Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120224

Financial Crisis
»Brussels to Talk With Spain on New Budget Deficit Target
»China Links EU Trade Probe With Eurozone Debt Help
»Draghi Says European Social Model is Gone
»Dutch Economy to Shrink 0.9% This Year, Says Brussels
»EU Team Soon in Portugal for Youth Unemployment
»Eurozone Faces Recession Throughout 2012
»German Budget Deficit Plunges to 1 Percent of GDP
»Italy: Spread Ends on 366 Points, Yield 5.54%
»S.&P. 500 Index Closes at Highest Level Since June 2008
»Southern Euro-Countries Worst Hit by Recession
»Atheist Gets Trial by Quasi-Sharia From American Muslim Judge
»Charges Dismissed in Pennsylvania Prosecution for Attack on “Zombie Mohammed” Atheist Parader
»Chinese Cyberwarfare Prep
»Cops: Dad Hit Son for Not Watching Obama
»Secret Mission Underway to Bring Home Odyssey Coins
»Welcome to the First Annual Celebrity Religion Swap
Europe and the EU
»Danish Legal Experts: No Referendum on Fiscal Treaty Needed
»Denmark: Ministry: Teach Turkish? Show us the Money
»Denmark: No Referendum on Joining EU Fiscal Union
»Doctors Fear Dutch Prince May Never Wake Up
»Fiat May Need to Close Two Plants in Italy, Says Marchionne
»France: “Ministry of Suburb” Created From the Bottom
»French Muslims Demand Gov’t Protection
»Germany: Cut in Solar Power Support Sparks Row
»Germany: Bibliophile Bureaucrat Banged Up for Book Burglary
»Germany: Placement Service a Boon for People With Asperger’s
»Germany: ‘The Shame Must Continue to Burn in Our Hearts’
»German-Iranian Friction Boosts Bratwurst Prices
»Global Opposition Grows Against EU Emissions Law
»Italy: 60 Tenants of Padua Housing Estate ‘Dodged Taxes’
»Merkel’s Switch to Renewables: Rising Energy Prices Endanger German Industry
»Netherlands: Outdoor Ice Leads to 13,000 Skating Injuries, Mostly Broken Bones
»New Baby Makes Swedes Mad for ‘Princess Cake’
»Norway: Feminist Funding Woes Mount for Minister
»Progress on Plans for Galway Che Guevara Monument
»Rehn in War of Words With True Finns Leader
»Spain: Discovering Cordoba in Andalucia
»Spain: Paki Refugee Calls for Koran to be Banned
»Sweden: ‘Her Name is Estelle’: King Carl XVI Gustaf
»Switzerland: Youngsters Deaf to Town’s Beethoven Tactics
»UK: Girl: Sex Gang Raped Me at 15 . I Got Vodka and £20 Hush Money
»UK: John Hayes Displays His Passion for Apprenticeships in the House Magazine While Referring to St Augustine …
»UK: John Hayes: Leader of the Little Platoons
»UK: Mob of 200 Youths Pelt Police With Bricks and Smash Up Shops ‘In Anger at On-Going Sex Grooming Trial’
»UK: Police Attacked by 200 Youths in Rochdale as Sex-Gang Are Trialled
»UK: Patrols Stepped Up After Attacks
»UK: Ugly One: Master, Tiger: The Sex Gang Accused of Grooming Underage Girls
Mediterranean Union
»EU-Jordan: Aid Package 2011-2013 Up to 2.2 Bln
Israel and the Palestinians
»FCO Bans Israel-Gibraltar Friendship Stamp
»Several Police Hurt by Rioters at Temple Mount
Middle East
»Fresh Concerns About Iran’s Nuclear Programme
»Kuwait: A New Islamic Parliamentary Group: “Stop to the New Churches, Yes to Sharia”
»Middle East Risks Becoming a ‘Giant Failed State’
»New Parliamentary Bloc in Kuwait Seeks Sharia Rule
»Syria Gets Complicated
»The Free Syrian Army Front: Deserters Battle Assad From Turkey
»‘I, Putin’: An Inside Look at Russia’s Aging, Lonely Leader
South Asia
»Germans Ditch Afghan Base After Koran Burning
»Over 10 Percent of Indian Food Fails the Safety Test
Far East
»Fleeing the People’s Paradise: Successful Chinese Emigrating to West in Droves
»France, China Can Learn From Fukushima: Minister
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Norway to Support Stabilisation in Somalia
»Protest in Nairobi as Kenya Deports Muslim Scholar
Latin America
»Collapse of Mayan Civilization Traced to Dry Spells
»Britain Lets in 593,000 Immigrants in a Year
»Italy Slammed by Court Over Forced Return of Migrants to Libya
»Italy Told Not to Send Back Intercepted Refugees
»Nomad Alien Planets May Fill Our Milky Way Galaxy

Financial Crisis

Brussels to Talk With Spain on New Budget Deficit Target

After acknowledging the Spanish economy would slip back into recession this year, the European Commission on Thursday left the door open to easing the country’s deficit target for 2012. The EC expects the Spanish economy to contract one percent this year, but warned that the outlook could worsen due to the need for further austerity measures.

“Taking into account additional fiscal measures in the forthcoming budget may significantly change the picture,” the EC said in its interim report on the growth prospects for European Union member countries. Spain wants to run a deficit for this year of slightly over five percent of GDP, compared with the target previously agreed with Brussels of 4.4 percent.

At a news conference to present the report, the European commissioner for economic affairs, Olli Rehn, said that once the EU statistics office has released its public deficit estimates in April, “We (will) work with the Spanish authorities and decisions will be taken once we have a full picture.

“I expect the Spanish authorities to share all relevant information on the outcome of last year’s budget, and the reasons for fiscal slippages, as well as their preparations for the budget for this year in order to ensure the structural sustainability of public finances in Spain, in line with the stability and growth pact,” Rehn added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Links EU Trade Probe With Eurozone Debt Help

China said Thursday a European investigation into imports of Chinese-made specialised steel products would “undermine” efforts to combat the eurozone crisis. The European Commission has launched an anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigation into coated sheet steel products, widely used in the building industry, after complaints Chinese imports were hurting European manufacturers.

At the same time, European leaders have sought contributions from Beijing to the eurozone’s bailout fund. China’s commerce ministry expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” at the steel investigation and said it would send the “wrong signal to the world of trade protectionism”, according to a statement on its website.

The probe “not only casts a shadow over China-EU steel trade, but it would also undermine the joint efforts of China and Europe to deal with the crisis”, the statement said.

China and Europe have locked horns over a range of trade issues in recent years, including metal fasteners, potato starch and modems, but this appears to be the first time they have linked a trade spat to its debt crisis assistance. European leaders last year approached China, which holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves, to invest in a bail-out fund to rescue debt-stricken states.

Chinese leaders said last week they were considering using Europe’s bail-out funds to help address the continent’s fiscal woes, but stopped short of saying how the Asian power might be prepared to contribute.

Chinese companies, meanwhile, have been ramping up investment in Europe, buying utilities, energy firms and even luxury yacht makers, raising concerns that Beijing could gain too much influence over debt-laden economies.

Premier Wen Jiabao responded to these worries earlier this month saying China had neither the ability nor the intention to “buy Europe”. But the remarks by the commerce ministry suggest Beijing may try to leverage its help in the debt crisis to silence critics of its trade policies.

Europe, along with the United States, has repeatedly criticised China over a range of issues including the value of its currency and restrictions on exports of rare earths, vital in the manufacturing of many high-tech products.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Draghi Says European Social Model is Gone

Mario Draghi, ECB president, has said there is no escape from tough austerity measures and that Europe’s social model has gone. “The European social model has already gone when we see the youth unemployment rates prevailing in some countries”, he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch Economy to Shrink 0.9% This Year, Says Brussels

The Dutch economy will shrink 0.9% this year, according to European Commission forecasts published on Thursday. Brussels is more pessimistic than the Netherlands’ own statistics agency, which puts the contraction at 0.5% in its most recent forecasts. The Commission says the EU economy as a whole will contract by 0.3% and the economies of nine EU member states will shrink. Greece will perform worst, with a contraction of 4.4%, followed by Portugal (3.3%), Italy (1.3%), Spain (1%) and then the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Team Soon in Portugal for Youth Unemployment

Teams of experts to relaunch use of structural funds

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 23 — A team of EU experts will be travelling to Portugal to help the country deal with its unemployment problem, particularly serious among young people.

Joblessness in this group has reached 35.4%. The goal of the task force is to assist the country with the investment of the still unused 14% of European structural funds in short-term measures aimed at boosting youth employment and organising internships. The widespread joblessness among young people in Portugal is mainly caused by market segmentation, low education levels and a high percentage of long-term unemployment in this group. The economic crisis has hit the country hard, making the structural problems worse. The EU experts will also hold talks with local authorities about stimulating small and medium-sized enterprise, the driving force of growth and the creation of jobs. The new initiative joins the creation of an EU support group for Portugal last autumn, re-launching the implementation of reforms started in the EU-IMF programme to assist Portugal’s economic revival. During the next EU-27 summit on March 1, the President of the European Commission, Jose’ Manuel Barroso, will inform the member states of the initiative and of similar task forces that have been sent to Italy, Spain and five other countries that have the highest unemployment rates in the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Faces Recession Throughout 2012

More bad news hit the eurozone on Thursday as EU data predicted recession throughout 2012, with a 0.3-percent contraction compared to 0.5-percent growth and a likely downturn in the previous November forecast. “The unexpected stalling of the recovery in late 2011 is set to extend into the first two quarters of 2012,” the European Commission said on Thursday. But it stressed that it still saw a “mild recession with signs of stabilisation.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Budget Deficit Plunges to 1 Percent of GDP

After violating European Union deficit rules in recent years, Germany’s budget shortfall in 2011 plunged to just 1 percent of gross domestic product, well below the 3 percent limit. The economic outlook for 2012 may be improving as well.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Spread Ends on 366 Points, Yield 5.54%

Milan bourse 1.48% down

(ANSA) — Rome, February 23 — The spread between 10-year Italian and German bonds rose to 366 points by the close of trading Thursday from Wednesday’s close of 362.

Analysts said skepticism over possible snags in the future implementation of Greece’s bailout deal might keep the spread above the psychologically important 350-point mark at least until the end of the week.

The yield, another measure of market sentiment, edged up to 5.54%.

The Milan bourse closed 1.48% down as banking stocks weakened

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

S.&P. 500 Index Closes at Highest Level Since June 2008

The Standard & Poor’s 500-share index on Friday finished at its highest point since 2008, extending a climb that began in November.

But in a generally lackluster trading day, the Dow Jones industrial average ended the day flat, failing again to close above 13,000 points. The Nasdaq ended 0.2 percent higher.

The S.&.P. closed at about 1,365 points. The last time it was higher was in June 2008, before the worst of the financial crisis.

[Return to headlines]

Southern Euro-Countries Worst Hit by Recession

BRUSSELS — The EU economy is expected to grind to a halt in the 27 member states and to contract by an average of 0.3 percent of the eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP), with recession hitting Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain worst, fresh EU forecasts for this year show. “Compared to November, the prospects have worsened. Risks to growth outlook remain, but there are signs of stabilisation,” EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn said Thursday (23 February) when presenting the forecast of what he called a “mild recession.”

The revision in just three months’ time from growth of 0.8 percent of GDP in the eurozone to recession of 0.3 percent of GDP was mainly due to a drop in global trade, weak consumption and “fragile” financial markets. Inflation is also up compared to the autumn forecasts — due to a hike in oil prices and an increase in “indirect taxes”.

The worst-hit countries are Greece, with a recession of 4.4 percent of GDP in 2012, but also Portugal (3.3%), Italy (1.3%) and Spain (1%) — signalling that the austerity reforms used to stem the euro-crisis are making a big dent in the economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Atheist Gets Trial by Quasi-Sharia From American Muslim Judge

Via lujlp, American Atheists is reporting that an American citizen was attacked by a Muslim immigrant, and the Muslim-American judge threw out the case and blamed the victim, an Iraq veteran, for being attacked, and said he would have been put to death in a Muslim country: [clip]

You don’t have the right to not be offended — well, not so long as you’re living under the Constitution instead of Sharia law. The police officer who testified said that the Muslim man admitted to grabbing Pierce’s sign and beard on the night of the incident. Here, Judge Mark Martin scolds victim who insulted Islam (after a brief bit about freedom of religion in America): [clip]


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Charges Dismissed in Pennsylvania Prosecution for Attack on “Zombie Mohammed” Atheist Parader

by Eugene Volokh reports on this case, in which Talaag Elbayomy was accused of attacking a man who was marching in a Halloween parade (alongside a “zombie Pope”), and shouting “I am the prophet Mohammed, zombie from the dead” [UPDATE: and apparently carrying a sign that said “Muhammed of Islam” on one side and “only Muhammed can rape America”]. UPDATE: The video from the parade is here.

The judge concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Elbayomy of the crime, and it’s possible that there was indeed inadequate evidence. A police officer reports that Elbayomy had admitted that he grabbed the parader and tried to grab his sign; but it’s possible that the judge found this evidence to not be credible enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, it appears that Elbayomy was prosecuted for criminal harassment, which requires an “intent to harass, annoy, or alarm,” and a mere physical attack with an attempt to grab a sign might or might not qualify, see the pen-grabbing discussion in this case. The acquittal itself might thus be justified, depending on exactly what evidence was introduced.

But the worrying thing is what the judge (Mark Martin) seems to have said at the trial, based on what appears to be a recording of the hearing: The judge — who stated that he (the judge) was himself a Muslim and found the speech to be offensive — spent a good deal of time berating the victim for what the judge saw as the victim’s offensive and blasphemous speech, which seems to raise a serious question about whether the judge’s acquittal of the defendant was actually partly caused by the judge’s disapproval of the victim. Consider, for instance, this statement, at 31:15:…

           — Hat tip: HB[Return to headlines]

Chinese Cyberwarfare Prep

By Bill Gertz

Chinese cyberattacks and electronic intrusions into U.S. computer networks in peacetime are part of the preparations for a future high-technology war against the United States, according to the U.S. Pacific Command’s new commander.

China’s military also plans to disrupt U.S. military and civilian computer networks by attacking satellites in space, as well as ground-based networks, according to Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, who was confirmed by the Senate last week to be the next commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Adm. Locklear wrote in answers to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee that cyberwarfare preparations by China’s People’s Liberation Army include “building capability to target U.S. military space-based assets and computer networks using network and electronic warfare.”

“The development of these wartime capabilities are the motivation for China’s efforts at peacetime penetration of U.S. government and industry computer systems,” the four-star admiral said.

“The theft of U.S. information and intellectual property is attractive as a low-cost research and development tool for China’s defense industry, and provides insight into potential U.S. vulnerabilities.”

It was the first time a senior military officer revealed China’s military would conduct cyberattacks to disrupt or disable space systems used by the U.S. for strategic warfighting. Satellites are used by the military for numerous functions, from communicating with forces to guiding missiles and gathering intelligence.

“Overall, China’s development in the cyber realm, combined with its other anti-access/area denial capabilities, imposes significant potential risk on U.S. military activities,” Adm. Locklear said.

Adm. Locklear’s comments Feb. 9 were a rare public admission of what U.S. security officials have been saying privately for years. That is, China is engaged in pervasive warfare preparation against the United States through a combination of cyber and traditional military development.

Security officials said the Chinese goal for cyberoperations is twofold. The intrusions for more than a decade were successful in stealing valuable information useful for intelligence and economic benefit.

A more nefarious objective for the Chinese military’s cyberwarriors is the planting of electronic “sleeper agents” — difficult to detect software that rarely communicates with China but can be activated to sabotage the U.S. military during a crisis…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Cops: Dad Hit Son for Not Watching Obama

STAMFORD — A North Stamford father trying to make his pre-teenaged son listen to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last month was arrested on a warrant Wednesday and accused of striking his son with a coffee mug when the youth would not pay attention.

Mohamed Shohan, 49, of 55 Mather Road, Stamford, was charged with third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and risk of injury to a child. He was released after posting $5,000 bond and will be arraigned on the charges at state Superior Court in Stamford Thursday.

Youth Bureau Sgt. Joseph Kennedy said police were made aware of the assault Jan. 27 when the youth was brought to Stamford Hospital for treatment of an injury to his face. When police interviewed the 11-year-old boy, he told them the two sat down at home to watch the address the day after his father recorded it, Kennedy said.

When the boy kept acting out, the father lost his temper and grabbed a coffee mug his son was holding and hit him in the face with it, causing a bruise to the bridge of his nose, it is alleged.

When interviewed, Shohan could not explain how his son was injured, police said. Police then obtained an arrest warrant for Shohan.

“The father ended up overreacting quite a bit,” Kennedy said.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]

Secret Mission Underway to Bring Home Odyssey Coins

An operation to transport an estimated half-a-billion dollars in silver and gold coins is expected to take place as early as Friday night, when US military and government officials will secure some 100 miles of southern Florida highway to ensure the Odyssey treasure makes it safely on board two Spanish cargo jets waiting at a Tampa air force base.

Spanish archeological experts were expected late Thursday to complete their inventory of the estimated 594,000 ancient coins and other artifacts that shipwreck hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration plucked in 2007 from the remains of the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, sunk in 1804 by the British navy off the coast of Portugal.

At press time, more than 70 percent of the 17-ton cargo, which is being stored at a secret warehouse in Sarasota, had been inspected by scientists from the National Museum of Archaeology and National Museum of Underwater Archaeology, who arrived earlier this week.

Last-minute attempts to keep Spain from repatriating the treasure were still being made before the US Supreme Court. This time, the government of Peru filed a “recall” request of the trove before the justices in Washington late Tuesday. Peru has long argued that because the coins were minted in the former Spanish colony, it is the rightful owner of the currency. The Supreme Court has already denied two emergency petitions by Odyssey and a descendant of one of the military officers on board La Mercedes to prevent Spain from getting the coins.

A federal court in Tampa, which in 2009 originally awarded Spain possession of the treasure, has ordered the US Marshals Service to accompany the coins and other artifacts from the Sarasota warehouse to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where two Hercules C-130 transport planes arrived Thursday to take the treasure home. The entire operation is shrouded in secrecy, but government officials have said they want to get the treasure out of the country as fast as they can.

“The US Air Force has an excellent relationship with the Spanish Air Force and is working closely with them to ensure a safe and secure mission,” said a brief statement issued by MacDill. The court gave Spain a three-day period, which ended Thursday, to inspect the treasure to ensure everything was in order before it could take the coins home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Welcome to the First Annual Celebrity Religion Swap

by Wajahat Ali

Muslims worldwide groaned upon hearing the news that Oliver Stone’s son, Sean, converted to Islam while filming a documentary in Iran. Although we — the collective 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide — assume Sean Stone is a fine, upstanding man and sincerely wish him spiritual contentment, we earnestly ask Allah why Islam only attracts controversial celebs (in this case, the son of a controversial celeb) who further tarnish our already toxic brand name? We plead to the heavens for an answer as to why he converted in Iran, of all places, which is currently the most feared and loathed country in America and about as popular as herpes. We have patiently endured, oh, Allah. We miraculously survived Mike Tyson, who converted to Islam while incarcerated, and then angrily threatened Lennox Lewis in an infamous interview: “I want your heart. I will eat his children. Praise be to Allah.”


Islam has the lowest favorability rating of any religion in America. If Islam were a world economy, it would be Greece. If it were a professional athlete, it would be San Francisco 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams, who muffed two critical punts, which helped the New York Giants reach the Super Bowl. If Islam went to the prom, it would be the ugly girl with freckles and an overbite standing in the corner with a bucket of pig’s blood teetering precariously over its head. If Islam were a Republican presidential candidate, it would be Newt Gingrich.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Danish Legal Experts: No Referendum on Fiscal Treaty Needed

Legal experts in the Danish justice ministry on Wednesday concluded that Denmark’s parliament is legally on safe ground when ratifying the EU’s fiscal treaty without consulting the people in a referendum. The new treaty does not lead to any loss of national sovereignty, the experts said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Ministry: Teach Turkish? Show us the Money

Educators and politicians debate whether offering students Turkish as a foreign language is bad for integration or good for business

A school’s application to offer the foreign language of Denmark’s largest immigrant group as part of its core curriculum has spurred a debate over culture versus capitalism. A majority of the students at Københavns Private Gymnasium (KPG) have Turkish roots and a strong interest in improving their ability to speak, read and write Turkish. That is a good enough reason, according Crilles Bacher, KPG’s headmaster, to offer it as an official second foreign language — not just an elective course, as it is now offered. But first KPG needs a special dispensation from the Education Ministry — and the ministry has declined their request, reports

To be approved as an official second foreign language, a language must contribute to Denmark’s economic growth, according to the Education Ministry. The education minister, Christine Antorini (Socialdemokraterne), said that KPG failed to show that Turkish meets that requirement.

“Maybe Turkey is an important country for Danish trade, but that’s not something we took a position on in this case. The only judgment we made was about the argument the high school made in its application. They argued that they wanted to help their students improve their Turkish. But we don’t offer special dispensations just because there are lots of students of a certain nationality who want to learn how to speak their own language,” Antorini said.

The foreign languages approved by the Education Ministry to fulfill Danish high school students’ second foreign language requirement are German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. English is the obligatory first foreign language for all.

Several schools have received special dispensations to offer Chinese and Japanese as second foreign languages, on the grounds that they are significant to Denmark’s economic growth.

Meanwhile, Turkish immigrants and their descendants are, by far, Denmark’s largest ethnic minority group. Numbering almost 60,000 in 2010, they account for nearly eleven percent of all immigrants — twice the amount of the next largest immigrant group, Germans.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: No Referendum on Joining EU Fiscal Union

Despite the opposition of three political parties, the Justice Ministry finds that the fiscal compact treaty does not affect Danish sovereignty and therefore does not require a referendum

A referendum will not be necessary for Denmark to sign the EU fiscal compact treaty after the Justice Ministry found that the treaty neither impinges on Danish sovereignty nor violates the constitution. The finding means that Denmark is free to sign the treaty next week along with all other EU member states except the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, who both pulled out in January.

The treaty is designed to ensure tightened fiscal discipline in European member states in order to avert a future debt crisis similar to the one currently afflicting Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. But three of the nation’s political parties — Enhedslisten (EL), Liberal Alliance (LA) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) — still believe that a referendum is needed before Denmark signs up to the treaty.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl from DF told Ritzau news agency that he was not surprised by the Justice Ministry’s findings. “The conclusion was predetermined,” he said. “We are looking forward to hearing the opinions of lawyers from outside the Justice Ministry on this important question.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Doctors Fear Dutch Prince May Never Wake Up

Members of the medical team treating Dutch Prince Johan Friso in Austria have given their first press statement today (Fri). Trauma surgeon Wolfgang Koller and hospital spokesperson Johannes Schwammberger both expressed their uncertainty that the Prince would ever recover from the injuries sustained in Friday’s avalanche.

According to the pair the heart of the Prince stopped beating for around 50 minutes after he was buried beneath the snow. During this time the 43-year-old’s brain went without oxygen causing, MRI scans have revealed, massive brain damage. Whether the Prince will wake up again is now unclear.

The Prince was skiing with his childhood friend Florian Moosbrugger when the avalanche struck a week ago. The Lech hotel owner Moosbrugger survived thanks to an avalanche airbag but the Prince was buried beneath the snow for almost 23 minutes before his friend could dig him out. The father of two was rushed to hospital in Innsbruck where he has been in a coma ever since.

The Royal family including his wife Mabel and mother Queen Beatrix have been at his side throughout the ordeal and will remain for the foreseeable future in Lech despite a brief trip back to Holland this weekend. The family are currently staying at the Luxury Hotel Gasthof Post belonging to Moosbrugger.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fiat May Need to Close Two Plants in Italy, Says Marchionne

Exports need to offset weak demand in Europe

(ANSA) — Rome, February 24 — Fiat may be forced to shut two of its five plants in Italy if it cannot use them to produce cars to export to the American market at a competitive cost, the company’s CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Friday.

In an interview published in daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Marchionne predicted that the demand for automobiles in Europe would remain low for at least the next two years but added that Fiat had an opportunity to use its plants in Italy to meet the growing demand in the United States for the vehicles of its partner Chrysler.

Fiat took control of Chrysler after it went into bankruptcy in 2009 and, with Marchionne at the helm of both companies, it has turned Detroit’s third-biggest carmaker around to the point that its plants in the US are operating at full capacity.

So it needs output from its other plants in Canada, Mexico and Italy to meet one third of the demand in the US.

Marchionne said that in order to make exports to the US feasible production costs in Italy needed to become more competitive and this meant ensuring that plants in Italy can be utilized “in full and flexible capacity”.

“(If this is not possible) we will have to withdraw from two of our five operating plants,” he said.

“It is like the situation in the film Sophie’s Choice, when a Nazi tells Sophie she must choose to save one of her two children otherwise both would be killed. “And after making that choice she has to live with its consequences for the rest of her life. I hope I never have to be in that situation”.

In regard to labor relations, Marchionne said that some union leaders in Italy were more interested in politics and “talk too much in the media about Fiat and Marchionne and talk too little with us”.

Since 2009 Fiat has boosted its initial 20% stake in Chrysler to 58.5%, while the remaining 41.5% is held by VEBA, a fund affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, a situation which Marchionne said will soon change.

“Right now we are looking at three options. One, we go public with our stake; two, Fiat buys out VEBA; or three, we merge Fiat and Chrysler which would lead to an automatic listing that would dilute VEBA’s stake as well as that of EXOR (the financial arm of the Agnelli family through which it controls Fiat).

“All I can say now is that the first option is the least probable,” he added.

In the interview Marchionne praised the new Italian government of Premier Mario Monti which he said had “in very little time given the world an image of Italy as a country which is changing. This was an incredible success”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: “Ministry of Suburb” Created From the Bottom

“Suburb crisis should be a priority”. Visit by Hollande

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — The “Ministry of the crisis of the suburbs” has been created in France. Two months ahead of the first round of presidential elections in April and May, a collective of residents from the French suburbs (AC-Lefeu), have moved for 48 hours into a splendid abandoned building in the Marais, a trendy district in central Paris, to launch a highly symbolic initiative aiming to challenge the silence from political circles over conditions in the country’s deprived suburbs and restore the issue to the priorities on the Elysee’s agenda. “We must put the problem of working-class areas back at the centre of debate,” the collective’s chair, Mohamed Mechmache, tells ANSA. “We are here to defend the residents of the banlieues (suburbs), and we must make sure that they are not forgotten. We appeal to all candidates, on the left and on the right, because today no-one seems to want to tackle this issue”.

Mechmache says that the future President will need to work hard to create a “Ministry of the Banlieue”, albeit not a symbolic one, with what he calls “full powers”. Its aim, he says, should be to tackle problems that are rife in the suburbs of French cities, such as employment, schooling, health, housing, the lack of public structures and social assistance. “People talk about the Arab Spring, but if politicians continue to turn a blind eye, we will see a Suburb Spring,” ads Mohamed Tiba, another member of the AC-Lefeu collective, an organisation founded after the riots that set French suburbs ablaze back in 2005.

Last Tuesday, the Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande, who continues to be the overwhelming favourite in the race to the Elysee to be held from April 22 to May 6, visited the “ministry”, where he met several of its members. “He explained to us that he is not talking about the suburbs because he considers that they are automatically included in his programme,” says Mechmache, who explains that he will not believe that any efforts are being made “until I see something written down on paper”. The visit by the Socialist candidate, however, remains an encouraging “symbolic gesture”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Muslims Demand Gov’t Protection

French Muslim groups have urged the government to take a stronger position against rising anti-Islam sentiments, calling for a modified legislation to tackle the surging Islamophobic crimes targeting the Muslim minority.

“The actions and threats that have been the subject of formal complaints to the police and gendarmerie have increased from 116 in 2010 to 155 in 2011, an increase of 33.9%,” Abdallah Zerki, head of the Paris-based Islamophobic Crime Monitoring Group, told Muslim News website on Friday, February 24.

Zekri, whose group issued a recent report warning of increasing number of Islamophobic attacks in France in 2011 in comparison to the previous year, said he wrote to French President Nicolas Sarközy urging him to act.

According to Zekri there were 38 major violent incidents and arson attacks aimed at French Muslims, mosques and Islamic centers, an increase from 22 in 2010.

“I wish that President Sarközy, to whom I sent a letter in December, makes a statement and denounces these unspeakable acts, “said Zekri.

“In short, he should seek to allay the concerns of Muslims who are citizens just as Christians or Jews.”

The Muslim leaders’ pleas followed a series of mosque vandalisms and controversial right wing outburst by France’s Interior Minister.

Last January 31, vandals attacked a French mosque in the Glonnières district of Le Mans, covering its walls with graffiti reading “Islam out of Europe”, “No Islam” and “France for the French.”

Three days earlier, another mosque in Miramas was also daubed with Islamophobic slogans along with the name of Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Cut in Solar Power Support Sparks Row

Opposition parties accused Germany’s environment and economy ministers of endangering thousands of jobs as well as the country’s switch to renewables by cutting solar power subsidies. Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) this week presented plans to cut solar power subsidies by one-third, prompting environmental groups to express their disappointment.

Solar power producers will now only receive between €0.135 and €0.195 for every kilowatt hour they send to the grid. Despite this, Germany still plans to build new solar power facilities with a total capacity of 2,500 — 3,500 megawatts over the next two years. Röttgen said photovoltaic power must “grow in a sensible framework when it comes to costs and maintaining grid stability.”

Rösler described the solar power subsidies as “sweet poison” for solar power operators. “If, out of €12 billion set aside by the Renewable Energy Act, €6 billion is spent on photovoltaic power, when it accounts for three percent of electricity production, then obviously we have to think about its economic value,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Bibliophile Bureaucrat Banged Up for Book Burglary

A German official from the Hesse state culture ministry has been arrested for stealing more than 13,000 precious books from libraries across the country. He was caught red-handed, weighed down by 53 books found on him.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Placement Service a Boon for People With Asperger’s

Many people with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulties in the job market and workplace, but they also have special abilities that many employers crave. A Danish company has found a way to bring the two together and is exporting its successful job-placement concept to other countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘The Shame Must Continue to Burn in Our Hearts’

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute to the families of immigrants murdered by a neo-Nazi terror cell. Newspaper editorialists conservative and liberal agree that event was a wake-up call for Germans that it is high time they become tolerant and accepting of the country’s large immigrant population.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German-Iranian Friction Boosts Bratwurst Prices

The beloved Nürnberger Bratwurst is the latest victim of escalating tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme. German butchers complained Friday that the diplomatic crisis was driving up the price of sausage casing. In shock news for Germans everywhere, the sausage industry is feeling the rising cost of importing sheep intestines from Iran, leading Nürnberger Bratwurst producer Claus Steiner told The Local on Friday.

Sheep intestinal lining — a key ingredient in making the sausage — is largely imported from Iran, which has a 500-year history of trading animal by-products. But this may change, as the price of sheep gut has almost tripled in the past 18 months. A year and a half ago 90 metres of intestinal lining, enough to encase about 1,000 delicious bratwursts, cost just €6.30. But now the same length costs a whopping €17.20 — an alarming price hike that sausage-loving Germans may feel come barbecue season.

“There’s no replacement for a Nürnberger Bratwurst,” said Steiner, owner of the successful self-named butcher’s chain. The Nürnberger is a traditional German delicacy made of finely ground pork, cased in intestinal lining and seasoned with marjoram. By European Union regulations, it can only be called a Nürnberger Bratwurst if it’s made in the Nuremberg area — like Parma ham, or champagne.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Global Opposition Grows Against EU Emissions Law

The rest of the world is furious at the EU’s plan to impose emissions fees on airlines flying to Europe. This week, representatives of almost two dozen countries met in Moscow to sign a joint protest. Some say that a trade war may be imminent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: 60 Tenants of Padua Housing Estate ‘Dodged Taxes’

One had Mercedes, another ‘huge bar’

(ANSA) — Padua, February 23 — Sixty people living in a Padua housing estate have been found to have dodged taxes and declared low income in order to qualify for the low-rent accommodation, tax police said Friday.

Some of the 60 declared no income at all and two were wealthy enough to own a Mercedes and a “huge bar”, the Finance Guard said at the end of a year-long probe.

Italy has been cracking down on tax dodgers in an effort to raise cash to fund growth-boosting reforms.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Merkel’s Switch to Renewables: Rising Energy Prices Endanger German Industry

Last spring, Chancellor Angela Merkel set Germany on course to eliminate nuclear power in favor of renewable energy sources. Now, though, several industries are suffering as electricity prices rapidly rise. Many companies are having to close factories or move abroad.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Outdoor Ice Leads to 13,000 Skating Injuries, Mostly Broken Bones

Some 13,000 people were treated at hospital accident and emergency departments for injuries sustained while skating earlier this month, according to consumer safety group Consument en Veiligheid. The organisation says the total is ‘dramatic’. ‘People are tired, inexpert and busy with other things and they fall,’ spokesman Cees Meijer told Nos television.

When skaters are confined to artificial rinks, only 200 or so are injured over a similar period, the organisation says. Some 8,400 of the injuries involved broken bones — most often a broken wrist. And 9% of the injured skaters had to remain in hospital. The over-40s accounted for over half of all injures, while one in 10 was over 65.

The organisation calculates the cost of 12 days of natural ice to Dutch society to be €46m: €20m for treating injuries and €26m on lost days at work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Baby Makes Swedes Mad for ‘Princess Cake’

The birth of the new Swedish princess is causing Swedes to ransack bakeries for the traditional Swedish cake called “Prinsesstårta” or “Princess Cake” to celebrate the occasion. “When I got to work today I knew nothing about the Royal birth, but the customers did,” said Vesna Ibragic from Katarina bakery in Malmö, in southern Sweden, to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The bakery received their first order shortly after 7.30am on Thursday morning. And orders have continued coming since, according to the paper. The cakes are running out all over the country, with bakery Thelins in Stockholm having sold out of the cakes as early as 9am. The bakery was awaiting another shipment of 20 cakes to begin with, having already sold four times as many as on an ordinary day.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Feminist Funding Woes Mount for Minister

Already weighed down by allegations of illegal funding, Norway’s equality minister, Audun Lysbakken, came under more pressure on Friday morning as records emerged of a potentially incriminating e-mail.

Lysbakken has previously admitted that his department broke the rules when it granted funding to a feminist self-defence organization attached to his own Socialist Left Party.

He denied however that anyone at the ministry had responded to an e-mail sent on April 15th 2010 on behalf of Jenteforsvaret (‘Girls’ Defence’), a sub-group of the party’s youth wing.

But newspaper Dagbladet on Friday revealed that secretary of state Henriette Westhrin had in fact replied to the group’s request for funding with a vow to look into the matter.

Two days ago, Lysbakken said “no reply was ever sent” to an e-mail from Mali Steiro Tronsmoen, then head of the Socialist Youth group. The minister also said he had presented all of the relevant documentation in the case to a parliamentary committee examining the alleged misuse of state funds.

In her e-mail, addressed to Henriette Westhrin, the Socialist Youth chief began by presenting the idea of feminist self-defence courses for girls before quickly getting to the point:

“Now that the Socialist Left has moved in to the Ministry for Children and Equality, we wonder if any of you sitting there have the opportunity to carefully go through what possibilities there may be for financing such a project. For us, the most important thing is that girls get the opportunity to participate in the kind of solf-confidence and self-defence courses that we can offer, not that the Socialist Left is behind them.”

At the ministry, Henriette Westhrin replied the very same day, writing:

“Hi Mali! I’ll start working immediately to see what the possibilities are. Best regards, Henriette.”

Before clicking send, Westhrin copied in Lysbakken’s political advisor, Line Gaare Paulsen.

Confronted with the e-mail on Friday, Audun Lysbakken said he had spoken in good faith when he denied its existence.

“I was completely sure we had found all e-mails connected to the case,” he said.

He added that he had consulted with Henriette Westhren and would have presented the e-mail had he known about it.

Last autumn, the equality ministry earmarked 500,000 kroner ($90,000) for self-defence courses for girls. The funds were discussed in the 2011 budget but were never advertised. Instead, they were awarded to two organizations that contacted the department of their own accord.

The Girls’ Defence group received 154,000 kroner.

A parliamentary committee wrote to Lysbakken on January 31st demanding an explanation after Dagbladet published an article alleging abuses.

According to Lysbakken, his department had originally intended to announce the availability of the funding, but the process was derailed for “different internal reasons”.

As deputy leader of the Socialist Left party, Lysbakken is seen as one of the main candidates to take over from outgoing party chief Kristin Halvorsen.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Progress on Plans for Galway Che Guevara Monument

A major and innovative monument to the Irish-Argentinean revolutionary, guerilla, doctor, writer, and politician Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, has taken a step closer to becoming a reality this week.

The Galway Advertiser understands that City Hall’s arts officer James Harrold will commission a scale model of the proposed monument to be made. This will then be presented to the Galway City Council’s Working Group on Public Arts for consideration, and later city manager Joe O’Neill for final approval. The approval of city councillors may also need to be sought.

The idea to erect a monument to Che Guevara comes from a proposal made by Labour councillor Billy Cameron, an ardent admirer of the revolutionary, that a monument be erected in Galway and that the project be undertaken in conjunction with the Cuban and Argentinean embassies to Ireland.

The proposed monument has been designed by Simon McGuinness and it is understood that it will feature the iconic image of Che created by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, commonly seen on posters and T-shirts.

Both men were in Galway recently to inspect proposed sites for the location of the Che monument. While no definite site has been chosen it is likely that the Salthill Promenade, possibly around the area of the Atlantaquaria, will be its location.

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara-Lynch was born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1928. Guevara’s Irish descent came from Patrick Lynch who was born in Galway in 1715, an Irish emigrant who became a significant landowner in Argentina. Che’s father Ernesto Guevara-Lynch snr, famously said of Che: “The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels.”

Che came to international prominence as one of the key figures in the Cuban revolution of 1953-59. He later served in Fidel Castro’s government, and spoke throughout the world about Cuba and Latin America. He was executed in 1967 by Bolivian forces while trying to spread revolution there.

Cllr Cameron is hopeful that the project will get the go-ahead and is confident that sufficient funds will be raised for the project.

“Che’s Galway connections to the Lynch family have been explored and confirmed, and there is a family home in Claregalway” he said. “Che is an international figure who has inspired thousands of people and it is time we honoured and recognised him.

“The monument would also be a major tourist attraction. There are thousands of Che admirers around the world and it could become a focal point for them and to highlight the Irish connection.”

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Rehn in War of Words With True Finns Leader

Finnish EU Commissioner Olli Rehn has clashed with True Finns leader Timo Soini over remarks made on TV, public broadcaster YLE reports. Soini compared Rehn to Nikolai Bobrikov, a Russian Governor-General of Finland who was given dictatorial powers by the Tsar. Rehn characterised the remarks as “dangerous hate speech”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Discovering Cordoba in Andalucia

There is much to excite the senses in the unspoilt and historic region of Córdoba, Andalucía.

by Annie Bennett

I climbed the stone steps in the Calahorra Tower and took in the view across the Guadalquivir river to the monumental heart of Córdoba, which is dominated by the Great Mosque.

From my vantage point in the 13th-century watchtower, I looked at the locals strolling, running and cycling along the riverbank and wondered if they ever become blasé about their city’s magnificent skyline. A thousand years ago, this was the foremost city in the Western world, with a million inhabitants and paved streets that were lit at night, and this rich heritage is evident today in just about every step you take as you wander around the cobbled lanes. I crossed the Roman bridge and walked up to the Mosque, which dates from the 8th century. I must have spent hours over the years weaving in and out of the columns — there are 850 of them — under the undulating rows of horseshoe arches, but the experience is never the same.


[JP note: Ignorant garbage.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spain: Paki Refugee Calls for Koran to be Banned

A Paki living in Spain named Imran Farasat has launched a petition calling for the Koran to be banned. He has sent it to numerous government officials, ministries and organisations.

His petition has 10 points:…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Sweden: ‘Her Name is Estelle’: King Carl XVI Gustaf

Sweden’s new princess will be called Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Östergötland, announced King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday in Stockholm. “I am sure that the Duchess will do her best to embrace the county of Östergötland,” the King said during the announcement. The infant was formally introduced to the prime minister, the speaker of the Riksdag and the marshal of the realm in Stockholm on Friday morning.

“Her first name is Estelle, and then, of course Silvia, and then Ewa and finally Mary,” the monarch informed the government at the special Cabinet Council at Stockholm’s Royal Palace on Friday morning. Since the new Royal baby girl’s birth, speculation has been rife in Sweden as to what she would be called.

Betting companies and the press presented their favourites and the little Princess forebears’ names were brought out, dusted off and inspected by the interested public, all who seem to have had their own preferences. On the day of the little princess’ birth, the names most favoured by betting agencies were Alicia, Desirée and Kristina, although some Royal experts were hoping for Alice or Sophia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Youngsters Deaf to Town’s Beethoven Tactics

Heerbrugg station in canton St. Gallen has tried to put off groups of young people from hanging out on its premises by playing classical music. The local council decided to take action in November 2010 against groups of young people drinking, listening to loud music and leaving their rubbish behind them at the station, online news website 20 Minutes reported.

The council was inspired to try something new having heard of the success of a London Underground project that had managed to restore calm and cleanliness by playing classical music through station speakers. Since then, Heerbrugg station has been playing Mozart or Beethoven constantly from seven in the morning until ten o’clock at night, seven days a week, for over a year.

But the success appears to have been limited. The youths have moved away from the entrance area, pleasing the local mayor, but have instead installed themselves not 50 metres away in the post office car park. “It does not work,” local florist Darenka Zahnder told 20 Minutes. “Especially on Saturdays, they come with their cars to the post office car park and stand in front of the kiosk.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Girl: Sex Gang Raped Me at 15 . I Got Vodka and £20 Hush Money

A TEENAGER was given bungs of £20 and £40 and told to keep her “mouth shut” after being passed around a gang of men for sex, a jury heard yesterday. The girl, then 15, told her tormentors she was under age, but was told by one of her attackers sex was legal from the age of 11 “in his country”. Her evidence emerged at the trial of 11 Asian men accused of grooming five girls aged 13 to 15 for sex in return for booze, drugs, cash and pizzas. The youngster, now 19, gave a video interview played to the court yesterday. In it, she said a 59-year-old, made her have sex with men and “gave me money to shut up about it”. She was once paid £40 for her silence, and half that another time. The girl alleged the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, raped her on a mattress above a takeaway after giving her vodka. She said he told her: “It is part of the deal — I have done something for you, so you have to do something for me.” Another time, she said, he told her to have sex with a man as a “treat for me”. She said: “I said you’ll get done for this if I tell the police and he said, ‘I won’t get done’ because in his country you’re allowed to have sex with people from the age of 11.” The jury heard the girl was quizzed by cops in 2008 over a disturbance at a takeaway in Rochdale, Gtr Manchester. The rape allegations came to light but police took it no further and she fell back into her abusers’ hands, the jury heard. The girl also claimed Abdul Aziz took her to addresses around Rochdale and remote country spots where she was expected to have sex with different men. She said: “We used to get paid but if we refused, they would throw us out with no money. Sometimes we would get punched and we would have to walk home.” The 11 men deny plotting to have sex with underage girls. Seven deny rape. On trial with the 59-year-old are Kabeer Hassan, 25, Abdul Aziz, 43, Abdul Rauf, 43, Mohammed Sajid, 35, Adil Khan, 42, Abdul Qayyum, 43, Mohammed Amin, 44, Qamar Shahzad, 29, Liaquat Shah, 41, and Hamid Safi, 22. The case continues at Liverpool Crown Court.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: John Hayes Displays His Passion for Apprenticeships in the House Magazine While Referring to St Augustine …

by Paul Goodman

… Disraeli, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. He tells Sam Macrory of the House Magazine that his apprenticeships programme — “ — is about installing, in the whole of society, purposeful pride. When society is riven with purposeful pride, Britain will stand tall; it’s as big a mission as that. It’s about understanding [that] what we do together is more important that what we do apart. It’s about understanding the collective wisdom of the ages is enshrined in great institutions like the courts, Parliament, the church and the crown, and the everyday institutions we encounter — families, the ‘little platoons’, as Burke called them.” The Burke quote is frequently used by Conservative politicians but it is unusual for David Cameron’s senior Ministers to dismiss “the centre ground” — “The common ground in politics is the ground which reflects people’s preoccupations, their sentiments, their hopes and their fears. And any politician who’s truly, not just claims to be, the people’s champion, must be guided by the people’s desires. I always have been…I see [the apprenticeships policy from a Tory perspective because mine is the party of Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Disraeli after all. Social justice is in our blood, it’s absolutely written, tattooed across every Conservative’s breast.” As Macrory writes: “The numbers can’t be argued with: there are more apprentices.” (Though I would like to know a bit more about how those numbers break down.)

Given Hayes’s unusual G.K.Chesterton conservatism — in the modern Tory party, anyway — his quotability, and his fixer role as the co-Chairman of Cornerstone, I remain surprised that to date he has flown undetected beneath the radar of most political journalists.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: John Hayes: Leader of the Little Platoons

John Hayes explains why a new generation of apprentices will create his vision of a better Britain

Ideas, principles, belief in immutable truths. Remember these? Not if the grumblings of a number of political commentators are to be believed. British politics, they say, is a vacuum of all of the above, with the great ideological battles of past political ages replaced by a politics driven by the mantra of management. Beneath the surface, however, Parliament remains a cauldron of conviction politics, with interest groups positioned defiantly at different points along the political spectrum. One of the more interesting in recent years has, perhaps, been the Cornerstone Group, a collective of socially conservative Tory MPs who came together in 2005 under the mantra of ‘faith, flag, and family’. Though dismissed by some as the ‘tombstone group’, and resisters of modernisation, the group’s growing membership, particularly amongst the latest intake of Tories, as well as its willingness to speak out in the compromising times of coalition, demonstrates an increasing influence. The group’s co-chairman is John Hayes, who is also a minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Speaking in his windowless Commons office, with portraits of Disraeli and Burke hanging on the walls, Hayes, whose visions of social justice were trialled during his time as a speech-writer for Iain Duncan Smith, seems to be on a one-man mission to fill any declivity of political ideas.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Mob of 200 Youths Pelt Police With Bricks and Smash Up Shops ‘In Anger at On-Going Sex Grooming Trial’

Police were pelted with bricks and other missiles last night as hundreds of youths went on the rampage.

Takeaways were targeted in an evening of disorder understood to be linked to the on-going trial of a suspected grooming gang at Liverpool Crown Court.

A mob of around 200 youths congregated in the centre of the Heywood area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, last night as trouble began.

One shop-owner told how he was abused by a group of youths , who called him a ‘dirty b*stard’.

A car belonging to a member of the public and three police vehicles were also damaged.

Greater Manchester Police has confirmed more police will be out on patrol today amid fears of a second night of violence.

A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and police assault and a 14-year-old boy was arrested for causing danger to a public highway.

The area became swamped with police in riot vans and the mob of young people was eventually dispersed by officers at about 11pm.

Zeeshan Khokhar, 23, owner of Bits n Pizza, a take-away on Market Street, said he was verbally abused, though his shop was not damaged.

Mr Khokhar said ‘white friends’ came to his shop to protect him as trouble began brewing.

He said: ‘It started about 4pm, kids banging on windows. They were shouting, “Why are you still open you dirty b*******?”.

‘The police came and told us to shut up shop. We are just doing business.

‘Our white friends, they came here and they are protecting us and customers were standing outside our door.

‘They said we have just come to keep an eye on you.

‘But it’s not good, it hurts and we are very worried about what’s going to happen.’

Mr Khokhar said he only took over the shop seven weeks ago and his business has nothing to do with the trial in Liverpool.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said last night: ‘Greater Manchester Police, in conjunction with its partners and communities, is aware of the tensions in the borough that have come about because of an on-going court case in Liverpool.

‘I understand that there will be concern following this evening’s events, and to offer reassurance there is a significant police presence in the area this evening.

We will maintain and increase police presence in the coming weeks to keep up our reassurance.

‘We ask that the community acts responsibly during this difficult time.

‘We are monitoring social media sites and ask anybody who is concerned or has information to share with us to go either through their local neighbourhood policing team, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by GMP using the 101 service.’

Inspector Steve Clark, GMP’s neighbourhood police inspector for Heywood said: ‘There were a number of young children out this evening and I would like to ask that their parents are conscious of this in the coming days and weeks.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Attacked by 200 Youths in Rochdale as Sex-Gang Are Trialled

A Greater Manchester policeman is recovering after a mob of 200 youths attacked officers in Heywood, Rochdale last night.

The violent disorder occurred on Thursday February 23, as groups of youths attacked local takeaways on Bridge Street, surrounding vehicles and threw missiles at police. Forces made numerous appeals to parents to contact their children if they were not home before the clash escalated. Eleven men from the area are currently on trial in Liverpool Crown Court after being charged with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under 16. Police said there were tensions in the borough following the on-going court case and the youths involved were reported to be chanting ‘EDL’ (English Defence League) as they left. Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: “Greater Manchester Police, in conjunction with its partners and communities, is aware of the tensions in the borough that have come about because of an ongoing court case in Liverpool. “I understand that there will be concern following this evening’s events and to offer reassurance there is a significant police presence in the area this evening. We will maintain and increase police presence in the coming weeks to keep up our reassurance. We ask that the community acts responsibly during this difficult time. A number of local businesses have closed of their own volition and we will continue to work closely with them.” Three police cars were damaged, as well as one member of the public’s, and one officer suffered bruising to his arms and legs. A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and police assault. A 14-year-old boy was arrested for causing danger to a public highway.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Patrols Stepped Up After Attacks

More police will be out on patrol in a town where Asian takeaways came under attack. A mob of around 200 youths congregated in the centre of the Heywood area of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, as trouble began. The disorder is understood to be linked to an on-going trial of men at Liverpool Crown Court. Officers were pelted with bricks and other missiles and two arrests were made after windows were damaged at a takeaway on Bridge Street. An officer also suffered bruising to his legs and arms. A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and police assault and a 14-year-old boy was arrested for causing danger to a public highway. Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: “Greater Manchester Police, in conjunction with its partners and communities, is aware of the tensions in the borough that have come about because of an on-going court case in Liverpool. We ask that the community acts responsibly during this difficult time.”

Zeeshan Khokhar, 23, owner of Bits n Pizza, a take-away on Market Street, said he was verbally abused, though his shop was not damaged. Mr Khokhar said “white friends” came to his shop to protect him as trouble began brewing. He said: “It started about 4pm, kids banging on windows. The police came and told us to shut up shop. We are just doing business. Our white friends, they came here and they are protecting us and customers were standing outside our door.” Mr Khokhar said he only took over the shop seven weeks ago and his business has nothing to do with the trial in Liverpool. Inspector Steve Clark, GMP’s neighbourhood police inspector for Heywood, said: “There were a number of young children out this evening and I would like to ask that their parents are conscious of this in the coming days and weeks.”

[Reader comment by wessexwyvern on 24 February 2012 at 7:42 am.]

Where have the police been hiding whilst gangs of Asian and Muslim paedophiles around the country groomed and exploited vulnerable children? This isn’t an isolated case. I’m amazed at just how little violence there has been following some of these cases, which says much for the ability of the native, working class, English community to soak up some extreme provocation from our multi cultural friends and neighbours, and from the indifference of the PC, hamstrung police; who are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard nowadays. If the actions of these men, and others of their ethnicity and religious persuasion, is an example of what a multi cultural society has to offer then maybe we’d be better off without it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ugly One: Master, Tiger: The Sex Gang Accused of Grooming Underage Girls

Court told of abuse horror

GIRLS as young as 13 got pizzas and booze for having sex with a gang of men — whose nicknames included The Ugly One, Master and Tiger, a jury heard yesterday. Victims were chatted up and groomed by the men who then passed them around so fellow Asians could satisfy their lust, the court was told. Prosecutor Rachel Smith said as 11 men including a 59-year-old went on trial for child-sex crimes how schoolgirls would be plied with drink until they were in a stupor. Ms Smith said of one 14-year-old: “She was unable to describe all of the men but said she would regularly find herself drunk to near-unconsciousness, waking up with men having sex with her.” The youngster told cops how she was so “hammered” on one occasion that two men even had sex with her while she was being sick over the side of a bed. The girl said: “They were just having it in turns sort of thing. There was nothing I could do — I was throwing up. I felt like I couldn’t move.” The prosecutor said: “Afterwards they left and she cried herself to sleep.” On another occasion a man watching her being raped begged: “I want a turn, I want a turn.”

The 11 men in the dock plead not guilty to plotting to have sex with underage girls in and around Rochdale, Gtr Manchester. Several are charged with rape, which they also deny. Four of the accused are taxi drivers and two are fast food workers. The girls — often chatted up at kebab shops — were targeted because they were seen as having little parental supervision, Liverpool Crown Court heard. They saw the men who seduced them as boyfriends. But before long a “pattern of abuse emerged”. Youngsters started out being rewarded for sex with treats such as food and free cab rides, it was claimed. Later they would be driven to various addresses where they were passed around to other men who would pay for sex in cash. Some of those in the dock are accused of sex trafficking, which they deny.

The charges against the 11 involve five girls — all aged between 13 and 15 at the time. The attacks are alleged to have happened between 2008 and 2010. The jury heard that youngsters reluctant to have sex were held down and raped. Some deliberately drank themselves into oblivion to blot out what was happening. One was said to have told police how after she was befriended a “massive circle” of Pakistani men ended up with her phone number.

Prosecutor Ms Smith described all the victims as “easy to identify, target and exploit for the sexual gratification of these men”. That was partly because they spent a lot of time off school.

An older girl — who cannot be named for legal reasons — moved on from having sex with the gang to finding fresh prey, it was claimed. Ms Smith said the former victim was paid for “procuring” others. One 15-year-old was said to have told police she was having sex with “several men in a day, several times a week”. The girl said she would get drunk so “it wouldn’t feel as bad” when the men raped her. The jury was told the first to abuse her was the 59-year-old. He cannot be named for legal reasons. After repeatedly raping her he forced her to have sex with fellow defendant Kabeer Hassan, 25, it was alleged. The court heard she told cops but no charges were brought — and the abuse went on. Two victims — one of them just 13 — were made pregnant by members of the gang, it was claimed. Those on trial with the 59-year-old and Hassan are: Abdul Aziz, 43, Abdul Rauf, 43, Mohammed Sajid, 35, Adil Khan, 42, Abdul Qayyum, 43, Mohammed Amin, 44, Qamar Shahzad, 29, Liaquat Shah, 41, and Hamid Safi, 22. The case continues.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Jordan: Aid Package 2011-2013 Up to 2.2 Bln

World Bank support increases by 710 mln

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 23 — The total amount of the aid package granted to Jordan by the the EU, EBI, EBRD and member states for the 2011-2013 period will total to up 2.2 bln euros. This was the outcome of the first EU-Jordan task-force in Amman. As for the European Union’s cooperation with Damascus in the framework of the new Spring Programme (Support for Partnership, Reform and Inclusive Growth) is concerned, the European Union increased the EU funds available for the three years from 223 mln euros to 300 million euros. Further 400 mln euros will be granted by the European Investment bank, (EIB) and an additional 300 mln euros might be invested by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Additional loans and subsidies are provided to Jordan through the bilateral cooperation of individual member states, which is estimated to account for 1.2 bln euros between 2011 and 2013.

The World Bank might add another 460 mln euros for the public sector and 250 mln euros for the private sector.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

FCO Bans Israel-Gibraltar Friendship Stamp

One is a contested territory besieged for centuries by neighbours fighting to capture it — the other is Jerusalem’s David Citadel tower. The Foreign Office had no problem with the appearance of the Rock of Gibraltar on an Israel-Gibraltar “friendship stamp”. But the inclusion of the Israeli landmark, “situated on disputed territory in Jerusalem” as the FCO put it, led it to demand a redesign, and Israel Post to cancel the stamp. The stamp had already been printed and was ready for distribution before the Foreign Office intervened. Officials in the British territory compensated Israel Post for the cost of printing the stamps. The cancellation was met with anger in Israel and Gibraltar. Former mayor of the territory Solomon Levy said he was “disgusted” by the Foreign Office decision. An Israeli source said: “If 3,000 years of Jewish residence in Jerusalem is considered controversial, the mere 300 years that Britain has been in Gibraltar would certainly be a problem. “If the image has to be changed to Tel Aviv, then it is also appropriate to depict the ‘safer option’ of Coronation Street, rather than the Rock.” The source said “no serious person” would deny that Jerusalem is synonymous with the state of Israel. A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that it “objected to a particular design which included the image of a building situated on disputed territory in Jerusalem.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Several Police Hurt by Rioters at Temple Mount

Following Friday prayers, hundreds of Palestinians throw rocks at police who disperse rioters with stun grenades, including some who retreated into Aqsa Mosque; 11 police hurt, 4 rioters arrested.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Fresh Concerns About Iran’s Nuclear Programme

The UN nuclear agency says Iran has increased production of higher-grade enriched uranium, raising fresh concerns about how quickly it could make an atomic bomb.

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran had failed to give a convincing explanation about a quantity of missing uranium metal.

Diplomats have said it could be used for experiments to arm a warhead.

Iran insists it has no intention of making nuclear weapons and maintains the sole purpose of its activities is to generate energy.

The report follows the recent abortive visit to Iran by IAEA inspectors.

It said: “An intensive discussion was held on the structured approach to the clarification of all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“No agreement was reached between Iran and the Agency, as major differences existed with respect to this approach.”

The report added: “The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

The report said Iran has tripled production of 20% enriched uranium since its last assessment in November, with 696 centrifuges installed at its heavily-guarded Fordo site — although all are of the older variety…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: A New Islamic Parliamentary Group: “Stop to the New Churches, Yes to Sharia”

Kuwait City (Agenzia Fides) — The new Islamic parliamentary group “Al-Adala Bloc” (Group of Justice) has announced a bill to prohibit the construction of churches and other non-Islamic places of worship in the small emirate. As reported to Fides by local sources, the proposal comes from a Kuwaiti MP Osama al-Munawer. He, at first, had announced plans to introduce a law for the removal of all the churches in the country; he later explained that the law will only regard the construction of new ones. The proposal, backed by other MPs, is motivated by the fact that “Kuwait has already too many churches compared to the country’s Christian minority.” Another Islamist MP, Mohammad Hayef, commented the news on the recently granted license to build a new church in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, and said that the measure “is a mistake on behalf of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs” and “will not go unnoticed.”

The proposed law against new churches has been criticized in civil society. The lawyer and parliamentarian Nabeel Al Fadhel said: “The Constitution clearly stipulates religious freedom and the right of all people to practice their religious beliefs,” recalling that the rulers of Kuwait have always supported religious freedom. The NGO “Kuwait Human Rights Society” (KHRS) deplored “the irresponsible behavior that creates tension and hatred between the citizens”, noting that Kuwait has to remain a country that protects safety and tolerance for all citizens and residents.

The Islamic parliamentary group “Al-Adala Bloc”, formed recently, intends to request an amendment of the Constitution and some laws to make the “Sharia” (Islamic law) the main source of the legislation and law, in order to ‘preserve’ the identity of society and its Islamic values, to work according to the principles of equality, introduce bills inspired by Islam, fight corruption, strengthen national unity,” as stated in the manifesto of the group.

           — Hat tip: LAW Wells[Return to headlines]

Middle East Risks Becoming a ‘Giant Failed State’

With EU countries crafting plans on how to shape events in Syria, David Hirst, a noted British writer on the Middle East, has warned that the Arab uprisings are a kind of “constructive chaos” completely out of Western control. “What we’re now witnessing is the greatest transformation of the region since the end of the first world war,” he told EUobserver in an interview in his home in Beirut on Saturday (18 February).

“The order which the world powers imposed on the region after 1918 was an unnatural one. These uprisings have set in motion separatist forces which no one can really foresee. But it is not far-fetched to see it leading to the disappearance of whole states and the creation of new ones … The Lebanisation of the whole region is not within the bounds of impossibility,” he said. “One can almost envisage a giant failed state.”

‘Lebanisation’ is a term for the break-up of nations by reference to the history of Lebanon — a war-scarred country divided between 18 minorities.

Hirst said that if Lebanon breaks down, then the Shia Muslim majority in the south and east of the country, together with its irregular army, Hezbollah, could create its own state.

He noted that if Jordan — a country divided between Bedouin tribes, its Hashemite ruling elite and a huge bloc of Palestinian refugees — also fragments, then the Palestinians could form a new military power: “What happened when Lebanon fell apart (during its civil war in the 1980s)? Something called Hezbollah emerged. Who is say that such entities will not spring up elsewhere? Why shouldn’t the Palestinians of Jordan do the same along the Israeli frontier?”

He added that post-war Iraq is not immune to the changes sweeping the region. The country’s Sunni minority has sided with anti-Assad Sunnis in Syria. Its Shia majority is influenced by Shia-controlled Iran, while Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country already have de facto independence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Parliamentary Bloc in Kuwait Seeks Sharia Rule

Four Kuwaiti lawmakers have formed a new parliamentary bloc to boost the drive to bring the legislation in line with Islam

Manama: Four Kuwaiti lawmakers have formed a new parliamentary bloc to boost the drive to bring the legislation in line with Islam. The Justice Bloc will be chaired by MP Mohammad Hayef and will include MP Bader Al Dahoom, MP Mohammad Al Hatlani and MP Osama Al Munawar. In a statement following the formation of the bloc, Mohammad Hayef said that its aims are the rule of the Islamic Sharia, the preservation of society’s Islamic identity and values, the establishment of the principles of justice and equality in all aspects and ensuring development in the country. Other objectives are consecrating justice through appropriate legislation, fighting corruption and activating laws that protect public funds, consolidating the features of the Kuwaiti and national unity and working with all parliamentary blocs and lawmakers for the higher interests of the nation.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria Gets Complicated

by Srdja Trifkovic

A three-member “Independent International Commission of Inquiry” appointed by the United Nations concluded on February 23 that “gross human rights violations” had been ordered by the Syrian authorities as state policy at “the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” amounting to “crimes against humanity.” The 72-page document thus provides the potential basis for Bashar al-Assad’s indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The panel presented the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights with a sealed envelope containing the names of Syrian officials who should be “investigated,” but those names remain secret. The U.N. did not specify who these investigating authorities might be, but that we know: on June 27th—three months into NATO’s air war on the side of rebel forces—the ICC presented intervening powers with a veneer of legitimacy by issuing a warrant for Muammar Qaddafy’s arrest. The latest U.N. report seems deliberately crafted to provide a future ad-hoc “coalition” with an upfront justification for a military intervention in Syria, also based on “the responsibility to protect” doctrine which was invoked in the Libyan case. In view of the Russian and Chinese veto, a regional coalition may cite this principle in order to attack Syria without the U.N. Security Council mandate.

Unsurprisingly, the language of the U.N. Syria report closely resembles the ICC warrant against the late Libyan leader. The U.N. report says: “A reliable body of evidence exists that, consistent with other verified circumstances, provides reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers and officials at the highest levels of government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.” In Libya, the ICC said, “State policy was designed at the highest level of the state machinery, and aimed at quelling by any means, including by the use of lethal force, demonstrations of civilians against the regime… The evidence establishes reasonable grounds to believe [Qaddafy and his associates] are guilty of crimes against humanity.”

The UN report is politically motivated. Western estimates based on “opposition” sources—almost certainly as exaggerated as the much-touted figure of “200,000 Bosnian dead”—claim that the insurgency in Syria took between 5,400 and 8,000 lives over the past year. By contrast, neighboring Turkey’s ongoing “dirty war against the Kurds” has killed more than 40,000 people over the years, including 35 civilians slain in a single Turkish air raid against the separatist PKK last December. Ankara’s intensification of indiscriminate attacks on Kurdish targets reflects a major shift by the Islamist AKP regime away from negotiations. No U.N. report has been commissioned thus far to investigate possible crimes against humanity in Turkey, however, and none is likely any time soon. NATO’s only Muslim member-country is the key conduit for arms, supplies, money and men—including Western intelligence agents, members of various special forces’ units and training instructors—helping Syrian rebels, or else fomenting rebellion where it is currently absent.

The insurgency in Syria is a low-intensity conflict by comparison…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

The Free Syrian Army Front: Deserters Battle Assad From Turkey

At first they served the regime, but now they are fighting against it. Operating out of southern Turkey, units of the Free Syrian Army, driven by hatered toward Assad, are infiltrating their home country and fighting soldiers loyal to the dictator.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


‘I, Putin’: An Inside Look at Russia’s Aging, Lonely Leader

The world is used to macho images of Vladimir Putin hunting bears, harpooning whales or fly-fishing. A German documentary filmmaker was recently granted unprecedented access to the Russian prime minister. And he found a lonely, aging and surprisingly likeable man.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Germans Ditch Afghan Base After Koran Burning

Escalating unrest following the burning of the Koran by US soldiers has forced Germany to give up one of its Afghanistan bases earlier than planned. After 300 protesters massed outside the German Taloqan base in northern Afghanistan, the commander withdrew the 50 troops to the larger Kunduz base camp 70 kilometres away, abandoning the camp around a month ahead of schedule.

A Bundeswehr spokesman said the troops had taken all military vehicles with them, but it remained unclear whether the soldiers would return at a later date to complete the clear-out. The relatively small camp is said to be difficult to secure, since it is in the middle of the town of Taloqan, capital of the Takhar province, with a population of 200,000.

State broadcaster ZDF reported that stones had been thrown at the camp, which was also attacked in May last year, when several people were shot dead. Taloqan is also the town where an Afghan police chief and two Bundeswehr soldiers were killed in an attack on the governor’s palace last year. Unrest has escalated dramatically following the alleged burning of several copies of the Koran by US soldiers at their Bagram base earlier this week. The exact circumstances of the burning remain unclear — the holy texts were apparently burnt accidentally on a garbage heap by soldiers unaware of what they were.

Several people have been killed during violent protests since then, and two soldiers from the NATO-led international mission ISAF were shot dead by an Afghan soldier on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Over 10 Percent of Indian Food Fails the Safety Test

Rat poison, fertilizers and bleach are all used to adulterate India’s meat, fruit and vegetables, with health consequences that are potentially devastating. Milk is watered down or laced with fertilizers, bleach or detergent to give it a frothy appearance, apples are sprayed with chemicals to appear rosier, oils are contaminated with non-edible oils, fresh tea leaves mixed with waste tea, sweets are contaminated with caustic soda — the ways of adulterating food seem endless.

According to a recent report released by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), 13 percent of all food in the country — especially meat, fruit and vegetables — fails to meet safety standards. The consequences for the health of India’s 1.2 billion people are potentially fatal, with adulterated food being responsible for all sorts of health problems, ranging from upset stomachs to cancer.

“The worst thing for me is that we normal citizens don’t even know what we are eating,” says one resident of the capital New Delhi. “The media never tell us that there is adulterated food, although we do hear about raids. We’ve lost control of what we are eating.” “I wanted to buy milk once and they had run out of the brand I usually drink, so I chose another one,” says another customer. “My daughter was ill the next morning. Now I’m scared of eating chicken because of the hormones they are pumped with to make them grow faster.”

India is the world’s largest producer of milk, which plays an important role for Hindus, who make up 80 percent of the country’s population. It is often used in religious rituals and it is an important source of protein for millions of vegetarians.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Fleeing the People’s Paradise: Successful Chinese Emigrating to West in Droves

Despite their country’s stunning economic growth, many successful Chinese entrepreneurs are emigrating to the West. For them, the Chinese government is too arbitrary and unpredictable, and they view their children’s prospects as better in the West.

Though the room is already overcrowded, more listeners keep squeezing in, making it necessary to bring in additional chairs for the stragglers. Outside on the streets of Beijing, the usual Saturday afternoon shopping bustle is in full swing. But above the clamor, in the quiet of this elegant office high-rise, the audience is intent on listening to a man who can help them start a new life, one far away from China.

Li Zhaohui, 51, turns on the projector and photographs flicker across the screen behind him. Some show Li himself, head of one of China’s largest agencies for emigration visas, which has more than 100 employees. Other pictures show Li’s business partner in the United States. Still others show Chinese people living in an idyllic American suburb. Li has already successfully arranged for these people to leave the People’s Republic of China.

Li’s free and self-confident way of speaking precisely embodies the Western lifestyle that those in his audience dream of. Originally trained as a physicist, Li emigrated to Canada in 1989. In the beginning, he developed microchips in Montreal, but he says he found the job boring. Then he found his true calling: helping Chinese entrepreneurs and businesspeople escape.

Of course, Li doesn’t use the term “escape.” Emigration from China is legal and, with its population of 1.3 billion, the country certainly has enough people left over.

Likewise, hardly anyone in the audience is actually planning to burn every bridge with their native country. Almost everyone in the room owns companies, villas and cars in China.

Many of them, in fact, can thank China’s Communist Party for their success. But along their way to the top, they’ve developed other needs, the kind only a person with a full stomach feels, as the Chinese saying goes. It’s a type of hunger that can’t be satisfied as long as the person is living under a one-party dictatorship.

These people long to live in a constitutional state that would protect them from the party’s whims. And they want to enjoy their wealth in countries where it’s possible to lead a healthier life than in China, which often resembles one giant factory, with the stench and dust to match.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France, China Can Learn From Fukushima: Minister

French Industry Minister Eric Besson said China and France could learn from Japan’s nuclear disaster, during a Beijing visit on Thursday to discuss joint development of a medium capacity reactor. Besson, who met his counterpart Miao Wei and officials from the Chinese nuclear industry, told AFP he had proposed that “China and France pull together all the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear accident for existing nuclear reactors and for the future.”

Energy-hungry China has 14 active nuclear reactors and is building another 25 to drive its rapidly expanding economy. It aims to multiply by five or six times the electricity it produces from nuclear energy by 2020, according to the World Nuclear Association. Besson said he had learned from Chinese officials that “in the coming months China would provide its new installed capacity targets for 2020-2030.”

Following the Fukushima accident triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami last March, Beijing announced a review of safety standards and emergency procedures for Chinese nuclear power plants. China and France “could work together to strengthen the safety level of existing Chinese reactors,” Besson said.

The two countries had finally reached an “agreement in principle to study the feasibility of joint development of a third-generation medium capacity (1,000 megawatt) reactor, mainly for the Chinese market and to benefit the industry in both countries,” the French minister said.

Franco-Chinese cooperation on such a reactor should lead to the development of a reactor derived from the ATMEA1 medium pressurised water reactor, co-developed by France’s Areva and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, an official from the French nuclear power group said two weeks ago in Paris.

Before visiting China, Besson travelled to Japan where he spent 50 minutes at the Fukushima nuclear power plant site.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Norway to Support Stabilisation in Somalia

OSLO, Norway, February 23, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Norway is to donate NOK 11 million to a new fund for Somalia. The international Stability Fund will improve the lives of Somalis by supporting local efforts to promote reconciliation.

“We would like to help bring about greater stability in Somalia by supporting development and the establishment of functioning authorities at the local level. People need to have access to health services and education,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.

Mr. Solheim announced Norway’s allocation to the new fund at the international London Somalia Conference today.

“Ensuring stability at the local level is one of the keys to achieving progress in Somalia. Local peace agreements must give real and tangible benefits for people on the ground. The new fund will help to build local communities that are more resilient,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The fund can respond rapidly when required. The fact that the local authorities will have ownership of the fund will make it easier for the money to be channeled safely to those who need it most. This is also the case for areas in southern Somalia that are in the process of being freed from al-Shabaab control, following military incursions from Kenyan and Ethiopian troops.

“Women must be involved in peace building efforts in Somalia. The authorities simply cannot afford to overlook the competence and contributions of half of the population during this critical phase. We will remind them of this,” Mr. Solheim said.

The projects that will be given funding must have broad representation and be spread out geographically.

Solheim visited Mogadishu a few days ago. See photos here.

For the first year, the fund will total just over NOK 90 million. In addition to Norway, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates are allocating money to the fund. The fund will be used for both short-term projects that can give rapid results, and more long-term efforts to promote stabilization and the ability of local communities to manage on their own.

If all goes to plan, the first payment from the fund will be made during the summer.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Protest in Nairobi as Kenya Deports Muslim Scholar


NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Kenyan authorities have deported a Jamaican-born Muslim cleric from the east African nation soon after he landed at the country’s main airport on Thursday from Qatar, arousing local Muslims protests. Sheikh Bilal Philips, a renowned Muslim scholar and Canadian citizen who lives in Qatar was arrested by the authorities soon after landing in Nairobi due to security concerns. Sources at the Immigration Department and anti-terror police said Phillips who was named by the U.S. government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center that killed six people and injured another 1,000, had been invited to give lectures in various mosques in Nairobi and Mombasa. The authorities said they had received reports that he was scheduled to preach and give lectures in various mosques in Nairobi and Mombasa. Anti-terror police officers and immigration officers deported him back to Qatar on realizing he is in a list of those terror suspects banned in U.S, Germany, Australia, Britain and other European countries.

But news of his deportation was received with anger from Kenyan Muslim leaders who accused the country’s Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang for the scholar’s predicament.

Kajwang was accused of perpetuating discrimination against the Muslim community, with leaders accusing him of denying the Muslims the right to receive knowledge from a person they admire. Kenyan lawmakers also reacted furiously. Lawmaker Aden Duale led some of his colleagues in condemning the deportation. “Other faiths don’t go through this, why is it that they have to do to us the Muslims?” Duale asked.

Phillips is renowned as an Islamic scholar, a teacher, a speaker and an author. The 66-year-old Jamaica-born founded an Islamic Information Center, now known as Discover Islam based in Dubai, UAE. He also appears on Peace TV, a 24 hour Islamic satellite TV channel that broadcasts to many countries around the world. Sources intimate that Phillips for the same reasons that Britain turned him away in June 2010 and after ostensibly being banned. He had visited Britain to give lecturers on numerous occasions before the ban. A part from the Islamic Information Foundation, he also recently founded an Islamic Online University which offers completely tuition free intensive online courses in undergraduate and graduate courses in Islamic studies. The program includes recorded video lecturers and weekly live tutorial classes in a virtual classroom setting on the net. Although the cleric has never been convicted in any court of justice, an executive director of Investigative Project on Terrorism has previously stated that he follows a strong anti- Western agenda and is connected to radical Islamists. In April last year, he was banned from re-entering Germany as a persona non-grata.

In Kenya, he had been invited by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) to give a series of lectures on Islam across the country. Muslims said the cleric was due to give a lecture tour in Nairobi and Mombasa and had planned meetings with Muslim leaders. “However, he was unceremoniously deported out of the country hours after his arrival and this went contrary to pledges by the director of immigration that he will not be deported,” the Muslim leaders said. He had been cleared at Qatar and had a Visa for entry in Kenya.

But according to Muslim leaders, it was the Minister for Immigration who issued instructions against his entry hence his deportation after arrival at 5.30 p.m. (1430 GMT).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Collapse of Mayan Civilization Traced to Dry Spells

The collapse of the ancient Mayan civilization may have been linked to relatively modest dry spells, researchers now say.

The ancient Mayan empire once stretched across an area about the size of Texas, with cities and fields occupying what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America, including the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The height of the Mayan empire, known as the Classic period, reached from approximately A.D. 250 to at least A.D. 900.

The ancient Maya had what was arguably the most advanced civilization in the Americas. For instance, they made dramatic breakthroughs in astronomy that helped them very accurately predict where the moon and other planets would be in the sky centuries in the future. They also left behind many books and stone inscriptions regarding the stories of their gods and the history of their divine kings and queens.

For unknown reasons, the ancient Mayan civilization then disintegrated more than a millennium ago. The number of people declined catastrophically to a fraction of the empire’s former size, and the ruins of its great cities are now largely overgrown by jungle.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Britain Lets in 593,000 Immigrants in a Year

BRITAIN’S population soared by a quarter of a million in just 12 months thanks to immigration, official figures revealed yesterday.

Net migration — the number of people coming to live in Britain for more than a year minus those who moved abroad — stood at 250,000 in the year to June 2011.

The figure has shot up from 235,000 for the year to June 2010, just after the Coalition came to power.

The data, which shatters the Government’s promise to slash immigration, comes as the UK’s population races towards 70 million

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Italy Slammed by Court Over Forced Return of Migrants to Libya

The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday (23 February) ruled that Italy’s decision to send fleeing refugees and African migrants crossing the Mediterranean back to Libya was a violation of fundamental human rights. “Returning migrants to Libya without examining their case exposed them to a risk of ill-treatment and amounted to collective expulsion,” said the Strasbourg court.

The ruling could have widespread implications for EU member states on how they handle and treat every intercepted individual seeking asylum outside their territory said the Italian Council of Refugees, which brought the lawsuit against Italy.

The perilous 620km journey across the sea to Italy’s Lampedusa island by refugees and migrants last year saw 1,500 lives lost as boats overturned and sunk. The more fragile succumbed to dehydration and exposure. Others, in their attempt to reach salvation in a Europe they thought would be welcoming, were instead faced with an Italian military instructed by Rome to send them back to Tripoli.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Told Not to Send Back Intercepted Refugees

The European Court for Human Rights has told Italy it did not have the right to send a group of refugees straight back to Africa. Experts are now calling for clear border patrol rules for the EU. The case goes back three years: Approximately 200 men, women and children had ventured out onto the Mediterranean. In three boats, they were trying to go from Libya to Europe to escape the violence and misery in their home countries Somalia and Eritrea.

They believed their goal was in sight when ships of the Italian Guardia di Finanza on May 6, 2009 appeared on the horizon, just over 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the island of Lampedusa, the southernmost outpost of the European Union in the Mediterranean. The border guards took the Africans on board — but instead of bringing them to Italy, their course led directly back to Libya.

“In pictures you can clearly see that the refugees were forced off the ships in Tripoli,” Anton Giulio Lana said. He is one of two lawyers representing 11 Somalis and 13 Eritreans before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He alleges the Italians placed his clients at risk of torture and ill-treatment and that Italy also accepted that they would be returned from Libya to their home countries.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Nomad Alien Planets May Fill Our Milky Way Galaxy

Our Milky Way galaxy may be teeming with rogue planets that ramble through space instead of being locked in orbit around a star, a new study suggests. These “nomad planets” could be surprisingly common in our bustling galaxy, according to researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The study predicts that there may be 100,000 times more of these wandering, homeless planets than stars in the Milky Way.

If this is the case, these intriguing cosmic bodies would belong to a whole new class of alien worlds, shaking up existing theories of planet formation. These free-flying planets may also raise new and tantalizing questions in the search for life beyond Earth. “If any of these nomad planets are big enough to have a thick atmosphere, they could have trapped enough heat for bacterial life to exist,” study leader Louis Strigari said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]