Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120814

»17-Foot-Long Burmese Python Caught in Everglades
»Holy Herpetology! Burmese Python Found With Record 87 Eggs
»LHC Primordial Matter is Hottest Stuff Ever Made
»New Islamic Center in Former Local School Causing Controversy
Europe and the EU
»Danish Rocketeers Launch Private Space Capsule Escape System Test
»EU Membership Talks ‘Could Topple Iceland Coalition’
»EU Politicians Ignore Muslim World’s Crimes
»France: Violent Riots in Amiens Leave 16 Officers Injured
»France: Hollande Vows to Fight the Riots
»France: Hollande Vows Clampdown After Riots
»Germany: ‘Free Bavaria!’ Demands Veteran Politician
»Human and Neanderthal Interbreeding Questioned
»Leader of Anti-Semitic Party in Hungary Discovers He is Jewish
»Norway: Report Fuels Calls for Stoltenberg’s Resignation
»Nostalgic and Narcissistic: France’s Obsession With the Past Hinders Reform
»Police Officers Shot and Buildings Gutted as Hundreds of Youths Riot During ‘Extremely Violent’ Night in Northern France
»Poll: Almost Half of Brits Want to Leave the EU
»Slovenia: Government Bans ‘Entrance Fees’ To Public Beaches
»Titanic Explorer Ballard in Cyprus for Underwater Expedition
»UK: Bungalow in Westcliff Still Being Used as Illegal Mosque
»Worst Violence in Years Rocks Northern French City
Mediterranean Union
»International Journalist Contest Kicks Off
Israel and the Palestinians
»Europe United Against Israel
»Israeli Speculation Over Iran Strike Reaches Fever Pitch
Middle East
»Emaar Unveils New Mosque in Dubai
»Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable
»‘Muslim for a Month: ‘ Tourists Take Islamic ‘Pray-Cations’
»Saudis Attempt to Block Vatican Plan for .catholic Web Addresses
South Asia
»‘Green on Blue’ Killings Sapping Morale in Afghanistan
»Hindus Leave Pakistan for India Amid Claims of Persecution
Far East
»Japan: Parents Can Buy 3D-Printed Models of Unborn Fetuses
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Pirate Sentenced to 12 Life Sentences
»Mars Surface Made of Shifting Plates Like Earth, Study Suggests


17-Foot-Long Burmese Python Caught in Everglades

The biggest Burmese python ever caught in Florida — 17 feet, 7 inches long and 1641/2 pounds — was found in Everglades National Park, the University of Florida announced Monday.

The snake was pregnant with 87 eggs, also said to be a record. Scientists said the python’s stats show just how pervasive the invasive snakes, which are native to Southeast Asia, have become in South Florida.

“It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild,” said Kenneth Krysko, a snake expert at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where the euthanized snake was brought. “‘There’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”

The python had feathers in its stomach that scientists plan to use to identify the types of wildlife it was eating.

“A 171/2-foot snake could eat anything it wants,” Krysko said.

Tens of thousands of Burmese pythons are believed to be living in the Everglades, where they thrive in the warm, humid climate. While many were apparently released by their owners, others may have escaped from pet shops during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and have been reproducing ever since.

The snakes kill their prey by coiling around it and suffocating it. They have been known to swallow animals as large as deer and alligators.

Authorities have taken repeated steps to try and reduce the python problem, banning their importation and allowing them to be hunted. But those efforts have done little to reduce the population.

In and around Everglades National Park alone, some 1,825 Burmese pythons were found between 2000 and 2011.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Holy Herpetology! Burmese Python Found With Record 87 Eggs

A double record-setting Burmese python has been found in the Florida Everglades.

At 17 feet, 7 inches (5.3 meters) in length, it is the largest snake of its kind found in the state and it was carrying a record 87 eggs. Scientists say the finding highlights how dangerously comfortable the invasive species has become in its new home.

“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” said Kenneth Krysko, of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. “It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

LHC Primordial Matter is Hottest Stuff Ever Made

It was the ultimate phase change. Two particle smashers are homing in on what caused the seething primordial soup of the early universe to evolve into the protons and neutrons that make up ordinary matter today. In the process one has set a new record: the hottest temperature ever created by humans.

Microseconds after the big bang, the hot universe consisted of a kind of soup in which quarks roamed free instead of being bound together in atoms as they are today. This almost frictionless quark-gluon plasma has been recreated at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, by smashing gold ions together. Their plasma reached 4 trillion °C.

Now a team at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which smashes lead ions together, have made a plasma almost 40 per cent hotter. At the Quark Matter 2012 conference in Washington DC on 13 August, they reported that their quark-gluon plasma had reached over 5 trillion °C, the hottest temperature ever created in an experiment.

“In this field records are made to be broken,” says Jurgen Schukraft at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. The first hint of a record came in November 2010, when the LHC first collided lead ions, but it took two years to actually measure it, Schukraft says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Islamic Center in Former Local School Causing Controversy

WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — A building on the border of West Bloomfield Township and Farmington Hills is surrounded by a lot of controversy.

Eagle Elementary School belonged to the Farmington Public Schools until it was sold to the Islamic Cultural Association. That is where the controversy begins.

Attorney Erin Mersino with the Thomas More Law Center told 7 Action News there was never a “for sale” sign posted outside of the building. There were several groups interested in buying the building including a Jewish parochial school, an autistic special needs school, and the Light of the World Christian Center church.

“I was being discouraged from doing that,” said the church’s pastor Bruce Burwell. “I couldn’t understand in this economic time. The Farmington Hills School District or any school in America are under distressed times. If someone is interested in buying a building, why would they be discouraged?”

“Why would they conduct a sale of property in secret as opposed to having it in public meeting as the Attorney General’s opinion states it must be done?” said Mersino. “That’s why we are asking for an investigation of these matters.”

Mersino is asking Attorney General Bill Schuette to do some digging in this case.

She suspects there was some type of hidden agenda behind the deal or that the I.C.A. intimidated the school district into selling to them.

“Not true what so ever,” said school spokesperson, Diane Bauman.

The district reissued a statement they released in June. They maintain, “This appears to be another effort by the same group of individuals which has already tried to stop the sale of Eagle Elementary school through litigation and lost.”

“We believe that the school district followed the proper procedures for the sale,” said I.C.A. board member Dr. Firas Nashef. “The sale was transparent as far as we know. We have our legal team and their legal team approval of that.”

Dr. Nashef told 7 Action News the group just wants to serve the community.

“This is an opportunity for us to grow the community, grow the activities… basically cater for the families in the area,” said Dr. Nashef.

Dr. Nashef said a meeting was held last week with the community to talk about the future of the building and answer questions.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Danish Rocketeers Launch Private Space Capsule Escape System Test

A Danish non-profit organization launched its homemade space capsule Sunday (Aug. 12) in a key test of the craft’s safety systems.

Copenhagen Suborbitals’ “Beautiful Betty” capsule — with a crash-test dummy named Randy aboard — blasted off from a floating platform in the Baltic Sea, carried skyward by the group’s Launch Escape System (LES) rocket. The flight was designed to see how well the LES and Beautiful Betty’s various parachutes would work in the event of a serious launch mishap.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Membership Talks ‘Could Topple Iceland Coalition’

(REYKJAVIK) — Diverging views over whether Iceland should pursue its European Union membership talks could topple the country’s coalition government, Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson suggested on Monday.

He stressed that applying for EU membership was part of the left-wing coalition’s agreed political platform.

“We made an agreement, which the Social Democratic Alliance agreed to as well as the other government party. If the situation arises that the government parties feel they can’t stick to that agreement, we of course have to totally re-evaluate the situation,” Skarphedinsson told Icelandic radio RUV.

He said junior coalition partner the Left Greens could not back down from the agreement.

“History teaches us that it can have all sorts of consequences,” he warned.

His comment came after two ministers from the Left Green party told RUV that the country ought to reconsider joining the bloc because of the euro crisis.

Iceland applied for EU membership in 2009 in the wake of a catastrophic banking and economic meltdown, and is moving ahead rapidly in its membership negotiations.

“It is … clear that there have been changes in Europe, economical and also political. There is great uncertainty where the EU is heading,” Katrin Jakobsdottir, the minister of education, science and culture and a Left Green member, said.

“It is clear that this uncertainty has considerable affects on the process in Iceland,” she added.

Another Left Green member, Environment Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir, echoed the sentiment.

A professor of political science at the University of Akureyri, Gretar Thor Eythorsson, told RUV that Skarphedinsson meant the government coalition could fall.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Politicians Ignore Muslim World’s Crimes

Key element of European multiculturalism is to look away as much as possible from criminality in Muslim world

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Western countries are signatories of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. This agreement aims to prevent future genocide, which is the greatest crime in the world. It also includes the commitment to act against incitement to genocide by a state. Such a transgressing nation may then be referred to an international court. However, hardly any European politicians reacted to the recent renewed calls for the annihilation of Israel by Iranian leaders. This goal can only be achieved by the genocide of Israel’s citizens. Conclusion: Many European politicians do not care much about major international laws when they are in Israel’s favor.

Furthermore, the European Union refused once again to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The EU however, does care a bit about human rights. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, keeps herself disproportionately busy by condemning Israel if it does something against her liking.


One key element of European multiculturalism is to look away as much as possible from criminality in the Muslim world, even if it is major. There are many manifestations of this. A journalist from a foreign broadcasting organization in Israel told me: “I have seen foreign correspondents with tears in their eyes when they saw Palestinian olive trees destroyed by Israelis. The same people made a major effort to explain away terrorist murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists.”

In the morally degraded European political environment, the rare politician who addresses Muslim states’ transgressions of the Genocide Convention merits mention. A Dutch Parliamentarian, Wim Kortenoeven, who has recently left the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, put forward some frank questions to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He wrote, “Do you share the opinion that the calls by President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian functionaries concerning the annihilation of Israel and thus genocide against its inhabitants, are a transgression of Article 3 of the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of Genocide? If not, why not?”

Kortenoeven also asked whether the minister took these calls for genocide seriously and added: “If not, why not?” He furthermore wanted to know how the Dutch government reacted to the latest Iranian call for genocide and what concrete actions the minister intended to undertake. He also inquired whether the minister was willing to request from states whose ambassadors had heard the speech of Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to publicly disassociate themselves from this call. He asked the minister if he was not willing to do so, to explain why…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

France: Violent Riots in Amiens Leave 16 Officers Injured

Riots broke out in Amiens, northern France, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, leaving 16 police officers injured and several million euros of damage.

About 100 youths set on fire a primary school, sports centre and police station in the north of the city. Some local inhabitants were injured in car-jacking incidents.

Some 150 police officers, including special forces of anti-riot police and 45 officers from Paris, were deployed to calm the tension.

Reports say there was a two-hour standoff at a roundabout at midnight. Police had rocks and fireworks thrown at them, and deployed tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

The standoff came to a head at about 2am when the mob launched a stolen car, reportedly full of petrol, towards the police.

By 3am the rioters had dispersed and the streets returned to relative calm.

Gille Demailly, mayor of Amiens, told AFP: “There were burnt out dustbins and cars everywhere.

“Incidents like this have happened before, but it’s been years since I’ve seen such violence and destruction.

“For months I have been asking for more funding because the tension has been mounting in that part of the city.”

The violence comes after a similar incident last Sunday, where police came up against 60 youths in the same area. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to diffuse the situation, which some locals have judged as excessive force.

The area concerned, in the north of Amiens, is one of the most sensitive in France, and was recently classed as a “priority safety zone”, with the aim of improving security in the area by September with a more obvious police presence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Hollande Vows to Fight the Riots

French President François Hollande on Tuesday promised a tough response to a riot that devastated a deprived neighbourhood in the northern city of Amiens overnight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Hollande Vows Clampdown After Riots

French president Francois Hollande said his Socialist government would do all that was needed to ensure law and order prevailed after rioting overnight in the northern city of Amiens.

“Interior minister Manuel Valls will go to Amiens immediately … to say there once again that the state will mobilise all its resources to combat this violence.

“Our priority is security which means that the next budget will include additional resources for the gendarmerie and the police,” Mr Hollande said.

About 100 French youths clashed with police overnight, shooting at police, torching cars, a leisure centre and a nursery school in Amiens, a government official said.

Police reinforcements were today being dispatched to the city, where two nights of violence were apparently sparked by tension over spot police checks on residents.

“Sixteen police were injured, some by buckshot fire,” Thomas Lavielle, an official at the prefect’s office in the region, said.

The Amiens suburb which erupted in violence has already been identified as needing extra policing by the government.

Tensions remain high in France’s rundown suburbs, where poor job prospects, racial discrimination, a widespread sense of alienation from mainstream society and perceived hostile policing have periodically touched off violence.

Weeks of rioting in 2005, the worst urban unrest in France in 40 years, led to the imposition of a state of emergency by the then centre-right government.

The violence provoked months of agonised debate over the state of the grim housing estates that ring many French cities and the integration of millions of black and North African immigrants.

The death of two youths hit by a police car sparked violence in 2007. More unrest followed in 2010, when police shot and killed a youth who had robbed a casino.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘Free Bavaria!’ Demands Veteran Politician

A respected old-timer in the conservative Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU) has called for independence for his beloved state, arguing that its wealth is being fleeced by Berlin and Brussels.

The 73-year-old Wilfried Scharnagl, a well-known name within the CSU — the sister-party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union — is to publish a book this week entitled “Bavaria Can Go It Alone,” the Münchner Merkur reported on Sunday.

“Bavaria,” he told the paper, “comes out too badly in context.”

That context, laid out in his 191-page tome, is an historical analysis going back to 1871, when Bavaria became part of the new unified German nation. That day, “The Day of Disaster,” as Scharnagl calls it in a chapter heading, was when “the kingdom was absorbed into the Prussian-ruled German unified state.”

As a result of that fateful move, Bavaria is now in a “stranglehold”, held in “double oppression” by Berlin and Brussels, the Bavarian veteran said.

He describes some of Germany’s budget arrangements, such as the inter-state fiscal adjustment which distributes tax money among Germany’s 16 states, as a “plundering” that consumes billions in Bavarian wealth, while the euro debt crisis reinforces the “lurching between fantasies of power and powerlessness.”

He argues that federal measures to balance conditions in Germany have always damaged standards in Bavaria, such as the level of education, which he calls Bavaria’s “crown jewel.” “I’ve never known levels to be adjusted upwards,” he said.

Scharnagl worked for the CSU’s party leadership in Bavaria for many years, and was editor-in-chief of the party’s newspaper Bayernkurier for 24 years. He was also considered a close personal advisor to Franz Josef Strauß, former German finance minister and Bavarian state premier from 1978 to 1988.

Scharnagl’s word is still said to carry weight within the party, though the new book is likely to alienate some of his political allies. Only the minority separatist Bayernpartei officially supports independence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Human and Neanderthal Interbreeding Questioned

It was the discovery that challenged what it is to be human. The Neanderthal genome revealed that our extinct cousin’s genes live on in many modern humans, implying that the two species interbred. But a controversial new study casts doubt on those claims of interspecies hanky-panky.

In 2010, Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues sequenced the Neanderthal genome. Their analysis concluded that many modern humans carry a few Neanderthal genes. Only native Africans lack the Neanderthal genes, because Neanderthals did not live in Africa.

Right from the start, there was a problem. Neanderthals and modern humans ultimately evolved from the same ancestral population, so any genes shared by the two species might simply have been inherited from this common ancestor.

“We were very upfront in our papers that this was a possibility,” says Pääbo’s colleague David Reich of the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Drifted apart

Andrea Manica and Anders Eriksson at the University of Cambridge have now built a model to demonstrate a non-interbreeding explanation for the 2010 result.

They began with an ancestral hominin population throughout Africa and Europe. Because of their regional proximity, the hominins in Europe had more genes in common with those of northern Africa than those of southern Africa.

Africa and Europe then became genetically isolated from one another, perhaps triggered by changing climates, says Manica. This allowed the Europeans to evolve into Neanderthals and the Africans to evolve into modern humans. Crucially, though, the modern humans in northern Africa retained genetic similarities with Neanderthals that the southern Africans lacked. Northern Africans ultimately moved into Europe — but they didn’t need to interbreed with Neanderthals to share some genes in common with them.

“You cannot prove there was never any hybridisation,” says Manica. “But none of the evidence (for hybridisation) is convincing.”

Reich and Pääbo disagree with the new formulation. They say recent analyses actually firm up the case for interbreeding. Most tellingly, Reich and his colleagues have an upcoming paper in PLoS Genetics that suggests non-Africans have shared genes in common with Neanderthals for only a few tens of thousands of years. If correct, this means these genes cannot predate the origin of Neanderthals, around 320,000 years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Leader of Anti-Semitic Party in Hungary Discovers He is Jewish

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — As a rising star in Hungary’s far-right Jobbik Party, Csanad Szegedi was notorious for his incendiary comments on Jews: He accused them of “buying up” the country, railed about the “Jewishness” of the political elite and claimed Jews were desecrating national symbols.

Then came a revelation that knocked him off his perch as ultra-nationalist standard-bearer: Szegedi himself is a Jew.

Following weeks of Internet rumours, Szegedi acknowledged in June that his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jews — making him one too under Jewish law, even though he doesn’t practice the faith. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labour camps.

Since then, the 30-year-old has become a pariah in Jobbik and his political career is on the brink of collapse. He declined to be interviewed for this story.

At the root of the drama is an audio tape of a 2010 meeting between Szegedi and a convicted felon. Szegedi acknowledges that the meeting took place but contends the tape was altered in unspecified ways; Jobbik considers it real.

In the recording, the felon is heard confronting Szegedi with evidence of his Jewish roots. Szegedi sounds surprised, then offers money and favours in exchange for keeping quiet.

Under pressure, Szegedi resigned last month from all party positions and gave up his Jobbik membership. That wasn’t good enough for the party: Last week it asked him to give up his seat in the European Parliament as well. Jobbik says its issue is the suspected bribery, not his Jewish roots.

Szegedi came to prominence in 2007 as a founding member of the Hungarian Guard, a group whose black uniforms and striped flags recalled the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which briefly governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews. In all, 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, most of them after being sent in trains to death camps like Auschwitz. The Hungarian Guard was banned by the courts in 2009.

By then, Szegedi had already joined the Jobbik Party, which was launched in 2003 to become the country’s biggest far-right political force. He soon became one of its most vocal and visible members, and a pillar of the party leadership. Since 2009, he has served in the European Parliament in Brussels as one of the party’s three EU lawmakers, a position he says he wants to keep.

The fallout of Szegedi’s ancestry saga has extended to his business interests. Jobbik executive director Gabor Szabo is pulling out of an Internet site selling nationalist Hungarian merchandise that he owns with Szegedi. Szabo said his sister has resigned as Szegedi’s personal assistant.

In the 2010 tape, former convict Zoltan Ambrus is heard telling Szegedi that he has documents proving Szegedi is Jewish. The right-wing politician seems genuinely surprised by the news — and offers EU funds and a possible EU job to Ambrus to hush it up.

Ambrus, who served time in prison on a weapons and explosives conviction, apparently rejected the bribes. He said he secretly taped the conversation as part of an internal Jobbik power struggle aimed at ousting Szegedi from a local party leadership post. The party’s reaction was swift.

“We have no alternative but to ask him to return his EU mandate,” said Jobbik president Gabor Vona. “Jobbik does not investigate the heritage of its members or leadership, but instead takes into consideration what they have done for the nation.”…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Norway: Report Fuels Calls for Stoltenberg’s Resignation

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is coming under increasing pressure to resign after the publication of a report that slammed the state for its failure to prevent Anders Behring Breivik from killing 77 people last July.

The almost 500-page report by an independent commission concluded that the bomb attack in Oslo that killed eight people could have been hindered, while the suspect should have been arrested much earlier during his murderous shooting spree on the island of Utøya.

While Stoltenberg has received widespread praise for the strength of his compassion and resolve in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity, many now believe he must accept responsibility for the state’s failures and step down.

“Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg bears responsibility,” said Leif A. Leir, a former chief investigator with the Oslo police.

“He has to go now. Stoltenberg should also be accompanied by the heads of the Norwegian police force,” he told newspaper Dagbladet.

In an unsigned editorial on Tuesday, the large circulation newspaper Verdens Gang also urged the Labour Party leader to clear his prime ministerial desk.

“He has said himself that he admits responsibility for the consequences of July 22nd. Stoltenberg has a majority in parliament, which gives him the power to stay on. But he should have the decency to leave,” the paper said.

Harald Stanghelle, political editor with newspaper Aftenposten, wrote on Tuesday that the commission’s report represented a damning indictment of Stoltenberg’s administration.

The commentator noted that Stoltenberg had seemed to backtrack on Monday over how to define responsibility.

“He insisted that taking responsibility meant ensuring that this is now dealt with, rather than resigning and taking responsibility for everything that went wrong.”

Stanghelle said it remained to be seen how credible this approach would appear in the wake of a report he deemed “strong enough to bring down most democratic governments.”

Former Conservative Party Prime Minister Kåre Willoch said Stoltenberg must be held to account for the state’s failure to prepare for a terrorist attack, a shortcoming that had enabled Breivik to park a car full of explosives in front of government buildings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nostalgic and Narcissistic: France’s Obsession With the Past Hinders Reform

France is a deeply nostalgic and narcissistic country which is also, precisely for those reasons, very charming. The country would like to be part of Europe’s north, but its heart belongs in the south. It will take more than navel-gazing to get the nation through the euro crisis unscathed.

A few weeks ago, French President François Hollande spoke in the garden of the French Embassy in Rome. He had met that afternoon with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and, once again, had opposed German demands for reforms. And then, in the evening, he gave a speech in which he bemoaned, at length, the demise of French as an international language. It sounded oddly nostalgic, as if he somehow hoped to stop the global triumph of English.

Both appearances in Rome had more in common than it would seem at first glance. One of the reasons France is currently such a difficult partner in Europe is that the country Hollande represents is old-fashioned — and hopelessly in love with the idea of being old-fashioned. It lives in the past, and even when it knows that it’s in trouble, it refuses to change.

France is the world’s fifth-largest economy, and at the moment investors are even paying to lend the country money. Nevertheless, France also counts as one of Europe’s economically ailing countries. It has become steadily less competitive since the 1990s, unemployment has topped 10 percent, and government debt amounts to 89 percent of gross domestic product.

Although France is a long way from becoming another Spain or Italy, if it doesn’t do something soon it could very well end up in dire straits like its southern neighbors. That’s why France plays a key role in the rescue of the euro.

But France’s problem is that it can’t decide whether it wants to be part of the north or the south.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Police Officers Shot and Buildings Gutted as Hundreds of Youths Riot During ‘Extremely Violent’ Night in Northern France

At least 16 officers were seriously injured during the disturbances on council estates in the city of Amiens, in the Somme region

It was first serious urban rioting to break out in France since a new Socialist government was elected earlier this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Poll: Almost Half of Brits Want to Leave the EU

Almost half of British citizens would vote to leave the EU if there was a referendum, pollsters say. A survey by Canadian firm Angus Reid out on Tuesday (14 August) noted that 46 percent would vote to leave.

It also said 54 percent believe the last 40 years of British EU membership has had a “negative” effect on the country and that 81 percent are happy they do not use the euro.

The numbers are more or less stable compared to December 2010 (the oldest data cited). At the time, 48 percent of people wanted Britain to leave.

Amid talk in the EU of a new banking union and political union, a UK foreign office spokesman told EUobserver that under the EU Act of 2011 a referendum is automatically triggered “if any of these changes result in a transfer of competence from the UK to the EU.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Slovenia: Government Bans ‘Entrance Fees’ To Public Beaches

(ANSAmed) — LJUBLJANA — The Slovenian government has made it illegal for tourists to be charged ‘entrance fees’ to public beaches in a move welcomed by tourists and Slovenia’s beach-going public.

Hotels and tour operators regularly charge bathers between 2 and 4 euro a day for access to the sea, on top of which tourists are often stung with excessive municipal beach parking tariffs. In response to the debate — which rages every summer — the Slovenian Environment Ministry has now ruled that the practice is illegal and contravenes a law stating that all areas 25 metres from the coast are ‘public’. The ruling excludes hotel swimming pools or bathing areas constructed with private investment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Titanic Explorer Ballard in Cyprus for Underwater Expedition

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA — An underwater expedition to explore the Eratosthenes Seamount off Cyprus aboard Robert Ballard’s exploration ship, E/V Nautilus is about to begin, as daily Famagusta Gazette reports. Ballard, who is famed for discovering the wrecks of the Titanic and Bismarck, has arrived in Paphos and will head a team of geologists, biologists and oceanologists during the project.

The Eratosthenes Seamount is located about 100 km south of western Cyprus. It is a large, submerged massif, about 120 km long and 80 km wide. Its peak lies at the depth of 690 m and it rises 2000 m above the surrounding seafloor, which is located at the depth of up to 2,700 m and is a part of the Eratosthenes Abyssal Plain. It is one of the largest features on the Eastern Mediterranean seafloor. The Nautilus Exploration Program was founded in 2008 by Ballard and is a joint ocean exploration initiative of the Ocean Exploration Trust. The mission is led by Ballard and Katherine Croff Bell.

In his statements, Ballard said that the team comprises of geologists, marine biologists and oceanologists and their work will be done with the assistance of satellite systems. Croff said that past explorations have shown the existence of a liquid that might contain methane, however she stressed that “currently we are not here for energy”. The expedition is expected to last two weeks. Following Cyprus, Nautilus will head north to conduct mapping operations in the Southeast Aegean Sea near Bodrum, Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Bungalow in Westcliff Still Being Used as Illegal Mosque

AN illegal mosque is still operating despite Southend Council ordering its closure. Frustrated residents claim although the Islamic group have been told to move out of the bungalow in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff , up to 200 people a day are still descending on the property for religious celebrations and education classes. In July the Echo revealed the council had moved against the Jaafriya Islamic Welfare Centre following 150 complaints from angry neighbours about cars parking on the pavement, litter bags lining the street and late-night noise.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Worst Violence in Years Rocks Northern French City

About 100 youths clashed with police in the French city of Amiens overnight. Sixteen police were reported to have been wounded as the youths set cars, a sports center and a primary school ablaze.

“The confrontations were very, very violent,” Amiens Mayor Gilles Demailly told French television network BFM . Demailly also said he had encountered a “scene of desolation” in the northern quarter of a city that is known for its university and its 13th century Gothic cathedral.

“There have been regular incidents here but it has been years since we’ve known a night as violent as this with so much damage,” Demailly told AFP.

The crowd, composed mostly of young men, also pulled drivers from their cars and stole the vehicles. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the unrest after suffering injuries caused by buckshot, fireworks and other projectiles thrown by rioters. Up to 150 police were involved in fracas.

“Sixteen police were injured, some by buckshot fire,” prefect’s office spokesperson Thomas Lavielle told television station TELE TV.

On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande voiced his concern over the violence.

“The state will mobilize all its means to combat these violent acts,” Hollande said. “Security is not only a priority for us, it is an obligation.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

International Journalist Contest Kicks Off

Focus is on Arab Spring and Solidarity

(ANSAMed) — ROME — The 4th edition of the International Contest for Mediterranean Journalists has kicked off, with this year’s focus on the Arab Spring and its aftermath. The prize, organized and sponsored by the Italian region of Puglia in conjunction with Holland, Cyprus and Romania, will be divided into two sections: the Arab Spring, and Welcome and Solidarity. Themes arising from the Middle Eastern uprisings, such as protest, democracy and freedom in regions in and around the Mediterannean basin, will come under the spotlight, as well as issues of solidarity and civil commitment in the wake of vast refugee landings in the region.

A separate Special Prize for Reception and Solidarity with the Italian municipalities of Otranto and Lampedusa will also be awarded at the ceremony in Bari, on 1 Dec 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Europe United Against Israel

Europe’s failure to run its own affairs doesn’t stop it from constantly interfering in Israel’s affairs

Eldad Beck

BERLIN — Just when the vision, or delusion, of Europe’s unity is facing a grave reality test, it’s amazing to see how one issue manages to unite the failing, disintegrating European bureaucracy: The grudge toward Israel.

Even the Euro crisis, which threatens to sink European unity into a new nationalist storm, cannot ease the inherent hostility of the European apparatus, located in Brussels, to the Jewish state. By now it looks like a sick obsession that blinds the patient’s eyes and prevents him from seeing his real problems.


Almost not a day goes by without the office of “foreign minister” Catherine Ashton or the EU “embassy” in Israel issuing a condemnation of Israeli actions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip or inside Israel. With zealousness that can only attest to disproportional devotion, EU emissaries — mostly with the help of Israeli collaborators who enjoy generous funding — monitor anything that could be perceived to undermine the rights of Palestinians or Israel’s Arab citizens.

For a long time now, the Europeans have not been protesting only matters pertaining to the occupation; rather, they are working methodically to undermine the very existence of Israel as an independent Jewish state.

Large sums of money provided to fund activities in different areas have created dangerous dependence between Israel and the European Union. Had this investment been aimed at developing human resources for the benefit of the EU there would be nothing wrong with it. However, the Europeans are aiming to exploit and rule: Take advantage of what Israel can give them, while at the same time dictate how it should conduct itself…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israeli Speculation Over Iran Strike Reaches Fever Pitch

The talk is now of a timetable of weeks, rather than months, and before the US elections in November

In the past few days, the Israeli public has been hit by a blizzard of speculative articles suggesting a military strike against Iran’s nuclear sites is imminent. The talk is now of a timetable of weeks, rather than months and some observers believe that Israel will act in the runup to the US presidential election — at a time when it could be difficult and damaging for President Obama to withhold his backing in the face of a hawkish and vehemently pro-Israel opponent, Mitt Romney, who has already indicated his support for unilateral action by the Jewish state.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Emaar Unveils New Mosque in Dubai

Global property developer Emaar Properties Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) has unveiled the Sheikh Zayed Bin Mansour Al Nahyan Mosque in downtown Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Sprawling over approximately 40,000 square feet site in Downtown Dubai, near The Old Town development, the new mosque will have a built-up area of around 15,000 square feet.

The mosque can accommodate about 800 people, comprising a Holy Quran study room, a dedicated prayer hall for around 85 women, as well as designated parking spaces. The mosque is set to become a modern day cultural landmark for Dubai. The design of the mosque will complement the design elegance of The Old Town and will reflect the rich traditional architectural heritage of Dubai. To further enhance its visual appeal, the entire religious facility will be enveloped by landscaped gardens. Construction on the scheme is underway. The facility is being developed for His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of UAE.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable

London, (Pal Telegraph) — More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Muslim for a Month: ‘ Tourists Take Islamic ‘Pray-Cations’

Editor’s note: Each month, Inside the Middle East takes you behind the headlines to see a different side of this diverse region.

(CNN) — To the devout, the concept of becoming “Muslim for a month” — or any other religion, for that matter — could verge on the sacrilegious. “It’s a provocative title, ‘Muslim for a Month,’ so we were bracing ourselves for (criticism),” said Ben Bowler, who runs cultural exchange programs with that name. The tours take non-Muslims from around the world into Turkish mosques and homes for a first-hand experience of Islam. “There has been a little of that — ‘Being a Muslim is for life, not just a month,” he added.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudis Attempt to Block Vatican Plan for .catholic Web Addresses

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has attempted to block a Vatican bid to create new web addresses ending in .catholic, arguing that it “cannot demonstrate that it possesses a monopoly over the term ‘Catholic’“.

The objection is one of more than 160 sent by the Saudis to ICANN, the body in charge of web addresses, over its plan to allow hundreds of new “top-level domains” to supplement .com, and other existing suffixes.

“Many other Christians use the term ‘Catholic’ to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church regardless of denominational affiliation,” the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission said in its complaint.

“Other Christian communions lay claim to the term “Catholic” such as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church.”

“Therefore, we respectfully request that ICANN not award this.”

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication, which already controls .va, paid the $185,000 fee to bid to create .catholic earlier this year, saying it was “a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church”.

The Saudi government, under the control of the royal family, added that it objected to any group being put in charge of web addresses based on religious terms. It complained about bids to create top-level domains for .islam, .halal and .ummah on similar grounds.

The Kingdom also made moral complaints about an array of planned new suffixes…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

South Asia

‘Green on Blue’ Killings Sapping Morale in Afghanistan

There is mounting concern over a sharp rise in attacks on Western troops by members of Afghanistan’s security forces. So far this year more than 30 soldiers have been killed in the so-called “green on blue” killings. The past weekend was one of the deadliest periods for coalition troops in Afghanistan this year, with six US soldiers killed in separate attacks in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Early on Friday three US Marines were gunned down by a Afghan police commander and his men after accepting an invitation to have dinner. Later the same day an Afghan civilian working at a NATO base shot dead three more US soldiers. And on Saturday an Afghan police officer described as an “Taliban infiltrator” shot dead at least 10 of his colleagues in the south-western province of Nimroz.

US officials have condemned the attacks but White House spokesman Jay Carney says it is not clear if they are part of a wider pattern. “It is too early to say that this latest incident is part of a stepped up effort on the insurgents’ part,” he said. Brigadier-General Gunter Katz is the chief spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force based in Kabul, and he says private disputes are being put forward as one reason for the attacks. “Most of those incidents were either caused by personal grievances or by stress situations of the individual who did the shooting,” he said.

Sapping morale

But the figures are hard to ignore. Dozens of Western soldiers have died at the hands of their Afghan allies, including four Australians. This year 34 soldiers have died in green on blue killings — more than in all of last year. The situation is sapping morale and eroding trust between allies ahead of the coalition withdrawal in 2014. Joshua Foust is an Afghanistan expert with the American Security Project. He says green on blue killings are being deliberately employed by the Taliban and are proving to be very effective for a number of reasons. “Soldiers who work in the training mission have reported that there’s a lot of condescension between American troops and Afghan troops, or a lot of stress built into that relationship, just because of the nature of the war, and that that’s been having a toll on Afghan soldiers,” he said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hindus Leave Pakistan for India Amid Claims of Persecution

Hundreds of members of the Hindu community have left Pakistan for India, citing mistreatment, discrimination and persecution. Despite efforts by the Pakistani government, the wave of migration seems to be continuing.

On Pakistan’s Independence Day, a fresh batch of Pakistani Hindus arrived in India on board the Samjhauta Express, the “peace train” between both countries, and many of them vowed that they would not return given the atmosphere of fear prevalent where they came from.

Over the past week, batches of pilgrims, mostly based in Sindh province have been steadily streaming in through the Attari land border to offer prayers at Indian temples and gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) in the cities of Haridwar, Rishikes, Amritsar, Delhi and Indore.

“Our situation in Pakistan is difficult. We have decided that we will not return at all. We will request asylum here. We have been forced to give up our established business there,” Pradeep Kumar of Pakistan’s upper Sindh province told DW.

“Hindu families are not safe in Pakistan. The kidnapping of young Hindu girls and brides by religious extremists at gunpoint have become a routine affair,” another harried Pakistani Hindu, who lives in Baluchistan, told DW. He did not wish to be identified.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan: Parents Can Buy 3D-Printed Models of Unborn Fetuses

Forget about the embarrassing baby pictures or ultrasound images. Tomorrow’s parents can mortify their offspring by proudly pulling out a 3D model of their son or daughter as an unborn fetus.

That unusual keepsake for expectant mothers comes from a joint venture by Fasotec and the Hiroo Ladies Clinic in Tokyo, Japan, according to DigInfo News. A “Bio-Texture” technology processes CT or MRI image scans of the unborn fetus, so that a 3D printer can make a physical model based on the digital information.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Pirate Sentenced to 12 Life Sentences

A US court has sentenced a Somali man to 12 life sentences after being found guilty of his role in the deaths of four Americans in 2011 at the hands of pirates.

A US federal court judge in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday sentenced a Somali man to 12 concurrent life sentences and two 20-year sentences after he was found guilty of acting as a ransom negotiator for pirates who commandeered an American yacht.

“Mohammed Shibin was a key participant in two of the most heinous acts of piracy in modern memory,” US prosecutor Neil MacBride said in a statement following sentencing.

Federal prosecutors presented claims Shibin was part of an elite group skilled in ransom negotiation. Court documents reveal he was paid up to $50,000 (40,400 euros) in cash for his services.

In evidence presented to the court, prosecutors proved Shibin used the Internet to research the background of hostages to establish how much ransom to demand and which family members to make contact with for the money.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Doumar found Mohammad Shibin guilty in April on 15 counts, including piracy, hostage taking, kidnapping and conspiracy. He was ordered to pay $5.4 million in damages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Mars Surface Made of Shifting Plates Like Earth, Study Suggests

The surface of Mars has been shaped by plate tectonics in the recent past, a new study suggests, making the Red Planet perhaps a better candidate to host life than scientists had thought. Mars may even experience seismic shifts, or ‘Marsquakes,’ every million years or so.

Scientists have long believed that plate tectonics — in which huge crustal plates pull apart, smash together and dive under one another — exist nowhere in our solar system but Earth. But the phenomenon is also active on Mars, according to the new study.

“Mars is at a primitive stage of plate tectonics,” study author An Yin, a planetary geologist at UCLA, said in a statement. “It gives us a glimpse of how the early Earth may have looked and may help us understand how plate tectonics began on Earth.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]