Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121031

»Book Review: The Islamophobia Industry
»Broward Schools Being Asked to Close on 2 Muslim Holidays
»Diversity May be Fatal, Says New Government Health Study
»Facebook Censors Navy Seals to Protect Obama on Benghazi-Gate
»Jon Snow: Did America Bring This on Itself?
»Muslims and the Republican Vote
Europe and the EU
»Are Europe’s Ash Trees Finished?
»France: Yasser Arafat’s Body to be Exhumed After Eight Years as His Wife Calls for Murder Investigation
»Hungary ‘To Offer Wealthy Foreigners Citizenship in Return for Investment’
»Italian Senate Debates Outlawing Negationism on Anniversary of WWII Roman Deportations
»Sweden: Woman Admits to Killing Her Infant With Koran
»Traces of Explosives Found on Wreckage of Jet That Crashed in Russia Two Years Ago, Killing Polish President
»UK: Blind Woman Dumped Miles From Home by Cabbie Who ‘Laughed at Her Because She Couldn’t Make Out Any Local Landmarks’
»UK: Footballer Was Kicked to Floor in Post-City Central League Match Gang Attack in Gorton
»UK: Islamophobia Awareness Month — Launch Nov 2
»UK: Killer Who Kicked Random Victim to Death Checked His Pulse to See if He Was Still Alive Before Finishing Him Off
»UK: Millfield Mosque Opponents Call for Peace
»UK: Only a Free Market in Religion Will Save Anglicanism
»UK: Shocking Moment Pram-Pushing Mother, 26, Repeatedly Stamps on Innocent Man’s Head in Racist Attack in Front of Her Two Children
»UK: Ten Years Too Late, It’s Good Riddance to Wind Farms — One of the Most Dangerous Delusions of Our Age
»UK: Woman Sexually Assaulted by Teenage Boy in Rochdale Subway
»Bosnia: Veiled Muslim Mayor ‘Amra Babic’ A First for Bosnia, Possibly Europe
North Africa
»One Dead in Tunisia Clashes Between Police, Militants
South Asia
»Australian Troops Face Probes Into Civilian Killings in Afghanistan
»India: New Minority Minister Favours Quota for Backward Muslims
»Two British Soldiers Shot Dead in Afghanistan
Far East
»China Thinktank Urges End of One-Child Policy
Australia — Pacific
»All Australian Schoolchildren Will be Made to Learn Asian Languages to Take Advantage of Region’s Economic Boom
»Muslims Are in Grave Strife
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Israel “Far Worse Than Apartheid South Africa” Says ANC Chair as Pretoria Conference Backs Boycott
Latin America
»Hezbollah Presence Growing in Mexico
Culture Wars
»Rome Provincial Council Calls to Ban Websites Promoting Jew Hatred
»Christians Persecuted Throughout the World


Book Review: The Islamophobia Industry

Book Review: The Islamophobia Industry, How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims (Nathan Lean)

by Alex Kane

Ahmed Sharif was a 44-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City. It was August 24, 2010, a time that marked the height of vitriolic protests against a planned Islamic center to be located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. Sharif picked up 21-year-old Michael Enright for an early evening ride. Everything was going smoothly until Enright, three blocks away from his stop, yelled at Sharif, “this is a checkpoint, *************, and I have to bring you down.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Broward Schools Being Asked to Close on 2 Muslim Holidays

Broward County public schools are being asked to close for two Islamic holidays a year under a controversial proposal before the district’s Diversity Committee.

The request, from the Florida chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, would make Broward the first in Florida and one of only a few districts in the country to add Muslim holidays into its calendar. Broward and Palm Beach County schools generally close on major Christian and Jewish holidays.

The Islamic holidays requested, which fall on different days depending on the year, are Eid al-Fitr — the end of Ramadan — and Eid-al Adha, which marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

“This is about inclusive diversity, and the Muslim community has too long been excluded,” said Roland Foulkes, chairman of the Diversity Committee, which will debate the proposal tonight. “This is long overdue, and we need to move beyond the lip service of diversity in the community and reflect the full diversity of everyone.”

But some school district officials worry it could open the floodgates for more requests, as well as complaints from groups with anti-Islamic views. Religious freedom experts also say the district could be in legal trouble if it closes school for the sole purpose to allow students to celebrate a religious holiday.

CAIR Florida this week urged its parents to show up at tonight’s meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the K..C. Wright administrative building, 600 SE Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. The advisory committee would then decide whether to recommend it to the School Board, which makes the final decision. Foulkes said he will personally recommend it to the School Board, even if the committee votes it down.

Ghazala Salam, community relations director for CAIR Florida, said the group is starting its push with Broward County because that’s where it’s based. Palm Beach County schools have received no similar requests, district spokesman Nat Harrington said.

Opponents also plan to attend Thursday’s meeting, including members of the Tea Party of Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s another step toward the Islamization of our children,” group founder Danita Kilcullen said. “This is a Judeo-Christian nation.”

Superintendent Robert Runcie, who hadn’t seen the request, said the district tries to be sensitive and respectful to the needs of different groups. State law already requires students be able to take off religious holidays without penalty.

“We make accommodations, but we may not be able to close the district,” Runcie said. “If we do that for everybody and every cause out there, even though they’re all valid, we would literally have a problem squeezing in the number of instructional days we need.”

The traditional school year is 180 days, although the state gives some wiggle room, depending on how many hours are in each school day.

While the district counts religious holidays as excused absences, Muslim parents say individual teachers and administrators aren’t always sensitive to families’ needs.

“There may be test schedules. Sometimes FCAT falls in the time of the religious holidays,” Salam said. “So it really puts a lot of stress on students. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they stay out for the religious holiday if they have an exam or a new lesson?”

The Ramadan holiday, Eid al-Fitr, falls during the summer break until at least 2019. Eid-al-Adha was celebrated last Friday and coincidentally was on the same day as a teacher workday in Broward and a hurricane day in Palm Beach County. It will be Oct. 16 next year.

“We have a large community of Muslims, and if there is a feeling that they should have the same options as other religious groups, we should give them an ear and support that,” Foulkes said.

School districts don’t track students by religious affiliation. Salam said parent surveys have indicated there about 15,000 to 18,000 Muslim children in Broward County schools — about 6 to 7 percent of the student population. She didn’t have estimates for Palm Beach County. CAIR estimates the Islamic population in the three large South Florida counties at more than 100,000.

David Barkey, religious freedom counsel with the Florida chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, said the reason for closing schools must be secular, not religious.

“If it’s going to be disruptive logistically because a significant number of students and teachers are going to be absent, you can close,” Barkey said.

So, it make sense that the school system in Dearborn, Mich., where a third of the population is Muslim, closes for Islamic holidays, Barkey said. Cambridge, Mass., Burlington, Vt., and Barrington, R.I., have also added Muslim holidays to their calendars in recent years.

Barkey said he was unaware of any specific threshold needed to justify closing.

In Florida, the Hillsborough County School District dropped all religious holidays from its calendar after its effort to include Muslim holidays resulted in a firestorm of complaints. This year’s calendar lists Good Friday as a teacher work day, while the Jewish holidays are regular school days.

Broward School Board Chairwoman Ann Murray said she would have no problem honoring the request for the Muslim holidays.

“At one time Jewish holidays weren’t recognized. Then we recognized Martin Luther King because of an interest in the community. I keep pushing for St. Patrick’s Day, but no one’s paying attention to me,” she said. “When we have an interest in the community, we should respect their holidays as we respect the others.”

           — Hat tip: ST[Return to headlines]

Diversity May be Fatal, Says New Government Health Study

Diversity may be killing older African-Americans and Hispanics, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in the America Journal of Public Health, which shows that people suffer less cancer and heart disease when they live among their racial or ethnic peers.

“Living in an ethnically dense neighborhood is beneficial when it comes to heart disease and cancer,” said Kimberly Alvarez, a co-author of the new study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Alvarez’s phrase, “ethnically dense,” describes a community in which at least 50 percent of people are from the same ethnic group.

Many progressive groups advocate the use of government to increase diversity in housing, education, health care and other sectors.

Alvarez’s study reviewed the health records of 2,367 Mexican-Americans and 2,790 African-Americans older than 65, and concluded they lived longer if they inhabited a community mostly populated by their group.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Facebook Censors Navy Seals to Protect Obama on Benghazi-Gate

Over the weekend, Facebook took down a message by the Special Operations Speaks PAC (SOS) which highlighted the fact that Obama denied backup to the forces being overrun in Benghazi.

The message was contained in a meme which demonstrated how Obama had relied on the SEALS when he was ready to let them get Osama bin Laden, and how he had turned around and denied them when they called for backup on Sept 11.

I spoke with Larry Ward, president of Political Media, Inc — the media company that handles SOS postings and media production. Ward was the one who personally put the Navy SEAL meme up, and the one who received the warning from Facebook and an eventual 24 hour suspension from Facebook because Ward put the meme back up after Facebook told him to take it down.

Here’s what Ward told me:…

[Return to headlines]

Jon Snow: Did America Bring This on Itself?

by Brendan O’Neill

Jon Snow might be the permanently right-on deliverer of news to the liberal set, but yesterday he veered into Christian fundamentalist territory by suggesting that it’s possible America brought Hurricane Sandy upon itself. He mused: “Has what is still the most energy-consuming country in the world brought this on itself to any extent? Is America — responsible for 25 per cent of all global carbon emissions, where the mother and father of the biggest vehicles are standard public usage — suffering from the effects of climate change to which she, and we, have contributed?”

Here, Snow is putting himself in the same company as Christian televangelist Pat Robertson (who wondered if Hurricane Katrina was God’s payback for America’s liberal abortion policy) and Christian preacher John McTernan (who suggested Hurricane Sandy was God’s punishment of America for its permissive attitude towards homosexuality). The only difference is that Snow is asking if Mother Nature, rather than God, is punishing America, and if she is doing so because America is too big and industrious and greedy (all those people driving around in the “biggest vehicles”) rather than because it has loads of gays. Yet the implication of his musings is the same as Pat Robertson’s over Katrina: America, being morally rotten, had it coming.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslims and the Republican Vote

by Shiraz Maher

Will American Muslims swing the US Presidential election? It seems highly unlikely, if not improbable, but that’s the line being pushed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a not uncontroversial lobby group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. A poll released by the group last week found that 68 per cent of American Muslims intend to vote for Obama. By contrast, only 7 per cent are committed to voting for Romney in next week’s election. That represents more than treble the number who voted for McCain in 2008 (when just 2.2 per cent of Muslims voted Republican) while the Democrat share of Muslim votes is down from just under 90 per cent in 2008…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Are Europe’s Ash Trees Finished?

A fungus deadly to ash trees has just reached Britain and Ireland, after emerging 20 years ago in Poland. Already it has devastated ash trees in mainland Europe, sweeping through more than 20 countries powerless to prevent its spread.

How did this fungus develop? And what, if anything, can be done to stop it in countries like the UK, where ashes account for around a fifth of all trees? By the sound of it, the outlook is not good. New Scientist investigates.

Just how many ash trees have been killed?

Although there are no official figures, ash trees have effectively been wiped out in Poland, where the disease first made its appearance in 1992. In Lithuania, 99 per cent of the ashes are gone; in Denmark, 90 per cent. Elsewhere, the impact has been mixed, with some but not all ashes succumbing.

Can it be stopped?

Apparently not. Most countries where it has taken hold simply gave up. Part of the problem is that the fungus does not spread from infected trees themselves, but from infected leaves shed in the autumn. The fungus grows on the leaves and leaf stalks as they decay, then produces copious spores in summer which spread to uninfected ash trees, completing the life cycle.

“There’s very little you can do,” says Ottmar Holdenrieder of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who in 2010 helped uncover the fungus’s complete life cycle. “It’s a waste of time to chop down trees.” The infective material is all on the forest floor and cannot be removed or eradicated with fungicides without destroying countless other forms of forest life.

“My gut feeling is that the whole of Europe will have to live with the disease in the long term,” says Holdenrieder. “Ash tree populations will be reduced to less than 10 per cent what they were originally.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Yasser Arafat’s Body to be Exhumed After Eight Years as His Wife Calls for Murder Investigation

French officials will exhume former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s remains next month in a bid to discover if he was murdered.

A team of medical and forensic experts will arrive in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 24 to carry out the gruesome operation.

The exhumation comes after Arafat’s widow Suha asked judges in France this summer to launch a murder probe into her husband’s death.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hungary ‘To Offer Wealthy Foreigners Citizenship in Return for Investment’

Hungary is planning to offer citizenship to any foreigner who buys at least £200,000 of its government’s bonds.

Legislation would grant residency and ultimately a Hungarian passport… allowing the holder to live and work anywhere in the European Union.

The move, backed by the ruling party, is aimed at wealthy investors, especially from China.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italian Senate Debates Outlawing Negationism on Anniversary of WWII Roman Deportations

ROME (EJP) —- An Italian Senate Committee debated modifying the law on Holocaust negationism to enable the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of denying the Holocaust to up to three years in jail.

The debate coincided with the 59th anniversary of the rounding up of Rome’s Jewish community, and was witnessed by representatives of Rome’s Jewish community, including Riccardo Pacifici, President of the Hebrew Congregation of Rome and Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni.

Proposing the bill, Senator Silvana Amati declared herself “excited and satisfied” at the initiative which has attracted support from across the political spectrum. Fellow senator Lucio Malan added that Holocaust denial is not only a crime of opinions, but also has the potential to promote incitement. Senate President Renato Schifani said that legislation of this kind was essential in defending the memory and reality of the Holocaust, at a time when many survivors are no longer around to tell their accounts.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Woman Admits to Killing Her Infant With Koran

A woman who confessed to suffocating her 5-month-old child with the family’s copy of the Koran is on trial in western Sweden, with her defense team arguing she had a psychotic breakdown, possibly due to postpartum depression.

“I didn’t want to kill him, I wanted to save him,” the 28-year-old woman said during a hearing on Tuesday at the Halmstad District Court, according to the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The incident occurred in late July, when the woman met her husband at his workplace, where she told him she wasn’t feeling well.

“I told her that we couldn’t speak there, and that we could discuss it at home,” the husband said in court, according to the Expressen paper.

“At the same time, I suggested she could read passages from the Koran for support, as we’re both Muslims.”

However, when he arrived home the father found his child dead with 39 wounds to its body, the majority of which were caused by the holy book.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Traces of Explosives Found on Wreckage of Jet That Crashed in Russia Two Years Ago, Killing Polish President

Polish investigators have found traces of explosives on the wreckage of a government jet that crashed in Russia two years ago, killing Poland’s president and 95 others, Polish media claimed today.

Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper said prosecutors and explosive experts who examined the remains of the plane in Russia found signs of TNT and nitroglycerin on the wings and in the cabin, including on 30 seats.

Traces of explosives were also found in the area where the Tu-154 crashed during its approach to a small airport near the Russian city of Smolensk on April 10, 2010, the daily reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Blind Woman Dumped Miles From Home by Cabbie Who ‘Laughed at Her Because She Couldn’t Make Out Any Local Landmarks’

She told reporters; “He was really abusive — he was making fun and mocking me.

“He said ‘you should be able to point things out, you should know where you are — it is your fault you can’t see’.

“Then he dumped me by a petrol station in Downham instead of Bromley — it was very frightening.”

Michael Ellis, speaking for Sure Cars, says the incident was a misunderstanding and that Miss Medgett had been reimbursed for the trip.

Mr Ellis added: “The whole situation has been resolved satisfactorily. “Miscommunication is the only conclusion that can be drawn.

“There are three sides to every story, her story, the driver’s story and the truth.”

He went on to say the driver was satisfied that he had dropped Ms Medgett at the correct destination and speculated that ‘language barrier issues’ may have been at the root of the misunderstanding.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Footballer Was Kicked to Floor in Post-City Central League Match Gang Attack in Gorton

A footballer’s claims he was headbutted to the floor and kicked and punched by opponents following a match have sparked a police investigation.

The 23-year-old was savagely attacked in a school car park after the six-a-side clash in the City Central League — set up to make the sport more inclusive for those from ethnic minorities and troubled backgrounds.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Islamophobia Awareness Month — Launch Nov 2

Islamophobia awareness month launch, with Imran Kahn, Steve Hart, Myriam François-Cerrah, Luthfur Rahman, Sahar Alfaifi, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Lindsey German, Sabby Dhalu, Dr Daud Abdullah, Dr Fasal Hanjra, and Hamja Ahsan.

Friday 2 November 2012 — 6pm

London Muslim Center

46-92 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JX

Islamophobia or anti-Muslim hatred is reaching worrying heights in Britain and across Europe. This ugly phenomena gained currency in part due to the popular thesis developed by Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington that argued about an impending clash of civilisations between Islam and the West. Today, racists and fascists groups like the English Defence League are pushing this thesis of hatred, creating a climate of fear and suspicion against Muslims. Islamophobic prejudice is prevalent in the mainstream; on display in political life, in the media and in the attitudes of the police and the courts.

To deconstruct and challenge some of the stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, prominent British organisations and campaigners are launching the Islamophobia Awareness Month (I AM), to take place throughout November 2012. The month-long campaign will see activities and projects throughout the UK and Europe.

For further details please visit the Islamophobia awareness month Facebook page.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Killer Who Kicked Random Victim to Death Checked His Pulse to See if He Was Still Alive Before Finishing Him Off

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A killer who stopped to take the pulse of his victim before kicking him to death, has been jailed for life.

Gavin Mills, 26, stopped to check if unconscious Jerzy Dubiniec, 60, was still alive then continued his frenzied attack.

Hard-working grandfather Mr Dubiniec was kicked so hard he had shoe marks all over his clothes and chest.

A court heard Mills was high on cocaine and alcohol when he carried out the random attack on baker Mr Dubiniec who was on his way home from work.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Millfield Mosque Opponents Call for Peace

Residents opposed to a mosque in Sunderland have accused far right groups and counter-demonstrators of bringing violence into their area.

Earlier this month, police arrested 13 people when the English Defence League and anti-facist groups clashed at the site in St Mark’s Road in Millfield. The Northern Patriotic Front is planning a rally on 17 November saying it wants to give locals a “voice”. But residents said the protest rallies were bringing fear to the area…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Only a Free Market in Religion Will Save Anglicanism

by Ed West

As Rowan Williams retires as Archbishop of Canterbury Martin Bashir in the Mail pays tribute to his work:

His has been a miserable tenure marked by the sharpest theological divisions within the worldwide Anglican Church, the deepest entrenchment and animosity between evangelical and liberal clergy and, worst of all, the most foggy and frustrating presentation of the Christian faith we’ve probably ever heard from such a senior cleric.

While acknowledging it’s a difficult job, Bashir criticises Dr Williams for failing to articulate the case for marriage, for getting too involved in politics, and for wanting to discuss anything but Christianity. Rowan has had his moments, but I can guarantee that in 10 years’ time, when the next poor man to take this position retires, a similar article will appear saying what a terrible job he’s done and how he’s failed to keep the whole mess together. In the meantime Dr Williams, like George Carey, may well start making sense and speaking up as a genuine Christian leader.

The problem with the Church of England is not just that it’s a broad church, encompassing some very, very liberal Christians and some very, very conservative ones, or that it’s led by people so open-minded that their brains have fallen out. Its real problem is establishment, which makes it less the nation’s conscience and more a dinosaur national industry, kept dysfunctional by state subsidies…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Shocking Moment Pram-Pushing Mother, 26, Repeatedly Stamps on Innocent Man’s Head in Racist Attack in Front of Her Two Children

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

This is the shocking moment a drunk mother stamped on a stranger’s head in front of her two children as she launched a racist attack.

Amanda Lowe, 26, was caught on CCTV as she assaulted Khuram Nisar after calling him a ‘f****** Paki’ and ‘terrorist’.

But despite the shocking violence, she walked free from Manchester Crown Court on Friday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Ten Years Too Late, It’s Good Riddance to Wind Farms — One of the Most Dangerous Delusions of Our Age

The significance of yesterday’s shock announcement by our Energy Minister John Hayes that the Government plans to put a firm limit on the building of any more onshore windfarms is hard to exaggerate.

On the face of it, this promises to be the beginning of an end to one of the greatest and most dangerous political delusions of our time.

For years now, the plan to cover hundreds of square miles of the British countryside with ever more wind turbines has been the centrepiece of Britain’s energy policy — and one supported by all three major political parties.


What made this even more piquant was the fact that Mr Hayes chose to drop this bombshell just hours before attending a conference in Glasgow staged by RenewableUK, the professional lobby group for Britain’s wind industry.

These are the very people who for years have been making fortunes out of the greatest public subsidy bonanza of modern times. Now Mr Hayes is to stop their gravy train in its tracks.

It will give them the biggest shock of their professional lives.


Indeed, the amount of power they generate is so derisory that, even now, when we have built 3,500 turbines, the average amount of power we get from all of them combined is no more than what we get from a single medium-size, gas-fired power station, built at only fraction of the cost.


The only way the industry managed to fool politicians into accepting this crazy deal was by subterfuge — referring to turbines only in terms of their ‘capacity’ (i.e. what they could produce if the wind was blowing at optimum speeds 24 hours of every day). The truth is that their average actual output is barely a quarter of that figure.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Woman Sexually Assaulted by Teenage Boy in Rochdale Subway

A woman was sexually assaulted by a teenage boy in a Rochdale subway after being followed from the bus station.

The victim, 21, entered the subway at Manchester Road, which lead to a nearby Asda supermarket at about 11.20pm on Thursday October 25.

While in the subway the offender, believed to be a teenage boy, approached the woman and sexually assaulted her

The victim fought with her attacker and managed to kick him causing him to run off.

He is described as an Asian teenager, possibly as young as 14, about 5ft 2in tall, of medium to small build and wearing dark clothing.

Detective Constable Russ Clarke said: “This was a horrific and violent attack which has left the victim feeling badly shaken up.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Veiled Muslim Mayor ‘Amra Babic’ A First for Bosnia, Possibly Europe

Bosnia’s first veiled mayor began her duties this week, after an election which saw her becoming the first hijab-clad mayor in the country, and possibly in Europe. Amra Babic, who served as a regional finance minister before running for mayor, will now run the Bosnian town of Visoko, in an electoral win she describes as a “victory of tolerance” amid government debates elsewhere in Europe over laws to ban the Muslim veil. “It’s a victory of tolerance,” Babic, a wartime widow told the Associated Press last week. “We have sent a message out from Visoko. A message of tolerance, democracy and equality.”


[JP note: More a warning than a message: Islam on the move.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

One Dead in Tunisia Clashes Between Police, Militants

TUNIS (Reuters) — One person was killed when police opened fire during clashes with hardline Salafi Muslims in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Tuesday,â€(r)â€(r) ‬‬a security source said in the latest sign of religious tensions in the home of the “Arab Spring”. “One Salafi was killed after security forces fired when Salafists attacked a police station,” a security source said…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Australian Troops Face Probes Into Civilian Killings in Afghanistan

AUSTRALIAN special forces in Afghanistan are under investigation for killing two civilians they say were actually combatants playing an active role in hostilities against them.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said these were allegations only and did not automatically imply any wrongdoing by Australian troops. Updating parliament on the Afghanistan mission, he said the Australian Defence Force (ADF) received allegations about security operations from local non-government organisations, tribal elders and Afghan security forces.

Such allegations are first examined to assess whether they related to Australian activities. Some don’t. If they do, defence may then conduct an internal inquiry. Mr Smith said the ADF had received 21 allegations this year, with Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Ash Power concluding that in 11 cases, Australian troops appropriately applied rules of engagement. Four remain under initial consideration…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: New Minority Minister Favours Quota for Backward Muslims

New Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan strongly favours reservation for backward Muslims as well as for Dalits among Christians and Muslims notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s observation on the sub-quota issue. The minister also intends to carry forward reforms in the administration of Wakfs across the country and bring a revised bill for this in the Winter Session of Parliament…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two British Soldiers Shot Dead in Afghanistan

Two British soldiers have been shot dead at a checkpoint in Afghanistan by a man wearing a local police uniform, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldiers were both from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. They were killed in Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on Tuesday. Their families have been informed. At least 11 of the 43 British dead in Afghanistan this year have been killed by Afghans they served alongside. This compares to one in 2011, three in 2010 and five in 2009…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Thinktank Urges End of One-Child Policy

Foundation close to central leadership urges end to birth limits policy across China by 2015, with experts saying reform is ‘inevitable’

A Chinese government thinktank is urging the country’s leaders to start phasing out its one-child policy immediately and allow two children for every family by 2015, a daring proposal to do away with the unpopular policy.

Some demographers view the timeline put forward by the China Development Research Foundation as a bold move by a body close to the central leadership. Others warn that the gradual approach, if implemented, would still be insufficient to help correct the problems that China’s strict birth limits have created.

Xie Meng, a press affairs official with the foundation, said the final version of the report would be released “in a week or two”. But Chinese state media have been given advance copies. The official Xinhua News Agency said the foundation recommends a two-child policy in some provinces from this year and a nationwide two-child policy by 2015. It proposes all birth limits be dropped by 2020, Xinhua reported.

“China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” Xinhua said, citing the report.

But it remains unclear whether Chinese leaders are ready to take up the recommendations. China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission had no immediate comment on the report on Tuesday.

Known to many as the one-child policy, China’s actual rules are more complicated. The government limits most urban couples to one child, and allows two children for rural families if their first-born is a girl. There are numerous other exceptions as well, including looser rules for minority families and a two-child limit for parents who are themselves both singletons.

Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the report holds extra weight because the thinktank is under the State Council, China’s cabinet. He said he found it remarkable that state-backed demographers were willing to publicly propose such a detailed schedule and plan on how to get rid of China’s birth limits.

“That tells us at least that policy change is inevitable, it’s coming,” said Cai, who was not involved in the drafting of the report but knows many of the experts who were. Cai is currently a visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai. “It’s coming, but we cannot predict when exactly it will come.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

All Australian Schoolchildren Will be Made to Learn Asian Languages to Take Advantage of Region’s Economic Boom

All Australian children will learn an Asian language after Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched a visionary plan to help the country exploit the region’s ‘unstoppable’ economic growth.

In a move to ensure Australia are prepared for the ‘Asian Century’, Ms Gillard wants to improve links with the continent by committing to 25 ambitious goals over the next 13 years.

All schoolchildren in the country will choose one of four ‘priority’ languages to learn at school — Indonesian, Japanese, Hindi and Chinese.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muslims Are in Grave Strife

FACING overcrowded public graveyards and expensive burial plots, Sydney’s Muslim community has launched a search for its own cemetery.

An Islamic funeral service in Mt Druitt that provides low-cost burials for Muslims is looking to buy up to 16ha in the city’s west. Shahzeb Janaaza Services says a shortage of plots and high charges mean poor Muslims are being squeezed out of Rookwood and Riverstone cemeteries. “Riverstone only has about two months left and Rookwood up to five months,” funeral director Osman Iqbal said. “There are 450 Muslims passing away every year in NSW and not every family can afford private, expensive funeral services. Regardless, there needs to be respect for the dead.”Islam requires bodies to be ritually washed, shrouded and buried without caskets within 24 hours of death.Shahzeb has launched an appeal to raise money from the community for the cemetery project and has a target of $4 million…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Israel “Far Worse Than Apartheid South Africa” Says ANC Chair as Pretoria Conference Backs Boycott

Activists in South Africa have welcomed a decision by the African National Congress (ANC) International Solidarity Conference to support the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, led the decades-long struggle against apartheid.

BDS South Africa said in a press release distributed via email:

There was widespread support from international delegates for the adoption and support of the Palestinian BDS call. However, there was one objection from a delegate from Germany who argued that Israel cannot be compared to Apartheid South Africa and thus an all-out boycott of Israel is “ill-informed.” The ANC Chairperson, Baleka Mbete, strongly responded saying that she has been to Palestine herself and that the Israeli regime is not only comparable but “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.” Ms Mbete received a resounding round of applause from delegates for articulating this position.

Mbete, the National Chairperson of the ANC, was Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa from 2008-2009 and is a former Speaker of the National Assembly.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Hezbollah Presence Growing in Mexico

North Carolina Representative Sue Myrick (R) has been very vocal in warning of a Hezbollah presence in Mexico, and in urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to step up surveillance of terrorists there. She joins a host of concerned Americans who are worried about the porosity of the nation’s southern border — and continually cautions that border issues aren’t just about immigrants seeking a better life, but about easy access that terrorists have to America.

In June, 2010, she penned a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting the establishment of a task force to “engage US and Mexican law enforcement and border patrol officials about Hezbollah’s presence, activities and connection to gangs and drug cartels.”

Indeed, a year later, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, in October, 2011, released a report concluding that Hezbollah “is using the Western Hemisphere as a staging ground, fundraising center, and operation base to wage asymmetric warfare against the United States.” Entitled The Mounting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America,the report also pointed out that “evidence indicates Hezbollah is sharing its terrorist experiences and techniques with Mexican drug cartels along the US border.”

And just two weeks ago, Mansour Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, pled guilty in New York for plotting to pay a Los Zetas cartel (also a DEA informant) hitman to assassinate a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. Fox News reported, “‘A little more than a year after his arrest, Mansour Arbabsiar has admitted to his role in a deadly plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate a sitting foreign ambassador on U.S. soil,’ Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release.”

Fox News also reported that in the fall of 2010 the Tucson Police Department cited the arrest of Jameel Nasar, who attempted to establish a Hezbollah network in Mexico and in South America. And during the previous year — after Jamal Yousef was arrested in New York City — it was learned that weapons stolen from Iran by Yousef’s cousin, an alleged Hezbollah member, were stored in Mexico.

But even after Myrick’s letter to Napolitano, the Secretary said there was no need for a task force, as current intelligence resources were adequate. Napolitano also claimed in 2011 that, “The border is better now than it has ever been.”

However, Borderland Beat reported on September 10, 2012 of the arrest of a suspected American Hezbollah supporter in Merida, in the Yucatan peninsula. Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun is an imam from the Shiite Association Bay Area mosque in San Jose, California, and was arrested with two others, from Belize, suspected of being part of an Islamic terror cell operating in central America and the Yucatan. The report added that Merida has a large Lebanese and Syrian population.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Rome Provincial Council Calls to Ban Websites Promoting Jew Hatred

ROME (JTA) — Rome’s provincial council is calling for websites that promote racism and anti-Semitism to be blocked and such online hatred criminalized.

The council on Monday unanimously passed a motion voicing solidarity with Rome local official Carla Di Veroli and with the Rome Jewish community in general following anti-Semitic attacks on Di Veroli that appeared last week on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront.

Di Veroli, who is Jewish, has long been an anti-fascist and minority rights activist.

The motion also commits provincial officials to “assume every appropriate initiative” to urge the relevant authorities and institutions to block websites that “spread ideas that instigate racial hatred, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia.” It pushed for a law to brand online hate spread on websites as a criminal act.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Christians Persecuted Throughout the World

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exceptionally bloodthirsty militant group.

Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts — more than the entire population of Manchester — have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

Why is such a huge scourge chronically under-reported in the West?

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]