread against the German benchmark bond reaching 436.8 points.

As a consequence of this and fears about the situation in Greece, the Milan Stock Exchange’s FTSE MIB index plunged 4% in early trading Tuesday amid market turbulence throughout Europe.

Italy is having to pay increasingly higher yields to be able to service its massive national debt, which is around 120% of GDP, because investors’ confidence has fallen in a country that is at the centre of the eurozone crisis.

The fact that Italian bonds are coming under attack suggests the markets do not have faith in a package of measures designed to cut debt and boost growth that Premier Silvio Berlusconi presented at last week’s EU summit on the eurozone crisis.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government to Hold Emergency Meeting

The Italian government is expected to hold an emergency meeting tonight at 8pm to push through anti-crisis measures on the eve of the G20 summit. Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, has already begun talks with individual cabinet members, as the spread between German and Italian bonds continues to grow.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Milan Leads European Market Tailspin

Eurozone shares plummet on Greek referendum proposal

(ANSA) — Milan, November 1 — Milan led a general tailspin on European stock markets on Tuesday caused by Greece’s unexpected announcement that it would hold a referendum on austerity measures hammered out with the European Union and International Monetary Fund to avoid default on its sovereign debt.

Traders later said a ‘perfect storm’ then developed on markets after the Fitch ratings agency warned that the move by Athens represented a threat to the stability of the eurozone as a whole and increased the possibility of contagion to other EU members, especially Italy and Spain.

Fitch also said that if the Greek referendum rejected the bailout measures, it was highly unlikely that another package could be negotiated, making default inevitable.

Because of the size of its debt and economy, observers see Italy as the eurozone country most at risk of contagion and it has been in the sights of investors who have been busy dumping Italian stocks and bonds, which has in turn driven up Italy’s borrowing costs.

Reaction on the market to Fitch’s warning was immediate on Tuesday and the difference in yield between Italian and German ten-year government bonds, considered a measuring stick for borrowing costs, set new records minute after minute, quickly breaking the 455-point threshold with the yield on Italian bonds leaping to over 6.3%.

The yield on Italian two-year and five-year bonds also climbed, to 5.67% and 6.28% respectively, with the spread between the five-year bonds and their German counterpart soaring to 532 points.

In Milan the MIB benchmark share index at one point was losing close to 7%, compared to Frankfurt where stocks were down by more than 5.6% and Paris where shares were losing around 5.2%.

The situation improved slightly later in afternoon trading, when losses in Milan narrowed to 6.5% and those in Frankfurt and Paris were under 5% Bank shares were the hardest hit in Milan, also because of the amount of sovereign debt they hold, with double-digit losses for Italy’s two biggest banks, Unicredit and Intesa SanPaolo, while Fiat Industrial was also posting double-digit losses. The market tempest had inevitable political ramifications, with the Italian government saying it was in control of the situation while the opposition renewed its call for Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign to make way for an emergency executive.

A statement from the premier’s office said Berlusconi was closely monitoring the situation on the markets, together with Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, and blamed Greece for its unexpected move, which had further increased uncertainty ahead of this week’s crucial Group of 20 meeting in France.

The statement added that the premier was at work on a package of measures to stabilise Italy’s finances as agreed with the EU and that these would be applied “swiftly and with determination” given the current market situation.

According to the chairman of the opposition Democratic Party, House Deputy speaker Rosy Bindi, “every day the crisis gets worse and statements from the premier’s office are of little good. “Our county and Europe risk falling to a point of no return,” she added. “What is needed is a political change of course, one which breaks with the disastrous performance of the Berlusconi government”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Greek Referendum is a ‘Deal-Breaker’ Says Labour

Plans by Greece to hold a referendum over the latest EU rescue deal is a deal-breaker and should be dropped, Labour’s finance spokesman Ronald Plasterk says in Tuesday’s NRC.

‘We cannot wait with bated breath for four months while the Greeks decide whether or not to back the deal,’ he said. ‘The Greek demand for a referendum is a potential deal-breaker and should be dropped.’

Greece’s prime minister George Papandreou on Monday called a referendum on the proposed EU bailout.

The Dutch parliament debates the results of the last EU summit on Tuesday evening. Plasterk has already said he wants to see a clear vision from the minority government.

The VVD/CDA alliance needs Labour’s support to get majority backing for the deal because the anti-Islam PVV is opposed to giving any more financial help to Greece.

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

Smoking-Gun Document Ties Policy to Housing Crisis

President Obama says the Occupy Wall Street protests show a “broad-based frustration” among Americans with the financial sector, which continues to kick against regulatory reforms three years after the financial crisis. “You’re seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place,” he complained earlier this month.

But what if government encouraged, even invented, those “abusive practices”?

Rewind to 1994. That year, the federal government declared war on an enemy — the racist lender — who officials claimed was to blame for differences in homeownership rate, and launched what would prove the costliest social crusade in U.S. history. At President Clinton’s direction, no fewer than 10 federal agencies issued a chilling ultimatum to banks and mortgage lenders to ease credit for lower-income minorities or face investigations for lending discrimination and suffer the related adverse publicity. They also were threatened with denial of access to the all-important secondary mortgage market and stiff fines, along with other penalties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Some 15% of U.S. Uses Food Stamps

Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in August, as the number of recipients hit 45.8 million.

Food stamp rolls have risen 8.1% in the past year, the Department of Agriculture reported, though the pace of growth has slowed from the depths of the recession.

Mississippi reported the largest share of its population relying on food stamps, more than 21%. One in five residents in New Mexico, Tennessee, Oregon and Louisiana also were food stamp recipients.

Food stamp rolls exploded during the downturn, which began in late 2007. Even after the recession came to its official end in June 2009, families continued to tap into food assistance as unemployment remained high and those lucky enough to find jobs were often met with lower wages.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The Greek Referendum: A Machiavellian Scenario

by Srdja Trifkovic

European politicians and commentators are predictably screaming blue murder over Prime Minister George Papandreou’s announcement that the Greek government will put the EU rescue package to a referendum, but I smell a rat. This looks like a cunning ploy, jointly engineered by Athens and Berlin, to get a more radical “haircut” than the 50 percent announced last Thursday in Brussels … with the French banks footing most of the bill. In this scenario the referendum could be called off (or else the Greek voters induced to say “yes” to the improved deal), and Germany would end up increasing her overall financial and political clout.

On the domestic front Papandreou’s gamble makes sense. “Papandreou’s call for a referendum was a last resort,” according to The New York Times “meant to gain broader political support for the unpopular austerity measures… without forcing early elections.” In fact it is more than that. The center-right opposition has withheld support from the austerity plan forced upon Papandreou by Brussels, but it has no alternative strategy of its own. He does not want to be the sole villain of the piece, and the debate preceding the referendum would force his opponents to declare what would they do differently. Judging by the change of government in Lisbon earlier this year, after the Portuguese government lost the austerity vote, the answer is—nothing much. Papandreou does not want a repeat performance in Athens, and his decision presents the New_Democracy with a dilemma.. As The Economist blog points out, “The hope is that the opposition, recognising that there is little choice but to implement agreed upon policies and understanding that the public is likely to reject the deal, will be forced to support the government’s austerity measures, thereby making the referendum unnecessary.”

On the more important foreign front, prima facie, it is those wily, Levantine Greeks—at their worst again—wrongfooting “Europe.” To make matters worse, they are doing so a mere three days before the G20 summit, which was supposed to garner foreign support (read: Chinese, possibly Japanese) for resolving the Eurozone debt crisis. For as long as the Greek outcome remains uncertain, no foreign government is going to give Europe the money for the enhanced bailout fund.

“The referendum … is probably the final bell before Greece defaults and quits the euro,” The Guardian was quick to conclude. “The repercussions would be incalculable, for Greece but also for Europe.” The announcement came “out of the blue, it’s surprising, very risky,” says Norbert Barthle, the ranking member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “dismayed” by the Greek plan, according to Le Monde.

While the French have every reason to be unpleasantly surprised, the Germans may protest too much. Were they really surprised? Call me paranoid, but on the basis of platitudinous official statements, we still cannot decipher what was on the agenda five weeks ago during the visit to Berlin by Papandreou and his finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. Had it been to simply reassure the markets that they were willing to accept a comprehensive solution to the debt crisis, they could have issued a couple of press releases from their Athens cabinets. On the other hand, working out a subtle, mutually beneficial scenario with Frau Merkel would have required a discrete tete-à-tete encounter.

Let us speculate…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

‘We Are Looking Straight Into the Face of a Great Depression, ‘ Says Simon Johnson

In the opening session of the fourth annual CFA Institute European Investment Conference today in Paris, MIT Sloan School of Management professor Simon Johnson didn’t equivocate on the perils of the current global economic environment. “We have built a dangerous financial system in the United States and Europe,” said the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. “We must step back and reform the system.”

Professor Johnson cited alarming parallels with October 1931, when “people thought the worst was behind them, but the smart people were wrong and instead the crisis just broadened.”

Johnson began his talk by pointing to the recent failure of MF Global as good news because it “barely caused a ripple in markets, despite its $40 billion balance sheet.” But he contrasted this with the conundrum of “too-big-to-fail” banks in the financial system, which have all benefited hugely from an implicit state guarantee. Citigroup survived even with $2.5 trillion of liabilities at the time of its rescue, Johnson noted, and the U.S. government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lobbied hard to pump up their risk — but both had to be rescued by the U.S. taxpayer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Americans ‘Hooked on Government’ As Record Number Get Benefits

Political dysfunction is often blamed for Congress’s inability to curb the U.S. budget deficit. An even bigger obstacle may be the American public.

A record 49 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And 63 percent of all federal spending this year will consist of checks written to individuals for which the government receives currently no services, the White House budget office estimates. That’s up from 46 percent in 1975 and 18 percent in 1940.

Those figures will climb in coming years. The 75 million baby boomers have only begun their long march into retirement, while President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul will extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million additional people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Born in the USA, But Now Among Somalia’s Islamist Terrorists

The suicide bombing last weekend in Mogadishu — allegedly by a Somali American from Minnesota — has highlighted the important role played by U.S. citizens in the operations of al-Shabab, the Islamic terrorist organization battling the government in the war-torn east African nation.

If it is confirmed that Abdisalan Hussein Ali was one of two suicide bombers who attacked an African Union base, killing themselves and eight others, it will have been the third suicide bombing carried out in Somalia by Americans since 2008.

Many of the al-Shabab soldiers are Somali-Americans, many of them from the Minneapolis area, like Ali. The two leaders are not. They are Arab-Americans who traveled to Somalia in the latter part of the last decade and began rising in the ranks of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group.

One — San Diego-native Jehad Marwan Mustapha — is believed to be part of the group’s senior leadership. The other, Omar Hammami, is a unit commander.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Muslim-American Children Make Mock Pilgrimage to Mecca

More than 1.5 million Muslims from around the world have gathered in Mecca for the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage, which begins later this week. At a Washington area mosque, American Muslim children learn about this pillar of their faith in a fun way. “You guys say it, nebayk Allah …” Hafsa Abdelrahman leads the children of the Dar Al-Hijrah weekend school into a mock-up of the Muslim holy city Mecca. They circle the Kaaba shrine. They do it again, and again, and again.

It’s just the first part of a multi-stage ritual that in real life takes five to six days to complete. “We take them through every step just as if they’re [going through it]. Their parents come also because they get a chance to learn about the steps, and we teach them all the steps, the historical significance, the background story, everything that goes with it,” said Abdelrahman. “You’re going to start in Safa, you’re going to walk to Marwa, and you’re going to come back and you’re going to do it seven times,” she said.

Abdelrahman went on a true Hajj as a teenager. “And I can really say that it changed my life, completely changed my life. I had the chance for the first time — here in the U.S. being a Muslim and being covered — you’re a minority. But for the first time, when you’re in Hajj, you’re surrounded by thousands of men and women from all over the world that are dressed like you, and you no longer feel like an outsider,” said Abdelrahman.

The children of this Islamic school have spent several weekends on projects like this to recreate Mecca in this mosque. So their excitement is perhaps understandable. They visit the tent city, and stone the pillar that represents the devil. Abdelrahman said few of these children have actually made the journey. “And so I think it’s really important for them to get a chance to see it here. And hopefully from these activities will build a love within them that they will strive, they’ll save up the money, they’ll do everything that it takes, so that they do end up performing the Hajj,” she said. And no doubt they will take with them sweet memories of their first make-believe Hajj.

[JP note: Many in the West fervently wish that Islam was a make-believe phenomenon which would go away once you open your eyes.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Naperville Panel to Reconsider Proposed Mosque Site

The Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday again will discuss the possible annexation of a large piece of land that’s being considered as a site for a mosque despite opposition from some nearby residents. Len Monson, an attorney for the Islamic Center of Naperville, said leaders of the center have met with two homeowners associations in recent weeks to clear up “misinformation” about the plan. The Islamic Center is asking that approximately 14 acres on 248th Avenue in Will County be annexed into Naperville for water and sewer services. Center leaders say they want to build a mosque there in the next five to 20 years.

Neighbors at a previous Planning and Zoning Commission meeting said they objected to the plan, fearing property values could drop and a large building could create traffic congestion. Leaders of Naperville’s HOPE United Church of Christ, which previously owned the land, said no opposition was expressed when they had considered building a church there. Signs protesting the annexation had been posted near the property but have since been taken down. Currently, the Islamic Center would be within its rights to build on the land in unincorporated Will County. Annexation into Naperville would require the group to obtain zoning variances and gain approval from the Naperville City Council. The commission will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council chambers, 400 S. Eagle St.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Political Islam and the US

Can the Muslim Brotherhood and the United States become friends? In the wake of the Arab Spring, the US must deal with Islamist groups like Ennahdha and the Muslim Brotherhood. What challenges and opportunities are presented by formal diplomatic relations?

The rise of Islamist movements in the aftermath of the Arab Spring is representing both a challenge and an opportunity to the West as it looks to successful democratic transitions and maintaining its security and strategic interest in the broader Middle East.

The victory of Ennahdha moderate Islamic party in Tunisia, the solid support (35 percent) enjoyed by the Muslim brotherhood in neighboring Egypt, and the participation of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood in the new Syria National Council established in Istanbul last month, as well as the embrace of the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdul Jalil of “the Islamic Sharia as the main source of law,” are several indications of the growing importance of political Islamist movements in the Arab world. The roots of these movements in Arab societies-going back to 1928 in the case of Egypt-in addition to their organizational capacity which trumps other liberal and leftist groups, is giving them an edge in filling the void left by the departing dictators in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Settlement Reached in Muslim Man’s Suit Against Youngstown

A settlement has been reached in a federal religious- and ethnic- discrimination civil lawsuit by an assistant city prosecutor against his boss and the city. In the settlement of the suit he filed in May 2009, Bassil Ally, a Muslim of Middle Eastern descent, will get a lump sum of $110,000 and a $4,000 annual pay raise, said Anthony Farris, city law director. Ally now earns $61,621 a year. The lump sum will come from Midwest Claims, the city’s insurance company, because the city has already met its $50,000 deductible by paying legal fees for the outside lawyers chosen by the insurance company, Farris said.

City Prosecutor Jay Macejko will write a letter of apology to Ally, but no settlement money will come from Macejko’s pocket, even though he was sued, Farris said. The settlement was reached Thursday on the eve of a jury trial that would have begun Monday in Cleveland before U.S. District Court Judge Christopher A. Boyko. “The judge encouraged a settlement, and we were able to reach one, and we’d also like to put this whole matter behind us,” Farris said. “Bassil is a very good prosecutor. He’s been here nine years now, and hasn’t had a raise in six. He deserves it,” Farris said. “Both Jay and Bassil are good people. … I’m happy to work with both of them. They both do fine jobs,” Farris said.Farris said the city agreed to the settlement in part because a trial lasting one to two weeks would have disrupted the operation of the city’s law department and prosecutor’s office, with key personnel in those offices either being parties or witnesses in the case.

“We think we’ve achieved a favorable settlement, which vindicated Mr. Ally and allows him to continue to work for the city of Youngstown,” said Daniel M. Connell of Cleveland, Ally’s lawyer. “The settlement and the fact that judgment will be entered against the city speaks volumes.” Besides Macejko and the city, Ally initially had sued then-Mayor Jay Williams and then-Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello, but Judge Boyko removed Williams and Guglucello as defendants.

In his lawsuit, Ally said he had been harassed because of his faith and Middle Eastern descent and that Macejko threatened his job because he took a late lunch break at 1:30 p.m. each Friday to attend a service at his mosque. The suit said Ally was subjected to derogatory comments regarding his religion and national origin by a co-worker and another city employee. Ally said he told his supervisors when he was hired that he’d need an accommodation to his work schedule to attend Friday mosque services, the suit said. The suit said that arrangement changed when Macejko called a Friday afternoon meeting and told Ally he’d be fired if he didn’t attend. Ally was placed on administrative leave after he went to the mosque instead of the meeting, but was returned to work after he filed a religious-discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. After he filed that charge, Ally claimed he was harassed when he was reassigned to a courtroom that regularly meets Friday afternoons. The city denied Ally’s claims made in his complaint. Farris said Ally is now permitted to attend religious services on Fridays, and his lunch-break schedule is adjusted to accommodate his attendance at the mosque.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Erdogan Criticizes German Attitude to Turks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Germany’s attitude to its Turkish minority on his arrival in Berlin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a “guest worker” agreement between the two countries. Erdogan’s ceremonial trip to Germany has been free of friction so far. He was given an official reception at the palace of German President Christian Wulff on Tuesday evening, and he will met Chancellor Angela Merkel at an event on Wednesday.

Merkel praised the first Turks who came to support West Germany’s booming economy five decades ago. “That was a courageous step,” she said, adding that successful integration of immigrants was a “joint achievement” of both Turks and Germans. “Living together is always a give and take,” she said. But Erdogan’s remarks in the run-up to his visit were less harmonious.

“German politicians do not acknowledge the contribution of the three million Turks in Germany enough,” he told the mass circulation Bild newspaper. He said there were 72,000 Turkish employers in Germany who provide 350,000 jobs. “The guest workers of yesterday are slowly becoming the employers, academics, artists,” the Turkish head of government said.

Erdogan also criticized the insistence on learning German as a condition of living in Germany. He said this was unsupported in the relevant EU guidelines. “Making knowledge of German an important condition is against human rights,” he said. Erdogan’s remarks have drawn a harsh response from German politicians. Green party spokesman Memet Kilic accused the Turkish prime minister of playing up to conservatives at home.

“The Turkish government of Prime Minister Erdogan consciously stokes up prejudices against Germany, in order to score points with hardliners in their own country,” he told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Rabbis Rally Against Kosher Slaughter Ban

European rabbis at a landmark meeting in Poland on Tuesday urged Dutch senators to reject a de facto ban on kosher slaughter passed by the lower house of parliament. Citing humane grounds, The Netherlands in June passed legislation requiring animals to be stunned prior to ritual Jewish kosher “shechita” or Muslim halaal slaughter, except if it is proven that animals suffer less without first being stunned. But both Jewish and Muslim clerics insist stunning is inconsistent with rules governing ritual slaughter.

“We hope that this law is not going to be ratified in the upper house and that it is not going to be accepted by the Dutch people,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis told reporters. Goldschmidt, speaking at the largest meeting of European rabbis to be held in Poland since the Holocaust, said attempts to ban the near 4,000-year-old practice of shechita sound alarm bells as similar steps were taken by Nazi Germany. In the Nazi era those moves “had more to do with anti-Semitism than with the welfare of animals”, he said.

He also voiced fears that other Jewish religious rituals could be outlawed. “The Royal Dutch Medical Association is coming up with a suggestion to ban circumcision — something we Jews have been doing for the last 3,500 years,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Satirical Weekly Hit by Petrol Bomb Over ‘Sharia’ Issue

The offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, which published a special Arab Spring issue Wednesday with the prophet Mohammed as guest “editor”, were destroyed by a petrol bomb attack overnight, police said.

AFP — The offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published a special Arab Spring edition Wednesday with the prophet Mohammed as guest “editor”, were gutted in a petrol bomb attack overnight, police said.

The fire at the magazine started around 01.00 am (0200 GMT) and caused no injuries, a police source said.

Charlie Hebdo published a special edition Wednesday to mark the Arab Spring, renaming the magazine Charia (Sharia) Hebdo for the occasion.

The cover showed a cartoon of the prophet stating: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”

The depiction of the prophet is strictly prohibited in Islam.

A witness at the scene, Patrick Pelloux, told AFP a molotov cocktail was hurled through the window and set fire to the computer system.

“Everything was destroyed,” he said.

The magazine’s publisher, known only as Charb, said he was convinced the fire was linked to the special edition.

“On Twitter, on Facebook, we received several letters of protest, threats, insults,” which had been forwarded to the police, he said.

On Wednesday, the weekly said it would publish a special edition to “celebrate” the Ennahda Islamist party’s election victory in Tunisia and the transitional Libyan executive’s statement that Islamic Sharia law would be the country’s main source of law.

It would feature the prophet Mohammed as guest “editor”, the magazine said.

Charb on Tuesday rejected accusations that he was trying to provoke.

“We feel we’re just doing our job as usual. The only difference is that this week, Mohammed is on the cover and that’s quite rare,” he told AFP.

A Paris court in 2007 threw out a suit brought by two Muslim organisations against Charlie Hebdo for reprinting cartoons of prophet Mohammed that had appeared in a Danish newspaper, sparking angry protests by Muslims worldwide.

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

France: ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Is Petrol Bombed

The offices of the French satirical paper have been seriously damaged by a petrol bomb following its decision to appoint Mohammed as its ‘guest editor’ in order to mark the victory of an Islamist party in the Tunisian elections:

Charlie Hedbo’s editor is quoted as saying: “We no longer have a newspaper. All our equipment has been destroyed.” A single Molotov cocktail was thrown at the offices of Charlie Hebdo during the night and a large amount of material in the office was destroyed, police said. There have been no reports of injuries. Charlie Hebdo’s website has also been hacked with a message in English and Turkish attacking the magazine.

The paper caused anger when it reprinted the Mohammed cartoons back in 2007. I had already read about the proposed guest editorship and thought it seemed a rather crude idea, designed to provoke Muslims rather than comment sharply or satirically on events in Tunisia. The editor’s claim that the move was not intended to be provocative seems pretty disingenuous. But clearly there is NO excuse for this violence.

Alan A adds:

Excepting the last sentence of Sarah’s post, I don’t think I could disagree with her more.

Charlie Hebdo is a magazine which takes an equal opportunities approach to offending people. It is anti-clerical and mercilessly takes the piss out of politicians. Think: Private Eye, but with more s***. Its cartoons are crude, and usually scatological. It is proudly secular, in the great tradition of French secularism. Frankly, to burn down Charlie Hebdo is a symbolic gesture: equivalent to and as disgusting as burning down a mosque.

You’ll remember that back in 2007, a pathetic attempt by The Grand Mosque, World Islamic League and Union of French Islamic Organisations to bring a private prosecution against Charlie Hebdo for criminal libel — for republishing the MoToons — failed. Charlie Hebdo was fully supported in its defence by the Left and the Right alike:

A lawyer acting for Charlie Hebdo read out a letter in the Paris court where the case is being heard from Mr Sarkozy, who noted that he is often targeted by the magazine’s cartoonists, but said he preferred “too many caricatures to an absence of caricature”.


The leader of the French Socialist Party, Francois Hollande, and a centre-right candidate in the country’s forthcoming presidential elections, Francois Bayrou, are also expected to testify on behalf of Charlie Hebdo.


Its first witness, Paris University philosopher Abdel Wahhab Meddeb said he laughed when he saw Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon. “I urge Muslims to adapt to Europe and not the other way around. That would be catastrophic,” he told the court.

“The trial against Charlie Hebdo is one of a different age,” the daily Le Monde wrote in an editorial. “In a secular state, no religion and no ideology is above the law. Where religion makes the law, one is close to totalitarianism.”


In opening arguments in the defamation trial today Mr Val defended publication of the cartoons, saying they were aimed “at ideas, not men”.

“If we no longer have the right to laugh at terrorists, what arms are citizens left with?” he added. “How is making fun of those who commit terrorist acts throwing oil on the fire?”


“What is sacred for a religion is sacred only for believers of that religion,” he told the court. “If we respected all the taboos of all religions, where would we be?”

That is the difference, I suppose, between Britain and France. In France, all parts of the constitution stand up strongly for secularlism and liberty. In Britain, we vex and fidget. Was the decision to make Mohammed the editor of Charlie Hebdo for a week “a rather crude idea, designed to provoke Muslims rather than comment sharply or satirically on events in Tunisia”. No. It is very clear that Ghannoushi’s Islamist party — very far from the ‘moderate Islamists that they are claimed to be — proposes to do precisely this with Tunisia. Islamists attempt to install dead religious figures as political leaders. It is the perfect satire.

Tunisian secularists are rightly terrified for their future, and Charlie Hebdo was right to show solidarity by ridiculing the politics of the Tunisian far Right, in a manner that is fully in keeping with their general editorial approach of 360 degree irreverence. Racists and bigots, they most certainly are not. The worst thing about the destruction of Charlie Hebdo, of course, is that Mohammed will now be deprived of the opportunity of editing the newspaper.

Also, read Andrew Coates on the uniform reaction of the French Left — from hard to soft — in defence of Charlie Hebdo:

The French Communist Daily L’Humanité, Editor Patrick Le Hyaric, said (Here), said “ceux qui brûlent des journaux, brûlent la liberté et la démocratie“ — those who burn papers, burn freedom and democracy”.

We need a proper Left and a genuine Progressive politics in the United Kingdom.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Magazine Offices Gutted After ‘Muhammed Issue’

Paris — The Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were set on fire in the early hours of Wednesday, the magazine’s editor told Europe 1 radio. The attack took place after the magazine published an edition it said was guest-edited by the Prophet Muhammed renamed “Charia Hebdo”, in a reference to Sharia law, media reported. “A window was broken and a Molotov cocktail was thrown inside,” the magazine’s editor, known only as Charb, said. “There’s nothing left inside.” A police source said the fire happened around 0000 GMT, adding that no one was injured. The magazine’s website on Wednesday appeared to have been hacked and showed images of a mosque with the message “No god but Allah”. — Reuters

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Firebomb Guts Magazine That Ran Muhammad Pic

The offices of a French satirical newspaper that published a special Arab Spring edition with the Prophet Muhammad as “guest editor” were destroyed in a suspected firebomb attack Wednesday, police said. Charlie Hebdo published a special edition on Wednesday to mark the Arab Spring, renaming the weekly newspaper Charia (Sharia) Hebdo for the occasion and featuring a front-page cartoon of the prophet saying: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!”

The newspaper’s website also appeared to have been hacked on Wednesday, with its regular home page replaced with a photo of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and a message reading: “No god but Allah”. French officials were quick to denounce the attack and offer support to the newspaper.

“Freedom of expression is an inalienable right in our democracy and all attacks on the freedom of the press must be condemned with the greatest firmness. No cause can justify such an act of violence,” Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a statement. Fillon said he had asked Interior Minister Claude Gueant to ensure “all light is shed on the origin of this fire and that its perpetrators be prosecuted.” At the scene, Gueant told journalists: “Of course everything will be done to find the perpetrators of this attack, and this must certainly be called an attack.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Satirical Paper Charlie Hebdo Attacked in Paris

The offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris have been destroyed in a petrol bomb attack.

It comes a day after the publication named the Prophet Muhammad as its “editor-in-chief” for its next issue.

The cover of the magazine carried a caricature of the Prophet making a facetious comment.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has described the petrol-bombing as an unjustifable attack on the freedom of the press.

The editor-in-chief of the magazine, Stephane Charbonnier, said Islam could not be excluded from freedom of the press.

He said: “If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.”

Mr Charbonnier, also known as Charb, said he did not see the attack on the magazine as the work of French Muslims, but of what he called “idiot extremists”.


The magazine said Wednesday’s edition was intended to “celebrate” the victory of an Islamist party in last month’s Tunisian elections.

Charb said the magazine had received several threats on Twitter and Facebook before the attack.

“This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won’t let it get to us,” he said.

Police said Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters had been petrol-bombed in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

There have been no reports of injuries.

Charlie Hebdo’s website has also been hacked with a message in English and Turkish attacking the magazine…

           — Hat tip: Seneca III[Return to headlines]

Help for German Industry: Merkel Joins the Global Hunt for Natural Resources

With rare earths in short supply the world over, Chancellor Angela Merkel has jumped in to help German industry search for more. The hope is to secure supplies well into the future — and to break the Chinese monopoly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Bossi Casts Doubts on Italy’s Future as Unified Nation

‘Million living off the north’s back’ says minister

(ANSA) — Rome, November 1 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s powerful coalition partner Umberto Bossi has cast doubts on whether Italy can continue to exist as a unified nation.

The Northern League leader and reforms minister also proposed splitting Italy’s pension system to protect the retirement provisions of people in the wealthier north. Bossi last week blocked major changes to the pension system that Berlusconi wanted to introduce as part of growth-boosting, debt-cutting reforms the EU demanded to restore investor confidence in Italy, which is at the centre of the eurozone crisis.

“Taxes maintain never-ending recruitment in the public sector and millions of people are living off the back of the north,” Bossi said.

“Tell me if the country can last in this way. I have my doubts. Hanging up the Italian flag is not enough”. In September Bossi revived calls for a breakaway state that his party calls Padania, covering the Po Valley and surrounding regions, saying a secession referendum should be held.

“We have to find a democratic way, perhaps referendums, because an important and hard-working people like ours cannot be forced to pay for Italy,” he said at the time.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muhammad Depictions: French Satirical Paper Reportedly Attacked

Fire was set to the Paris office of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo early in the morning of Nov. 2. The attack came hours before a new issue featuring a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad hit newsstands. Damages were extensive, but no arrests have been made in what appears to have been an arson attack.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Satirical Magazine Firebombed in France

(AGI) Paris — Molotov cocktails were thrown against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo headquarters. The attack took place in Paris during the night, just a few hours before the magazine new issue hit the stands. The special issue, dedicated to the Arab spring, has been renamed Sharia Hebdo for the occasion and depicts on its cover the Prophet promising “100 lashes if you do not die laughing”. This provocation could have motivated a radical Islamic attack.

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

Spain: Ceuta Border Opened Due to Flow of Moroccan Faithful

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 2 — The Tarajal border post, separating Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in North Africa, from Morocco, was partially opened in the past hours to let in the large flow of people for Eid-al Adha (‘Festival of the Sacrifice’), which is celebrated on November 7 in the Maghreb country. The news is reported by police sources in Ceuta. The border post was opened at 9.30 this morning to allow Moroccan citizens to shop in Ceuta for the Muslim celebration. Faced with the large crowd of Moroccan faithful, the decision was taken to avoid problems.

The ‘Festival of the Sacrifice’ is one of the most important religious celebrations which commemorates God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son to test his faithfulness. Thousands of lambs are sacrificed during the yearly event, which is celebrated 70 days after the end of Ramadan and which coincides with the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. This year the event is celebrated on November 17, though some countries have changed the date based on the Muslim calendar, like Morocco where the date of November 7 has been selected. Thousands of lambs will arrive in Ceuta these days, coming from Spain, because there are not enough farms in the autonomous city itself, to meet demand and compensate for the ban on imports from Morocco.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Family Torn Apart After False Sex Abuse Claims

One call to social services was enough to land a Swedish couple behind bars and have their kids taken away for more than two months after an innocent situation was misinterpreted as sexual abuse. “We went from a wonderful life to hell. Everything was turned upside down through one single phonecall,” said the mother, Jennie, to newspaper Aftonbladet.

In September last year Swedish parents Jennie and Thomas life fell crashing down when a phone call from Jennie’s sister to the social services meant their two daughters, 3 and 6, were taken info protective custody. On weekends, the two girls usually came running into their parents bedroom in the morning and jumped into their bed.

While romping around with their parents, the older girl had accidentally touched her father’s penis on two occasions. Both times Thomas had quickly removed her hand and no more was thought of it. Later, Jennie told her sister about the incident, sharing it as as an example of an embarrassing situation that parents can find themselves in. But her sister misunderstood. And phoned social services.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkish Prime Minister in Berlin: Erdogan Escalates Germany Criticism

A ceremony on Wednesday to mark 50 years since the first Turkish ‘guest workers’ arrived in Germany should be a friendly photo opportunity for the leaders of the two countries. But many tensions still exist, and Turkish leader Erdogan has taken aim at Germany once again in a controversial interview.

Erdogan criticised Germany’s opposition to dual citizenship and laws which oblige any Turks moving to Germany to speak good German before arrival, saying this infringed their human rights. “If a young Turkish man loves a woman in Turkey and wants to marry her, this is seen as a mistake, as Germany demands that she first learn German. But what is the language of love?” he said. “It cannot be that the love of young people is only allowed to exist in German by decree,” he added.

There is also the question of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Erdogan complained that Turkey feels let down by Germany as it pursues the slow-moving bid, which faces broad scepticism. Merkel has argued for Turkey to be granted “privileged partnership” rather than full membership. Erdogan, however, claims that German politicians “should do much more for Turkey’s EU accession, because it would massively encourage the integration” of Turks in Germany. “Because we Turks feel so many positive things about Germany, we feel let down here,” he added.

Some in Germany fear that, rather than accept a privileged partnership, there is a risk of Turkey turning away from Europe altogether. In fact, the economically-thriving country has lost interest in the crisis-stricken EU in recent months. With economic growth of around ten percent and a tripling of per capita income since 2002, Ankara is hardly dependent on securing closer economic relations.

German industry figures have long warned of losing Turkish business; Turkey is an extremely important export market for Germany. Even Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said: “We must open the door to Europe wide for Turkey, rather than constantly build new obstacles until one day Turkey turns away from us.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Ahmadiyya Muslim Volunteers in Southfields and Morden Praised for Poppy Collection Drive

National loyalty and a history of fighting extremism has inspired young muslims to collect money for this year’s poppy appeal, a spiritual leader claimed. Members of the Morden and Southfields-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Assocation (AMYA) will again be helping the Royal British Legion with its annual Remembrance Day collection after raising more than £20,000 last year. The head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said it was important to pay tribute to the valuable role Britain played in the fight against fascism. He said: “Muslims are obliged to be loyal to the country in which they live. Honouring those who fought to defend and safeguard one’s country is an important principle of Islam and in fact is an important principle of peace — especially when it is carried out with a sincere heart and for the sake of winning God’s pleasure.”

Ahmadi muslims have faced their own fight against religious extremists in countries like Pakistran and Indonesia where worshippers have been killed by extremists who are against the Ahmadi interpretation of Islam. The charity drive has received the backing of London Mayor Boris Johnson, ant both Merton MPs, Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) and Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden). Mr Hammond said: “I was delighted to attend the opening of the Poppy Appeal and congratulate all the members of the Ahmadiyya community who will be collecting over the next few days. The sacrifice made by so many so that we can live in freedom and peace transcends race, religion and politics and is something we should all commemorate and remember.”

Russell Thompson, director of fundraising at The Royal British Legion, said: “We are proud to be an organisation that stands shoulder to shoulder with people of all faiths and backgrounds. “The money they raise will make it possible for the Legion to provide our beneficiaries with £1.4million every week in direct welfare support.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MP Given Protection After Visit to Mosque

Radical Islamist group posts threat against parliamentarian on web; say last year’s stabbing of MP Stephen Timms serves as “piercing reminder.”

LONDON — A member of parliament described how he was ushered into a safe room at a London mosque by staff after receiving death threats by a group of extremist Islamists. Conservative MP Mike Freer was meeting with constituents at the North Finchley Mosque last Friday when a radical group calling themselves “Muslims Against Crusades” posted on its website threats encouraging Muslims to attack the parliamentarian.

Last year, Labor MP Stephen Timms was stabbed by a Muslim constituent at a meeting in East London. Prior to Friday’s meeting, the Muslim Against Crusades group stated on their website that the attack on Timms should serve as a “piercing reminder that their presence is no longer welcome in any Muslim area. We warn Mike Freer and every other MP in Britain that their presence is no longer welcomed in any Muslim area and that examples such as Stephen Timms should serve as a piercing reminder of this,” the extremists wrote on their website.

The group held a protest outside the mosque while a number of protesters managed to get into the meeting. “One of the protesters sat at a table where I was dealing with a constituent and was abusive,” he said. Freer, who is not Jewish, said he was called a “Jewish homosexual pig” and staff at the mosque then decided to take him into an adjacent office for his own protection until police arrived.

The representative of the neighborhoods of Finchley and Golders Green — who is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel and vice-president of the All-Party Parliamentary Enquiry into Anti-Semitism — played a prominent role in the campaign against Palestinian activist Raed Salah’s visit to the UK in June. “Given this man’s history of virulent anti-Semitism, will the home secretary ban him from entering the UK?” Freer said in Parliament in July. “The UK Border Agency has made a very serious error in letting this man walk through passport control.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Freer, who is also very involved in multi-faith work, emphasized that it was a small and unrepresentative group behind the unrest and that the mosque had no connection to them. “I wish to make it clear that the events in no way reflect the views of the mainstream majority at the North Finchley Mosque,” Freer said. “The incident was cause by an extreme group not connected to my local community.”

Freer said that he has a good relationship with the management of the mosque and has frank discussions about an array of issues with them. “On some issues we disagree and on many we agree, they take the view that dialogue is important and they respect my role as MP serving the community and my continued work engaging local communities,” he told the Post. “For many years I have worked on improving interfaith relations and locally our faiths live harmoniously. We must not allow a small, extreme group from outside the area to divide us,” he added. A Police spokesman said: “Officers attended North Finchley Mosque at 4:10 p.m. on Friday after a disturbance by protesters inside the building. There were no arrests.” Freer has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to take action against the extremist Muslims Against Crusades group.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Royal Award for Watford Arabic School

The community work of the Watford Arabic School received royal recognition on the weekend. Its founder, Dr Abdel Saleh, was presented the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award at a ceremony at the North Watford Mosque on Cambridge Road, on Saturday. The accolade recognises the school’s work in the town over the last three decades providing language studies but also promoting cultural understanding. The school was founded in 1983 and currently provides courses in Arabic and religious studies to around 70 students. Dr Saleh said the award was a great achievement for the school, which is based in Watford Grammar School for Girls, and not one he had been expecting.

“I was in Egypt and it was only when I came back and went through my emails and calls I found this news. I was very, very surprised.” Speaking after the award Dr Saleh, said as well as language studies the school has also played a role with helping people new to the country integrate and building bridges between different cultures. At the ceremony Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill spoke in praise of the school, its achievements and its role in Watford. A current pupil, nine-year-old Jude Heneidi, also read out a poem about her time at the school. She said: “Our amazing school is strict, but fun and cool. Every week we try as hard as can be, we are all like one big family.”

[JP note: Happy families indeed, but will our new rulers allow the Queen to keep her corgis?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Viking ‘Sunstone’ More Than a Myth: Study

Ancient tales of Norse mariners using mysterious sunstones to navigate the ocean when clouds obscured the Sun and stars are more than just legend, according to a study published on Wednesday. Over 1,000 years ago, before the invention of the compass, Vikings ventured thousands of kilometres from home toward Iceland and Greenland, and most likely as far as North America, centuries ahead of Christopher Columbus.

Evidence show that these fearless and fearsome seamen navigated by reading the position of the Sun and stars, and through an intimate knowledge of landmarks, currents and waves. But how they could voyage long distances across seas at northern latitudes often socked in by light-obscuring fog and clouds has remained an enigma.

Enter the sunstone. While experts have long argued that Vikings knew how to use blocks of light-fracturing crystal to locate the Sun through dense clouds, archaeologists have never found hard proof, and doubts remained as to exactly what kind of material it might be. An international team of researchers led by Guy Ropars of the University of Rennes in Brittany, marshalling experimental and theoretical evidence, says they have the answer.

Vikings, they argue, used transparent calcite crystal — also known as Iceland spar — to fix the true bearing of the Sun, to within a single degree of accuracy. This naturally occurring stone has the capacity to “depolarise” light, filtering and fracturing it along different axes, the researchers explained.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Armed Men Burn Alcohol Store

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 2 — A shop licenced to sell alcoholic drinks was burned down last night in Assi Youcef by a group of armed men who, some sources say, are thought to belong to a terrorist group particularly active in the Tizi Ouzou area.

The news was reported today by the El Watan newspaper.

Large numbers of terrorists entered the shop and first checked the identity of customers, stealing their mobile phones.

Before fleeing to nearby woods, the men set fire to the shop, which was effectively gutted.

Suspicion over the incident is centring on former members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The shop in Assi Youcef is the second alcohol seller to be attacked in the space of a few weeks, after an earlier incident in Mechtras.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Arab Spring Brings First Successful Multi-Party Election in Tunisia

The first multi-party free and fair election in the Arab world, after the Arab Spring, in Tunisia on 23 October 2011 is indeed promising. It was encouraging to see millions of people lining up to show their confidence in the democratic process and express their inalienable right to choose their own leaders. This was robbed of them in Tunisia since 1956, and still a dream for countless others in many Arab and middle-eastern countries. We congratulate all those who won the right to be representatives in the next Tunisian parliament. We earnestly hope that all political parties will work responsibly to form a democratic and pluralistic government in the interests of the Tunisian people.

This election, not under a dictatorial eye hanging over people or under foreign military occupation, has brought in Al-Nahda to the forefront, a party that was banned for many years and its leadership exiled. It has promised to maintain pluralism and respect people’s wishes. Al-Nahda has now to prove its worth by serving the people, taking the whole country with them. Good governance with robust accountability, creating social harmony on the basis of justice and running the country with competence and without corruption are some of the challenges the political class of any country faces. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) hopes that Tunisia paves the way to institute democratic reforms and respond to the wishes of their people so that the Arab world once again plays its role in human civilisation.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Are Christians Facing Extinction on the Arab Street?

The ‘panda syndrome’ saw Christians protected by Arab leaders, but this relationship is in dramatic decline

The killing of dozens of Coptic Christian protesters during the recent turmoil in Cairo is one of the by-products of the Arab spring — and, unfortunately, a predictable one. Secular dictatorships such as those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and even of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gadaffi in Libya were a bloody nightmare for political dissidents. But Christian minorities felt protected from Islamic persecution and were allowed to practise their religious faith. In exchange, respecting a tacit compromise, they stood at a distance from politics. This is known in the Vatican as “the panda syndrome”, after the name of those inoffensive, vegetarian bears protected by Chinese authorities, to prevent their extinction. “But when a species has to be protected, it means it’s already disappearing,” points out the Egyptian Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir.

Samir is an expert. Pope Benedict XVI asked him to organise the synod of Middle Eastern bishops in October 2010 in Rome. And he knows that Christian “pandas” in his land and in all the Arab world are fighting a desperate battle for survival. That’s why many local Catholic bishops greeted the revolts in the Maghreb and elsewhere around the Mediterranean with open scepticism and concern. They foresaw that political progress could be matched with religious regress, and a worsening of their condition as non-Islamic citizens.

This is what seems to have happened. The new ruling classes differ from one country to the other but they tend to have in common a stronger Islamic identity. Their more extremist factions push to punish Christian minorities for what is perceived as a double original sin: being allies of former hated regimes, and being “agents of western values”, although they have been living there for 2,000 years or so. The result is that the prospect of their extinction as a community is growing.

It has happened already in Iraq, due to the “Anglo-American war” started in 2003. At that time, the number of Chaldeans, the Christian Iraqis, was between 800,000 and 1.4 million. In 2009-2010, it was estimated are between 400,000 and 500,000, and rapidly decreasing. Cairo’s violent repression shows a similar process is under way in Egypt as well, where they still represent roughly 10% of the population. This represents a georeligious tragedy for the Vatican, which always tried to maintain a frustrating dialogue with Islamic authorities, and which right up to the end persisted in invoking a pacific coexistence in the area.

But it is also a geopolitical failure for the west, and paradoxically for Islam as well. Christian communities have been historically a bridge between western and Arab culture; and a factor of moderation and mutual understanding between the two worlds. Their dramatic decline signals the collapse of this symbolic bridge, and the growing strength of an “Arab street” fed with consumerism but also with prejudices and a widespread hostile mood against Christians.

For the Holy See, the attempt to obtain reciprocity on the thorny issue of religious faith has always been difficult, and in some cases brutally refused. When some years ago Pope John Paul II asked Saudi Arabia’s then top ruler if a Catholic church could be built there, the answer was a blunt “no”: his country was Muhammad’s holy land. The Polish pontiff tried to reply that in Rome a mosque had been erected, but the subtle and unanswerable retort was: “In Rome — not inside the Vatican City.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: The Coptic Kristallnacht

“Demonstrations against the Jews are to be expected throughout the Reich.” These words occur in a telegram sent by Reinhard Heydrich at 1.20am during Kristallnacht, “the Night of Broken Glass”, to the offices of the Nazi security forces. He gave orders that police were not to intervene in violence against Jews and their property except to protect non-Jews, or to prevent arson attacks on synagogues getting out of control. This and other documents give the lie to the Nazi claim that history’s most notorious pogrom was spontaneous. It was planned by Hitler, incited by Goebbels and executed by Himmler and his lieutenants. The lesson for posterity is that when mobs attack vulnerable minorities, we should be sceptical of official denials of responsibility.

This month, as we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, Europe should acknowledge two grim facts: that the threat of terrorism and even genocide against the Jewish people is more severe than at any time since the Holocaust; and that Christians are now also suffering pogroms on a global scale. Intolerance of Jews and Christians has unfortunately been exacerbated in the new regimes that have come to power in the Arab spring.

Europe’s indifference to the continuing threat to Jews, both in Israel and the diaspora, is highlighted by Emanuele Ottolenghi this month. Politicians and the media continue to trumpet the narrative of freedom and democracy in the Arab world. But Europe is in denial about the forces that have recently been unleashed there. Daniel Gerbi, a Libyan Jew whose family had lived in exile in Rome since 1967, returned to Tripoli in order to reopen the Dar Bishi synagogue. This was one of the few synagogues to remain intact since Gaddafi’s expulsion of what was left of a Jewish minority that had lived there for 2,000 years and had survived fascist and Nazi occupation. Gerbi had assurances from the National Transitional Council, but these proved to be hollow. On the eve of Yom Kippur last month, anti-Semitic protests were orchestrated in Tripoli and Benghazi. With the connivance of the police, a large mob attacked Gerbi’s hotel. He was fortunate to escape with his life. For the foreseeable future, Jewish life in Libya will remain a remote memory.

In Egypt, the unimpeded assault on the Israeli embassy was conclusive evidence that official anti-Semitism remains powerful. In the absence of Jews, the main focus for pogroms has been the eight million Coptic Christians. Some 90,000 Copts have fled Egypt since the fall of Mubarak last February. Churches all over Egypt have been targeted since the bloody New Year’s Eve massacre in Alexandria. The latest outbreak followed the siege of St George’s Church in El-Marinab, Upper Egypt, which ended in its destruction and the expulsion of its congregation. When Copts turned out to protest in Cairo, they were met by troops and paramilitary police acting in concert with bands of armed thugs, roaming the streets and dragging Christians out of cars and taxis, urged on by state TV presenters calling on “honourable Egyptians” to resist the Coptic “sons of dogs”. The death toll in the massacre that followed had reached 26 at the time of writing, mostly shot or run over by armoured cars driven into crowds. Hundreds were injured. October 9, 2011, may prove to have been the Coptic Kristallnacht.

The new Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf denied any responsibility; instead he blamed “hidden hands”. Such conspiracy theories have long been used by the authorities to stoke up hostility towards America and Israel. Since the military regime took power some 12,000 people have been arrested, forced to confess (often under torture) and convicted by courts martial, using draconian emergency powers. The scale of this repression dwarfs that of Mubarak, as Islamist influence grows. For Coptic Christians the future looks bleak. Iraq has lost nine-tenths of its 2.5 million Christians in ten years; the Copts, the largest remaining religious minority in the Middle East, look isolated and exposed.

Across the world, at least 100 million Christians live under persecution, three-quarters of all victims of bigotry. Many thousands are killed every year, mainly by state-sponsored violence; indeed, it is likely that more have died for their faith in the last century than in the previous 19 put together. Yet The Better Angels of Our Nature, a much-lauded new study of “The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes” by the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, manages to overlook this persecution altogether. The churches too have been all but silent. Pope Benedict has been more outspoken than his predecessors, but Christian minorities are hostages.

For Christians in the West who care about their co-religionists in the East, it is excruciating to watch them endure the terrible fate that Jews have suffered (often at the hands of Christians) for so long. It may, however, be salutary. The cause of freedom of conscience is a noble one, in which Christians, Jews and secularists have a common interest. The Arab spring must not be allowed to degenerate into one huge pogrom from Tripoli to Tehran.

[JP note: I doubt the manufacturers of the Arab Spring, including the Western elites falling over themselves to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, will take much note of this plea.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Salafists Veil Statue of Sirens in Alexandria

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 2 — The shapes of the mermaids that embellish the fountain of Zeus in the centre of Alexandria have been deemed “inappropriate” by the Salafist Al Nour (Light) party, which decided to “veil” them completely with a sheet during a meeting yesterday evening.

The incident, which was reported by the website of the Al Masri Al Youm newspaper, has unleashed a wave of comment and disbelief on Twitter, where the paper posted pictures “before and after the niqab” of the fountain of the sirens, upon which an enormous placard carries the words: “Egyptian women devote themselves to their husbands and their nation”.

Political leaders of the party, which is at the head of a coalition of Islamist parties that will stand in the forthcoming Egyptian elections from November 28, had recently announced that they were against the statues, deeming them contrary to Islamic tradition, the newspaper reports. “Covering a statue of sirens will certainly lead us to Paradise. I can’t wait,” was the ironic reaction of one Twitter user.

The electoral campaign for the first legislative elections of the post-Mubarak era officially began today and will end two days before the polls open.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Equal Opportunities: Mideast Countries Low on Global Ranking

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, NOVEMBER 2 — The Arab world continues to lag behind in terms of equality of sexes. This became clear during the World Economic Forum from the global gender gap report, in which no country in the Middle East can be found above the 100th position. “A world in which fewer than 20% of decision-makers are women is a world that is losing an important opportunity for growth, and that is ignoring a great potential,” said Klaus Schwab, president and founder of the World Economic Forum.

The United Arab Emirates is the first Gulf country on the list at 103rd place, followed by Kuwait (105), Bahrain (110) and Qatar (111). Saudi Arabia, which recently gave women the right to vote, has reached 131st place, followed by Yemen, ranking last. The countries with most equality between men and women are still found in Scandinavia: Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

The report reads that the level of equality is improving in 85% of countries, but that the situation is worsening in the rest of the world, particularly in Africa and South America. A deterioration of the situation of women has been recorded in countries like New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the UK, while improvements were booked in Qatar, Turkey, Brazil and Ethiopia, among others.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran’s Nuclear Activity Under Scrutiny as Evidence of Weapons Threat Emerges

Atomic agency report uncovers Iranian nuclear experiments experts claim could only be used for development of warhead

A report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog due to be circulated around the world next week will provide fresh evidence of a possible Iranian nuclear weapons programme, bringing the Middle East a step closer to a devastating new conflict, say diplomats.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the latest of a series of quarterly bulletins on Iran’s activities, but this one will contain an unprecedented level of detail on research and experiments carried out in Iran in recent years, which western officials allege could only be for the design and development of a nuclear warhead. “This will be a game-changer in the Iranian nuclear dossier,” a western official predicted. “It is going to be hard for even Moscow or Beijing to downplay its significance.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel Speeds Up Ballistic Missile Tests as Speculation Grows of Attack on Iran

Israel successfully test-fired a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran today, fuelling concerns the country’s leaders are considering a military attack.

The concerns were sparked over the weekend by a report in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak favour an attack.

That was followed by a report in the Haaretz daily today that said Mr Netanyahu is now lobbying Cabinet members for a military strike, despite the likelihood it would draw a retaliation from Iran…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Israel Considers Pre-Emptive Attack on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to rally support in his cabinet for an attack on Iran, according to government sources.

The country’s defence minister Ehud Barak and the foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are said to be among those backing a pre-emptive strike to neutralise Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But a narrow majority of ministers currently oppose the move, which could trigger a wave of regional retaliation.

The debate over possible Israeli military action has reached fever pitch in recent days with newspaper leader columns discussing the benefits and dangers of hitting Iran.

Mr Lieberman responded to the reports of a push to gain cabinet approval by saying that “Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order.”

But he said Israel’s military options should not be a matter for public discussion.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to report on the state of Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 8, and that assessment is likely to influence Israel’s decision.

Western intelligence officials estimate that Iran is still at least two to three years away from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Israel has long made it clear that it will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear capability that could threaten the Jewish State.

Publicly it is pushing for a diplomatic offensive against Iran — including the imposition of sanctions — rather than a military strike.

But prime minister Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that all options are on the table…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Muslim Naturalisation Question Reopened

(ANSAMed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 1 — After an institutional procedure that continued for 17 years, President of Lebanon Michel Suleiman has signed a decree for the abolition of the controversial naturalisation of around 200 people, who in 1994 received, together with 200,000 others from 80 different countries, the much-desired blue passport with golden cedar.

The decision from June 20 1994, approved by the Lebanese government at the time in the shadow of the military protection of its Syrian neighbour, allowed Syria to alter the political and confessional balance in some sensitive regions in Lebanon, giving around 160,000 Muslims the Lebanese nationality. More than 45,000 of these were Palestinians who were born in the country’s refugee camps. A statement issued by the Lebanese presidency on October 28 states that Suleiman “has signed a first series of decrees that will withdraw the nationality of people who, according to the Council of State, did not deserve it.” For the first time in 2003, under pressure from the Lebanese Maronite League, it was in fact the supreme body for legal and administrative advice of the presidency to call the 1994 decision invalid, asking the Interior Ministry to revise many cases. These cases include, as the Lebanese newspaper an Nahar pointed out on October 29, common criminals who have been sentenced by the Lebanese justice system for crimes they have committed in Lebanon. Many of the people who have been naturalised had in fact been living for years in the country: in and around the Palestinian refugee camps or in the regions close to the porous border with Syria. Most people living near the border were Sunni Muslim Bedouins, living in the area for centuries. The modern border between the two countries, decided on paper during the French colonial mandate (1920-1943) on the former Arab province of the Ottoman empire, had never been demarcated in this region. More in general, people from eighty different countries were given the Lebanese nationality, including stateless Palestinians. The register of the Interior Ministry that has been published by the Lebanese media shows as many as 65,734 Syrians, including employees of the local administration in Damascus and even officers of the Syrian army. But the register also includes over two thousand Egyptians and the same number of Jordanians, around 1,500 Iraqi citizens and just under a thousand from Iran. Even 496 people from France, 155 from the U.S., three Chinese, two Jews and an Indian Sikh took advantage of the measure. The most interesting data emerge when reading to what religion the people who were naturalised belonged: on a total of around 200,000, just 43,516 are Christians against 159,011 Muslims, most of whom, 118,295 Sunnis. According to Christian MP Nehmetallah Abi Nasr, one of the most determined critics of the naturalisation law, the decision was taken to “change the religious balance.” In particular, the lawyer who is known for his racist stance against Palestinians and Muslims in general said, “from one day to the next Christians in several towns in the (eastern valley of the) Bekaa saw hundreds of naturalised Sunnis from Syria being added to the electoral lists.” Other political sources in Lebanon pointed out that the law from 1994 was the result of the climate of political compromise that reigned at the time between the Syrian regime and the government of Lebanon’s Sunni Premier Rafiq Hariri (killed in 2005 in Beirut). Nationalising Sunni Bedouins in the Bekaa Valley helped Hariri — local observers claim — gain more votes in some sensitive areas in the country. At the same time, the same sources continue, nationalising around 8,000 Alawite Syrians in the region that borders with the northern Lebanese region of Akkar (which has a Sunni majority), allowed Damascus to adjust the political balance in its favour, in a territory that was traditionally hostile to Syrian influence. Of the around 200 dossiers that now have to be revised, most regard people who have obtained the Lebanese nationality presenting false documents and making false statements. But according to MP Abi Nasr more than 6,000 cases should be annulled.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

New Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Coming Caliphate

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On this week’s edition of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, we examine the growing strength of global jihad and the possibility of a new Islamic caliphate.

We start by exploring the Obama administration’s recent statements that al Qaeda is nearing defeat. While al Qaeda may be weakening, other more dangerous threats to America’s national security are strengthening — namely Iran, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. See why the U.S. should be concerned.

We also head to Istanbul, Turkey for a report on how the so-called “Arab Spring” has laid the groundwork for a re-established Islamic super state known as the caliphate.

Also watch as Jeremy Issacharoff, a leading Iran expert in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed the Iranian regime’s alarming progress in developing nuclear weapons.

You can watch the show at the link above.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Al Qaeda Bomb Expert Targeted by CIA

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 1 — The CIA’s new target in Yemen is Ibrahim al Asiri, an al-Qaeda militant and explosives expert who has reportedly participated in the most important conspiracies against the U.S. in the last three years. Al Asiri has the Saudi nationality, is 29 years old and is considered to be even more dangerous than Anwar al Awlaki, the recruiter and head of propaganda of the Yemenite branch of al Qaeda who was killed by a missile fired from a CIA drone on September 30, in a remote area in Yemen. Sources in U.S. anti-terror forces told the Wall Street Journal, that al Asiri has carried out in-depth internet research to identify possible U.S. targets, airliners in particular.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘Astronauts’ To Emerge From 520-Day Mock Mars Mission

Six men will emerge from a simulated spaceship on 5 November, ending a 520-day journey without ever really leaving home. The Mars 500 experiment kept them confined in a 72-square-metre “spaceship” in Moscow, Russia, for the most realistic mock mission to the Red Planet ever attempted.

Doctors have been monitoring the crew’s immune systems, sleep cycles, hormone levels and other vital signs that might suffer after a year and a half in a hamster cage. One intriguing study monitors salt levels in the astronauts’ urine to see if men’s hormones go through phases akin to women’s menstrual cycles.

Meanwhile, psychologists have been watching the crew’s moods to see how they hold up after being isolated for so long. As well as helping future astronauts stay upbeat, the results could help soldiers dealing with stress and fatigue. The crew seems anxious to come home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistani Journalist: China Seeking to Establish Military Bases in Pakistani Border Region

Chinese Troops Were Part of Pakistani Army Exercise along India Border

In a recent article, renowned Pakistani journalist Amir Mir made startling disclosures that China is seeking to establish military bases in the Pakistani border region along Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are deployed. These Chinese military bases could be established in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) or in Gilgit Baltistan, a region that borders China and has traditionally been considered as part of Jammu & Kashmir.

Amir Mir, who is an author of several books on militancy in Pakistan, also noted that the Chinese first want to establish these military bases, giving a lower priority to the Pakistani request to take over the strategically important Gwadar port. The Gwadar port on the Baluchistan coast seeks to undermine Indian naval dominance in the region. In his article, Amir Mir also revealed that Chinese troops also took part in a Pakistani military exercise which was held along the Indian border in August.

These revelations are likely to heighten the tension between India and Pakistan, as several Indian military leaders have warned in the recent past that Pakistan and China pose a joint threat to the security of India. Indian Army chief V.K. Singh has said that around 4,000 Chinese, including soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), are present in Pakistani Kashmir.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Thailand: Jihadists Murder Six Buddhist Civilians by Bombing Their Car and Then Raking it With Gunfire

Police say suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand killed six civilians in a bomb attack on their vehicle in the south. Police investigator Heraman Chedi says the explosion occurred Wednesday in Narathiwat’s Ra-ngae district, and attackers raked the vehicle with machine-gunfire afterward. Heraman says the victims were Buddhist hunters headed to a nearby forest, and one survived and was taken to a local hospital.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s 1st Space Docking Inspires Love Poetry

The first Chinese space docking today (Nov. 2) inspired not just national and scientific pride, but some romantic sentiment as well. Several different Chinese newspapers and commentators have described the Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8 spacecraft, which linked up in orbit today for the first time, as “lovers” making a “kiss in space,” state newspaper Xinhua reported. “Tiangong, my lover, for the arrival of this moment — wait for me. I’m coming,” reads a poem called “Lovers’ Talk,” published in Tianfu Zaobao, a Sichuan-based daily, according to Xinhua.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Official Concerned About ‘Persecution’ of Ai Weiwei

Chinese authorities have ordered dissident artist Ai Weiwei to pay a massive tax bill. Germany has expressed concern over the way the rights activist is being treated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa: White Girl Burns in ‘Satanic Ritual’

A teenage girl is in a coma after she and a friend were doused with petrol and set alight in an apparent satanic ritual.

The girls, one 18 and the other 16, were among eight youngsters who went to a koppie behind the Linmeyer swimming pool on Julius Street on Friday night.

According to Samantha Theologo, her 18-year-old sister Kirsty has 75 percent burns to her body from the waist up.

Doctors had told them, she said, that they were worried about her sister’s recovery because her lungs and throat were damaged. Kirsty was scheduled to have surgery on Monday.

The source said a third girl told them that the boys cut her hand and held it over a Bible so that the blood could soak it, while Kirsty was burnt.

Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsingane said the girls were tied up and there was speculation the attack was a satanic ritual, but they still needed to investigate this.

“It’s horrible, it’s scary and just horrific what happened to my sister,” said Samantha.

“My mom is in a state and can’t talk. Friends are breaking down.

“Kirsty is in Grade 11 and is loved by so many people. This is a nightmare.”

There was an incident in Cape Town last year where a mother contacted her to seek advice after her teenage daughter was kidnapped and brought to a type of church where another teenager was murdered.

She managed to escape, but was very traumatised.

“Police investigated the incident, but it was never mentioned in the media,” said Little.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


10 Brilliant Writers Robbed of a Nobel Prize

10: Jorge Luis Borges
9: Vladimir Nabokov
8: W. H. Auden
7: Robert Frost
6: Emile Zola
5: Henrik Ibsen
4: Marcel Proust
3: James Joyce
2: Leo Tolstoy
1: Mark Twain

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ancient Mars Water May Have Flowed Underground

Astronomers have found more evidence that Mars was wet and warm in the ancient past, but the discovery comes with a twist: The water may have flowed below the Martian surface, rather than on top of it. The new study, which analyzed clay deposits on the Red Planet, revealed that the surface of Mars may have been dry and arid even in its distant past, with lakes and rivers dotting the Martian landscape for only brief periods. Water-carved landforms on Mars are just one source of evidence that liquid once existed on the planet. Orbiting satellites have also found beds of clay, created by chemical interactions between volcanic rock and water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Is Junk Food as Addictive as Cocaine?

Cupcakes may be addictive, just like cocaine.

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine, and other drugs.

“The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

[Note from Egghead: OK, so the ‘powers that be’ want to legalize drugs — but ban sugar. Hmmm. New topic: The studies that we really need are those that link addiction with 1) internet pornography and 2) video games. Then, maybe we can legally ban those health risks, too.]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Is Mental Time Travel What Makes US Human?

Astonishing animals show up everywhere these days. Cooperative apes, grief-stricken elephants, empathetic cats and dogs crowd our bookshop shelves. It’s all the rage to plumb the cognitive and emotional depths of the animal world, rejecting sceptics’ sneers of “anthropomorphism” to insist that we’re finally coming to see animals for who they really are: not so different from us.

Pushing against this tide of animal awe is a competing cultural trope, the relentless seeking of human superiority. It’s from this second camp that Michael C. Corballis, a professor emeritus of psychology from New Zealand, has written The Recursive Mind: The origins of human language, thought, and civilization. Mental time travel and theory of mind, Corballis believes, are two uniquely human ways of thinking that propelled our species to heights above all others, thanks to what is called recursion.

The concept of recursion became an evolutionists’ darling largely on the heels of a paper written in 2002 by Marc Hauser, Tecumseh Fitch and Noam Chomsky. That paper, propelled to international notice by the participation of its famous third author, claimed that it’s a unique human trick to communicate by embedding structures within other structures, as when one noun phrase in a sentence is made to contain another. An example of such linguistic recursion is furnished by Corballis. The non-recursive sentences “Jane loves John” and “Jane flies aeroplanes” may be combined to produce the recursive sentence “Jane, who flies aeroplanes, loves John”. Less interested in language than the mind itself, Corballis states flatly that recursion is “the primary characteristic that distinguishes the human mind from that of other animals”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The ‘Rich Club’ That Rules Your Brain

Not all brain regions are created equal — instead, a “rich club” of 12 well-connected hubs orchestrates everything that goes on between your ears. This elite cabal could be what gives us consciousness, and might be involved in disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. As part of an ongoing effort to map the human “connectome” — the full network of connections in the brain — Martijn van den Heuvel of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and Olaf Sporns of Indiana University Bloomington scanned the brains of 21 people as they rested for 30 minutes.

The researchers used a technique called diffusion tensor imaging to track the movements of water through 82 separate areas of the brain and their interconnecting neurons. They found 12 areas of the brain had significantly more connections than all the others, both to other regions and among themselves. “These 12 regions have twice the connections of other brain regions, and they’re more strongly connected to each other than to other regions,” says Van den Heuvel. “If we wanted to look for consciousness in the brain, I would bet on it turning out to be this rich club,” he adds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Top of the Hour is the Time for Prosperity

Countries and regions of the world are defined by the political ideologies they espouse. The West, for example, has for a long time stood to mean democratic and economically prosperous nations, and the Soviet Block represented a collection of communist and socialist nations, while the title of Middle East stirs up images of dictatorships, caliphates, and Sharia Law. As different as these ideologies are, they all reside on the same spectrum, a circular spectrum like a clock. A circle diagram is the best method of illustration because in politics if you go far enough to the right or the left you will eventually end up with the same result, a dictatorship.

Do You Know What Time it is?

At 12:00 lies democracy, the only ideology under which capitalism flourishes. Democracy and capitalism have made the USA the greatest nation on earth and home of the world’s best entrepreneurs and inventors. Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, David Smith of Sinclair Broadcast group, Kamal Ali of Ben’s Chili Bowl here in Washington DC, and Madame CJ Walker just to name a few.

At 11:59 would be left wing liberals clutching dearly to their belief that more government is better government. Positioned as the “champions” of the have-nots, left wing legislation often involves entitlement spending: using taxes from those who earn their money to pay those who earn little or nothing at all.

At 12:01, right wing conservatives, championing the values of the free-market: capitalism, less government. Conservatives believe in lowering taxes, and by extension that government should be smaller. Essentially, if you work for your money you should be allowed to keep more of it and it shouldn’t be taken from you to pay for things that you don’t agree with.

At 9:00 is socialism, an ideology espoused by many of the occupy protesters that was also the way of the Chinese in the early 20th Century. Socialism is the theory that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned, regulated, and managed by the community. In Marxist theory it is the transition between capitalism and communism.

At 3:00? Anarchy. No government, ultimate freedom; no laws, no protection. The Wild Wild West.

At 6:01 is communism, a system under which all property is publicly owned. Conceived with the elimination of the state in mind the end result, ironically, it is always complete state command over all facets of the governed nation.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

World’s Nuclear Arsenals Growing, Think-Tank Warns

The world is heading for “a new era of global nuclear force modernisation and growth” despite anti-proliferation rhetoric in the US and EU, a new study says. The survey by the London and Washington-based think-tank, the British American Security Information Council (Basic), notes that every one of the world’s nine nuclear powers is currently in the middle of a shopping spree.

The US, which already has 8,500 warheads, plans to spend $700 billion on its nuclear capability in the next 10 years. Around $200 billion will go on modernising delivery systems and warhead production. Part will go on a fleet of 12 new nuclear submarines and long-range air-launched missiles.

The other big player, Russia, which has around 11,500 warheads, plans to spend $70 billion by 2020. It aims to double the number of ballistic missiles it makes each year by investing $500 million in its Votkinsk factory. It is also buying eight new submarines, developing a strategic missile capable of carrying 10 warheads and working on a new long-range stealth bomber.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]