Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121222

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Retailers to See Xmas Sales Down by 18%
»Greece: Many Schools Left Without Heating
»Greece: Jobless Rate to Hover Around 30% by 2014
»Ft. Hood Case, Another Sharia Win
»How the Newtown Massacre Became a Mind-Control Television Event
»Muslims Laud Niqab Ruling
»Trudeau in Hot Seat With Muslims
Europe and the EU
»Britain Spending More on Benefits Than Scandinavians With 7 Out of 10 Children Living in a Home Receiving Handouts
»Italian Police Seize 400 Tainted Plastic Swords in Genoa
»Italy Yoga School in Violent-Sex Probe
»Italy: Piacenza Man Arrested for 7-Mln-Euro Tax Evasion
»Sardinia Councilors Indicted for Suspected Embezzlement
»UK: Court of Appeal Quashes the Wrongful Conviction of Ahmed Faraz
»UK: Have the Men in Blue Crossed the Line?
»UK: Lutfur Rahman Council in Chaos as Government Mulls Intervention [Reader Comment Only]
»UK: Muslim Family Taking Thornton Heath Greek Orthodox School to High Court Over Hijab Ban
»6 Macedonian Muslims Go on Trial Over ‘Terrorist’ Killings of 5 Fishermen
»Croatia: Census Shows Population in Decline and Aging
North Africa
»Al-Azhar Mosque at Heart of Concerns Over Islamist Turn in Egypt
»Defending Egyptian Dress, Defending Identity
»Egypt: Mob of 50,000 Muslims Intimidated Christians Before Referendum
»Egypt: Islamist Rally Turns Violent Outside Alexandria Mosque
Israel and the Palestinians
»Palestinian Officials Warn of Retaliation if Benjamin Netanyahu Re-Elected
Middle East
»HRW: Saudi Website Editor Could Face Death for Apostasy
»Iraq’s Sunni-Backed Bloc Threatens to Withdraw From Political Process
»Syria: Into the Abyss
»Putin Opposes Headscarves in Russian Schools
South Asia
»Bangladesh: Left Parties Strike for Ban on Sharia Islamists
»Indonesia: Islamists Against Catholics in Central Java, Christmas Celebrations in Jeopardy
Far East
»China: Beijing Wants to Grow Fresh Vegetables on Mars and the Moon
Australia — Pacific
»Anarchy of a Gang and Two AK47s
»Christmas Message Written in Sky Above Lakemba Mosque in Response to Fatwa Claims
»No Merriness Here: Mosque Puts Fatwa on Christmas
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Africa Now Has More Mobile Subscribers Than the US or EU
»Heavy Casualties Feared in Suicide Bombing in Nigeria Telecommunication Offices
»Nigeria: Suicide Bombers Attack Mobile Phone Firms in Nigeria
»Nigeria: Bombs as Xmas Hampers
Latin America
»Argentina Protests Britain’s Antarctica Decision
»Comment Analysis on Pro-Islamic Immigration Huffpo Article
»Greece’s Treatment of Migrants Shameful, Says Amnesty
Culture Wars
»Britain Issues New Guidelines on Prosecuting Offensive Online Comments
»Pope Says Future of Mankind at Stake Over Gay Marriage
»UK: Primary Schools Are Still Not Teaching Our Island’s Story
»UK: The Conservative Neglect of Culture
»Potentially Habitable Planet Detected Around Nearby Star

Financial Crisis

Greece: Retailers to See Xmas Sales Down by 18%

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 20 — Greek retailers will see Christmas and New Year-related revenue decline 18% as business is blighted by the country’s fifth year of recession, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce said. Nationwide spending on food and gifts will fall to 7.6 billion euros this month from 9.25 billion euros in December 2011, the Athens-based trade group said in an statement on Wednesday as Bloomberg reports. Expenditure will be 65% less than the 21.9 billion euros recorded in the same month of 2008, at the start of the financial crisis, the confederation said. Greece’s unemployment rate climbed to a record 26% in September. The recession and deepening labor slump have been exacerbated by spending cuts and tax increases imposed to trim a budget deficit that was more than five times the euro-area limit in 2009. The economy will shrink as much as 4.5% in 2013, the Bank of Greece forecast on December 3. The cost of a family Christmas dinner, based on an identical basket of products, will fall to 151.56 euros this year from 158.93 euros in 2011 as lower prices for red meat, fruit and vegetables help to offset higher prices of turkey, wine, feta cheese and olive oil, according to the statement.

Greek retail spending for the whole of 2012 probably won’t exceed 50 billion euros, down from 60.5 billion euros in 2011, the confederation said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Many Schools Left Without Heating

Teachers’ union warns that some may have to suspend classes

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 20 — Many towns and villages in northern and central Greece have yet to receive funds from the central government to heat their schools next year, as a teachers’ union yesterday warned that some of them may have to close down rather than let pupils shiver. “Many schools are facing serious problems with heating oil supplies and it won’t be long before they will have to suspend classes because of the cold weather,” the Teachers’ Federation (DOE) said in a statement yesterday as daily Kathimerini reports. The federation slammed the Ministry of Interior for delaying the disbursement of funds. It also criticized municipal authorities, which are responsible, in collaboration with so-called school councils, for the schools’ operational needs, such as heating. DOE demanded that heating subsidies be granted directly to schools without the interference of municipal authorities. It also appeared to criticize the lack of transparency in the administration of finances by local government officials (OTA).

Schools are still waiting for the fourth, 20-million-euro installment to meet their operational needs. Total funding for schools went down from 110 million euros in 2011 to 80 million this year. Greeks pay a special consumption tax on heating oil that makes up about 42% of the total cost. School councils have unsuccessfully campaigned for an exemption from the tax.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Jobless Rate to Hover Around 30% by 2014

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 19 — Unemployment in Greece will climb to 29.3% in 2013 and 31% in 2014, the German institute of macroeconomic forecasts IfW Kiel predicted on Tuesday.

The German institute’s economists, as daily Kathimerini reports, also forecast the economic contraction to come to 4% next year and spill over into 2014 at a 1% rate, against a European Commission prediction for 0.6% growth in 2014. In its revision of the Greek streamlining program, published in Brussels on Monday, the Commission had also been more optimistic in its estimates for the jobless rate, putting it at 24% for 2013 (from 23.6% in 2012) and 22.2% in 2014. By contrast, using International Labor Office (ILO) methodology, the IfW Kiel economists expect the unemployment rate to come in at 24.6% at end-2012 before soaring to 29.3% in 2013 — higher even than Spain’s 27.9% rate. A rise in employment usually trails the economic growth rate by at least six months. The IfW forecast mirrors that of the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Labor, which expects unemployment to top 30% next year.

IfW also sees inflation in Greece reaching 1.1% this year and turning into deflation of 0.6% in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Ft. Hood Case, Another Sharia Win

by Alan Bergstein

Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood officer who slaughtered 13 fellow service members and wounded 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009, has been awaiting trial on murder charges since the attack. That’s over three years and counting. And if the White House continues to be filled with Obama clones, you may run out of fingers counting the years until this Muslim terrorist is either put on trial or his name comes up on an official presidential pardon list. That wouldn’t surprise me. After all, if we are told that Hillary Clinton fell and can’t answer questions on Benghazi because of a concussion, anything is believable…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

How the Newtown Massacre Became a Mind-Control Television Event

Mind control. Mass hypnosis. Operant conditioning. Brain entrainment. That’s what we’re talking about here.

We’re so conditioned to how television covers life that we rarely step back and take notice.

In the case of massive disasters and crimes, network news rules the roost.

First, the premiere anchors, who are managing editors of their own broadcasts, give themselves the go signal. They will leave their comfortable chairs and travel to the scene of crime. “It’s that big.”

The anchors lend gravitas. Their mere presence lets the audience know this story trumps all other news of the moment. That’s the first hypnotic cue and suggestion.

Of course, the anchors were not in Newtown, Connecticut, as reporters. They weren’t there to dig up facts. Their physical presence at the Sandy Hook School and in the town was utterly irrelevant.

They could have been doing their newscasts from their studios in New York. Or from a broom closet.

But much better to be standing somewhere in Newtown. It imparts the sense of crisis to the viewing millions.

At the same time, the anchors are also there to give assurance. The subliminal message they transmit is: whatever has happened here is controllable.

The audience knows the anchors will provide the meaning and the official voice of the tragedy. The anchors are, in a way, priests, intoning their benediction to the suffering and their elegies to the dead.

This is what the audience expects, and this is what they get.

This expectation, in fact, is so deep that anything else would be considered an insult, a moral crime.

[Return to headlines]


Muslims Laud Niqab Ruling

Decision takes Canada in a forward direction

Leaders in Calgary’s Muslim community praised Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that could allow women, under certain circumstances, to wear a niqab while testifying in court. “This is a very good decision,” said Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. “It takes the Canadian society in a forward direction rather than backward direction. For a fair trial, it is OK to reveal your identity and remove the niqab. In my view it matches with the Islamic teachings.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Trudeau in Hot Seat With Muslims

by Tarek Fatah

Despite protests from the Muslim Canadian Congress and B’nai Brith, it seems Justin Trudeau will be speaking at the Islamist convention in Toronto on Saturday, one that will feature a who’s who of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and pro-Hamas speakers from around the world. The Toronto conference was sponsored by IRFAN-Canada, which the Canada Revenue Agency maintains “is an integral part of an international fundraising effort to support Hamas” and has “maintained partnerships” with organizations that have direct ties to Hamas. With no sign of the storm subsiding, Trudeau’s pro-Hamas hosts had the perfect solution; they simply airbrushed the evidence out of existence. With the stroke of a mouse, the words “IRFAN-Canada” disappeared from their website. Erasing facts is not new to authoritarians. Trudeau’s back-room handlers must be pretty pleased with the deft handling of the controversy by IRFAN-Canada.

But not so fast. Exit IRFAN, enter CAIR. Before IRFAN-Canada was made to evaporate, another Islamist organization with a questionable record had entered the fray, declaring critics of the Islamist convention as “anti-Muslim.” Pro-Hamas CAIR has branches across North America. Its Canadian branch, CAIR-Can, came out swinging in defence of the convention, labelling criticism of IRFAN-Canada’s sponsorship of the event as “yet another example of Islamophobic vitriol aimed at marginalizing and vilifying Muslims.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain Spending More on Benefits Than Scandinavians With 7 Out of 10 Children Living in a Home Receiving Handouts

Britain pays out more on welfare than high spending social democratic nations in Scandinavia, according to a think-tank.

Nearly seven out of ten children now live in a home that receives at least one cash handout other than child benefit, says the hard-hitting study by the Institute for Economic Affairs.

And some 17 per cent of children — around 2.1 million — live in a home where no adult is working ‘easily the highest rate in Europe’.

[Return to headlines]

Italian Police Seize 400 Tainted Plastic Swords in Genoa

Chinese-made plastic toys had high levels of chrome

(ANSA) — Rome, December 19 — Italian inspection police seized 400 tainted plastic swords in the Genoa port on Wednesday.

Authorities found through laboratory testing that the Chinese-made toys had levels of chrome that far exceeded the legal limit.

Chrome can cause skin rashes, respiratory or intestinal problems, weakening of the immune system and cancer.

Charges have been filed against the Pavia-based toy importer, who has also been sanctioned in the past for bringing in counterfeit goods. Italian authorities have issued a Europe-wide alert on shipments of similar products.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Yoga School in Violent-Sex Probe

Students ‘subjected to esoteric and pornographic practices’

(ANSA) — Florence, December 7 — Police on Friday carried out searches across Italy following investigations into alleged sexual assault and psychological subjection perpetrated against students at an international school of yoga. Several people have been placed under investigation and are facing charges of criminal association, reduction to slavery, human trafficking and continual sexual violence.

The school in question is liked to a guru in Romania and has branches in several cities across Italy.

Investigators believe students were effectively subsumed into a cult and subjected to sexual violence, also through esoteric and pornographic practices.

Police seized computers, documents and videos from the school premises and suspects’ homes.

They also searched the homes of several people not currently under investigation, but who are nonetheless thought to be involved in the ring.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Piacenza Man Arrested for 7-Mln-Euro Tax Evasion

26-room villa among property seized

(ANSA) — Piacenza, December 18 — A man from the northern Italian city of Piacenza was arrested Tuesday for allegedly dodging seven million euros in taxes over the last three years.

The tyre-company owner was taken into custody with his wife and a third person who allegedly played a part in the tax-evasion scheme.

Police seized property including a 26-room villa in Piacenza, powerful cars, a gold Rolex, 10,000 euros in cash and 92,000 euros in cheques.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sardinia Councilors Indicted for Suspected Embezzlement

Hearings start April 19 in Cagliari

(ANSA) — Cagliari, December 19 — A court in the Sardinian city of Cagliari issued indictments on Wednesday for 18 unaffiliated regional councilors suspected of embezzlement of public coffers.

Hearings will begin April 19.

Investigations began after an administrator for the mixed political group, Ornella Piredda, aware of possible misappropriation of party funds, reported members for mobbing.

“The decision (to indict) sends a strong message to all Italian regional governments,” Piredda said after the indictments were announced.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Court of Appeal Quashes the Wrongful Conviction of Ahmed Faraz

One year on from his imprisonment, the quashing of Ahmed Faraz’s conviction for the dissemination of terrorism publications, is a great victory for freedom of expression in the UK.

Court of Appeal quashes the wrongly conviction of Ahmed Faraz

One year on from his imprisonment, the quashing of Ahmed Faraz’s conviction for the dissemination of terrorism publications, is a great victory for freedom of expression in the UK.

In a damning judgement, the UK Court of Appeal rules that no causal link could be presented that publications produced by the Maktabah bookshop would inspire acts of political violence or terrorism. They said that it was incorrect of the trial judge to permit evidence that those who had carried out acts of terrorism had owned copies of the books or DVDs and that it was a short cut to a conviction.

The judges further explained that when the extent of acts of political violence are considered, the percentage of those who might have read Maktabah publications was very small and so such a causal link was entirely onerous. The reliance on pseudo experts by the prosecution proves that creating an atmosphere of fear for a jury, does not mean that a criminal act has taken place, but rather that the prosecution relied heavily on the ignorance of the jury on particularly complicated matters. Research Director for CagePrisoners, Asim Qureshi, said of the decision, “The conviction of Ahmed Faraz by a jury last year was completely incorrect. The jurors based their decision on a fundamental misunderstanding of Muslim ideas and behaviour. The judgement of the Court of Appeal is warmly welcomed as it highlights that incidental links to acts of political violence or terrorism should never be criminalised, particularly where causality is tenuous at best.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Have the Men in Blue Crossed the Line?

by Andrew Gilligan

In the eyes of its natural supporters, the police force is beginning to look and act like a law unto itself

Even before the shocking possibility opened up this week in the Andrew Mitchell affair — that serving police officers conspired to destroy a Cabinet minister — it was clear that something in the police was wrong. England has 39 police forces, headed by 39 chief constables or commissioners. In the past 18 months, seven have been sacked for misconduct, suspended, placed under criminal or disciplinary investigation or forced to resign. That is not far off a fifth of the total. In the same period, at least eight deputy or assistant chief constables have also been placed under ongoing investigation, suspended or forced out for reasons of alleged misconduct. No fewer than 11 English police forces — just under 30 per cent — have had one or more of their top leaders under a cloud…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman Council in Chaos as Government Mulls Intervention [Reader Comment Only]


[Reader comment by danoconnor on 21 December 2012 at 7:41 am.]

I would not rely on the same Western political/corporate/ and civic institutions who have been busy for the last 50 years importing this ticking demographic time bomb and demonise anyone who dissents to save us. They are all far more interested in not rocking the boat and looking after their perks power and privilege. The will, the sense of solidarity with one’s own people, the moral fibre, and personal sacrifices they will have to make to even put a noticeable dent in this situation, never mind reverse it, is quite simply something they are not capable of.

The reason that Tower Hamlets is causing the Goverment concerns is because it is becoming increasing difficult all across Western Europe to convince the native populations that there is absolutely nothing to worry about apart from a few fringe group “bigoted, Islamophobic, extremist White racist loonies”. There is one greater fear that they have than seeing us being incrementally consumed by the “Other” and that is of seeing their multicult/diversity/enrichment/utopia being totally repudiated for the pathological act of cultural, territorial and racial dispossession and terrorism upon their own native peoples that it really is, because it means they would become utterly discredited and risk losing their grip on goverment, civil sector, media and the universities. That’s why the French and most of the EU MSM refused to report the largest demonstration in French history against mass-immigration and the spread of no-go zones and sharia law, “afraid of losing our country”. The French goverment (and Left) must have been petrified of seeing thousands of ordinary middle aged, well dressed and peaceful people assembling together in this protest, and not the stereotyped skin head tatooed “racist-nazis” that the MSM would loved to have portrayed them as, if they could get away with it.

In order for thousands of these state politicians, functionaries, journalists, and court intellectuals to be able to continue convincing themselves that the emperor is wearing clothes, they have to practice a form of Orwellian Double-Think, to commit intellectual and moral suicide. What else is there to say to Mr. Multicult Lefty & Co, but …Chickens, Home, Roost….enjoy ! (Edited by author 21 hours ago)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Family Taking Thornton Heath Greek Orthodox School to High Court Over Hijab Ban

A GREEK Orthodox school is being taken to the High Court for banning a Muslim pupil from wearing a headscarf. The nine-year-old girl’s parents were so incensed at the decision they have pulled her out of St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox Primary Academy, in Thornton Heath…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


6 Macedonian Muslims Go on Trial Over ‘Terrorist’ Killings of 5 Fishermen

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Six Muslim men have gone on trial in Macedonia over the killings of five fishermen near the capital, Skopje. Prosecutors are presenting the case as a terrorism-related attack. According to the indictment, the fishermen were killed so as to “cause fear among the population” and to harm the small Balkan country’s security. Four defendants appeared in court Thursday and another two are being tried in absentia. If found guilty, the suspects would face a minimum 10-year prison sentence. April’s fatal lake shooting of the fishermen, all of whom belonged to the country’s ethnic Macedonian majority, fueled tension with the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Croatia: Census Shows Population in Decline and Aging

More atheists; Serb minority largest, then Bosniaks and Italians

(ANSAmed) ZAGREB, DECEMBER 17 — Croatia now has 4.285 million inhabitants, 150,000 fewer than 10 years ago, according to the national census figures released today. The figures also showed that the population is aging, that there is a higher percentage of Croats than other ethnic groups and that there has been a significant increase in atheists. Of those surveyed as part of the 2011 census, 90.4% said they were of the Croat ethnic group, almost one per cent more than 10 years ago. The largest minority is traditionally the Serb one, with 186,633 people (4.36% of the population, 0.18% less than in 2001). In 1991, before war broke out and Yugoslavia was dissolved, Serbs in Croatia accounted for 12.2% of the total population, with almost 600,000 inhabitants. In third place were Bosniaks (0.73%), followed by Italians with 17,807 (0.42% of the entire population). The number of Catholics has dropped (from 3.9 to 3.7 million), as has the percentage of the total population: from 88% to 86.3%. The share of the total of almost all other religious groups remained unvaried (4.44% for Orthodox Serbs, 1.47% for Muslims), while the percentage of atheists, agnostics and non-religious individuals is on the rise. Ten years ago the latter numbered almost 100,000, while last year there were 196,000 (6% of the total). The media has focused on the fact that the Croatian population is aging and that the active population is in decline, of concern amid the economic crisis. While in 2001 the average age was 39.3, it is now 41.7. The most numerous age group is between 50 and 60 years of age (950,000), and the number of those over age 65 has for the first time ever surpassed that of children under age 14. The elderly now account for 17.7% of Croatia’s inhabitants, and number 106,000 more than children (15.2%) The active population (between age 15 and 64) has dropped by almost 100,000 units, from 2.96 to 2.86 million.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Al-Azhar Mosque at Heart of Concerns Over Islamist Turn in Egypt

In CAIRO — The revolution that began here two years ago with calls for justice and freedom has become a rout by Islamist forces that have racked up victory upon victory at the polls.

But within Egypt and across the region, the real source of fears that the country is careening toward theocracy lies in an unlikely place: the ancient stone corridors of al-Azhar, a Cairo institution that has long been known as a respected beacon of moderation…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Defending Egyptian Dress, Defending Identity

Researcher saves Bedouin, other textile traditions

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 18 — For the past 40 years, researcher, university professor, fashion designer and philanthropist Shahira Mehrez has been fighting to keep the traditional clothing styles of rural Egyptian women from disappearing into the maelstorm of Westernization, taking their identity and their ancient knowledge with them.

“I started collecting dresses from the remotest parts of the country at 16. In time, I was able to catalog and document the typical clothing of each of the 27 provinces,” Mehrez tells ANSAmed in her boutique in the Dokki district of Cairo. From north to south, from the Sinai peninsula to Siwa, the westernmost Egyptian oasis, she has surveyed the characteristics of each region: from the garb of nomadic Berbers to that of Nile valley farmers. “There are huge differences in patterns and crafting from one end of the country to the other, but they all refer to ancient Egypt,” says Mehrez, who has been exhibiting her collection worldwide since the 1980s in an effort to sensitize public opinion to the richness of the rural Egyptian heritage.

Beginning on Tuesday, part of her collection will be on view at the Egyptian Academy in Rome. Included will be some galabiyas, or traditional tunics from Siwa, Nubia, and the Nile Delta Valley. “We’ve been wanting to imitate Western-style dressing for too long,” explains Mehrez, a former professor of Islamic art and architecture at the American University in Cairo and in Heiwan. “When I was young, everything that came from Europe, particularly Paris, was fashionable, was chic. This has done nothing but alienate Egyptians from their roots. Once, women of all classes used to wear traditional clothes- from ladies to peasants. The difference was in the fabrics, the materials.” Mehrez set out in search of the last remaining seamstresses able to reproduce traditional patterns: today in her atelier, 35 of these women work on models she has recuperated for sale in her store, such as galabiyas, abayas (worn in the Gulf region), and dresses with embroidery typical of the Sinai Bedouins, as well as objects, furniture, and gold and copper jewelry.

Also on sale in her boutique are products made by 1200 women and youth from the El-Arish Needlework Program, which was founded by the Mennonite Central Committee of North America in 1973 to develop female employment in the North Sinai, a region in which many Bedouin women are illiterate and seldom work outside the home. The head of El-Arish since 1981, Mehrez is also the co-founder of Takreem, an NGO that aids families of “martyrs” of the 2011 revolution. Currently, she is demonstrating against the draft Constitution.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Mob of 50,000 Muslims Intimidated Christians Before Referendum

An estimated 50,000 Muslims took to the streets of Asyut, a central Egyptian city of 400,000, to intimidate Christians on the eve of Egypt’s constitutional referendum, according to the Associated Press. Marching through Christian neighborhoods, they shouted, “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians.” 93% of the area’s Christians did not vote in the December 15 constitutional plebiscite that followed, and stones were thrown at some Christians who attempted to vote. Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood party claimed a 57%-43% victory in the first round of voting for the new constitution, which grants an even greater role to sharia law.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamist Rally Turns Violent Outside Alexandria Mosque

Clashes break out in Egypt’s second city at Islamist demonstration, as rival groups throw stones; security forces fire teargas into crowds to separate two sides

Clashes erupted shortly after several thousand demonstrators gathered at Alexandria’s Qaed Ibrahim Mosque Friday to “defend [Islamic] scholars and mosques,” and to call for Sharia (Islamic law).

After two hours of street battles, the vicinity of the mosque was mostly cleared for a while before confrontations broke out once again in surrounding streets. Several vehicles were set on fire. The rally, which was initially peaceful after Friday noon prayers, turned violent when clashes broke out between Islamist demonstrators and rival opposition group.

According to media reports, clashes seem to have been kicked off after opposition protesters picked a fight with one of the Islamist demonstrators. Central Security Forces (CSF), who were heavily deployed early Friday near the rallying point as a pre-emptive measure against possible violence, worked to restore order and keep both camps away from each other.

Rounds of teargas were repeatedly fired into the crowds, forcing people onto the Corniche near the mosque.

Tens of fire engines and ambulances were situated in the area, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website. The health ministry released an initial injury toll of 32. More are expected to have been injured as the confrontations continued for hours afterwards. State news agency MENA confirmed that people from both sides have been injured. Al-Ahram’s Arabic site reported that the by dusk, Islamist protesters were forced to hide inside the nearby Miri Hospital after being chased by their opponents, who tried to follow them but were bombarded by CSF with teargas…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestinian Officials Warn of Retaliation if Benjamin Netanyahu Re-Elected

Palestinian officials have warned they will take retaliatory steps, including joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), if Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is re-elected in a general election due next month.

They have also raised the possibility of mass demonstrations, encouraging international sanctions against Israel and ending the security co-ordination with the Israeli military that has kept the West Bank largely quiet since the end of the Palestinian intifada in 2005. The warning is a counterattack against a flurry of announcements from Mr Netanyahu’s government that it intends to build new settlements consisting of more than 6,000 homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank on land the Palestinians want as part of a future state…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

HRW: Saudi Website Editor Could Face Death for Apostasy

RIYADH — The editor of a Saudi Arabian website could be sentenced to death after a judge cited him for apostasy and moved his case to a higher court, the monitoring group Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

Raif Badawi, who started the Free Saudi Liberals website to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in June, Human Rights Watch said.

Badawi had initially been charged with the less serious offense of insulting Islam through electronic channels, but at a December 17 hearing a judge referred him to a more senior court and recommended he be tried for apostasy, the monitoring group said.

Apostasy, the act of changing religious affiliation, carries an automatic death sentence in Saudi Arabia, along with crimes including blasphemy.

Badawi’s website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures, the monitoring group said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq’s Sunni-Backed Bloc Threatens to Withdraw From Political Process

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) — The Sunni-backed parliamentary bloc of Iraqia, headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, threatened to withdraw from Iraq’s political process if the government refrains from allowing monitoring investigation with the guards of the bloc’s Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi, spokesman said on Saturday. The bloc’s threat came after the Iraqi security forces arrested chief of Rafia al-Issawi’s protection force and nine bodyguards over charges of terrorism, which sparked anger among the Sunni community against the Shiite-dominated government…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria: Into the Abyss

by Melanie Phillips

To an astonishing silence by the media on both sides of the pond, the US along with the UK and a number of European governments is leading the west into an abyss. I have repeatedly noted here that the US, UK and France helped bring to power in Egypt Islamic extremists hostile to the free world, and were threatening to do something very similar in Syria. Now they have indeed done so by recognising the Syrian National Council as the legitimate leader of the Syrian opposition…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Putin Opposes Headscarves in Russian Schools

MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) — President Vladimir Putin spoke against the wearing of hijabs at Russian schools Thursday saying that the practice runs counter to Russian traditions. “Why should we adopt outside traditions?” Putin said during a marathon question-and-answer session with Russian and foreign reporters on Thursday…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: Left Parties Strike for Ban on Sharia Islamists

Left parties shut down schools, shops and roads across Bangladesh today as they enforced a dawn-to-dusk general strike against Islamist parties. More than two dozen Islamic parties want Bangladesh to be governed by sharia law, but the leftists say they should be banned under a constitutional provision that law must be secular. More than 10,000 police were deployed in Dhaka as protesters blocked roads and traffic. But Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir commended the Communist Party of Bangladesh, which led the protests, for the peacefulness of the action. The main target of the strike was the Islamic fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami, eight of whose leaders are standing trial for alleged crimes against humanity during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Islamists Against Catholics in Central Java, Christmas Celebrations in Jeopardy

Islamic Defence Front leaders threaten to stop celebrations. A big prayer meeting is planned for Christmas Eve. Islamist reaction is due to a planned Mass in a square across from a mosque. Police and local authorities say Christian celebrations have all the right permits, warn they would use all means at their disposal, including force to stop the extremists.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — For Catholics in Ungaran (Central Java), Christmas is in jeopardy because of threats from the extremist Islamic Defence Front (FPI). Since the local grand mosque is located on the centrally located Sidomulyo Square, where Christians are preparing to celebrate Christmas with Masses and prayers, Muslims fundamentalists have threatened to stop all celebrations. A big meeting in front of the mosque has already been announced for the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

Central Java FPI leader Jindan Bahrul warned Christians that an open-air Mass in front of the mosque would “not be a good example of [interfaith] tolerance” before Christmas. “Other possible locations exist,” he said, adding that Christians “should go elsewhere”. Indeed, Christmas Eve’s big prayer meeting in front of Ungaran’s Grand Mosque should be reason enough for Christians to pause.

However, regency police said that they would stop the Islamists if they acted, by force if necessary. Although no public official personally made the announcement to avoid retaliation, the statement does indicate the authorities’ intention to stand their ground even against a leading mosque leader in Ungaran.

For its part, the local administration noted that the Catholic community had applied and obtained the necessary permits for Christmas celebrations within the required timespan. “We gave the request due attention,” said Abdullah Maskur, a local top official, “and decided to issue the necessary permits after consulting all parties.”

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Whilst its constitution recognises the principle of religious freedom, attacks and violence against minorities, be they Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or members of other religions, have become very frequent.

In Aceh Province, Sharia is in place, the only jurisdiction in the entire nation to have done so. Under Islamist influence, a more radical and extremist vision of the faith is being imposed on residents in many areas.

Increasingly, laws, rules and regulations like building permits are being used selectively to prevent the construction of Christian places of worship or prevent Christians from using those they already have. This has been done in Bogor Regency (West Java) against members of the Yasmin Church.

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

Far East

China: Beijing Wants to Grow Fresh Vegetables on Mars and the Moon

Chinese researchers announce the successful trials during which four kinds of vegetables were grown in a 300 cubic metre cabin that could be built and used on extraterrestrial bases. China is planning a mission to the moon as well.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — China is preparing to grow fresh vegetables in space, on Mars or the moon. The red planet and the earth’s satellite appear to be the ideal place to grow environmentally sound, high quality products, this after researchers successfully completed a preliminary test in Beijing, state media reported. Despite food scandals involving melamine-tainted baby formula and carcinogenic food, China’s food research is focusing on “extraterrestrial” high quality food production.

Four kinds of vegetables were grown in an “ecological life support system”, a 300 cubic metre cabin which will allow astronauts to develop their own stocks of air, water and food whilst on space missions, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The system, which relies on plants and algae, is “expected to be used in extra-terrestrial bases on the moon or Mars”, the report noted.

Participants in the experiment could “harvest fresh vegetables for meals”, Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing’s Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre, is quoted as saying in Xinhua.

Astronauts may get fresh rather than freeze-dried vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future.

This is China’s first experiment of this kind. Although the world’s second largest economy and awash with cash, China is still light-years behind the United States and Russia (heir to the former Soviet Union), the real masters of space today.

Still, China has said it will land an exploratory craft on the moon for the first time next year, as part of an ambitious space programme that includes a long-term plan for a manned moon landing, although it did not give a time frame.

China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei said last month that Chinese astronauts may start a branch of China’s ruling Communist Party in space. It “would also be the ‘highest’ of its kind in the world.”

The astronaut was launched into space and orbited the earth aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft in 2003.

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

Australia — Pacific

Anarchy of a Gang and Two AK47s

When two men in traditional Middle Eastern dress sat down with the owner of a Bankstown restaurant recently, they were after only one thing.

At first they shared a hookah pipe and chatted amiably about religion, but the conversation quickly turned to extortion: they wanted $50,000 in exchange for “protection”.

The terrified restaurant owner told Fairfax Media they asked him a menacing question he was sure was rhetoric: “Have you heard of Brothers 4 Life?”

It’s a question many south-west Sydney communities are grappling with as the gang founded by the murderer Bassam Hamzy attempts to flex its muscles in Sydney again.

With shootings and gun crime reaching fever pitch, the group’s insignia of two crossed AK47 machine guns has appeared at crime scenes with increasing regularity.

On Wednesday, a handful of young men, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the “B4L” logo, arrived at Owen Street in Punchbowl following the brutal execution of Bachir Arja, a petty criminal with drug links who was shot up to eight times on the front lawn of his mother’s house.

In October, Yehya Amoud was shot dead as he and a friend, Bassam Hijazi, sat on Greenacre Road in an expensive Mercedes that bore the number plate “B F L”. And in August, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the leg in a driveway scrawled with “Brothers 4 Life” graffiti. T-shirts with the insignia could also be seen being worn by people who were among the crowd during the violent Muslim protest in Hyde Park in September.

Underworld sources said the group was on a recruitment drive looking for young Middle Eastern men who could act as foot soldiers and carry out drug runs and criminal acts in exchange for protection and power.

A senior police office investigating gang activity, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the group had become more of a “banner” than a gang with a formal structure, making it impossible to estimate the number of members.

Unlike a bikie gang, there was no leader that succeeded Hamzy when he was imprisoned.

Young male criminals are increasingly using the banner as a means of creating muscle, generating fear and intimidation and galvanising each other during a period of spiralling shootings, extortion and gun crime.

“The name and the logo is more an identifier that they use for intimidation,” the police source said.

The lack of defined structure had led to clashes and anarchic activity within the ranks as some fought for influence or conducted their own business to the chagrin of others.

Mr Amoud, 27, allegedly fell victim to such internal conflict. Fairfax Media understands his close friend, a relative of Hamzy’s, turned on him on October 14 and sent a spray of bullets through the front windscreen of his Mercedes.

The pair, who had matching tattoos on their legs, had met earlier on the day of the shooting before relations soured.

Asked what caused the fallout, an associate said: “Only those guys and God know.” Associates said they knew who the gunmen was but weren’t co-operating with detectives, who had yet to make an arrest.

One Middle Eastern underworld source said there was a power vacuum in the south-west that was about to “explode”.

In the past four months, six men, including Mr Amoud and Mr Arja, had been brazenly executed on the streets as various conflicts bubbled over from drive-by shootings to full-blown murders.

In the mix were conflicts over drugs, families, extortion and even foreign policy and sectarian lines, the source said.

“The whole area is going to erupt pretty soon — Punchbowl, Bankstown, everywhere,” he said. “There are a lot of issues at hand at the moment and a power vacuum with younger guys challenging the old guys that want to hold on to the power. It’s scary because these hits have been assassinations.”

He was positive there would be retribution for the shooting of Mr Arja — which he said was an in-house family dispute — because he was shot in front of his elderly mother, Malake.

“Even with criminals, there’s a code of conduct,” he said. “Doing it in front of parents, wives and kids is not on.”

It had put a blanket of terror over law-abiding community members who feared being extorted or targeted…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Christmas Message Written in Sky Above Lakemba Mosque in Response to Fatwa Claims

THE LEBANESE Muslim Association claims it organised for a festive message be written in the sky above Lakemba Mosque following reports of a fatwa being declared on Christmas.

The message, written in white in the sky above the nation’s biggest mosque reads : Merry Xmas, the ABC reports.

The sky message comes after an Imam at Australia’s biggest mosque reportedly issued a fatwa against Christmas, warning followers it is a “sin” to even wish people a Merry Christmas.

The ruling, which followed a similar lecture during Friday prayers at Lakemba Mosque, was posted on its Facebook site on Saturday, according to media reports.

It appears the post is no longer on the page and the Lebanese Muslim Association says the fatwa isn’t valid. The original post came from text copied and pasted from the internet by junior members of staff and the mosque did not endorse the message, the association said.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

No Merriness Here: Mosque Puts Fatwa on Christmas

Fatwa … The head imam at Lakemba Mosque has told the congregation they should not participate in anything to do with Christmas.

The religious ruling, which followed a similar lecture during Friday prayers at Australia’s biggest mosque, was posted on its Facebook site on Saturday morning.

The head imam at Lakemba, Sheikh Yahya Safi, had told the congregation during prayers that they should not take part in anything to do with Christmas.

Samir Dandan, the president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which oversees the mosque, could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

The fatwa, which has sparked widespread community debate and condemnation, warns that the “disbelievers are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path”.

It also says that Christmas Day and associated celebrations are among the “falsehoods that a Muslim should avoid … and therefore, a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate the Christmas Day nor is he allowed to congratulate them”.

The posting of the fatwa has shocked many Muslim leaders. The Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, said the foundations of Islam were peace, co-operation, respect and holding others in esteem.

“Anyone who says otherwise is speaking irresponsibly,” he said.

“There is difference between showing respect for someone’s belief and sharing those beliefs,” Dr Ibrahim said.


Keysar Trad, a former official with the Lebanese Muslim Association, said in his time with the organisation they used to regularly greet people with merry Christmas. “I don’t know what has changed,” he said. “But now as a representative of Australia’s peak Muslim body, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, I would like to wish all your readers a merry Christmas and a happy new year.”

[Note the final word from serial pest Keysar Trad, who has just spent several years pushing and pushing to get a public apology from radio commentator Alan Jones for ‘hurt feelings’ over things said about Cronulla. — Nilk]

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Now Has More Mobile Subscribers Than the US or EU

Africa’s mobile phone market is now 650 million subscribers strong, reports the World Bank, which means it’s bigger than either the United States or European Union. The number of mobile phones in Africa has grown 40-fold since 2000.

One of the reasons mobile phones are so popular in Africa is that land lines are expensive. But the rush to mobile seems to be having second-order benefits on economic development.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Heavy Casualties Feared in Suicide Bombing in Nigeria Telecommunication Offices

KANO, Nigeria, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) — Heavy casualties were feared Saturday morning after suicide bombers attacked offices of two major telecommunication offices in northern Nigeria’s Kano State, according to security sources.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Suicide Bombers Attack Mobile Phone Firms in Nigeria

(Reuters) — Two suicide car bombers attacked the offices of mobile phone operators India’s Airtel and South Africa’s MTN on Saturday in Nigeria’s northern city of Kano, killing themselves but no civilians, police said.

Islamist sect Boko Haram has previously targeted phone firms, blowing up telephone masts and offices, saying the companies help the security forces catch its members…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Bombs as Xmas Hampers

FOUR days to Christmas, the police and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have warned members of the public that terrorists could send bombs to them disguised as Christmas hampers…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Argentina Protests Britain’s Antarctica Decision

Argentina has formally protested Britain’s decision to name a vast swathe of Antarctica as Queen Elizabeth Land.

The foreign ministry handed a formal protest note to British Ambassador John Freeman in Buenos Aires. The note rejects London’s claim since 1908 to a chunk of Antarctic known as the British Antarctic Territory, and it criticises what Argentina calls Britain’s “imperialistic ambitions going back to ancient practices.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Comment Analysis on Pro-Islamic Immigration Huffpo Article

We’ve disccused the noticable change in the comments sections of newspapers recently.This comes from Libertyphile at Islam Surveyed

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Treatment of Migrants Shameful, Says Amnesty

Greece faces a “humanitarian crisis” over its mistreatment of asylum-seekers and migrants, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The group accuses the government of detaining thousands of refugees, including many children, in “shameful (and) appalling” conditions.

Greece is a major gateway for migrants from Asian and African countries as they try to enter the European Union.

Attacks against foreigners have been on the rise in the debt-stricken nation.

The report claimed that Greece systematically fails to provide the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum-seekers passing through the country ever year.

“Greece is clearly failing very significantly to absorb and respect the rights of the many migrants that are crossing its land and sea borders with Turkey,” Amnesty International spokesman John Dalhuisen said.

“It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the EU has a humanitarian crisis not beyond its borders, not on its borders, but within its borders.”

In particular, the report highlights the plight of unaccompanied children held in “very poor conditions” at the recently opened Corinth detention centre, calling it a breach of international standards.

The study also draws attention to the “dramatic increase” of racially motivated attacks, now reported on an almost daily basis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Britain Issues New Guidelines on Prosecuting Offensive Online Comments

People who post offensive messages on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter should face criminal charges only if their comments are harassing or threatening and not simply in bad taste, according to new legal guidelines in Britain that follow a spate of controversial prosecutions.

Free-speech advocates here have been alarmed in recent months by a number of incidents in which users of social media have been arrested and jailed for posting messages that others deemed repugnant. A 2003 law authorizes such harsh punishment for “indecent, obscene or menacing” communications sent through a public electronic network.

But the law predates the explosion of such new media as Twitter and Facebook, and some police officials say that having to investigate the increasing number of complaints about offensive online messages is distracting them from more serious work.

[When the yardstick is so subjective, it is a tool of oppression.]

[Return to headlines]

Pope Says Future of Mankind at Stake Over Gay Marriage

Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in on a heated debate over gay marriage, criticising new concepts of the traditional family and warning that mankind itself was at stake.

“In the fight for the family, the very notion of being — of what being human really means — is being called into question,” the Pope said in Italian during an end-of-year speech. “The question of the family … is the question of what it means to be a man, and what it is necessary to do to be true men,” he said. The Pope spoke of the “falseness” of gender theories and cited at length France’s chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against gay marriage. “Bernheim has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper,” he said. He cited feminist gender theorist Simone de Beauvoir’s view to the effect that one is not born a woman, but one becomes so — that sex was no longer an element of nature but a social role people chose for themselves.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Primary Schools Are Still Not Teaching Our Island’s Story

John Bald says primary schools teach the Tudors and the Second World War — but nothing in between

I promised history this week, but could not find the report from the all-party committee that had been covered by the BBC. All routes led back to its website, and it has clearly acted in haste. The report was not approved at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, probably to protect New Labour’s citizenship curriculum. This is effectively a training course for party members, promoting multiculturalism and “the role of the voluntary sector”, a Labour euphemism for its conversion of the idea of charity into an instrument of party policy…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Conservative Neglect of Culture

by Roger Scruton

Nobody knows what a cultural policy should aim at, what means it should use, or how it could lead to legislation or other political initiatives. Hence, in Conservative Party thinking, considerations of culture remain on the margins. Worse, as in so many areas of political life, the Conservatives seem to have abandoned this fertile territory to the Left. Here is an instance of which I have some knowledge: the Arts Council has refused to provide funding to the English Music Festival, an initiative devoted to one of the greatest and least explored legacies of our national culture. The Council objects to the word ‘English’, and to all that it means by way of settled loyalties, old-fashioned decencies, and the love of our country and its past. For the arts establishment culture should be anti-national, disruptive, part of the ‘labour of the negative’ that I described in a previous contribution to this blog. My attempts to get conservative politicians, including the Minister for Culture and the Chairman of the House of Commons Cultural Committee, to take up this cause have been greeted with silence. Who cares about Granville Bantock, Arnold Bax or Ivor Gurney, and what have they got to do with GDP, RPI, VAT, or any other collection of letters that the government cites in the place of a philosophy?

This neglect of culture is a mistake, and here are three reasons why:

1. Conservatives are, at their best, rounded human beings, who are attached to forms of life and practices which might reasonably be described as cultural: they tend to believe in family values and the rewards of family life, and to have a love of literature, art, music and natural beauty. Their tastes vary, but they gravitate towards the serious and the enduring, and indeed it is their sense of the seriousness of human life that turns them in a conservative direction. It disheartens them to think that there is nothing to conservatism except the bits that can be transcribed as economic policy, and they would be comforted by the spectacle of a party endorsing the cultural values that they share.
2. Policies towards culture may be futile; but policies influenced by culture issue all the time. And when the culture is trivial or ideological the policies can be very destructive — as we have seen in education, multiculturalism, and the rise of the leftist thought police. To be confident in one’s cultural base is therefore a prerequisite for making firm and durable political decisions.
3. It is good for the image of conservatism that it should not be caricatured as a business consortium or a neo-liberal conspiracy. It should be seen also to be tentatively exploring the deeper issues, and making reasonable but non-belligerent contributions to the debates that occupy intelligent people today: for instance, religion and atheism, social media, pop culture, the fate of real music, architecture and the city.

Those three reasons are circumstantial. Less circumstantial is the need to recognise that the heart of conservatism is not economic but poetic. From Burke to Oakeshott our conservative thinkers have been moved by the poetry of their stance, by its appeal to the imagination, and by the echo of ancestral voices in the life and art that surround us. Even today, in our mutilated country, it is the vision of a sacred landscape, settled in endearing ways, and of the texture of daily life and the beauty of simple manners, that win young people to the conservative cause. Our cause is the cause of belonging, founded in a sense of the beauty of given things and of the need to respond to them with gratitude. This is the real reason why conservatives wish to protect our institutions, culture and educational inheritance. It is the real reason why we oppose the leftist desire to sweep everything away for the sake of an equality that can be achieved only when everyone has nothing.

Alas, however: what Oakeshott called ‘the voice of poetry in the conversation of mankind’ is rarely heard by those whom we elect to Parliament. And we surely cannot blame this entirely on Nick Clegg.

[Reader comment by Lord Palmerston on 22 December 2012 at 8:50 am.]

This is an excellent piece. Sadly David Davies’ interview in the Guardian today equating pop music with homosexuality undermines the party’s standing as an arbiter of culture. As far as culture goes, some of our MPs have the mental capacity of something growing in a Petri dish.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Potentially Habitable Planet Detected Around Nearby Star

A sun-like star in our solar system’s backyard may host five planets, including one perhaps capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study reports.

Astronomers have detected five possible alien planets circling the star Tau Ceti, which is less than 12 light-years from Earth — a mere stone’s throw in the cosmic scheme of things. One of the newfound worlds appears to orbit in Tau Ceti’s habitable zone, a range of distances from a star where liquid water can exist on a planet’s surface.

With a minimum mass just 4.3 times that of Earth, this potential planet would be the smallest yet found in the habitable zone of a sun-like star if it’s confirmed, researchers said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]