Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111219

Financial Crisis
»“Serious Social Effects” Plague Greece
»Greece to Find Another 3 Bln Euros in Early 2012
»Greece Has Highest Suicide Rate in Europe
»Ireland Seeks to Ease Debt Burden
»Italians Among Richest Even After Wealth Decline
»Italy: State Employees Striking Against Budget
»Race Against Clock as EU Hits IMF Bailout Funding Deadline
»Spain’s New Leader Vows 16.5-Billion-Euro Cuts
»Turkey New Migration Alternative for Greeks
»Donor of $350 Million Cornell Gift is Identified
»Reusable Rockets to Take Giant Leap From Spaceport America
»Exhibition Promotes Peaceful Islam
Europe and the EU
»‘Europe Has Become Poorer’: A Continent Mourns the Passing of Vaclav Havel
»Europe’s Islamic Future
»German Neo-Nazi Terror Investigation: Intelligence Agency Reportedly Sabotaged Police
»Italy: Vandal Damages Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Rome
»Lottery: Spain Holds Its Breath for Record ‘Gordo’
»Norway: Butter Crisis Exposes ‘Soviet Conditions’
»Resentments Reawaken: Britain’s Mounting Distrust of Germany
»Severino: In Italy 15-20 Thousand Inmates Less With New Law
»Swedes in Norwegian Butter Smuggling Bust
»Sweden to Denmark Subway Line Suggested
»Swedish Butter Hustlers Arrested in Norway
»UK: ‘Nazi’ Stag Party MP Loses His Job
»UK: ‘Creating Hope’ Conference
»UK: Children Are Focus of Safety Project
»UK: Foster Father Fights to Illegalise Indoctrination of Muslims
»UK: MCB Beats Drum for British Business
»UK: Makeshift Purley ‘Mosque’ Shut Down by Croyden Council
»UK: Prince Harry in BlackBerry Mugging Drama: Royal Races to the Rescue in Car as He Hears Friend Being Robbed During Phone Conversation
»Merkel Urges Start of Joint Serb-Kosovo Border Controls
»Srdja Trifkovic: A Balkan Travelogue
Mediterranean Union
»Cyprus to Host an EU-Arab League Informal Meeting
»EuroMed: Economic Governance, Challenge for Arab Transitions
North Africa
»Egypt: Fresh Clashes in Tahrir Square, Two Dead
Middle East
»Kuwait is Experiencing Its Own Arab Spring
»Lebanon: Clashes Between Palestinian Factions in Refugee Camp
»Qatar Embraces Wahhabism to Strengthen Regional Influence
»Turkey Business Leaders Warn France Over Genocide Bill
»Russian Court Mulling Ban on “Extremist” Holy Book That Incites to Violence: The Bhagavad Gita
Far East
»Chinese Rocket Launches Powerful Nigerian Satellite Into Orbit
»Death of a Dictator: Kim’s Youngest Son to Become ‘Great Successor’
»Foreign Workers Squeezed by New Chinese Law
»Satellite Image Shows Kim Jong Il’s Dark Legacy
»The Psychology of Dictatorship: Kim Jong-Il
Latin America
»Yeti Crab Grows Its Own Food
Culture Wars
»New ‘Mythbuster’ Website to Fight Racism in Sweden
»Discover Interview: The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky

Financial Crisis

“Serious Social Effects” Plague Greece

The political mood in Greece has calmed down since the appointment of a coalition government last month, the Swiss ambassador in Athens tells

Lorenzo Amberg said the will for the necessary change was slowly gaining a foothold, but admitted many ordinary Greeks were struggling to afford food and medicine.

On November 11, a new coalition cabinet led by Lucas Papademos was sworn in, easing the political tension.

On December 6, Athens witnessed riots following a ceremony to mark the shooting of a teenager by a police officer in 2008. But two earlier demonstrations — one in mid-November to mark the anti-junta Polytechnic uprising of 1973, as well as the general strike on December 1 — proceeded peacefully.

Lorenzo Amberg: There is less uncertainty than at the beginning of November. We now know there’s a coalition government that is endeavouring to carry out these cutbacks and economic measures.

That doesn’t mean this increased calm will last for ever, since there could be new elections in February or March. But for the moment people want to give the new government a chance and let it do its job.

L.A.: All fears exist in such a situation. Above all the realisation has spread that this is not just a Greek crisis but a pan-European crisis. That does not mean, however, that all Greeks believe Greece will leave the eurozone tomorrow.

According to surveys, a significant majority of Greeks believe Greece will remain in the eurozone. Most people are pro-European. There’s no noticeable anti-European feeling. People know that the country’s fate is closely tied to Europe.

L.A.: There’s a widespread view that for a long time Greece experienced growth that was based not on production but on consumption, that people spent money that didn’t belong to them but was lent to them by the banks and the EU. They realise things can’t continue like that.

The penny’s dropping that certain structural adjustments must be made — in politics in general, in the running of individual ministries, in public life. What exactly that will look like, no one really knows. But the political will to change is there.

L.A.: This poverty can be seen in certain districts in Athens, not only among the illegal immigrants — that’s always existed — but increasingly also among the Greek population. Organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières or the charitable wings of the Orthodox Church are reporting a large increase in those in need of medical aid or food.

It’s true that this crisis is having serious social effects. On top of that there’s unemployment, which according to official figures is at 18 per cent. Among young people it’s double that.

L.A.: This issue has generated a lot of interest in the street and also in parliament. According to the Swiss finance ministry, meetings took place this year at a state secretary level. Bern also signalled its readiness to negotiate and informed Greece of the main features of an agreement, like those it has already signed with Germany and Britain.

L.A.: Yes, for example in the area of migration. Switzerland and Greece are both members of Schengen [an EU agreement which did away with internal border controls]. We’ve established that Greece has serious problems dealing with waves of illegal immigrants, simply because it lacks many structures that exist in Switzerland…

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

Greece to Find Another 3 Bln Euros in Early 2012

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 19 — If Greece thought it had done enough to satisfy the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — collectively known as the troika — with the measures it set out in its 2012 budget, it appears it was mistaken as the country’s lenders are demanding that the government find a way to raise or save another 3 billion euros. Sources told Sunday’s Kathimerini that following a visit to Athens last week, troika officials informed the government that it would have to come up with 3 billion euros worth of measures by next month, when the inspectors are due back in Greece. It appears that the troika wants these extra measures to be implemented in the first three months of 2012 and to be included in any agreement between Greece and its lenders for a second bailout. The government is currently negotiating a loan package for 130 billion euros. The budget for 2012, which Parliament approved earlier this month, foresees some 5 billion euros in spending cuts and another 3.6 billion in tax collection. The chief aim is to report a primary budget surplus of 1.1% of gross domestic product next year. Sources said that the troika has not stipulated where the extra 3 billion euros should come from but wants greater emphasis to be placed on speedier structural reforms. Greece’s lenders also indicated that they would accept measures for 2013 and 2014 being finalized in June, when any new loan agreement is due to be signed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Has Highest Suicide Rate in Europe

The suicide rate in Greece has reached a pan-European record high, with the rise thought to be due to the economic crisis, the Guardian reports. Greek ministry of health statistics show a 40% rise in suicides between January and May this year compared to the same period in 2010.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland Seeks to Ease Debt Burden

Dublin is in talks with EU institutions and the IMF to try to find a way of reducing the debt burden on the country for the bank bailout, the Irish Times reports. Irish government circles are already saying a debt deal would facilitate a referendum Yes on the new treaty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italians Among Richest Even After Wealth Decline

Rome, 16 Dec. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italians remain among the richest and least-indebted people in the world, even as net household wealth declined last year, according to the Bank of Italy.

Total household net wealth fell 1.5 percent in 2010 from the previous year to 8.6 trillion euros when adjusted for inflation, and was down 3.2 percent from its peak at the end of 2007, the central bank said in a report. Net wealth probably rose 0.4 percent in nominal terms in the first half of 2011, according to the report.

Gross household wealth at the end of 2010 amounted to 9.53 trillion euros, or almost 400,000 euros per family, with real- estate accounting for almost two-thirds, the Bank of Italy said.

Italians’ net wealth in 2009 was 8.3 times gross household disposable income, more than the 8 times for the U.K., 7.5 times for France, 7 times in Japan, 5.5 times in Canada and 4.9 times in the U.S. Figures for Germany weren’t given.

Italy, the euro region’s second most-indebted country after Greece, is struggling to tame borrowing costs that have surged to record highs amid Europe’s sovereign crisis. Prime Minister Mario Monti’s Cabinet approved a sweeping budget plan on Dec. 4 aimed at raising revenue and spurring economic growth in a bid to persuade investors Italy can avoid following Greece, Ireland and Portugal in seeking a bailout.

Five percent of financial assets held by Italian families were directly invested in Italian government debt at the end of 2010, down from 5.8 percent the previous year, the report showed. Household debt in Italy amounted to about 82 percent of disposable income in 2009, compared with about 100 percent in France and Germany, 130 percent in the U.S. and Japan and 170 percent in the U.K., the Bank of Italy said.

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

Italy: State Employees Striking Against Budget

Protests in many cities, possible problems for hospitals

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Today is seeing a national strike by public-sector workers called by the FP-CGIL, CISL-FP, UIL-FPL and UIL-PA unions for the entire day. All across Italy there will be protests to demand “radical change in the budget for equity”. There may also be problems for hospitals, with doctors and nurses taking part: specialist examinations, diagnostic exams and non-urgent surgeries may be at risk, while emergency services, ambulances and urgent surgical operations will be guaranteed. In Rome — according to the union federations — in Montecitorio Square from 9:30 am there will be a national demonstration. The focus of the unitary mobilization is the demand to modify the text during the parliamentary procedure to obtain: reform of social security which “is not offloaded onto the shoulders of workers and pensioners”; measures which strike out “for the first time, at tax evaders and those with large asset holdings”; tax reform easing employee and pension income taxation; an upgrading of public spending making it possible to find resources for growth; contract renewals; the elimination of further cuts to local autonomies to safeguard local welfare and healthcare; restructuring of central and local institutions which “avoid rushed media and accounting operations”, such as in the case of provinces and social security agencies (e.g.super-INPS) aiming to ensure job places and to improve services.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Race Against Clock as EU Hits IMF Bailout Funding Deadline

European Union finance ministers race against the clock on Monday to meet a self-imposed deadline to raise 200 billion euros ($260 billion) for new eurozone bailout funding. The target figure and a 10-day deadline to deliver the cash pledges to the IMF was decided by EU leaders in the early hours of a December 9 summit and effectively expires at midnight (2300 GMT).

International credit rating giants such as Fitch, which warned on Friday it might soon downgrade six countries, including two of the most heavily debt-laden or growth-stunted in Spain and Italy, are watching EU efforts closely. At the same time as those talks get under way from 4:00 pm (1500 GMT), European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi will go before the European Parliament’s economics committee — fresh from an interview in the Financial Times in which he warned the central bank alone could not resolve all the eurozone’s ills.

Asked if the ECB could step in and act as a US-style lender of last resort, Draghi put the onus back on European governments by saying: “The important thing is to restore the trust of the people — citizens as well as investors — in our continent.” “We won’t achieve that by destroying the credibility of the ECB.”

At the summit, EU leaders decided to tap into IMF credibility after struggling in a months-long bid to increase the lending capacity of their stretched eurozone bailout fund, the 440-billion-euro European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain’s New Leader Vows 16.5-Billion-Euro Cuts

Spain’s incoming prime minister Mariano Rajoy vowed on Monday to slash the public deficit by 16.5 billion euros to calm financial markets with deep cuts to rescue the economy from crisis. With five million people unemployed and warnings of a fresh recession looming, Rajoy gave the first details of how he plans to create jobs, clean up banks and reassure investors that he can stabilise Spain’s finances.

Only pensions will escape the knife, he said in a speech to parliament ahead of his investiture, also vowing to complete a purge of Spain’s financial sector and guarantee that it balances its budget. “We will have to reduce by 16.5 billion euros ($21.5 billion) the shortfall between revenues and spending for the whole public administration,” he told parliament in an investiture speech. “This is our commitment and we are going to achieve it.”

Rajoy’s speech was keenly watched by markets, which have been anxious for months that debt crises in Greece and Italy may spread to Spain and across the eurozone. Rajoy’s speech appeared to provide some relief on Monday, with the Madrid stock market moving 1.38 percent higher. He reiterated his pre-election vows to make deep cuts and sweeping reforms, filling in some of the details for the first time since the election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey New Migration Alternative for Greeks

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 19 — To find a remedy to the economic crisis, many Greeks are thinking to migrate to other countries and generally they preferred overseas countries and Western Europe, although in the last months — according to Greek Reporter Online — Turkey began to be seen as a country of immigration. According to a recent show on a Turkish television program, a woman from Athens with a daughter wants to migrate, because she cannot see the perspective of a future in Greece for her daughter, she says. If it is not possible in Istanbul, at least they want to migrate to Australia, she says. Professor of International Relations and European Studies Centre, Dimitrius Triantafilu emphasized that many things have changed in the relations between the two countries. “Turkey as a country of immigration has become almost a recipe for success” Triantafilu says, stressing that according to statistics, at least two of the world’s top 100 universities are located in Turkey. “Greece has nothing to such”,he said. Moreover, Turkey is a very attractive destination not only for its economic development but also for the short distance between Turkey and Greece. Turkey’s everyday life carries similar characteristics to Greek life.

This is the main reason for Greek migration to Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Donor of $350 Million Cornell Gift is Identified

Atlantic Philanthropies, whose gift will be critical in building Cornell’s new high-tech school on Roosevelt Island in New York City, was founded by Charles F. Feeney, a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through Duty Free Shoppers. Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus, where he was graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956, bears his name.

[Return to headlines]

Reusable Rockets to Take Giant Leap From Spaceport America

Billed as the nation’s first dedicated commercial spaceport, New Mexico’s Spaceport America is becoming a desirable location to experiment with new types of reusable booster systems.

Armadillo Aerospace, of Heath, Texas, used the site on Dec. 4 to test their STIG A reusable suborbital rocket technology. The rocket shot to a projected suborbital altitude of 137,500 feet (about 42 kilometers) above the Earth. The STIG A flight demonstrated a number of technologies that Armadillo is assessing for a human-passenger suborbital program, said Neil Milburn, vice president of program management at Armadillo Aerospace.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Exhibition Promotes Peaceful Islam

‘Love for all, hatred for none’

Members of a local mosque are holding an open house at the Millennium Library to demonstrate that Islam is a faith of peace. The Holy Qur’an Exhibition opened Sunday afternoon and continues today and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. “One of our campaigns is to demonstrate that the Muslim faith promotes peace,” Hammad Ahmad said. “The motto of our community is ‘love for all, hatred for none,’“ said Afzal Muhammad, local president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, an Islamic movement with a mosque in a former bank building on Kylemore Avenue near the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre. Muhammad said there is a great deal of misunderstanding about Muslims and the Qur’an, most of it fuelled by the activities of fundamentalist Muslims who dominate news coverage. “Ninety per cent of Muslims are peaceful but they haven’t been loud enough, they haven’t made that effort,” Muhammad said. “The other 10 per cent who are violent are louder than the 90 per cent who are peaceful.” At the open house, Ahmad, a missionary with the Ahmadiyya movement, and Muhammad are available to answer questions about Islam and the Qur’an. They encourage non-Muslims to pick up free copies of Islamic tracts on a variety of issues, including the hijab and the Islamic view of Jesus. The mosque is also giving away copies of the Qur’an. The group also held an open house at the mosque in October and an interfaith conference at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre in November.

[JP note: Gibberish.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

‘Europe Has Become Poorer’: A Continent Mourns the Passing of Vaclav Havel

Leaders from the Czech Republic, Europe and beyond have expressed their sorrow at the death of Velvet Revolution leader Vaclav Havel. Thousands gathered in the heart of Prague on Sunday evening to mourn the passing of one of the communist-era’s greatest dissidents.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Islamic Future

Islam is on its way to become the most practiced religion in Europe. In a new book published by the University of Leuven, “The Iris and the Crescent,” sociologist Felice Dassetto says that Muslims will comprise the majority of the population of Brussels by 2030. The title of the book refers to the yellow flower symbol of Brussels’ region and to the Islamic emblem: While the first is decaying, the second is growing. Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of the capital of the enlightened Europe and they are asking to use the empty churches for Islamic prayers. Since 2008, the top seven baby boys’ names in Brussels were Mohammed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza. Mohammed is also the most popular name for baby boys in Belgium’s second-largest city, Antwerp, where an estimated 40% of elementary school children are Muslim. Antwerp is also home to Belgium’s first Islamic Sharia law court, which began operating in September.

Yet Belgium is not an isolate case. Rabbi David Rosen, a moderate voice in the Jewish establishment, has warned that Europe risks being “overrun” by Islam. According to a recent report of the US Pew Center, Islam is already “the fastest-growing religion in Europe,” where the number of Muslims has tripled over the past 30 years. One third of all European children will be born to Muslim families by 2025. Islam is the most practiced religion in the United Kingdom. In London, more Muslims attend mosques on Friday than do Christians churches on Sunday. The Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city of Amsterdam, where the kings of Holland were crowned, is now a museum. The only “church” in the largest Dutch city that is crowded is the church of Scientology, a six-story building in the thick of the city center. Only 7% of Dutch Catholics now go to Sunday Mass and 16% of children are baptized.

In Austria, which was 90% Catholic in the 20th Century, Islam will be the majority religion among Austrians aged under 15 by 2050. The French case also shows that the often exaggerated “Eurabia” threat is more a quality phenomenon of religious attendance than of demographic takeover. In France, there are now more Islamic mosques being build — and more frequently so — than Catholic churches, and there are more practicing Muslims than practicing Catholics in the country. Overall, the total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 in the last 10 years. The best known French Islamic leader, Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, recently suggested that the total number of mosques should double yet again, to 4,000, to meet the growing demand. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in France had only 20 new churches built in the last 10 years, and formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which became mosques, according to research conducted by the French Catholic daily La Croix. Princeton University’s Bernard Lewis once told the German daily Die Welt that “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century.” At the time, Brussels’ political and cultural elites expressed outrage at the alarmist prediction. Yet if the current trends persist, Mr. Lewis may yet be proven right.

Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

German Neo-Nazi Terror Investigation: Intelligence Agency Reportedly Sabotaged Police

The police investigation of what is now known as the Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell was likely hindered by domestic intelligence sabotage, a media report said on Monday. Intelligence agents in the state of Thuringia allegedly disrupted and betrayed police surveillance to those under observation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Vandal Damages Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Rome

Homeless man attacks bronze doors with a rock

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — One of Rome’s oldest and most beautiful churches, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Saint Mary Major), has been damaged by a vandal.

The vandal climbed over two railings and attacked the basilica’s bronze doors with a rock, knocking off six saintly badges and “seriously” damaging a bas-relief portrayal of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, church sources said on Monday.

Police are said to have arrested a Romanian homeless man and Vatican gendarmes are also investigating, since the church, although across the city from the Holy See and close to Termini rail station, is a Vatican ‘extraterritorial’ site.

Experts from Rome’s art heritage superintendency said the damage ran into thousands of euros.

“It’s serious damage, quantifiable in a few thousand euros,” they said.

One of the fences the man climbed over was a couple of metres high and the other six metres high, police said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lottery: Spain Holds Its Breath for Record ‘Gordo’

Most generous prizes on record for hard times Xmas

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 16 — To distract a little from the crisis that has brought the country to its knees, with an army of five million unemployed, Spain awaits the Christmas draw of the state lottery’s “El Gordo” (the fat one) prize, which will be the most generous yet on record. This, the world’s oldest lottery, is an event that has excited people across Spain each year since it started in 1832. It is estimated that every person in the country spends an average of 72 euros on buying tickets for El Gordo, and patience always wears thin.

The draw takes place each year on December 22 and the country holds its breath during the live radio and television event as the names of the winners are sung out by a boys’ choir from Madrid’s San Ildefonso college. The first prize — ‘El Gordo’ itself — will be 4.4 million euros this year, but the lottery will hand out thousands more prizes, ranging from one million down to around 100 euros. A ticket for one ‘tenth’ costs 20 euros. This year’s draw of El Gordo will coincide with another event of interest for the country — the formation of its new government, led by centre-right premier Rajoy, successor to socialist José Luis Zapatero.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Norway: Butter Crisis Exposes ‘Soviet Conditions’

Norway’s butter crisis has prompted severe criticism of the country’s dairy system, as consumers grapple with shortages that an Oslo management school dean has likened to conditions in the Soviet Union.

Trond Blindheim, dean of the Oslo School of Management made his comments after 40 percent of respondents in a Sentio survey published by newspaper Nationen said they had formed a more negative view of dairy giant Tine in the wake of the butter shortage.

The butter shortfall had been avoidable, Blindheim said, adding that Tine’s failure to avert the situation could eventually lead to its downfall.

“The system we have today, in which Tine more or less has a monopoly on dairy products, is the kind of system they had in the 1920s.”

Referring to what he described as the “Soviet conditions” that have prevailed this autumn, with butter absent from supermarket shelves, Blindheim said voices calling for free market reform in the dairy sector were gradually succeeding in getting their message across.

“A lot of people would probably say that Tine is living on borrowed time. The way things are now, the situation benefits producers but not consumers,” he told Nationen.

Tine spokesman Øystein Knoph said the company understood that consumers felt let down by the company.

“The dip in confidence is deserved, and we’re not surprised people are disappointed and irritated.

“The butter shortage is regrettable and should have been avoided. We are critical of our own failure to fully foresee the combined effect of reduced milk supply and a major increase in demand for butter,” said Knoph.

Tine could at least take some comfort from the fact that eight out of ten people surveyed by Sentio said they had not felt personally affected by the butter shortfall.

The lack of butter in Norway has been attributed to a mixture of rising demand amid a high-fat diet fad, and a drop in the supply of raw milk after a wet summer led to lower feed production.

Prohibitively high tariffs on the import of butter have also made foreign dairies disinclined to enter the Norwegian market.

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

Resentments Reawaken: Britain’s Mounting Distrust of Germany

In Britain, distrust of Europe goes hand-in-hand with distrust of Germany. Relations between the two countries have cooled following the furore caused by the latest EU summit, and British euroskeptics are once again resorting to old stereotypes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Severino: In Italy 15-20 Thousand Inmates Less With New Law

(AGI) Rome — The Italian government estimates that the new decree-law will reduce the number of inmates by15-20 thousand people. In Italy, there are currently 67 thousand inmates compared to the 45 thousand places available. The Minister of Justice Ms Severino said: “We cannot exactly say how many inmates will be released. The provision on the so-called ‘revolving doors’ for those who have been arrested for only three days concerns 15-18 thousand inmates. The provision allowing inmates to serve their last 18 months as home confinment touches 3 thousand people”.

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

Swedes in Norwegian Butter Smuggling Bust

Police in Norway apprehended two Swedish men over the weekend with more than 250 kilogrammes of butter after they reportedly had been trying to sell contraband spread at 250 kroner ($42) a packet. “They allegedly sold the coveted butter packets in Beitstad Steinkjer before they drove north along the county road 17. Then they were stopped by a police patrol, which found 250 kilogrammes of butter in the small van,” said police officer Lars Letnes of the Nord-Trøndelag Police District to Norwegian daily Adresseavisen.

The men had reportedly driven into Norway via the Swedish ski resort Storlien, one kilometre from the Norwegian border, on the night to Saturday. With them they had brought 250 kilogrammes of butter in 500 gramme packets.

On Saturday evening, police were tipped off about the crafty butter salesmen and were able to apprehend them around 7pm. Both men were taken in for questioning. According to Adresseavisen, the two men soon admitted to being in Norway to turn a profit from the Norwegian butter shortage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden to Denmark Subway Line Suggested

Ever-growing numbers of commuters between Malmö, Sweden’s southern-most large city, and the Danish capital, Copenhagen, require new infrastructure solutions. A bold new suggestion currently being investigated involves a subway line connecting the neighbouring countries. “The tracks on the Öresund Bridge won’t be enough for all trains in the future,” said Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu to newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

“That’s why we need to plan for increased capacity now, so commuters aren’t forced to take their cars.” The subway would cost roughly 13 billion kronor ($1.87 billion), and take 15 years to complete. Malmö and Copenhagen will be conducting a joint study planned to be completed by the end of 2013, investigating how a subway connection in a new tunnel under the Öresund could increase transport capacity between the two cities and increase growth in the area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Butter Hustlers Arrested in Norway

Police in Norway arrested two Swedish men over the weekend as they sought to sell 250 kilos of smuggled butter at 250 kroner ($42) a packet.

The men drove to Norway via the Swedish ski resort Storlien, one kilometre from the border, in the early hours of Saturday morning, newspaper Adresseavisen reports.

“They allegedly sold the coveted butter in Beitstad Steinkjer before driving north along county road 17,” police officer Lars Letnes of Nord-Trøndelag Police told the newspaper.

“Then they were stopped by a police patrol, which found 250 kilos of butter in the small van.”

Police were tipped off about the crafty butter salesmen on Saturday evening and were able to apprehend them, together with their cargo of 500-gramme blocks, at around 7pm.

Both men were taken in for questioning.

According to Adresseavisen, the two men admitted to being in Norway to try turn a profit from the country’s butter shortage.

“They have confessed that they bought butter in Sweden to sell at a profit in Norway. They were hoping to make some money by selling butter to Norwegians,” legal counsel Amund Sand told the paper.

Sand added that police will destroy the butter since it had not been declared at customs, no doubt to the horror of many spread-hankering Norwegians.

According to border official Hilde Petterson Ruud, the incident was unusual but not unexpected.

“We have heard about black market prices, and it was not a surprise that this happened,” Pettersson Ruud told Adresseavisen.

With no sign of a let-up in the country’s butter crisis, Norwegian radio reported that Norwegians are flocking over the border to purchase the sought-after product in Swedish stores.

Retailers on the Swedish side of the Svinesund Bridge reported selling twenty times more butter than usual, with an estimated nine out of ten butter customers coming from Norway.

Dairy giant Tine, which enjoys near-total market dominance in Norway, has indicated the shortage is likely to stretch beyond Christmas and into January.

The shortfall has been attributed to a mixture of rising demand amid a high-fat diet fad, and a drop in the supply of raw milk after a wet summer led to lower feed production.

Prohibitively high tariffs on the import of butter have also made foreign dairies disinclined to enter the Norwegian market.

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

UK: ‘Nazi’ Stag Party MP Loses His Job

The MP for Cannock Chase has been sacked a week after it emerged that he attended a Nazi themed stag party. Aidan Burley, who was elected in 2010, was at a party in a French ski resort where one guest dressed up in SS uniform and others toasted senior Nazis including Hitler. Mr Burley’s behaviour was condemned but the Conservative party initially resisted calls to remove him from his position. However he has now been sacked as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Transport Secretary Justine Greening for “offensive” behaviour. His actions will also be investigated. A Party spokesman said: “Aidan Burley has behaved in a manner which is offensive and foolish. “In light of information received the Prime Minister has asked for a fuller investigation into the matter to be set up and to report to him.” The JC had been among those who called for him to step down in the wake of the scandal. The Mail on Sunday reported this morning that Mr Burley had ordered the uniforms.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Creating Hope’ Conference

The conference will have International speakers such as Sheikh Rachid Ghannouchi, Sheikh Dr Essam Al-Bashir, Sheikh Dr AbdUllah Basfar and Sheikh AbdouRahman Bashir. Also, from the UK: Noureddine Miladi, Anas Al-Tikriti, Mohamed Ali Harrath, Salma Yaqoob, Zahid Parvez, Abdul Aziz Belattar, Murtaza Awan and many more. The event is co-sponsored by the MCB and speakers will also include: Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB and Dr Faisal Hanjra, Assistant Secretary General. Please see the leaflet for the full list of speakers.

The Venue:

The Conference would be held in the prestigious New Bingley Conference Hall, in Birmingham.

A purpose built venue for the conference, which can house over 3000 people.

Full Address: 1 Hockley Circus, Birmingham B18 5BE.

Creche facilities would be available for younger children.

Be Entertained:

In addition, come and listen to some live nasheed performances and sessions of light entertainment.


Register now at:


There would be free accommodation in the nearby Masajid. Please bring your sleeping bags and pillows. Separate facilities for sisters / families. Alternatively, you can book a hotel / B&B room.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Children Are Focus of Safety Project

A major project is under way to help protect the safety of the 9,000 children being taught in Madrassahs in the district. Bradford Council for Mosques is working alongside the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board and the NSPCC to help improve safeguarding procedures at Muslim faith institutions. The scheme comes less than a month after religious teacher Sabir Hussain, 60, was sentenced to ten weeks in prison after admitting four charges of assaulting pupils at the Markazi Jamia Mosque, in Emily Street, Lawkholme, Keighley, where he was teaching the Koran. The project will start with a consultation on Saturday at the Khidmat Centre, in Spencer Road, Bradford, where parents, community leaders and Madrassah committee members, teachers and Imams will have the chance to contribute. The meeting will be the first in a series of events with briefings and focus group sessions also planned.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, a spokesman for the Council For Mosques, said: “There has been a lot of discussions around faith institutions and about what is happening around the safety and wellbeing of children. We felt it was only right to respond effectively and creatively and work with mosques and faith schools to make sure all their policies and procedures are in place and they have adequate training, so when issues do come up they are well placed to respond quickly, efficiently and constructively.” Professor Nick Frost, chairman of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, said: “The board places the effective safeguarding of all of Bradford’s children as our central priority. As part of this we have initiated a partnership project with the Council Of Mosques and the NSPCC which aims to ensure high quality safeguarding practice exists wherever children learn. “In order to make this happen we want to engage with parents, carers and other community members and listen to their views. The event at the Khidmat Centre on Saturday is part of a series of consultations with a wide range of relevant parties. At the end of the process we hope there will be wider awareness of any issues building on the effective policies and practices in place.”

Saturday’s meeting will run from 10am to 1.30pm. For more information call (01274) 521792.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Foster Father Fights to Illegalise Indoctrination of Muslims

A Stockport resident has founded a campaign and charity that aims to raise awareness on the indoctrination of British Muslims overseas. Benedict Garrett created the Azadi campaign and the Azadi-Freedom charity, after informally fathering a young boy who was sent to Pakistan to study in a radical Islamic school, a Madrasah, by his mother. Mr Garrett, more famously known as Johnny Anglais, became a media sensation this year after his previous employer, Beale High School in London, terminated his contract after discovering he was moonlighting as a stripper.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB Beats Drum for British Business

The Muslim Council of Britain has been busy promoting British entrepreneurs at the Young Entrepreneurship Conference in Istanbul.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has been busy drumming up business for Britain, as the only British organisation represented at an important entrepreneurial conference in Turkey. A joint delegation from the MCB’s Business and Economics and Youth Affairs Committee attended the two-day Young Entrepreneurship Conference entitled ‘Change is Future’ on 9 and 10 December in Istanbul. Joining over 2,000 other delegates from 35 countries, the event was hosted by Young Musiad, Turkey’s foremost independent business lobby bringing together businesses and young entrepreneurs. The two-day congress consisted of special sessions and workshops to help develop and increase the social and economic level of participation from youth. The various sessions focused on change through different channels such as mass communications, non-governmental organisations, youth entrepreneurs and sports organisations. Khalid Sharif, Vice-Chair of the MCB’s Business and Economics Committee, was a member of the panel ‘The Role of Youth Entrepreneurs in Change’ and shared his experience as CEO and founder of Ummah Foods, generating plenty of interest and contributions from the audience. Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB: “This was a great opportunity for British businesses and young entrepreneurs to shine. We are proud of our colleagues’ achievements, whether they be Muslim or not. In these economically dark times, Britain continues to lead the way ahead and as a rising economic power, Turkey is an important ally for us not only economically, but in bridging the gap between East and West.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Makeshift Purley ‘Mosque’ Shut Down by Croyden Council

AN UNAUTHORISED makeshift “mosque” looks set to be shut down by Croydon Council. Worshippers have been using a back room at vacant shop Tip Top TV to pray five times a day during the week, after turning it into a prayer space. But the council says using the premises, in Old Lodge Lane, Purley, as a place of worship breaches planning laws, and that it will soon clamp down on “unauthorised activity”. The makeshift “mosque”, with shoe rack, prayer mats and a 99 Names Of Allah wall chart installed, has also proved controversial with local residents, who say the location is inappropriate. Diane Hearne, chairman of Hartley and District Residents’ Association, said: “It is an unusual location for a mosque, and the objection is that it is on a road where there is not enough parking. “We have had a number of phone calls from people concerned about it because they hadn’t been told anything and wanted to be informed. There should be a planning application so people can have their say. It is not about it being a mosque, it would be the same for any place of worship, because there is not enough parking on that road and so we feel it is not an appropriate location.”

The Advertiser visited the premises on Monday where around seven men, three of whom said they were locals, are using the building for prayers between 6.45am and 8pm. Proprietor Kamran Hussain, who also runs the nearby mini cab office, said: “I suppose it was out of desperation as there were no facilities available to my staff that I opened the space. “I have never openly advertised it as a mosque, I have not employed a priest or Imam and am sorry if it has caused any distress. If the public feel that we should not allow Muslims to privately pray in a private room then with sadness I will explain to my staff that they have to go somewhere which allows them to pray.” A worshipper, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We just come peacefully here and go home peacefully. We come here to pray, nothing more.” Steve Hollands, borough councillor for Kenley, said planning permission would be needed for the men to continue using the shop as a place of worship. Monir Mohammed, 40, a trustee of Purley Islamic Community Centre (PICC), said: “I think it reinforces the need for an Islamic centre in the community, one that is established through the correct channels.” PICC is currently in talks to buy an empty building near the Purley War Memorial Hospital to create such a centre. A council spokesman said: “The council is aware of concerns regarding this address, has investigated the matter and has contacted the occupier of the premises with a view to ceasing any unauthorised activity.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Prince Harry in BlackBerry Mugging Drama: Royal Races to the Rescue in Car as He Hears Friend Being Robbed During Phone Conversation

Prince Harry became embroiled in a real-life crime drama when he came to the rescue of one of his best friends after he was mugged on a London street.

According to police records, the Prince was on the phone to Thomas van Straubenzee at the exact moment a robber took his friend’s BlackBerry mobile.

Harry heard the scuffle taking place and immediately drove to the scene with his protection officer. Fearing 28-year-old Mr van Straubenzee had been hurt, the Prince circled the streets of Battersea, South-West London, looking for him.

When he could not find his friend, he drove to the nearest police station where he found Mr van Straubenzee reporting the crime. Because he had overheard the mugging taking place, Prince Harry was required to give a police statement, which is now part of an ongoing investigation.

Last night, Wandsworth police told The Mail on Sunday that they had arrested a man in connection with the robbery and recovered the stolen mobile phone. The man was released on bail.

It is believed to be the first time a senior Royal has walked into a police station to report a crime.

A police source said: ‘Prince Harry came into the station to give a statement. It was a separate statement from the one given by his friend who was mugged.’

A police spokesman said: ‘Police are investigating an allegation of personal robbery which occurred at approximately 8.30pm on Wednesday, November 30, in Albert Bridge Road, SW11.

‘A mobile phone was taken during the robbery. This allegation was taken seriously, as are all allegations of robbery. A man was arrested on Thursday, December 1 on suspicion of robbery and bailed to return in January pending further inquiries. Police from Wandsworth are investigating.’

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]


Merkel Urges Start of Joint Serb-Kosovo Border Controls

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Pristina and Belgrade to start joint border controls as agreed to quell the unrest in Serb-majority northern Kosovo. “(In northern Kosovo) we need to find smart ways of dealing with each other, joint border controls can be such a way,” Merkel said during a snap visit to the territory to meet prime minister Hashim Thaci and German troops serving with the NATO-led KFOR force there.

“It is important that the joint border controls are implemented,” she said, urging the majority ethnic Albanian goverment in Pristina also to fulfil its obligations under the deal. Two weeks ago EU leaders delayed a decision on whether to grant Serbia candidacy status until March. Germany especially stressed that Belgrade needs to improve its relations with Kosovo before it can become a candidate to join the bloc.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: A Balkan Travelogue

It’s been some years since Tom Fleming and I have indulged in seven-day mad dashes across the Balkans, speaking, lecturing and giving interviews, meeting interesting people over good food and drink. Last week’s tour, which took us to Belgrade and Banja Luka, had the tempo and feel of the old times, but it was on balance a melancholy affair. After two decades of trials and tribulations, Serbia is on what appears to be an irreversible downward spiral.

The dilemma facing the country was summed up by Dr. Fleming [start watching at 0:05:15] at a symposium at Belgrade’s Media Center on December 5. How does a small and weak nation respond to the challenge of a hostile and mighty foreign power which seeks to subjugate it? What is the right balance between defiance and subservience? That dilemma will not be resolved by a party program or by intellectuals writing manifestos. The only way to meet the challenge is to maintain faith and identity… and to procreate. In other words, the solution to Serbia’s woes is not structurally different from the solution to the malaise of some bigger and more important countries on both sides of the Atlantic which are also experiencing moral and cultural decrepitude and demographic decline.

This was inevitably the topic of conversation at a dinner we shared that evening with Dragan Acoviæ, our polyglot friend whose professional and social pursuits make him one of the best informed people in Belgrade.. His assessment was gloomy: the West may be declining, but Serbia’s decline is far swifter. The country may be further fragmented (Vojvodina, Sanjak) well before America finally gives up her imperial pretensions and the European Union disintegrates under the weight of its insoluble contradictions. The cumulative effect of relentless Western hostility over the past two decades, currently on display in northern Kosovo, has taken its toll. Belgrade’s political scene is dominated by a corrupt “pro-European” coalition led by the Democratic Party (DS) of Boris Tadiæ. While it claims to be more patriotic, the leading opposition party—the Serbian National Party (SNS) of Tomislav Nikoliæ—is almost equally enthusiastic about the alleged advantages of joining the EU, and just as ambivalent when it comes to maintaining and defending Serbia’s claim to Kosovo. The Socialists (SPS), opportunistic as ever, are likely to remain in the ruling coalition no matter who forms the government after the next election. The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) of my old friend Vojislav Koštunica and Šešelj’s Radicals (SRS) may get a third of the vote between them but are more or less certain to remain in the opposition.

On Tuesday, December 6, we attended an international conference on World War I in the Balkans which was jointly organized by the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade and the Russian World Institute in Moscow. The opening, at the ornate Senate Room of the National Assembly, was a major affair attended by government ministers and by the Russian Ambassador, Aleksandr Konuzin, who was to host a large reception at the Embassy in the evening. The following day, however, it transpired the conference itself was practically ignored by the Belgrade media. According to one of the organizers, editors received a discrete signal from on high that appearing too chummy with the Russians was not a good idea on the eve of the much anticipated EU decision on Serbia’s application for candidate status.

In the event Brussels said “no,” as expected, and Mr. Tadiæ pretended to be surprised…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Cyprus to Host an EU-Arab League Informal Meeting

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, DECEMBER 19 — Cyprus is planning to host an Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs with their Arab League counterparts, during the Cypriot EU presidency at the 2nd half of 2012, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Markoullis has said. Addressing a seminar on Thursday at the University of Cyprus on Cyprus, Europe and the Middle East, Markoullis noted that the Cyprus EU presidency is a very important opportunity to further consolidate and deepen Cyprus’ role in the region as an honest and impartial EU link with the Arab countries. “Right now we are planning to host an Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs with their Arab League counterparts, a meeting which will be extremely useful”, she said as reported by CNA. Markoullis pointed out that organizing such a meeting is of great importance. Such a ministerial forum will aim to review political changes after the “Arab Spring”, as well as the effect it has had on Europe, she added. She further said that High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby have both expressed to her their strong support and wish that this initiative takes shape.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EuroMed: Economic Governance, Challenge for Arab Transitions

Interview with Andreu Bassols, director of IEMed

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 16 — “The economic governance of the Arab Spring countries is a real challenge, because it is a crucial element for the democratic durability of a good government.” This is how Andreu Bassols, general director of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), summarised the topics discussed yesterday and today in the Pedralbes building in Barcelona by experts and representatives of research centres in the forum: ‘What form of economic governance for the Arab transitions’. The event is organised by IEMed, the Union for the Mediterranean, in collaboration with the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the programme for investments in the Middle East and the Maghreb of the COED. It is part of the ‘Promoting Mutual Awareness, Understanding and Cooperation between the European Union and the European Neighbourhood Region’ programme and is co-funded by the EU through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

“Economic reforms and system sustainability are the two pillars on which the progress of countries in North Africa and the Middle East, where a transition is in progress, is resting,” Bassols explained. From the development of professionalised institutions and new systems of public administration to the redefinition of the role of central banks, from macro-economic policies that guarantee free competition and stimulate the creation of jobs to the role of Europe and the international institutions and the need for a Marshall plan for the Mediterranean. “What is on the table is more than a Marshall plan, it is an aid package developed by the partners of the Deanville partnership, formed during the last G8 summit, to give economic support to the Arab Spring in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Jordan,” the director of IEMed continued. An economic agenda that will allow reformed governments “to respond to the desire of their people for strong and all-inclusive growth,” as the final statement of Deanville reads.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Fresh Clashes in Tahrir Square, Two Dead

Elections, another Islamist victory in second round

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — Two protestors have died in clashes with Egyptian security forces which broke out this morning in Tahrir Square, according to on location sources. The two protestors reportedly died of tear gas inhalation after security forces entered the square and launched tear gas to clear out a few hundred people gathered in several different points, where they had spent the night. According to news via Twitter, on the other hand, the two had been shot in the head.

At the moment it is impossible to verify the reliability of the news.

Meanwhile the Islamists have won yet another victory in the second round of parliamentary elections, in which — according to the initial estimates of the electoral committee — turnout stood at about 68.5%. The Muslim Brotherhood estimates that their Freedom and Justice Party has racked up 40% of votes, followed by the Salafis of the Al Nour party with 35%. If the figures from the December 15-16 elections in the second group of governorates are confirmed, the Islamist bloc will have taken 75% of votes against a backdrop of clashes which continued even yesterday despite a few attempts at a truce. On the contrary — a fight almost broke out amid the remains of the tents burnt to the ground by the military between exasperated protestors in the third day of a “cat and mouse” battle with soldiers and police and a delegation of politicians and activists who wanted to propose mediation to put an end to the clashes in which at least 10 have died and 500 have been injured.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Kuwait is Experiencing Its Own Arab Spring

Protest from classrooms to streets, for reforms not overthrow

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI — Kuwait’s version of the Arab Spring is less violent, less noisy and has a character of its own. Events in the country have not made international headlines but a “historic” shift has been achieved in recent weeks with the overthrow of Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, a prominent member of the royal family and the first and only Prime Minister that the oil-rich Emirate has known in its recent democratic history.

After six years of uninterrupted power at the head of seven different governments, the PM was forced to bow to the age-old stand-off between Parliament on one side, and growing pressure from civilians on the other. For the first time, he was not re-elected in his role. With Parliament dissolved and a new Prime Minister appointed, the country is now awaiting a royal decree, expected on Sunday, which will sanction legislative elections for February 2.

“Kuwait finds itself in the middle of its own particular Arab Spring, which has the aim of strengthening its democracy,” says the director of the department of political science at Kuwait University, Abdullah al-Shayji. “The Prime Minister was eventually forced to give in to popular pressure, boosted by determined opposition and a growing youth movement,” he explains.

Although the concept of applied democracy in Kuwait bears no resemblance to that of the West, the emirate remains one of the first oil monarchies to introduce a Constitution, a Parliament and to allow women the right to vote.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Clashes Between Palestinian Factions in Refugee Camp

Two Fatah militants killed

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, 19 December — The tension is up at red alert level in Ain al Hilweh, the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, due to clashes between militants of Al Fatah and the Islamic fundamentalist group Fatah al-Islam.

The Beirut press reports that two bodyguards of Fatah’s military commander in field, Mahmoud Issa, were killed in attacks carried out by unknown assailants on Wednesday and Sunday. The second attack, which took place in the fruit and vegetable market, also injured a Lebanese civilian and four Palestinians, including a six-year-old. Until late last night patrols from the two sides faced off in the camp, inhabited by tens of thousands of refugees.

Mahmoud Issa, speaking to Al Jadid TV, accused Fatah al-Islam of being responsible for the two assassinations, but the fundamentalist group’s spokesman in the camp, Haitham Shaabi, told the Daily Star newspaper that Fatah al-Islam had nothing to do with the attacks. Meanwhile, many families have left the camp due to fear that these incidents could lead to open battle between the Palestinian factions, while the Lebanese army has set up a security cordon around the camp, preventing access.

An agreement signed in Cairo in 1969 with the government Lebanese, recognised the right of Palestinian factions to keep their weapons in Lebanon’s 12 refugee camps.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Qatar Embraces Wahhabism to Strengthen Regional Influence

Qatari Emir inaugurates ‘Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab’ Mosque in Doha, vows to spread ‘teachings of Islam in whole world’.

DOHA — Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani inaugurated on Friday the “Imam Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab” Mosque in Doha. During the opening, Sheikh Hamad reaffirmed his commitment to spare no efforts to carry the message and spread the teachings of Islam in the whole world, noting that the Muslim nation is now in need of renewal and inspiration of the experience of Wahhab’s da’wah (call) while keeping pace with the era and its developments. The inauguration started with a recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an followed by the screening of a documentary on the mosque. Ibn Abdul Wahab (1703-1792) preached a return to “pure Islam” and called for purging Islam of what he considered “impurities and negative innovations.” In his teachings, he urged Muslims to uphold only “the original principles of Islam as typified by the Salaf” and to reject “corruptions introduced by bidah (negative innovations and heresy). The scholar emphasized that there could be no intercession between God and worshippers.

Located in the Jubailat district of Doha the newly-built State Mosque will be formally opened for prayers on Friday. Situated on the northern side in the central part of Doha city, it overlooks the Qatar Sports Club. The mosque covers a total area of 175,164 sq.m. As many as 11,000 men can offer prayers in the air-conditioned central hall of the mosque and the adjacent special enclosure is spacious enough for 1200 women. Ideologically, in recent years Qatar, which like Saudi Arabia is Wahhabi, has assisted Islamic movements in the Arab world. Islamists, of course, have proved to be major players so far, and with influential clerics such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi theologising for years on al-Jazeera’s screens, Qatar has since long had a direct channel to most Islamist parties in the region. Rather than imposing an Islamist agenda on the region, as some have accused it, Qatar is taking advantage of the clout it has built with them over the years to position itself as a leading interlocutor. Equally at ease with Islamist and secular parties, with liberals and conservatives, Qatar is reaping what it sowed and patiently nurtured years ago, giving it enough political capital on top of its formidable wealth to influence the region.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey Business Leaders Warn France Over Genocide Bill

Turkish business leaders warned France on Sunday that its adoption of a law criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide would have devastating consequences for trade ties. “If this bill is passed, it will cause serious damage to economic and trade ties,” Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the head of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), told AFP.

If French lawmakers pass the bill on Thursday, there was a risk of Turks boycotting French products to the detriment of the 960 French firms based in Turkey. “It is unthinkable for TOBB to initiate such a movement, French companies are among our members and we also protect their interests … But Turkey’s population is young and boycott calls could surface on social networks,” Hisarciklioglu said.

According to official figures, bilateral trade soared by 17 percent in 2010 to reach €11.6 billion euros ($15.1 billion). Boycott calls were issued when the French parliament first passed a law to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2001. The movement was poorly heeded but French firms were snubbed for several major state tenders.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Russian Court Mulling Ban on “Extremist” Holy Book That Incites to Violence: The Bhagavad Gita

With Chechnya and the Caucasus always simmering with jihad, and Beslan, and jihad attacks and plots in Moscow and everywhere, Russian authorities are waking up to the possibility that religious texts can incite people to violence. And so they’re considering banning…the Bhagavad Gita. No kidding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Rocket Launches Powerful Nigerian Satellite Into Orbit

China launched a massive Nigerian communications satellite Monday to link Africans with television programming, education services and navigation signals. Manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology, the Nigcomsat 1R satellite will replace a craft that lost power and failed in November 2008, less than 18 months after its launch on a Chinese rocket. Nigcomsat Ltd., a company chartered by the Nigerian government, will operate the satellite for up to 15 years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Death of a Dictator: Kim’s Youngest Son to Become ‘Great Successor’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has died of a heart attack and his son Kim Jong Un is set to take the helm, according to state media. But who is the young man dubbed the “Great Successor” and how will he lead the reclusive nation?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Foreign Workers Squeezed by New Chinese Law

Paying half their wages into social security — since autumn that’s been the harsh reality for the 230,000 foreigners working in China, many already taxed at home.

Swiss expats and business representatives are by and large unhappy with the situation and have appealed to Bern for help.

Forced to pay unemployment insurance? Fair enough. But according to Chinese law, foreigners who lose their job have to leave the country. Medical cover? Great, but that’s only for public hospitals, into which foreigners rarely venture.

A pension fund? Good idea, but when foreign workers retire, they are asked to return home. Maternity benefit? OK, but what happens if you have a second or third child in a country with a one-child policy?

These are some of the unanswered questions raised by China’s new social security law.

Since October 15, every foreigner with a permit to work in China is supposed to pay tax.

The sum can be up to 50 per cent of their salary, of which three-quarters is paid by the employer and one quarter by the employee.


“If I have to pay anything, I’m going to resign and leave China,” said one Swiss in Beijing who works for a Swiss employer.

Like the vast majority of his expatriate colleagues, he remains connected to the Swiss system and would thus be taxed twice. Many people think this is unacceptable.

“You work in China — so adapt to Chinese laws.” This was the response of Xu Yanjun, head of the Chinese ministry for human resources and social security, at a media conference at the end of October.

He had called the gathering to try to explain the contradictions of the new law. In fact, all he succeeded in doing was adding to the confusion, admitting that modes of enforcement had yet to be established.

By mid-December, people still don’t know how much, where and how to pay.

The only certainty — hammered out by Xu — is that the law is in force.

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

Satellite Image Shows Kim Jong Il’s Dark Legacy

The world’s most secretive country is also one of its darkest. This satellite image shows night in North Korea. The capital Pyongyang, near the western coast, is one of the only places in the country with electricity. At the top of the picture, the illuminations show cities in China. At the bottom right, Kyushu and the southern islands of Japan.

The bright line in the middle of the peninsula marks the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, and the southern capital, Seoul, is the blaze of white just across the border. Night-time luminosity is thought to correlate with economic prosperity, by which measure North Korea is practically penniless.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Psychology of Dictatorship: Kim Jong-Il

As long as there have been political dictators, psychologists have been fascinated with them. While many psychologists try to understand what happens in normal, rational people that leads them to follow such clearly dangerous leaders, some psychologists have been more interested in characterizing the personality profiles of dictators themselves. After all, who hasn’t attempted an armchair psychiatric diagnosis of a famous personality?

In 1939, Carl Jung met Hitler and Mussolini in Berlin and observed their interactions. Personality psychologists Coolidge and Segal from the University of Colorado write that “Jung said Hitler never laughed, and it appeared as if Hitler was sulking and in a bad mood. Jung viewed him as sexless and inhuman, with a singleness of purpose: to establish the Third Reich, a mystical all-powerful German nation, which would overcome all of Hitler’s perceived threats and previous insults in Germany’s history.” Hitler inspired in Jung only fear. By contrast, Mussolini apparently came off to Jung as an “original man,” who had “warmth and energy.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Yeti Crab Grows Its Own Food

Deep-sea species farms bacteria on its own claws.

In the deep ocean off the coast of Costa Rica, scientists have found a species of crab that cultivates gardens of bacteria on its claws, then eats them. The yeti crab — so-called because of the hair-like bristles that cover its arms — is only the second of its family to be discovered. The first — an even hairier species called Kiwa hirsuta — was found in 2005 near Easter Island.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

New ‘Mythbuster’ Website to Fight Racism in Sweden

The Swedish government has launched a new website to combat the proliferation of inaccurate and racist myths about minorities and immigrants in Sweden. “Extremism has found a new forum which is also very effective when it comes to spreading myths and prejudice,” integration minister Erik Ullenhag of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) writes in an opinion piece published Monday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Ullenhag cites a report issued earlier in the year by the Forum for Living History (Forum för levande historia) which found there had been a dramatic increase in the number of racist websites in Sweden in recent years. While racism is hardly a new phenomenon, writes Ullenhag, racist myths and stereotypes have found a new foothold on the web, and must be addressed there. “Prejudice will be met with the facts that exist,” he writes. The new site,, attempts to debunk a number of “common internet myths about immigrants and minorities”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Discover Interview: The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky

For centuries experts held that every language is unique. Then one day in 1956, a young linguistics professor gave a legendary presentation at the Symposium on Information Theory at MIT. He argued that every intelligible sentence conforms not only to the rules of its particular language but to a universal grammar that encompasses all languages. And rather than absorbing language from the environment and learning to communicate by imitation, children are born with the innate capacity to master language, a power imbued in our species by evolution itself. Almost overnight, linguists’ thinking began to shift.

Avram Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928, to William Chomsky, a Hebrew scholar, and Elsie Simonofsky Chomsky, also a scholar and an author of children’s books. While still a youngster, Noam read his father’s manuscript on medieval Hebrew grammar, setting the stage for his work to come. By 1955 he was teaching linguistics at MIT, where he formulated his groundbreaking theories. Today Chomsky continues to challenge the way we perceive ourselves. Language is “the core of our being,” he says. “We are always immersed in it. It takes a strong act of will to try not to talk to yourself when you’re walking down the street, because it’s just always going on.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]