Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120705

Financial Crisis
»One Third of Greek State Properties Used Illegally
»Americans & Career Politicians Make a Mockery of Independence Day
»Dressage Wars
»Interfaith Event to Support Muslims in St. Anthony
»Lawyers and Judges at War With Constitutional Law
»UCSB Professor Writes Book About Controversial Headscarves
»Weight-Loss Pharmaceutical That Caused Tumors in Animal Studies Approved for Lazy America
»Why So Many People Think Obama is a Muslim
Europe and the EU
»Europe’s Angry Muslims
»France: Jewish Student Attacked in Toulouse
»GlaxoSmithKline Admits to Criminal Pharma Fraud in 3 Billion Dollar Case
»Italy: Can Berlusconi Make a Eurosceptic Comeback?
»Italy: Fiat CEO Considers Closing Another Plant
»Italy: Axe Falls on Public Sector
»Spain: Stolen Codex Calixtinus Recovered in Spain
»UK: Al-Qaeda ‘Propaganda Expert’ Arrested in London
»UK: Battle Begins Over Army Cuts as Five Infantry Battalions Set to be Axed
»UK: Revellers Urinating on Mosque Wall
»UK: Six Arrested on Terrorism Charges in London
»UK: The Celebrity Photographer and an ‘Assault in Tesco on Hijab-Wearing Muslim She Called a Terrorist’
»UK: Tower Hamlets Voter Fraud — Still Nothing is Done
»UK: Yet Another Dismal Repeat at the Top of the BBC
North Africa
»Algeria: Military Kills ‘18 Qaeda Militants’
»Egypt’s Islamist Future
»The Next Revolution: Islamists in Tunisia Take Their Jihad to Syria
Israel and the Palestinians
»Leaked Foreign Office Documents Attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Middle East
»76.4% of Turks Against War With Syria
»Iran ‘Ready to Attack US Bases’
»Lebanon: Pope to Visit Lebanon, Meet Christians, Muslims in September
»Syria: Kurdish Opposition Says SNC Wants Islamic Regime
»Turkey: Çamlýca Mosque to Get Highest Minarets
South Asia
»Afghanistan’s Future Murky
»Andrew Mitchell Says Afghanistan Needs Long Term Aid Commitments
»India: ‘No Mini-Skirts’: Jamiat Wants Dress Code for J&K Tourists
»India: Road in Kolkata to be Named After Satyendra Nath Bose of Higgs Boson Fame
»Indonesia: More Likely to be Implicated in Koran Scandal
»Pakistan: Mob Kills Man for Insulting Koran
»Australian Navy Rescue Stranded Asylum Seekers
»Border Patrol Officers Told Run and Hide From Armed Illegal Aliens
»Greece: EP VP Admonishes Cameron on Immigration Comments
»UK: Border Shambles Lets 150,000 Migrants Overstay Their Visas …
Culture Wars
»Derby: Muslim Group Plans ‘Biggest Ever’ Pride Protest Despite Gay Hate Convictions
»Can You Explain the Higgs Boson in a Tweet?
»Exposing the Vatican-Islam Alliance
»God Particle: Physicists Celebrate Higgs Boson ‘Triumph’

Financial Crisis

One Third of Greek State Properties Used Illegally

Would bring billions into state coffers if sold

(ANSAMed) — ATHENS, JULY 5 — State-owned real estate worth billions of euros is being used fraudulently by people or companies without any real rights to do so, Kathimerini daily said today.

A report by the Hellenic Commission for the Privatization of State Property (TAIPED), which was created by the former Socialist government of Giorgos Papandreu, revealed that out of a total of 80,714 state-owned buildings, 28,264 have been settled illegally. Of these, 3,152 have been assessed and could bring 10 billion euros into state coffers if repossessed, Andreas Taprantzis, who sits on the TAIPED executive council, told attendees at the Economist conference. The total number of soon-to-be recovered properties is 4,862, and these could bring in investments of 18 billion euros if converted to vacation homes, Taprantzis said. Another 13,600 state-owned properties are being evaluated, while 51,794 properties totaling 1,400 square kilometers have been crossed off the potential state repo list for now. And there is yet another group of 10,457 state-owned properties, which are listed as “special,” and which include 572 islands and islets. It will take another 18 months to free up these potentially profitable areas, Taprantzis said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Americans & Career Politicians Make a Mockery of Independence Day

Today, the words in the Declaration of Independence mean nothing to tens of millions of Americans who could care less about the sacrifices made to give us freedom and liberty because they have zero understanding of the history of their own country. Of course, that has been the goal for close to four decades in this country. Dumb down the population using government indoctrination centers called public schools. Get rid of civics and ridicule any patriotism. Remember those goals of the communist party?

Congressional Record — Appendix, pp. A34-A35 — January 10, 1963 Current Communist Goals Extension of Remarks of Hon. A.S. Herlong, Jr., of Florida in the House of Representatives Thursday, January 10, 1963

  • Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
  • Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  • Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
  • Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Dressage Wars

by Diana West

Robert Strauss, a longtime correspondent of this blog, writes in today concerning an anti-Olympics op-ed in the New York Times by two academics: Jules Bykoff, an associate professor of political science at Pacific University, “who is writing a book on dissent and the Olympics,” and Alan Tomlinson, professor of “leisure studies” at the University of Brighton. Their piece critiques the commercialism of it all, the cronyism of it all, the privilege of it all (aha!) … and “Ann Romney’s horse,” which is probably the raison d’etre of it all.

Bob writes:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Interfaith Event to Support Muslims in St. Anthony

Gathering is in wake of City Council rejection of Islamic center.

Three churches in St. Anthony plan to hold an interfaith gathering Sunday between Christian and Muslim leaders in response to anti-Islamic comments made at a City Council meeting during which board members rejected a proposed Islamic center. Members of Nativity Lutheran Church, Faith United Methodist Church and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church organized the event in an effort to show that not all citizens in the small bedroom community north of Minneapolis are against Muslims worshiping there. “I thought it was unfortunate there weren’t Christians speaking on behalf of the Muslim community, showing their support and solidarity,” said Elsa Marty, the daughter of state Sen. John Marty and one of the organizers who attends Nativity Church, where the event will be held. “We want to make sure that’s not the reality here, that we are hospitable to our neighbors of other faiths.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lawyers and Judges at War With Constitutional Law

It didn’t take long after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1787 before Jefferson would realize just how insidious and dangerous the judiciary would become — That all of the Founders work to create and protect the Charters of Freedom for all posterity would soon be destroyed from within via an elite oligarchy known as the judiciary.

Today, it is no exaggeration to proclaim that true justice no longer exists in the United States. The government body created for the sole purpose of protecting and preserving freedom and liberty, upholding the Charters of Freedom as the Supreme Law of the Land, is the most insidiously corrupt and dangerous institution in America.

As Jefferson realized soon after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, they had failed to tie the hands of the judiciary, preventing lawyers and judges with personal and political agendas from subverting the Constitutional Republic from the bench via precedent setting, broad ungrounded interpretations, new definitions of old language and court procedures designed to protect the evil cabal by denying public access to true justice.

Though I can write a book on literally thousands of cases of totally lawless injustice taking place across America today, I have chosen only a few examples for this piece. These cases demonstrate just how lawless our entire judiciary has become. As you will see, there is quite literally nothing within our judicial system worthy of salvation. The corruption reaches from the U.S. Supreme Court all the way down to your local traffic court, and exists at all points in between.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UCSB Professor Writes Book About Controversial Headscarves

Argues Headscarf Ban in Western Countries Exacerbates Issue of Women’s Rights

The most controversial article of clothing of the early 21st century may be the headscarf. In her new book, The Headscarf Controversy: Secularism and Freedom of Religion, UCSB professor Hilal Elver tackles the issue currently affecting Muslim women — and courtrooms — around the world. Elver, a global and international studies scholar, explains the legal and historical background of wearing headscarves in public places, specifically in Turkey but also in Germany, France, and the United States. Elver believes that due to the recent “war on terror” in the Middle East, many Western countries have banned public use of the headscarf, supposedly in the name of women’s rights. But rather than helping women, she argues, the ban has had the disastrous effect of excluding pious Muslim women from society.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Weight-Loss Pharmaceutical That Caused Tumors in Animal Studies Approved for Lazy America

For the first time in 13 years (thank Big Pharma and Big Lawsuits), the U.S. government has approved a weight-loss medication. The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to Arena Pharmaceutical, of Zofingen, Switzerland, to manufacture Belviq, a drug which, according to reports, can be utilized by overweight or obese adults with at least one of those conditions.

In clinical trials, the BBC reported, the drug achieved only “modest” results, helping folks lose an average of about five percent of body weight. To put that in perspective, someone who weighed 225 pounds (but maybe should only weigh about 170) only lost about 11 pounds.

But here’s the rub: Not only does the drug appear to only minimally affect obesity, it’s potentially deadly as well. It was rejected by the FDA in 2010 because officials were concerned about tumors that had developed in animals tested with the drug.

However, somehow after the San Diego-based Big Pharma resubmitted its application with more information, the FDA suddenly found “little risk of tumors in humans using the drug,” the BBC reported. Now, the medication is expected to launch in 2013.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why So Many People Think Obama is a Muslim

by Pamela Geller

A new Gallup poll shows that 11% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim, and the leftist media just can’t figure out why anyone would get that idea. Slate concluded that it must be because of “his exotic name and background, the color of his skin, or (most likely) some combination of the two.” But in reality, the reason why people think Obama is a Musli m is because of how he acts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Europe’s Angry Muslims

by Lisa Kaaki

Muslims entered Europe as temporary workers during the postwar European economic boom, and eventually settled, bringing their families and their religion. They have inexorably and surreptitiously altered the continent’s cultural, political and security landscape. Governments gave out residency and work permits without consulting their respective citizens. Until the 1980s immigration was not the important political issue it is now. Bombings in London, riots in Paris, outrage over the veil and cartoons have shocked both Muslims and non-Muslims.

In this new release, Robert S. Leiken presents an engaging study of Muslims in Europe. The author, who defines himself as a “connoisseur of slums”, takes us inside some of Europe’s most notorious Muslims enclaves. Aware that analyzing Muslim anger in all European countries would end up in a book meant for a specialist but not the general public, Leiken decided to target both. “Europe’s Angry Muslims, The Revolt of the Second Generation”, focuses on the three European countries with the most Muslims: Britain, France and Germany. Spain is not included because the perpetrators of the March 2003 Madrid train bombings were first-generation immigrants.


[JP note: Muslims in general appear to exist in a permanent state of anger, but residing in Europe is perhaps not the most important factor. More likely, anger equals power.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Jewish Student Attacked in Toulouse

Student at the school where Merah killed teacher and 3 children

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 5 — A student from the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse where Mohamed Merah killed a teacher and three children in March, was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack on a train, the French interior ministry announced today.

The student is 17-years-old and was violently attacked yesterday while he was travelling on a train travelling from Toulouse to Lion.

The interior ministry said police identified the authors of the anti-Semitic attack and stressed the government’s commitment ‘to fight any resurgence of this deeply embedded illness which is anti-Semitism’.

Doctors gave the student a seven-day prognosis for the injuries reported.

On March 19 Merah, a radical Islamist, killed a teacher and three children.

France is home to Western Europe’s largest Jewish community, an estimated 500,000 people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

GlaxoSmithKline Admits to Criminal Pharma Fraud in 3 Billion Dollar Case

British registered company, GlaxoSmithKline, faces $3 billion in penalties after pleading guilty to the biggest health care fraud case in history. GSK admitted that physicians had been bribed to push potentially dangerous drugs in exchange for Madonna tickets, Hawaiian holidays, cash and lucrative speaking tours. They also admitted distributing misleading information regarding the antidepressant Paxil. The report claimed that it was suitable for children, but failed to acknowledge data from studies proving its ineffectiveness in children and adolescents.

GSK faced charges that they had used the gifts to sell three drugs that were either unsafe, or used for purposes that were not approved. The first drug, Paxil also known as Seroxat, was touted as safe and effective for children and adolescents. The ineffectiveness of Paxil, and the link to suicides, meant that it was banned for kids under 18-years-olds in 2008.

The second drug, Avandia was used in Britain to treat diabetes until it was withdrawn due to safety fears, including increased risk of heart attacks. The US government claimed that GSK had attempted to conceal the data surrounding the dangers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Can Berlusconi Make a Eurosceptic Comeback?

La Repubblica, The Guardian

It looked as though he had disappeared from politics, but now it seems that Silvio Berlusconi may be planning a comeback. In an attempt to surf the wave of euroscepticism that has made comedian Beppe Grillo the rising star of Italian politics, the ex-PM recently raised the issue of Italy leaving the eurozone. He also evoked the possibility of a German exit from the single currency in the event that Berlin refuses to endorse plans to reinforce the European Central Bank. None too pleased by Il Cavaliere’s re-emergence, La Repubblica believes that he is a threat to Mario Monti’s technocratic government —

… at a time when national cohesion is vitally important, the ‘Italian-style Grosse Koalition’ could break up if it succumbs to the temptation of early general elections. This amounts to a very difficult position for Mario Monti who is caught between a rock and a hard place. With only two days left to run before the European summit, Europe’s chancelleries continue to see Monti as a mediator who will play a key role in the success of any operation to resolve the crisis, whereas the leaders of Italy’s political parties see him as a catalyst that can easily be blamed if the initiative to resolve the crisis fails. […]

The PdL [Berlusconi’s political party] has been rocked by the improbable and inopportune resurrection of Il Cavaliere. This Berlusconian version of Golden Dawn [the Greek far-right party] has promised two things. A pathetic war against Germany, and an autarkic battle against the euro. This populist revenge […] is an act of political desperation. The government has no alternative. In spite of all of his faults and mistakes, Monti remains the most credible political option for Italy today. But it would be wrong to conclude this is the only reason that keeps Monti in power.

Berlusconi’s recent declarations have also become a source of worry beyond Italy’s borders. In a leader entitled “Please, not again”, British daily The Guardian writes —

The billionaire has seemingly limitless amounts of cash to throw at a campaign. And in recent comments in which he talked up the advantages to Italy’s export-led industry of trading again in lire, Berlusconi is on to a potential election winner. Italy is more Eurosceptic than it often appears. While it remains pro-European in the sense that Brussels is seen as a more consistent provider of good governance in Italy than Rome, the euro itself is associated with inflation. Today it has become the icon of stagnation. Mario Monti’s popularity, as the technocrat whose sole task is to reduce the budget deficit, has fallen off a cliff. Italy has no cash in the coffers to stimulate growth, as was demonstrated by a long-awaited growth decree. It was approved by cabinet only after it had been bled dry of its more radical provisions by the treasury. And yet without growth, Italy will be unable to repay its ever rising mountain of debt. The euro has acquired something of a bad smell and Berlusconi is far from being the only politician to latch on to the thought that Italy could regain growth through a return to the lira, devaluation and an export-led boom. But he could yet position himself to be its chief beneficiary.

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

Italy: Fiat CEO Considers Closing Another Plant

Turin, 4 July (AKI/Bloomberg) — Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said he may close a second Italian factory as European auto deliveries sink for fifth straight year.

Fiat will shut another plant after closing one in Sicily last year unless it can come up with an economically viable plan to use excess capacity to build cars for North America, Marchionne told reporters late yesterday in Turin.

Fiat has delayed the introduction of new models in Europe and is cutting investment in the region by 500 million euros this year. Marchionne, 60, said yesterday that he expects European car sales to remain around the current level for the next two to three years. Fiat’s first-quarter operating losses in the region almost doubled to 207 million euros.

“If that is the demand in Europe, there is at least one extra car plant in Italy,” Marchionne said. “If we manage to utilize the capacity to export to the U.S., this issue will disappear.”

The drop in European car sales accelerated in May to 8.4 percent, the eighth consecutive monthly decline, according to the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. Fiat, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA (RNO) have posted the steepest slumps in the region this year, plummeting 15 percent or more in the first five months

The Italian carmaker extended temporary layoffs for about 5,000 workers, mainly white-collar staff, at its executive headquarters in Turin for 14 working days starting from July 30, a union official said this week.

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

Italy: Axe Falls on Public Sector

Cuts hit cars, procurement and healthcare. Roughly 100,000 public-sector workers to be made redundant. One per cent VAT increase put off until January

ROME — The spending review will bring savings of about €10 billion a year. It will finance demand-driven expenses such as peace missions and the 5‰ levy from income tax but it will not entirely avert the expected rise in value added tax. Instead of rising by 2.5% (2% in October and 0.5% in January 2014), the standard rate of value added tax will go up by just one per cent from 21% to 22% while the reduced rate will go from 10% to 11% in January and rise by a further 0.5% in 2014.

THE DRAFT — Currently there is a draft decree comprising nineteen articles in five sections, although the Prime Minister’s Office stresses that the text is still under review after yesterday’s meetings with the social partners and local authorities. But the decree will contain more than just cuts to public expenditure. In addition to finance for currently unfunded expenditure, there will also be the long-awaited reduction in the commission on taxes collected by the Equitalia agency. From 2013, the rate will fall from 9% to 8% but the reduction could be as much as four percentage points, if revenue exceeds expectations.

HEALTHCARE — Cuts to healthcare are expected to generate €1 billion this year and €2 billion from 2013, with a corresponding reduction in the national health fund (FSN). The healthcare savings plan is draconian. Ceilings for territorial and hospital spending on medicines have been realigned, contracts have been renegotiated, agreements with private healthcare structures have been reviewed and funds for the purchase of medical equipment have been reduced while budget compensation from pharmacies, and contributions from pharmaceutical companies to budget overruns, have been increased. For the second half of 2012, pharmacies will have to give the health service an extra discount of 6.5% on medicines. From next year, when the system is up and running, the discount will be 3.65% The regularly perforated ceiling for hospital medicine expenses has been raised from 2.4% to 3.2% while the ceiling for territorial spending (health service-funded medicines supplied through pharmacies) shrinks from 13.3% to 11.5% of total expenditure on healthcare. The contribution of pharmaceutical companies to any budget overruns has also been raised substantially. Pharma companies will now have to fork out for 50% of any overruns of the government-stipulated budget, with the other 50% being the responsibility of the regional authority, albeit only if the region has failed to comply with the ceiling overall.

Healthcare initiatives go beyond the supply of medicines. Health authorities will be able to renegotiate contracts priced at more than 20% in excess of the baseline value and will have to procure supplies through CONSIP, the central government procurement body. The decree law is also said to reduce expenditure on contracts for non-healthcare goods and services by 5% over 2011. Regional expenditure for healthcare services supplied by health service-approved private structures will be cut by 1% in 2012 and 2% from 2013, in comparison with 2011.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES — As regional governors, mayors and provincial authority chairs feared, the spending review has slashed allocations of central government funds to local administrations. Ordinary-statute regions are being asked to forgo €700 million in 2012 and €1 billion from 2013. Special-statute regions and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano will have to cough up €500 million this year and €1 billion from 2013. Municipal authorities will see €500 million trimmed this year, plus a robust €2 billion from next year, and provincial authorities, leaving aside amalgamation plans, will have to save €500 million in 2012 and €1 billion in 2013.

Local authorities will also be subject to hiring caps. Staff replacement will be permitted up to a ceiling of 20% of those leaving from this year to 2014, and up to 50% in 2015. Only from 2016 will it be possible to hire as many new workers as have retired. There is a further stipulation. In regions where the ratio of spending on personnel to current expenditure is more that 20% above the national average, the replacement rate has been reduced by a further 50%.

For municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents (3,000 for mountain communities), there is now a duty to share basic functions with other small municipalities. At least three of the basic functions must be managed by municipality unions before the end of 2013 and all must be managed in this way by 2015. If small municipalities fail to clinch agreements, regional authorities will impose a final decision before the end of 2013.

PROCUREMENT — The first section of Enrico Bondi’s spending review focuses on much stricter rules for the procurement of goods and services by the public sector. At yesterday’s meeting with the social partners, he said this came to “€60 billion, of which 20% to 60% can be saved”. The first move is the annulment of contracts which fall outside the framework of the central government procurement body CONSIP’s agreements and fail to comply with the baseline prices those agreements put in place. There is also a requirement for public administrations to use CONSIP agreements for contracts for the supply of electricity, gas, fuel, heating fuel, landlines and mobile phones, annulling any stipulated in violation of the regulation. Public administrations will have a right of recession from contracts stipulated where subsequent CONSIP parameters “are more favourable than those in the contract stipulated and the contractor will not permit modification of the economic conditions”. A further saving on procurement comes from repeal of the 2006 regulation requiring the publication of calls for tender in the local daily press.

MINISTRIES — Inevitably, one section of the spending review concerns ministerial spending, although the government has not reached a decision on what to cut from which ministry. The draft contains no figures but belt-tightening is very much on the agenda. Meanwhile, various regulations regarding central government have been extended to all public bodies. There is a 50% cut in stationery expenses with targets for taking public records off paper, reducing landline and mobile phone bills and rationalising property portfolios. INPS, the social security institute, will have to renegotiate and enhance agreements stipulated with tax advisory centres (CAF). Public administration schools are facing rationalisation, with some to be amalgamated, and there will be a further crackdown on official cars, a further 50% of which are to go.

PUBLIC SECTOR — Cuts go beyond the 20% reduction in top staff and 10% for other employees. No accurate estimates are available but given the 3.5 million public-sector workers, between 100,000 and 300,000 workers could be laid off. The aim will be achieved with compulsory two-year redundancies or support for older workers until they reach pensionable age. This will be backed up by a three-stage ban on staff replacements. There will be freedom to hire replacements for up to 20% of workers leaving in 2012-2015, up to 50% in 2015 and for all those leaving from 2016. Public-sector workers face a raft of measures. From 1 October, the value of meal vouchers for all staff, managers included, cannot exceed €7. Public offices will close in the week of the 15 August holiday and the week from Christmas to New Year, when workers will be on compulsory holiday. It will no longer be possible to encash holidays, rest days and days off not taken. This will also hold true for workers who resign or take a pension. The “tendential elimination” of paid research assigned to managers comes into force and consultancy contracts can no longer be assigned to retirees. Salary payment contracts will be renegotiated and costs reduced by “at least 15%”.

SUPPRESSED PUBLIC BODIES — The national institute of metrological research, the Anton Dohn zoological station, the Italian institute of Germanic studies and the national institute of higher mathematics have all been suppressed. Also gone are the national institute of oceanography and experimental geophysics, the national institute of astrophysics, the museum of the history of physics and the Enrico Fermi study and research centre. Their functions have been redistributed to the national research council, the national institute for nuclear physics and the national institute of geophysics and vulcanology.

PUBLIC ASSETS — ISTAT index-linked increments on rents paid by public bodies have been blocked. Leases expiring from 1 January can only be renewed if rents are 15% lower. Standard sizes for offices have been laid down: 12-20 square metres per employee for new buildings and 20-25 for older ones…

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

Spain: Stolen Codex Calixtinus Recovered in Spain

A priceless 12th-century illustrated guide for pilgrims has been recovered by police a year after it was stolen from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

The Codex Calixtinus, an elaborate medieval manuscript and one of Spain’s most valuable cultural artefacts, was discovered hidden in the garage of a former employee of the cathedral. The presumed thief, named as Manuel Fernandez Castineiras, had worked as a caretaker and odd-job man for more than 25 years at the shrine of the apostle of St James but was sacked early last year. He had been suing cathedral authorities for unfair dismissal at the time of the theft on July, 5, 2011. Police arrested Mr Fernandez — and his wife, son and son’s girlfriend who are believed to be co-conspirators — late on Tuesday. In raids on properties owned by those arrested, police discovered at least 1.2 million euros in cash, eight copies of the Codex and other ancient books that had also disappeared from the Cathedral archive.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Al-Qaeda ‘Propaganda Expert’ Arrested in London

Computer specialist has been accused of travelling to Yemen to help provide graphic design expertise as part of a propaganda push by al-Qaeda to find western recruits.

Minh Quang Pham, 29, is said to have sworn an oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) after leaving Britain to join the terrorist group in December 2010.

He is said to have received military-style training and helped AQAP with their propaganda efforts before returning to Britain eight months later. Pham, who allegedly used the pseudonym “Amin,” is thought to be Vietnamese but sources say he had been living in New Cross, South London since at least 2005 where he ran his own computer company.

He was arrested on his return to Heathrow via Bahrain on July 27 last year when a live ammunition round was found in his possession. He was subsequently served with a deportation notice on national security grounds but last week he was re-arrested on a US extradition warrant. An indictment released by the US Department of Justice and seen by the Daily Telegraph, accuses Pham of providing material support to AQAP, based in Yemen, along with others “known and unknown.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Battle Begins Over Army Cuts as Five Infantry Battalions Set to be Axed

The defence secretary Philip Hammond is expected to announce today that five battalions will be axed from the infantry.

Axing the battalions and merging other units or turning them into reservists will see the regular army cut from 102,000 troops to 82,000 by 2020, its lowest level since the Napoleonic Wars. The plan, titled Army 2020, will see it split into two, with a reaction force ready to respond to any emergencies, and an adaptable force capable of carrying out a host of tasks and commitments. Mr Hammond has claimed that the changes to the army, which were drawn up by Lieutenant General Nick Carter, will provide the basis of a smaller, more flexible Army.

However, the plans have been criticised by a number of defence and armed forces experts. Earlier this week, The Daily Telegraph revealed Brigadier David Paterson from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has written to the head of the army expressing his disappointment at the decision. Colonel Bob Stewart, a Conservative MP and former commanding officer with the Cheshire Regiment who sits on the defence select committee, said cutting troops was putting the nation at risk, but explained that the government may not have another option.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘If you reduce the numbers available you have less options, you have less flexibility, you have less power, that’s a fact.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Revellers Urinating on Mosque Wall

A crackdown has been ordered after worshippers were faced with revellers urinating up the side of their mosque. Congregation members at Rawtenstall’s Shah Jalal Jamia masjid and Islamic Centre arriving for services in the early hours have been confronted by the menace. And community worker Saful Islam said that the situation is becoming more urgent with the upcoming arrival of Ramadhan.


Sgt Mick Blackburn, of Rossendale Police, said: “It is absolutely despicable. The neighbourhood team will not be patrolling at that time but there are officers about at that time and I will raise it with those units.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Six Arrested on Terrorism Charges in London

Five men and a woman have been arrested in London on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, Scotland Yard said today.

The operation is understood to relate to a possible plot involving Islamist extremists with potential targets in the UK. A 24-year-old man was tasered during his arrest but did not require hospital treatment, police said. The arrests, which police said are not connected to the London 2012 Olympic Games, were made early this morning by officers from the MPS Counter Terrorism Command. The threat was not thought to be imminent. Some of those arrested are understood to be British nationals.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Celebrity Photographer and an ‘Assault in Tesco on Hijab-Wearing Muslim She Called a Terrorist’

A portrait photographer to the stars shoved a pregnant Muslim woman to the floor and called her a terrorist during a row in Tesco, a court heard yesterday. Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury also branded the hijab-wearing woman’s family suicide bombers, it was alleged. The 41-year-old, who has 11 portraits hanging in the National Portrait Gallery including exhibits of London mayor Boris Johnson and Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman, denies racially-aggravated assault. She told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court that trouble began at the Tesco store in Kensington, West London, when she offered to help the woman, Mounia Hamoumi, and her husband unload their shopping trolley. The court was told she had overheard the husband refusing to help his wife because he was too busy looking after their children. ‘I told him that is what feminism is all about, women helping women — and he told me to “get lost”,’ claimed Heathcote-Drury.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tower Hamlets Voter Fraud — Still Nothing is Done

Cllr Peter Golds on electoral malpractice in his borough where the plot thickens and the smell grows

In April I wrote about postal voting concerns in the light of the controversial Spitalfields byelection in Tower Hamlets. As well as ongoing stories about postal votes being collected from residents, I referred to some 14% of postal votes (135 out of 956) being rejected from the counting process because of non matching signatures, incorrect dates of birth and no signatures or date of birth on the attached declaration.

The controversy created considerable media interest and, for once, a response by the police. Although Tower Hamlets council, in their infamous council run “newspaper”, East End Life, rejected all concerns. In the May GLA and Mayoral election we were promised a regular police presence at polling stations throughout the borough. In the event local interest shifted to nearby Weavers ward, where there was a further byelection caused by the resignation of a Labour councillor and where Respect, supported by Mayor Rahman and his “Independent” collea gues put in a considerable effort to try and gain the seat.

Needless to say there was trouble at the polling stations in Weavers Ward, and the Evening Standard reported an incident at which the police were asked to intervene as early as 10am on election day. Members of the electoral commission visited the polling stations in Weavers Ward and saw for themselves the mobs congregated at the entrances to the polling places.


Unless Parliament tightens the rules and the police enforce legislation, then the public sense of malaise in the electoral system will increase. And there will be a further erosion of confidence in the democratic process.

[Reader comment by William on 4 July 2012 at about 10 pm.]

What happens when ten more London Boroughs resemble the Tower Hamlets of today? What about when all of London becomes like Tower Hamlets? It’s only a matter of time. How will the rapidly retreating British part of Britain impose its will to tackle voter fraud in the ever expanding post-British areas?

[Reader comment by Jack in reply to William on 4 July 2012 at about 10 pm.]

Exactly. Already my borough looks like the Brent of 10 years ago and Brent now looks like the Tower Hamlets of 10 years ago. We’re swimming against a demographic tide. Within a few years it won’t be possible for a tory mayor to get elected — unless the tories become totally left-wing and pro-multicultural (which I suppose is what they are currently trying to do)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Yet Another Dismal Repeat at the Top of the BBC

by Peter Oborne

The new director-general is a clone of the old one — a far cry from the values of Lord Reith

People generally accept that no BBC director-general will ever be as great as Lord Reith, the first occupant of this profoundly important post which has such an enormous bearing on our common national life. But as George Entwistle is appointed the BBC’s 15th director-general, it is worth asking what were the qualities the dour and slightly terrifying Scotsman brought to the job.


[Reader comment by albany on 5 July 2012 at 09:56 am.]

“Surprisingly often,the BBC gives the impression that it does not care for Britain.” I’m not surprised as the three main political parties despise Britain and virtually hate the English.

[Reader comment by jaykay on 5 July 2012 at about 09:30 am.]

Yet another example of the total ineptitude of this government. If Labour were in power can you imagine them allowing anyone with right wing views to hold this post?. Yet again Cameron just rolls over and says “whatever”. There again, given his record so far, he probably agrees with the left wing propaganda of the BBC and The Guardian is probably his favourite newspaper.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Military Kills ‘18 Qaeda Militants’

Algiers, 3 July (AKI) — Algeria says it has killed 18 Al-Qaeda militants over the last two weeks, the Algerian interior minister Ould Qabila said.

The military killed the insurgents amid a series of roundups in the northern Tizi Ouzou province in the region of Kabylia, local media cited Qabila as saying.

“Cabilia’s terrorism problem consists of the fact that terror cells get support from the local population,” Qabila said. “To fight these groups the people of the area have to help us hunt down the terrorists.”

The heavy vegetation of Kabylia’s mountains gives insurgents cover to form bases.

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

Egypt’s Islamist Future

by David Schenker

The election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president temporarily puts to rest the debate about whether the nation will be secular or Islamist. Egypt is an Islamist state. Not only does a member of the Muslim Brotherhood hold the nation’s highest post, nearly 75% of the legislature’s seats are held by Brotherhood members or by their harder-line Salafi cousins — or at least they were held by the Islamists before the dissolution of the People’s Assembly by the ruling military council last month.

Competition between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis is not new. Indeed, according to a diplomatic cable written by the US Embassy in Cairo and published by WikiLeaks, Brotherhood leaders have been uncomfortable since at least 2009 watching its younger, more rural members “becoming increasingly Salafi-oriented.”It takes years to become a full member of the Muslim Brotherhood. To become a Salafi, one needs only to commit oneself to the cause and grow a beard. It’s little surprise the Salafis are nipping at the heels of the old-school Brotherhood.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Next Revolution: Islamists in Tunisia Take Their Jihad to Syria

A trip to Tunis’s slums finds young Salafi Islamists who were at the vanguard of the Arab Spring, and are now set to take the fight to Syria to take down the ruling secularist regime

Domenico Quirico

Just a few blocks from the hotels, the restaurants, and the government offices, Balancine is a labyrinth filled with piles of garbage and stray dogs. Teenage boys are lying around, laughing, some of them drunk.

We came here to find the new radical Islam which has become so popular since the Arab Spring. This is the house we are looking for. Going up a dark and slippery staircase, which smells of urine, sawdust and ammonia, we arrive at the third floor. We enter a darkened room, lit by a single dim light bulb hanging from the ceiling. A curtain is barely hiding the dirty toilet. A big couch, which also serves as a bed, occupies almost all the room. A 22-year-old man, Yusef, is sitting cross-legged on the couch.

We have come to meet him before he leaves for Jihad in Syria. He is a Salafi Islamist, part of a movement that is fast becoming a major player in the region. This is not the pragmatic secularized Islam, nor the social democracy of the Muslim Brotherhood or of the moderate Ennahda movement (the Renaissance Party) whom the Western world found so reassuring after the Arab revolutions.

Yusef is set to leave for Syria to fight Bashir al-Assad’s unholy regime. Other young Tunisians have already joined the jihad, recruited in the city’s most radical mosques, and given a ticket to Turkey, along with directions on how to reach the army of rebels. “There are many other brothers: Egyptian, Libyan, Algerian,” says Yusef. Similar international Muslim brigades fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.

Yusef doesn’t look at us as he lays out his life story: poverty, the school, petty crimes to survive — and finally the revolution.

He is one among many other “ street thugs” from the slums who have kept the revolution alive in the streets, under the blows and tear gas. When asked if he is scared of a war which, at the end of the day is not his own, the boy suddenly comes to life: “ You don’t know anything,” he says. “Fear, courage… My strength is not in weapons. It is inside. I am an instrument. Muslims had become dependent on the things that you gave and taught us. This is our rebirth. How can we be afraid of a tyrant’s army? Don’t you see that God is helping us? God moved the Americans’ minds. The Americans are helping, arming and funding us. They are an instrument of the holy cause.”

I wonder if Yusef knows that a few days ago two other young Tunisian men were captured with explosives and weapons and paraded on Syrian television. Maybe he does, but it does not matter.

On May 20, more than 20,000 Salafi Islamists gathered in the Tunisian city of Kairouan. There are rumors about them, almost certainly false, that they are training an army. But what’s true is that Salafis in combat gear are patrolling Tunis’ “park of love,” where young couples meet up, behind a luxury hotel that Gadhafi’s son was building. The Salafis sometimes raid the park to stop acts they consider to be impure. In Jendouba and Sidi Bouzid, the Salafis attacked and burned down bars that sold alcoholic drinks.

Islam, united

Ihmed Zouhari, another young man, is one of the heads of the Hezb el Tahrir, a radical party that is run like a sect. They hate the Muslim Brotherhood and don’t believe democracy has its place in Islamic society.

“We’ve tried everything: liberalism, dictatorships, nationalism, socialism. What did we get? Poverty and corruption. The only thing that stayed pure is Islam,” believes Zouhari. “We need a radical change, a new system based on the Islamic doctrine and the Koran, and then we will unite all the Arab and Muslim countries under the same flag.”

Asked how a doctrine that was born centuries ago can work in the modern world, he has no doubts: “You don’t understand. Your democracy works for you because you live in a world where people can’t decide on a political model, where ideology serves only to seize power and changes according to what is needed. Here, we don’t have political parties, only Islam. You say that this is the Middle Ages. I ask you: have men really changed since then?”

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Leaked Foreign Office Documents Attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Leaked Foreign Office documents accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of blaming the Palestinian Authority for inciting hatred of Israel as an excuse for him to delay peace talks. The previously redacted documents, released following a Freedom of Information Act request, appear to reveal Foreign Office officials’ views of Mr Netanyahu and the Middle East peace process. One August 2009 document analysing the Palestinian Authority’s education system claims Mr Netanyahu “has a history of using the incitement issue” to delay the process. It adds: “The history of this issue suggests that Netanyahu administrations have a tendency to charge the PA/PLO with incitement as a delaying tactic in peace talks.” The documents were passed to The Commentator website, which claimed they proved a differing stance between Prime Minister David Cameron’s support of Israel and the approach taken by Foreign Office civil servants.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

76.4% of Turks Against War With Syria

Erdogan proposed military coalition to Obama, was rejected

(ANSAMed) — ANKARA, JULY 5 — Over 76% of the population is against a possible war with Syria, according to a survey published by Star daily newspaper today.

The survey was carried out after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet on June 22, causing a rise in tension between the two countries. Just 23.6% of those surveyed are in favor of a military response against Syria.

Turkey’s Islamic Nationalist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allegedly contacted US President Barack Obama to propose the creation of a Lybia-style international military coalition against Syria, but the proposal was rejected, according to the Israeli intelligence site Debka.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran ‘Ready to Attack US Bases’

Iran declared on Wednesday that it can destroy nearby US military bases and strike Israel within minutes of an attack on the Islamic Republic, reflecting tensions over Iran’s suspect nuclear programme.

The veiled threat came during a military drill that has included the firing of ballistic missiles. The elite Revolutionary Guards, conducting the war games in Iran’s central desert, said that the missiles were aimed at mock-ups of foreign military bases. Israel and the US have hinted at the possibility of military strikes against Iran if sanctions and diplomacy do not rein in Iran’s nuclear development programme. The West suspects Iran may be aiming to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its programme is for peaceful purposes. The semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Gen. Ami Ali Hajizadeh of the Revolutionary Guards as saying US bases are in range of Iran’s missiles and could be hit in retaliatory strikes. He referred to Israel as “occupied territories.” “Measures have been taken so that we could destroy all these bases in the early minutes of an attack,” said Hajizadeh, chief of the Guards’ airspace division.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Pope to Visit Lebanon, Meet Christians, Muslims in September

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will present a papal document addressing the church’s concerns in the Middle East, meet with representatives of local Christian and Muslim communities, and address political and cultural leaders on a three-day visit to Lebanon Sept. 14-16. Pope Benedict’s primary task on the trip will be to present a document, called an apostolic exhortation, based on the deliberations of a special synod of bishops held at the Vatican in 2009.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria: Kurdish Opposition Says SNC Wants Islamic Regime

Railroading revolution, excluding minorities, Sherko Abbas says

(ANSAMed) — ANKARA, JULY 5 — The Syrian National Council (SNC) is railroading the revolution in order to install an Islamic regime, Kurdish opposition leader Sherko Abbas denounced in an interview with Turkish daily Hurriyet.

The SNC is supported by Turkey and is considered by Westerners to be the main opposition interlocutor, but the deep divisions between it and the Kurdish opposition came to light during the recent opposition conference in Cairo.

“The SNC wants to substitute this regime with an Islamic one led by the Muslim Brotherhood, one that does not recognize the rights of Kurds, Alawites, Christians, or other minorities,” said Abbas, who is the leader of the Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA) in Syria.

“The hidden agenda of the NSC, which sees Syrians as Arabs only, is to create an Islamic, Arab, Sunnite, nationalist regime in Syria, which will exclude Kurds and other minorities,” Abbas said. “The SNC is railroading the revolution, and that’s not right.” Abbas added that “people on the ground in Syria no longer recognize the SNC as their representative,” and that, post-Assad, Kurds “will not accept anything less than federalism.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Çamlýca Mosque to Get Highest Minarets

Details about the giant mosque set to be built on Istanbul’s Çamlýca Hill have revealed that the mosque will have the highest minarets in the world, its architect said. A 15,000 square-meter mosque will be built on a tract of land in Istanbul’s Çamlýca district and will be visible from all parts of the city, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on May 29. Hacý Mehmet Güner, the public works director of Kahramanmaraþ’ municipality became the head architect of the project upon Erdogan’s order following the announcement, daily Milliyet reported.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan’s Future Murky

by Trudy Rubin

Will Egypt’s first democratically elected president pursue democracy? The what-might-have-beens about Afghanistan are already starting, even though there are still about 90,000 U.S. troops there. U.S. forces will draw down to 68,000 by September and will shift from a combat to an advisory role in 2013; most American troops are due to return home by the end of 2014. Yet, despite the loss of almost 2,000 U.S. soldiers in an effort to stabilize the country, the Afghan future remains murky. A Taliban comeback is quite possible.

So it’s worth reading a new book, out last week, by senior Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran, called “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan,” to get a sobering loo k at what went wrong.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Andrew Mitchell Says Afghanistan Needs Long Term Aid Commitments

Hard-won gains made by British troops in Afghanistan risk being lost if the international donors fail to make long term aid commitments to the country, Andrew Mitchell, the Development Secretary, warned on Wednesday.

Donor countries meeting in Tokyo this weekend should “face up” to their responsibilities in the so-called “transformation decade” that will begin when the last Nato combat troops leave at the end of 2014, he said. Mr Mitchell, who returned on Wednesday from a two-day trip to Afghanistan, paid tribute to the “extraordinary valour” of British troops in Afghanistan. His visit coincided with the killing of two Welsh Guards and a warrant officer from the Royal Corps of Signals in a “dreadful green on blue” incident when an Afghan in police uniform opened fire on his Nato mentors. Five Nato troops were injured in a similar incident near Kabul on Wednesday. In a stark warning against the dangers of faltering international commitment, Mr Mitchell raised the spectre of the former Afghan communist president Mohammad Najibullah, who was castrated and killed by the Taliban in 1996 after the Soviet withdrawal.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: ‘No Mini-Skirts’: Jamiat Wants Dress Code for J&K Tourists

SRINAGAR: Just when tourism is peaking in Kashmir, the Jamiat-e-Islami on Wednesday asked the state tourism department to impose a “dress code” on those visiting the Valley, particularly from foreign countries. Jamiat spokesman Zahid Ali said the tourism department must instruct tourists not to wear clothes that are contrary to the “local ethos and culture”. “Some tourists, mostly foreigners, are seen in mini-skirts and other objectionable dresses that are against our ethos and culture, and unacceptable to civil society,” he said, adding, “Kashmiris cannot, for the sake of their economy, give up their divine (sic) values at any cost.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Road in Kolkata to be Named After Satyendra Nath Bose of Higgs Boson Fame

Kolkata: The West Bengal Assembly today accepted a proposal to name a road in Kolkata after eminent physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, one of the pioneers in the work that led to the potential discovery of the “God Particle” or the Higgs Boson that was announced by scientists on Wednesday. The term “boson” — a new sub-atomic particle, the basic building block of the universe — owes its name to Bose. The Mayor of Kolkata will now decide on the road in the city that will be named after the physicist.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: More Likely to be Implicated in Koran Scandal

Jakarta, 4 July (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian politician Zulkarnaen Djabar is unlikely to be the only individual implicated in the graft-ridden Koran procurement at Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry as fellow lawmakers also accepted the holy books.

It was reported that each lawmaker accepted 504 copies of the Koran to be distributed to their constituents for free. Each copy was said to have cost taxpayers Rp 1 million (US$106).

Several lawmakers who oversee religious and social affairs admitted on Tuesday they had received 18 boxes of 28 copies of the Koran each to be given out to voters in their electoral districts to “help strengthen their faith”.

They, however, denied such a practice was part of the graft case under investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

“I received all 18 boxes yesterday, which I have yet to distribute to the mosques and other Islamic groups in my electoral district. Koran distribution is an annual program arranged by the Religious Affairs Ministry, so I think there is no problem with it because it is officially allotted for each lawmaker [at Commission VIII],” Ali Maschan Musa, who represents East Java’s fourth legislative district as a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), said.

Inggrid Kansil of the Democratic Party has also admitted that she had received similar amount of Korans, but was unsure whether all Commission VIII members accepted it.

She admitted that she had no knowledge that each Koran cost Rp 1 million (US$106), but was informed that the Religious Affairs Ministry proposed up to Rp 50 billion last year for the procurement.

Previously, the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) announced the budget allocated for the Koran procurement last year was “unusually” large compared to the Rp 4 billion allocated in previous years.

Jazuli Juwaini of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) claimed Commission VIII had agreed to the huge increase due to the urgency of distributing free Korans as an attempt to tackle radicalism among Muslims.

“The Religious Affairs Ministry told us that the 60,000 Korans distributed in previous years was not enough for more than 2 million Muslims nationwide. According to the ministry, poor distribution of Korans was among the reasons for growing radicalism within society. This was the reason the government proposed a higher budget for the procurement last year, and we believed approving the increase would help support [the ministry’s] efforts to tackle radicalism,” Jazuli said.

The case against the Koran procurement project developed further after Zulkarnaen Djabar was recently named a suspect by the KPK for ordering the Religious Affairs Ministry’s Directorate General for Islamic Affairs to appoint certain companies, including his son’s PT KSAI, as winners of the procurement project.

On Tuesday, the KPK revealed that it would summon both for questioning next week. The KPK spokesman, Johan Budi, said the investigation into the case began two weeks ago and the KPK was still questioning witnesses related to the two suspects.

He said the KPK summoned two witnesses, Imam Faozi and Muhammad Alfian, from PT Jaya Abadi Nusantara, the ministry’s partner in procuring the Korans. The firm is believed to be the winner of the tender for the Koran procurement project worth Rp 35 billion.

“We’re still investigating the case. There’s a possibility that there was an effort to direct [state funds] to procurement projects related to computer labs for Madrasah Tsanawiyah [Islamic junior high schools] in 2010 and 2010 as well as Korans in 2011 and 2012,” Johan said.

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

Pakistan: Mob Kills Man for Insulting Koran

Thousands of people have beaten a man to death before burning his corpse after he was accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book, Pakistani police said. The man was killed after attackers stormed a police station where he had been detained for allegedly throwing pages from the Koran onto the street, police official Mohammed Azhar Gujar said yesterday. He said that police officers tried to protect the man during Tuesday’s attack, but the mob turned violent. They burned several police vehicles and wounded seven officers before grabbing the man, who has not been identified. Under Pakistani blasphemy laws, anyone guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet or the Koran can be sentenced to death. But these laws are often misused to settle personal scores.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Australian Navy Rescue Stranded Asylum Seekers

Two Australian navy patrol boats rescued 162 people from an asylum seeker boat in trouble in Indonesian waters and were taking them Thursday to an immigration detention centre on a remote Australian island territory.

Three people required medical attention, including a man who suffered a heart attack and was resuscitated by military personnel, Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Jo Meehan said. There were no fatalities, unlike recent incidents in which would-be migrants have capsized on their way to Australia. On Tuesday, Australia and Indonesia agreed to strengthen communication during sea disasters and look into an exchange program of search and rescue specialists to combat people smuggling. Many asylum seekers travel to Indonesia first before aiming for Australian territory in rickety, crowded fishing boats.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Border Patrol Officers Told Run and Hide From Armed Illegal Aliens

In what they termed “another nauseating series of Virtual Learning Center brainwashing courses that Border Patrol agents are forced to sit behind a computer for hours and endure,” officials at the Border Patrol union reported their members are taught in an “Active Shooter” course that if agents encounter a shooter in a public place they are to “run away” and “hide.”

But on Saturday, while visiting Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had a different message, according to a government report.

“If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call [local] law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival, presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered,” states the Arizona (Local 2544) Border Patrol web site.

“These types of mandatory brainwashing courses and the idiocy that accompanies them are simply stunning when they are force-fed to law enforcement officers,” state NBPC Local 2544 officials.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: EP VP Admonishes Cameron on Immigration Comments

They create a climate of divisiveness and fear, Podimatà says

(ANSAMed) — ATHENS, JULY 4 — European Parliament Vice President Anni Podimatà did not take kindly to David Cameron’s comment yesterday that he would shut down UK borders should Greece leave the euro zone.

“Such comments only contribute to the climate of division, fear and uncertainty that has been so damaging to Europe in recent years. We expect more from the UK government,” she said in a statement issued today. “We would expect the British to support ways to overcome the crisis, for example by exerting greater control on financial markets, as the recent Barclays debacle has shown.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Border Shambles Lets 150,000 Migrants Overstay Their Visas …

A new backlog of more than 150,000 immigration cases has been uncovered by inspectors in the latest border shambles. The total — which is about the same as the population of Oxford — is increasing by nearly 100 every day. It is made up of migrants whose visas allowing them to stay in Britain have expired and who have been refused permission to stay on. But border officials have no idea if they have actually left the country or are still living here illegally.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Derby: Muslim Group Plans ‘Biggest Ever’ Pride Protest Despite Gay Hate Convictions

A ‘bigger than ever’ protest by a group of Muslim fundamentalists is being planned for Derbyshire’s upcoming Pride parade this weekend. However, several arrests and successful prosecutions have been made against attendees of the anti-gay protests in previous years, which is not said to represent the majority of Derby’s Muslim population. Organisers have vowed to continue despite the “injust arrest and imprisonment of our fellow Muslims”. The Derby Muslim Action Force said this week: “The heat always seems to bring out the worst of this society and this summer is no different with the upcoming Gay Pride march … As Muslims it is our duty to forbid this major, deplorable evil of society.” With an image of a red bar through a rainbow flag, the Force’s blog post said it would call on gays to follow “a natural way of living as detailed in Islam” and claimed to have had national support for its protest this year.


[JP note: See also here ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Can You Explain the Higgs Boson in a Tweet?

by Tom Chivers

Over on Twitter the Telegraph News account is asking for its followers to come up with an explanation of what the Higgs boson does, in 140 characters or fewer (in fact 125 or fewer, once you’ve addressed it to @telegraphnews). I’m intrigued by this, because yesterday I tried to write a brief explainer for someone on Twitter who asked what was meant by the Higgs boson “giving other particles mass”. I made a real effort to keep it as brief as possible, but it still went to a Biblical-by-Twitter-standards 256 words, or 1487 characters, and I have a strong suspicion that it’s nonsense anyway


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Exposing the Vatican-Islam Alliance

by Giulio Meotti

The Roman Catholic Church hailed UNESCO’s decision to grant the world heritage status to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. According to the Vatican authorities, the UN decision is a “diplomatic victory” for the Palestinian Authority. Last Friday, the United Nations approved the Palestinian bid to place Jesus’ birthplace on its list of sites of World Heritage in danger. Israel called the decision “absurd” and “a sad day.” The Palestinian agenda at UNESCO is the de-Judaization of the land of Israel by Islamicizing the holy sites. Oras Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian minister who deals with antiquities and gets funds from UNESCO, made clear, “it’s writing or rewriting the history of Palestine.” Less known is that the Vatican institutions are collaborating with the Palestinian autocracy.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

God Particle: Physicists Celebrate Higgs Boson ‘Triumph’

The revelation that the long-sought particle had almost certainly been detected in the Large Hadron Collider’s 17-mile track prompts scientists to erupt with joy.

For physicists, it was a moment like landing on the moon or the discovery of DNA.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]