Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100630

»Ex-DOJ Lawyer: Holder Won’t Prosecute Blacks
»Frank Gaffney: A Shrine to Shariah?
»McChrystal’s Brilliance
»Myrick Suspects Terrorists Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border
»New Episode: Stakelbeck on Terror Show
»Reject Elena Kagan
Europe and the EU
»Dutch Teenagers Most Negative on Immigrants
»Europe: Rail Deregulation Sparks High-Speed Rows
»Italy: Harry’s Bar Cuts Prices to Combat Crisis
»Italy: Police Bust Chinese Money Laundering Ring
»Italy: Priest Removed After Confessing to Child Abuse
»Italy: Bluesman Zucchero Appears on Off-Shore Account List
»Italy: Two Arrested Over Illegal ‘Immigrant Hostel’ In North
»Italy: Women Flock to Attend Self-Defence Course
»Italy: Court Asked to Overturn Crucifix Ban
»Leftists Harass Immigrants for Supporting Germany
»Offshore Embarrassment: Shoddy Parts Trip Up Major North Sea Wind Farm
»Study: Archimedes Set Roman Ships Afire With Cannons
»UK: Abu Hamza’s Son Yasser Kamel Jailed for Attacking Police at London Demonstration
»UK: Crimes of Untouchable Diplomats Accused of Sex Assaults, Human Trafficking and £36million in Unpaid Fines
»UK: Innocent Couple Killed After Their House Was Fire-Bombed in ‘Bungled Honour Killing’
»UK: Prosecutor in Almost £1m Debt Used His Position to Stop a Court Case for £20,000, Jury Told
»UK: Sanity Fights Back
»UK: Violent Inner-City Crime, The Figures, And a Question of Race
North Africa
»After Failed Attempt of Forced Islamization Egyptian Christian Family Under Siege
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Alternatives to Surrender
Middle East
»Muslims Plan to Land a Scientific Lab on Moon in 2013
»Turkey: PM Said Israel Must Apologise for Gaza Blockade
»Turkey’s Cycle of Violence
»Chechen Police Shoot Paintballs at Women With Uncovered Hair
South Asia
»Indonesia: Politicians Debate Ban on Islamist Group
»Indonesia: Government ‘Shuns UN Torture Convention’
»Indonesia: Obama Pledges to Boost Education
»Movie Based on US President’s Childhood Debuts in Indonesia
»Pakistan: Google Site to be Monitored for ‘Blasphemy’
Far East
»Hong Kong: Govt Less and Less Sincere With the People, Card Zen Says
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Zimbabwe: ‘Terrorist’ Suspects Arrested En Route to South Africa
»Germany’s Immigration Debate
»U.S. Grants Asylum to Born-Again ‘Son of Hamas’
»Why Criminals Are Less Intelligent Than Non-Criminals


Ex-DOJ Lawyer: Holder Won’t Prosecute Blacks

‘Particularly in voting, that will be the case for the next few years, no doubt about it’

A leading Department of Justice attorney who quit his job after over the Obama administration’s refusal to prosecute Black Panthers who intimidated voters outside polls during the 2008 election claims the administration has ordered the DOJ not to pursue voting rights cases against black people.

In an interview today, J. Christian Adams, former DOJ attorney and now a contributor at Pajamas Media, told Fox News, “There is a pervasive hostility within the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department toward these sorts of cases.”

Asked whether there is a specific Justice Department policy against pursuing cases where the defendant is black and the victim is white, Adams replied, “Particularly in voting, that will be the case for the next few years. No doubt about it. If you had all the attorneys who worked on this case here, I am quite sure that they would say the exact same thing.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: A Shrine to Shariah?

The supremacist program authoritative Islam calls Shariah is big on symbols. Arguably, none is more effective than its practice of building mosques on its conquests’ most sacred sites.

In Jerusalem, triumphant Muslims built the Al-Aqsa mosque on top of the Jews’ revered Temple Mount. They transformed what had been for a thousand years the largest cathedral in Christendom, Constantinople’s magnificent St. Sophia basilica, into a sprawling mosque complex. And the Moorish Ummayad dynasty in Spain, made the city of Cordoba its capital, and installed an immense mosque on the site of an ancient Christian church there.

Now, an imam in New York, who has suddenly come into $100 million from undisclosed sources, wants to build a 13-story Islamic Cultural Center adjacent to the site of Shariah’s greatest triumph to date in America: Ground Zero, the place where the World Trade Center’s twin towers proudly stood until they were destroyed by Shariah-adherent jihadists on September 11, 2001. It is not a coincidence that the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, has called his project “the Cordoba House.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

McChrystal’s Brilliance

Gen. McChrystal knew there were important things that had to be impressed upon the American people. The war, he felt, could not be won Obama’s way, a way showing less grasp of military reality than the normal Chicago gang fight. You can get away with “playing” part war and part non-war when you’re politicking to increasingly ignorant masses of Americans — but you can’t do that in a war. What if McChrystal had merely resigned, held a press conference or gave an interview to National Review and Fox News and laid out his warnings forthrightly? Not bad. Good story; lots of coverage, but like dropping a honeysuckle down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo, compared to what the general ultimately did.

Invite a publication so far to the left it belongs in a zoo and speak clearly into the tape recorder. Now we’re talking “legs,” day after day of coverage that corkscrews the argument into the central nervous system of the American public. To save his troops, those of our NATO allies and Western civilization against a Taliban victory that would unleash the inventory of hell itself into our faces and our futures (remember bin Laden’s “weak-horse, strong-horse”?), the general knew he had to outpoint the oil spill, the World Cup and even the anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson at the water cooler. Thank you, Rolling Stone. The best “useful idiots” are the ones with the stupid smiles on their faces who walk away saying, “Wow! Look at the gold mine that fell into our laps!”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Myrick Suspects Terrorists Crossing U.S.-Mexico Border

Congresswoman believes Hezbollah is in Mexico, wants task force to investigate.

WASHINGTON U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick has asked Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to step up investigations of terrorists who might be operating on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Myrick, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, wants Napolitano to convene a task force on the presence of Hezbollah in Mexico.

“I believe Hezbollah and the drug cartels may be operating as partners on our border,” Myrick wrote to Napolitano, who is secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in a letter last week. “I believe we need to do more intelligence gathering on Hezbollah’s presence on our border.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New Episode: Stakelbeck on Terror Show

The latest episode of my new 30 minute show, Stakelbeck on Terror, aired Monday night.

  • We kick off the show with my recent investigative report about a large Muslim store selling recordings by Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awalaki—just minutes from the White House..
  • We then go one-on-one with Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra— a leading voice on Capitol Hill on national security and intelligence issues (5:33 into the show).
  • In a hard-hitting interview, Hoekstra told Stakelbeck on Terror the White House is “weakening our national security and making us more vulnerable.” He added that, “The president has been undercutting the leadership in Israel on a regular basis” and “emboldening radical jihadists: Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinians.”
  • Our “War Council” roundtable examines whether Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities (14:47 into the show). We then head to Jerusalem for our Inside Israel segment with CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell, to get his take on Israel and Iran from on the ground (19:33 in).
  • My “Stak Attack” commentary segment features shocking footage of a prominent Arab leader in Dearborn, Mich., telling me Hamas and Hezbollah are “freedom fighters” and denying that they are terrorist groups. We also examine what makes a Muslim “moderate.” (24:38 in)
  • This week’s “Sharia Flaw” segment exposes an upcoming radical Islamic conference being held outside Chicago. The event will be hosted by Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a terror-liked Islamic group that is banned in parts of Europe and the Middle East, but welcome right here in the United States (23:14 in)

Watch it at the above link.

[Return to headlines]

Reject Elena Kagan

Phyllis Schlafly: Nominee is ‘a clear and present danger to the Constitution’

Barack Obama revealed his goal for the Supreme Court when he complained on Chicago radio station WBEZ-FM in 2001 that the Earl Warren Court wasn’t “radical” enough because “it didn’t break free from the essential constraints placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution” in order to allow “redistribution of wealth.” Now that Obama is president, he has the power to nominate Supreme Court justices who will “break free” from the Constitution and join him in “fundamentally transforming” America.

That’s the essence of his choice of Elena Kagan as his second Supreme Court nominee. She never was a judge, and her paper trail is short — but it’s long enough to prove that she is a clear and present danger to the Constitution.

When Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, she presented a guest speaker who is known as the most activist judge in the world: Judge Aharon Barak, formerly president of the Israeli Supreme Court. The polar opposite of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “all legislative powers” are vested in the elected legislative body, Barak has written that a judge should “make” and “create” law, assume “a role in the legislative process,” and give statutes “new meaning that suits new social needs.”

Barak wrote that a judge “is subject to no authority” except himself, and he “must sometimes depart the confines of his legal system and channel into it fundamental values not yet found in it.” Channel? Does he mean he channel in a trance, as Hillary Clinton supposedly channeled discourse with the long-deceased Eleanor Roosevelt?

Despite Barak’s weirdo writings, or maybe because of them, Kagan called him her “judicial hero.” Judge Robert Bork, a man careful with his words, says that Kagan’s praise of Barak is “disqualifying in and of itself.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Dutch Teenagers Most Negative on Immigrants

ROTTERDAM, 30/06/10 — Dutch schoolchildren have less knowledge of the political system compared with their European peers. They are also most negative towards migrants, NRC Handelsblad reports.

The newspaper based its report on the International Civics and Citizenship Education Study published yesterday, for which 140,000 secondary schoolchildren from 40 countries were surveyed on their ‘citizenship competencies’. Of the pupils surveyed, only 24 percent in the Netherlands had a good understanding of the Dutch political system. In countries like Finland and Denmark, the figures were respectively 55 and 60 percent.

The lack of knowledge leads to less interest in politics, but not to a negative assessment of the political system. Among the Dutch pupils, 70 percent trust the national government, compared with 61 percent in all countries surveyed.

Political parties enjoy the confidence of 53 percent of the Dutch schoolchildren. This is slightly above the international average. Of all societal institutions, the media inspires the least confidence among the Dutch youngsters: only 48 percent trust newspapers, radio, TV and Internet.

In the area of tolerance in relation to minorities, the Netherlands along with the Belgian region of Flanders has the lowest score in Europe. Nowhere else were reactions so often negative regarding statements like ‘the children of immigrants should have the same opportunities for education as other children in the country’ and ‘immigrants who have already been living for some years in a country should have the opportunity to vote in elections’.

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

Europe: Rail Deregulation Sparks High-Speed Rows

“After six months of liberalisation in Europe, battle lines have been drawn in the rail sector”: Le Monde explains that since the beginning of 2010, when “the deregulation of rail services became a legal reality,” relations between Europe’s three principal rail operators, France’s SNCF, Italy’s Trenitalia and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB), have become increasingly hostile. Each of the three has established alliances with the others’ main competitors and accusations of protectionism can be heard on every front. SNCF, which has purchased a stake in NTV, Trenitalia’s main competitor, is planning to build a high-speed network that will serve nine cities in Italy. Trenitalia has responded by forming an alliance with SNCF’s principal rival Veolia Transport, which aims to establish Europe’s first private high-speed rail service between Milan, Turin and Paris by 2011. And relations between French and German operators are equally acrimonious. According to the Paris daily, “SNCF and DB, which used to be allied by a shared desire to defend a model of public service threatened by British-style deregulation, are now fighting over a number of markets.” Tensions have been raised by the German operator’s bid to “break the monopoly enjoyed by the Franco-British Eurostar consortium with a high-speed link to London to open in time for the Olympic games in 2012.”

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

Italy: Harry’s Bar Cuts Prices to Combat Crisis

Venice, 29 June (AKI) — Harry’s Bar, the Venetian landmark once frequented by Orson Wells and Truman Capote, has been hard hit by the economic crisis. The 79-year-old bar and restaurant has cut prices by 10 percent in the hope of attracting hungry and thirsty tourists.

That means you will pay only 42 euros for the privilege of enjoying a hamburger and ice cream at the same watering hole favoured by American writer Ernest Hemingway during his jaunts in the lagoon city.

“Venice is hurt by the economic crisis more than other cities and people are spending less because they have less money, said Arrigo Cipriani, son of founder Guisseppe, in an interview Tuesday with Venice daily, Il Gazzettino.

Arrigo Cipriani is the major shareholder of the chain with seven restaurants around the world operating under the Harry’s Bar and Cipriani names.

Harry’s Bar and Cipriani restaurants are located in locations, including New York, Miami and Hong Kong.

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

Italy: Police Bust Chinese Money Laundering Ring

Rome, 28 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian finance police arrested 24 people across Italy on Monday in an operation against an alleged 2.7 billion euro money-laundering ring run by the Chinese mafia. The ring was involved in counterfeiting, tax evasion, human trafficking and prostitution, according to investigators.

Police arrested 17 Chinese nationals and seven Italians for alleged mafia association for laundering profits made through counterfeiting, tax evasion, human trafficking and prostitution since 2006, the finance police said in a statement.

The police seized assets worth “tens of” millions of euros in eight regions including Tuscany and Lombardy, according to the statement.

The gang was allegely run by a Chinese family based in Milan. They partnered with Italians who owned a money transfer company in Bologna, police said.

The gang took part in criminal activities, mainly counterfeiting in the central Italian provinces of Florence and Prato, home to one of Italy’s biggest Chinese communities.

Police seized more than 780,000 counterfeit goods produced in the area or shipped from China.

A total of 134 people are under investigation. The ring exploited illegal Chinese immigrants in textile factories, who were living in “dirty and unhealthy” conditions, according to the police statement.

Italy’s finance police discovered 22 billion euros in undeclared income in the first five months of 2010.

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

Italy: Priest Removed After Confessing to Child Abuse

Bolzano, 28 June (AKI) — A 74-year-old priest has been removed from his position in northern Italy after confessing he sexually abused minors. Alois Kranebitter, parish priest in the Alto Adige region’s Bolzano-Brixen diocese, will no longer be allowed to celebrate mass in public and will be obliged to live in a place where he has no contact with children, the diocese said in a statement.

“These cases of abuse date back 20 years. The victims and the priest have been carefully questioned by an ecclesiastical judge and by the bishop,” the statement said.

“The suspect priest deplores his own behaviour. He wants to live out the rest of his old age in penance.”

Bolzano-Brixen’s bishop Karl Golser said he wanted “clarification” about the Kranebitter case and to help the victims.

“We can’t put the clock back but we want to do all we can to alleviate the pain of the victims. We also owe the faithful an explanation,” Golser said.

The office of Bolzano’s chief prosecutor Guido Rispoli made no immediate comment but earlier in June he met Golser to discuss possible cases of paedophilia among members of the Catholic church in Alto Adige.

Bishop Golser said any priest accused of child sexual abuse must be reported to the Vatican body responsible for disciplining the clergy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“The worst offenders may be defrocked,” he said. He also stressed there was a “zero tolerance” approach to the sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic Church.

Golser said canon law has a longer statute of limitations than Italian law, an advantage for victims of paedophile priests who often only manage to bring the alleged abuse to light decades after it took place.

Italy is one of several European countries where there has been a surge of child abuse allegations against members of the Catholic church.

The United States and Brazil have also been hit by similar scandals.

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

Italy: Bluesman Zucchero Appears on Off-Shore Account List

Rome, 26 June (AKI) — The name of blues and rock performer Adelmo Fornaciari, more commonly known as Zucchero, appears on a list of around 1,200 suspected Italian tax dodgers with secret bank accounts in the landlocked Republic of San Marino.

Italy is cracking down on tax evaders and has been going after offshore bank accounts in countries like Switzerland and San Marino. Cheats at the end of 2009 and beginning of this year were also recently granted an amnesty from prosecution and allowed to pay up with significantly lower tax rates in return for registering undeclared income.

The country every year loses about 120 billion in tax revenue to evasion and in an effort to cut debt has demanded that civil servants in the enormous public administration that runs Italy accept temporary pay cuts.

The country’s tax police and other agencies last year uncovered almost 7 billion euros of tax-evaded income stemming from 2,676 cases, according to newspaper La Repubblica. Thirty-five percent of the tax dodgers came from Italy’s industrial north and were responsible for 3.9 billion euros of the evaded funds.

Zucchero, whose biggest hit is “Senza una donna,” or”Without a Woman,” has collaborated with Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker. In Italy he often performs at events linked to Italy’s left wing politics, such as the annual Labour Day concert help every 1 May in Rome.

San Marino’s government on 15 June said Italy’s offensive against off-shore accounts has resulted in about 5 billion euros, or roughly a third of total deposits, in withdrawals from the republic’s secretive banking system.

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

Italy: Two Arrested Over Illegal ‘Immigrant Hostel’ In North

Milan, 25 June (AKI) — Police in the northern Italian city of Brescia on Friday arrest two people after they uncovered an illegal Romanian-run ‘hostel’ offering immigrants a bed for 5 euros a night . The ‘hostel’ contained twelve beds and was located in an apartment rented by a 52-year-old Romanian woman.

The unnamed Romanian woman was arrested on suspicion of harbouring illegal immigrants.

Police identified four immigrants from outside the European Union staying at the apartment, of whom three were in Italy illegally.

Police identified 12 other immigrants in raids on two other apartments. One had defied an expulsion order and four others were reported for “breaching immigration laws”.

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

Italy: Women Flock to Attend Self-Defence Course

Milan, 25 June (AKI) — Some 300 women in Italy’s northern city of Milan have signed up for a free self-defence course being run by the city council. The course aims to help women protect themselves from attack in Milan, one of Italy’s most violent cities.

The women will receive training in martial arts and will learn to defend themselves and control an attacker rather than to attack him using brute force, city councillor and deputy mayor Riccardo De Corato told journalists.

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

Italy: Court Asked to Overturn Crucifix Ban

Strasbourg, 30 June (AKI) — The Italian government on Wednesday launched an appeal in the European Court of Human Rights to overturn a ban on crucifixes in the classrooms of public schools. The case against crucifixes was brought by Soile Lautsi, an Italian mother, who believes her children have a right to a secular education under Italy’s Constitution.

In November last year, the Strasbourg court endorsed the woman’s claim, saying parents should be able to raise their children as they wish.

The court said placing crucifixes in the classroom violated parents rights and was counter to right to freedom of religion.

The court ruled: “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities … restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

Lautsi’s victory provoked uproar from the Vatican and political leaders in Italy which is a predominantly Catholic country.

The Vatican said it was shocked by the ruling and one politician calling the move “shameful”.

The government defended the presence of crucifixes in public schools as a traditional “symbol” that extended beyond the country’s Christian roots.

In 2001-2002 Lautsis’ children, aged 11 and 13, attended the local state school, the Istituto comprensivo statale Vittorino da Feltre, where the family lives in Abano Terme in northern Italy.

According to court documents, all of the classrooms had a crucifix on the wall, including those where Lautsi children had lessons.

She and her husband asked the school to remove the crucifixes.

But in May 2002 the school’s governors decided to leave the crucifixes in the classrooms and the move was supported by the ministry of education.

While Catholicism is the dominant faith in Italy, the 1948 Constitution specifies that there is no state religion.

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

Leftists Harass Immigrants for Supporting Germany

Leftist anarchists in Berlin have reportedly been harassing immigrants showing their support for the German football team during the World Cup, tearing down national flags and even setting one on fire.

The leftists have been particularly aggressive in the city’s Neukölln district, home to many residents of Turkish and Arabic heritage, daily Der Tagesspiegel reported on Monday.

Here they have made a point of destroying and removing Germany flags hanging outside shops and vehicles because they believe the proud patriotism hearkens back to the ugly nationalism of the Third Reich, the paper said.

A group calling itself “Kommando Kevin-Prince Boateng” posted a notice on the website Indymedia calling on leftists to “capture” all Germany flags across the country. The name refers to the Berlin-born footballer, who is playing for Ghana at the world cup and knocked German team captain Michael Ballack out of the tournament with a brutal foul in the FA Cup final in May.

One Arab-German family has sparked their ire by hanging a giant Germany flag on their Sonnenallee building in support of the football team during the World Cup.

Ibrahim Bassal, who owns a mobile phone shop in the district, told daily Berliner Morgenpost on Saturday that since he and his cousin hoisted the flag they have had several uncomfortable encounters with the local leftists.

“During the day people from the left-wing scene come by and insult us,” Bassal said. “Am I not allowed to be proud of Germany?”

Bassal and his cousin Badr Mohammed, a well-known conservative Christian Democratic Berlin politician who lives in the same building, worked together to get the 20-metre-long flag, which cost them €500.

In recent days the situation has escalated, with the anarchists attempting to remove the flag four times and even setting it on fire, the paper reported. On one occasion a group managed to gain access to the roof of the building and cut the flag down.

Last Friday evening some 16 people dressed in typical black anarchist garb confronted Bassal in his shop, and the mood was tense, the paper said.

After Germany’s World Cup victory over Ghana last week Bassal reportedly stayed up to look after his shop until 4 am.

“They see us as immigrants,” he said. “They don’t understand that Germans who aren’t from Germany would defend Germany.”

Both Bassal and Mohammed told Berliner Morgenpost that they are incredulous they have to defend hanging a German flag to native Germans.

Though the store owner’s entire family have been citizens for many years, the leftists believe immigrants must remain foreigners, he added.

Meanwhile many of the residents of Arab or Turkish descent who live in the multicultural district are defending the huge flag and continuing to show their support, the paper reported.

The family has organised nighttime surveillance of the flag with neighbours to prevent further attacks, they said.

“We won’t let our pride be taken away,” Bassal and Mohammed said.

But according to Der Tagesspiegel, Bassal has decided to remove the flag and hoist it only on days when there is a Germany match. Meanwhile other residents told the paper they were taking special care not to leave their flags unattended.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Offshore Embarrassment: Shoddy Parts Trip Up Major North Sea Wind Farm

Unforeseen problems at the Alpha Ventus wind farm have lukewarm investors reevaluating the billions of euros they have invested in offshore wind energy.

Germany’s first offshore wind park was dealt a blow with the failure of two turbines due to inferior materials. The rough patch has energy executives scurrying to reassure Berlin and banks scrutinizing their billions in offshore wind energy investments.

Less than two months after celebrating its opening, the Alpha Ventus test wind park in the North Sea is already running into problems. Intended to be the initial thrust in a plan that foresees dozens of new offshore wind parks off the German coast, shoddy building materials have caused two turbines to overheat and fail. An additional four turbines will need to be replaced.

Each of the struggling turbines was manufactured by the French firm Areva, which is responsible for half of the 12 turbines in the four-square-kilometer park (1.5 square miles), located about 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of the island of Borkum.

Areva said Friday that overheating was unforeseen and “not sufficiently considered” from the outset. As a result, the company will invest in a facility in Bremerhaven to test its turbines under full-load capacity before sending them out to sea.

The turbines, which had only been in operation for eight months, will be replaced by late summer, according to Areva.

Major Players Concerned

The wind park’s operators, European energy giants E.on, EWE and Vattenfall, played down the incident in a hurriedly called crisis meeting at the Environment Ministry in Berlin. Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, for his part, is an enthusiastic supporter of the wind park and described the opening of Alpha Ventus as the “best day” of his tenure.

Still, the problems encountered by the €250 million park have instilled further doubts from its already lukewarm investors. As a result of the Alpha Ventus embarrassment, they are reviewing the billions of euros they have pledged for the development of other offshore wind parks.

The wind energy industry, however, doesn’t appear fazed by the Alpha Ventus mishap. The park is a sort of laboratory in which defects and shortcomings of offshore wind parks are to be identified and corrected. Moreover, the park’s problems may be a limited one: The other six turbines, which were manufactured by Hamburg-based Repower, have so far worked without a hitch.

High Expectations

The German wind energy industry is banking on Repower’s early results to parlay into future success. The industry believes that a quarter of Germany’s energy demands can be met with wind power by the end of the decade and that as much as 27 percent of energy consumption in the EU can come from wind by 2030.

The German industry still has a long way to go. So far, only 15 wind turbines have been installed off the German coast. But a further 1,600 are planned, the most among European countries.

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

Study: Archimedes Set Roman Ships Afire With Cannons

Greek inventor Archimedes is said to have used mirrors to burn ships of an attacking Roman fleet. But new research suggests he may have used steam cannons and fiery cannonballs instead.

A legend begun in the Medieval Ages tells of how Archimedes used mirrors to concentrate sunlight as a defensive weapon during the siege of Syracuse, then a Greek colony on the island of Sicily, from 214 to 212 B.C. No contemporary Roman or Greek accounts tell of such a mirror device, however.

Both engineering calculations and historical evidence support use of steam cannons as “much more reasonable than the use of burning mirrors,” said Cesare Rossi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Naples “Federico II,” in Naples, Italy, who along with colleagues analyzed evidence of both potential weapons.

The steam cannons could have fired hollow balls made of clay and filled with something similar to an incendiary chemical mixture known as Greek fire in order to set Roman ships ablaze. A heated cannon barrel would have converted barely more than a tenth of a cup of water (30 grams) into enough steam to hurl the projectiles.

Channeling steam power

Italian inventor Leonardo da Vinci sketched a steam cannon in the late 15th century, which he credited to Archimedes, and several other historical accounts mention the device in connection with Archimedes.

Indirect evidence for the steam cannon also comes from the Greek-Roman historian Plutarch, who tells of a pole-shaped device that forced besieging Roman soldiers to flee at one point from the walls of Syracuse.

The Greek-Roman physician and philosopher Galen similarly mentioned a burning device used against the Roman ships, but used words that Rossi said cannot translate into “burning mirror.”

Rossi calculated that such cannons could have fired a cannonball weighing roughly 13 pounds (6 kilograms) at speeds of roughly 134 miles per hour (60 meters per second). That allowed the cannons to possibly target troops or ships at distances of approximately 492 feet (150 m) while firing at a fairly flat trajectory to make aiming easier.

“As far as I know, it is the first paper about that use of a steam cannon by Archimedes,” Rossi told LiveScience.

Past investigations by Greek engineer Joannis Stakas and Evanghelos Stamatis, a historian, showed that a parabolic mirror can set small, stationary wooden ships on fire. MIT researchers carried out a similar demonstration more than three decades later in 2005.

But whether mirrors could have maintained a constantly changing curvature to keep the right burning focus on moving ships seems doubtful, Rossi noted. He added that ancient sailors could have easily put out any fires that started from a slow-burning mirror.

By contrast, Greek fire emerged in many historical accounts as a deadly threat for ancient warships. The unknown chemical mixture reportedly burned underwater, and saw most use by the Byzantine Empire that dominated the Eastern Mediterranean starting in A.D. 330. Other records mention earlier versions of the burning mixture.

Recreating the past

The steam cannons only represent the latest historical investigation by Rossi. He previously coauthored the book “Ancient Engineers’ Inventions: Precursors of the Present” (Springer, 2009), along with military historians Flavio Russo and Ferruccio Russo.

The trio plan to meet up with other historians in the future and possibly reconstruct versions of the ancient weapons. Flavio previously built several working reconstructions of ancient Roman artillery weapons, and Ferruccio specializes in 3-D virtual reconstructions of mechanical devices.

Some of Rossi’s other work looked at ancient motors that may have moved siege towers used by the Greeks and Romans. The likeliest motors may have relied on counterweights, and emerged in records as the invention of Heron of Alexandria in the first century.

Such devices could have been placed inside the protection of the towers themselves, Rossi noted. He pointed to an account by the Roman general Julius Caesar, who told of using such towers against a town defended by Gallic tribes in modern-day France. The sight of towers appearing to move by themselves frightened the defenders into negotiating for surrender.

A research paper on the siege towers was presented alongside Rossi’s recent work entitled “Archimedes’ Cannons against the Roman Fleet?” at the International World Conference held in Syracuse, Italy from June 8-10. The conference proceedings appear in a book titled “The Genius of Archimedes — 23 Centuries of Influence on Mathematics, Science and Engineering” (Springer, 2010).

In the end, the engineering talents of Archimedes did not save him from death when the Romans finally stormed Syracuse. But at least a love of history among Rossi and his colleagues may lead to the resurrection of some of his ancient devices.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Hamza’s Son Yasser Kamel Jailed for Attacking Police at London Demonstration

Yasser Kamel, 20, was caught on camera lobbing sticks at police and wielding a stolen police riot shield during a demonstration against Gaza sanctions.

The son of hate preacher Abu Hamza has been locked up for attacking police during anti-Israel riots in London.

Yasser Kamel, 20, was caught on camera lobbing sticks at police and wielding a stolen police riot shield during a demonstration against Gaza sanctions outside the Israeli embassy.

Wearing a scarf to disguise his face, the student was at the frontline when hundreds of protesters caused £50,000 of damage to shops and cafes last year.

Then 18, he was seen throwing four missiles at police before changing his clothing to evade detection, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Crimes of Untouchable Diplomats Accused of Sex Assaults, Human Trafficking and £36million in Unpaid Fines

Figures released by ministers have revealed an extraordinary crime spree carried out by embassy workers under the cloak of diplomatic immunity.

In the last five years, the diplomats carried out a total of 78 serious crimes — including 54 driving offences.

In the most worrying cases, envoys from Saudi Arabia and Sierra Leone were accused of human trafficking, while a Pakistani diplomat was alleged to have made a threat to kill.

A Saudi Arabian envoy allegedly committed sexual assault while another of his colleagues was accused of domestic violence.

Diplomats from Nigeria and Jordan were linked to two cases of actual bodily harm.

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, foreign officials and their families and staff are protected from prosecution in their host country — effectively putting them above the law.

Unless their home country agrees to waive their immunity from prosecution, there is nothing the British government can do except risk a diplomatic incident by ordering their expulsion.

Some 25,000 people are entitled to diplomatic-immunity in the UK. Serious crimes are defined as offences which would carry a 12-month jail sentence.

According to the list published by the Foreign Office, the most common offence was drink-driving with 48 diplomats accused.

In 2009, a total of 18 alleged offences were committed. There were also ten carried out in 2008, 20 in 2007, 15 in 2006 and 15 in 2005.

Last night there were calls for change. Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said: ‘It’s time for the Foreign Office to renegotiate the terms of diplomatic immunity.

‘It seems ludicrous that so many people get away with so many crimes.’

A Victim Support spokesman said: ‘Victims and witnesses want justice to be done and to be seen to be done.

‘If a decision is made not to prosecute someone, the reasons need to be made clear to the victim.’

Diplomatic missions also owe £36million in unpaid London congestion charge fines, £526,300 in parking and traffic violations, and more than £480,000 in unpaid rates.

The U.S., which is in a long-running dispute over payment of the congestion charge, has an unpaid bill of £3.8million.

One of eight nations which owe more than £1million, the U.S. is followed by Russia (£3.2million), Japan (£2.8million) and Germany (£2.6million).

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Innocent Couple Killed After Their House Was Fire-Bombed in ‘Bungled Honour Killing’

An innocent married couple were killed after three men fire-bombed a house in an bungled ‘honour’ killing, a court heard.

The men had been ‘put up to’ killing a boyfriend who had an affair with a married woman and ‘damaged the family’s honour’.

But in October last year, the three men poured petrol through the wrong letter box and started a fire which killed a mother and father of three.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Prosecutor in Almost £1m Debt Used His Position to Stop a Court Case for £20,000, Jury Told

A corrupt senior Crown prosecutor — who pocketed cash to use his position to discontinue a court case — had spiralling debts of almost £1million, a jury heard today.

Sarfraz Ibrahim, 51, of Cyncoed, Cardiff, South Wales, admitted corruption and related charges yesterday on the eve of his trial.

As Gwent Crown Prosecution Service trials unit chief he had the power to stop a case in its tracks by recommending no further action.

He admitted charges of corruption, attempting to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office today.

His pleas mean that he has admitted pocketing £20,000 to ensure the case of a man he believed to be guilty was discontinued.

Co-defendant Saifur Rahman Khan, 37, of Penlan, Cardiff, went on trial at Swansea Crown Court today claiming police manipulated him into helping Ibrahim.

Trial judge Mr Justice Treacy had previously imposed a restriction on the media reporting Ibrahim’s pleas.

That was lifted today when the prosecution in the Khan trial elected to tell the jury of Ibrahim’s admissions.

Khan denies a charge of corruption, in that he aided and abetted Ibrahim, together with aiding and abetting misconduct in public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Both men were caught in an elaborate undercover sting operation put together by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in March last year.

It had been triggered by anxiety over Ibrahim and Khan, who were spotted meeting at Bridgend M4 motorway services with two cocaine dealers in the summer of 2008.

Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, told the jury today that Ibrahim was struggling under the weight of debts amounting to £927,000.

He owed debts on credit cards and had outstanding loans and mortgages on a number of properties.

Police investigations of his finances showed that ‘he had been living beyond his means’.

‘Perhaps that amount of money played its part in why he behaved the way he did,’ Mr Laidlaw said.

Both Ibrahim and Khan, who ran his own Kingston Residential Property Letting agency in Cardiff, were targeted by Soca.

They contrived an operation designed ‘to test whether he was prepared to act corruptly and whether Khan was ready to assist in such a venture’.

The operation started in March last year when an undercover officer posing as a businessman named Tariq approached Khan.

He claimed to be looking for rented rooms for an employee named Nick Baker, another false identity for an undercover officer.

Baker, who posed as Tariq’s driver and right-hand-man, was then set up in rented rooms.

Several months later Soca officers carried out a closely choreographed arrest, smashing down Baker’s door and arresting him for assault.

It culminated in a bogus case file being created, which in turn allowed Tariq to re-approach Khan and comment on the trouble the arrest of his driver had caused.

The undercover officer posing as Tariq gave evidence in court today from behind a screen to protect his anonymity.

He said that his conversations and meetings with Khan, during which he claimed a friend had the power to get cases dropped, were recorded.

Khan and Ibrahim eventually arranged to meet Baker at the Mermaid Quay, in Cardiff Bay’s maritime quarter, in June 2009.

‘Ibrahim told Nick “the case is going nowhere”,’ Mr Laidlaw told the jury today.

Ibrahim went on to explain that he would not normally be responsible for reviewing such cases but that he could ‘manoeuvre it’.

He went on to instruct Baker to write in complaining at the slowness with which his case was proceeding.

This allowed Ibrahim to approach the police officer responsible for the file, who was aware of the undercover operation, and ask for it.

On July 21 last year the bogus file containing Baker’s case was delivered to Ibrahim while he was at Cardiff Crown Court.

He later recommend no further action (NFA) should be taken, telling the officer in charge of the case: ‘Because of evidential difficulties the file was marked NFA.’

Mr Laidlaw said that Khan and Nick Baker later met at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff and discussed how Ibrahim should be rewarded.

It was suggested that he should be paid between £15,000 and £20,000 and the larger of the two sums was eventually handed over in cash.

At the time Khan claimed that none of the money would go to him but after his arrest it was found that he had retained half.

The businessman initially claimed that he had withdrawn the cash from his bank to pay staff at his company.

Mr Laidlaw said Khan would now claim in his defence that he had been ‘manipulated to act in a manner other than he would normally’, by the police.

But the prosecutor said that — even if it had been a case of entrapment, and it was not — that would not afford Khan a defence.

The case continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Sanity Fights Back

by Melanie Phillips

I am in a state of shock. The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Phillips, has said something sensible! The Court has ruled that that British troops are not protected by human rights law on the battlefield.

The Court had been asked to decide if British military personnel, who are already covered by the Human Rights Act while on bases abroad, were also protected when they set foot outside the camp gates. Two lower courts had decided they were thus protected, a mad decision which would have all but paralysed the conduct of warfare.

But now by a six to three majority the highest levels of the judiciary, which hitherto have wielded ‘human rights’ as a judicial battering ram against western civilisation, have for once upheld the latter against the former.

Is this a mirage?

Maybe not, since there have been other recent signs that the judges may be emerging from their civilisational trance. The (always sensible) Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge has suggested that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is threatening to ‘assume an unspoken priority over common law’ and called upon English judges to rely on English common law precedents instead of always looking to Europe for guidance.

The Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger has warned foreign judges to show a ‘more acute appreciation’ of the independence of Britain’s legal systems. And even the very radical former Law Lord, Lord Hoffmann, has accused the Strasbourg court of seeking to impose uniform laws across all Europe.

Have the wigs finally twigged that they have been helping to shove the UK over the cliff?

Meanwhile folk who, unlike the higher English judiciary, can generally be relied upon to have their feet firmly on the ground have been continuing to shore up the defences. The influential Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home has an extremely sharply worded and astute piece in the Times today, warning of the potentially dire consequences for the Tories of their Faustian pact with the LibDems. Since the Times now charges for on-line access, you can read Tim’s own summary of his arguments here (including a paragraph that was cut from

           — Hat tip: JP2[Return to headlines]

UK: Violent Inner-City Crime, The Figures, And a Question of Race

The reality of violent inner-city crime is indicated today by statistics obtained by The Sunday Telegraph.

The official figures, which examine the ethnicity of those accused of violent offences in London, suggest the majority of men held responsible by police for gun crimes, robberies and street crimes are black.

Black men are also disproportionately the victims of violent crime in the capital.

The statistics, released by the Metropolitan Police, permit an informed debate on a sensitive subject for the first time.

One prominent black politician said that the black community needed to face up to major challenges.

Shaun Bailey, a Tory election candidate in London and a charity worker, said: “The black community has to look at itself and say that, at the end of the day, these figures suggest we are heavily — not casually — involved in violent crime. We are also involved in crime against ourselves — and we regularly attack each other.”

The data provide a breakdown of the ethnicity of the 18,091 men and boys who police took action against for a range of violent and sexual offences in London in 2009-10.

They show that among those proceeded against for street crimes, 54 per cent were black; for robbery, 59 per cent; and for gun crimes, 67 per cent. Street crimes include muggings, assault with intent to rob and snatching property.

Just over 12 per cent of London’s 7.5 million population is black, including those of mixed black and white parentage, while 69 per cent is white, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The police figures also show that black men are twice as likely to be victims. They made up 29 per cent of the male victims of gun crime and 24 per cent of the male victims of knife crime.

The Met declined to comment on the statistics. However, some officers will see them as a justification for Operation Trident, a unit targeting black-on-black murder and violent crime.

Others will see it as justification for targeting a disproportionate number of black men under stop and search powers. Figures released annually have shown black people are at least six times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

On sex offences, black men made up 32 per cent of male suspects proceeded against, and white men 49 per cent. The statistics also suggest that black women are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime committed by females.

Richard Garside, of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London, said: “Given Britain’s long history of racism and imperialism it should not greatly surprise us that black and minority ethnic groups are disproportionately members of social classes that have tended to experience greater victimisation and to be the subject of police attention.

“Just because the police treat black men as more criminal than white men, it does not mean that they are.” Simon Woolley, speaking as the director of the Operation Black Vote pressure group, but who is also a commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Although the charge rates for some criminal acts amongst black men are high, black people are more than twice as likely to have their cases dismissed, suggesting unfairness in the system.”

The Sunday Telegraph obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request after Rod Liddle, the writer, caused controversy last year when he claimed in an online blog published on The Spectator website that “the overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community”.

The comments led to claims that Mr Liddle was racist, However, Mr Liddle said: “I cannot think of anything more vile than racism. The issue here is not racism, it is one of multiculturalism.”

The statistics suggest that Mr Liddle was largely right on some of his claims — notably those on gun crimes, robberies and street crimes.

The figures suggest, however, that he was probably wrong on his claims about knife crimes and violent sex crimes.

The figures relate to those “proceeded against”.

This includes those prosecuted in court, whether convicted or acquitted; those issued with a caution, warning or penalty notice; those the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge; and those whose crimes were “taken into consideration” after a further offence.

Unsolved crimes are not included.

The figures do not take into account that any one perpetrator may have committed numerous offences .

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

After Failed Attempt of Forced Islamization Egyptian Christian Family Under Siege

By Mary Abdelmassih

One of the most explosive issues in the relations between Christians and Muslims of Egypt is the abduction of Christian Coptic minor girls, to force them to embraced Islam, after humiliating and demeaning them psychologically and morally.

This dangerous phenomenon which appeared in the 1970s and which has become a lucrative business for all Muslim participants including the Egyptian State Security has been steadily on the rise, with reports surfacing weekly of several disappearances without trace of Coptic girls. Those fortunate enough to return home has talked of their ordeal.

Zeenahom (Suzan) Nady Adly, known as , 19-years old, is one of the fortunate girls who was able to return home, after being drugged and abducted by Muslims to force her conversion to Islam. She comes from “Ezbet Fanous,” a small hamlet, near the town of Samalut (250 km from Cairo), inhabited by a Coptic majority of twenty families to six Muslim ones and a Muslim mayor.

According to her story, as she went out at night on Saturday June 12 to buy soft drinks for some visitors at home, she was stopped by two Muslim men, who sprayed a substance in her face, making her lose consciousness. “When I regained consciousness nearly two hours later, I found myself in the building of the Islamic Sharia Association in Minia, facing a shaikh who tried to intimidate and force me to convert to Islam,” reported Freecopts advocacy in a taped interview with Zeenahom. “He tried to convince me that I would be safer marrying a Muslim, and leaving the area.”

However, the shaikh contacted State Security to tell them that he wanted her to convert, but he was told to let her go as her family was not keeping quiet.

Meanwhile her father, Nady Adly, had sent telegrams to all authorities and her family demonstrated in front of Samalut police headquarters asking for her return, which forced the security authorities to intervene.

However, her ordeal continued at the police station where she was taken the next day. Zeenahom accused the village mayor Khalaf Ebdelmageed of masterminding her abduction at the hands of Muslim Sayed Khalaf and another named Taha El-Hinnawi, in exchange for money. “While I was at the police station, the village mayor told me that I was too good to be a Christian. He asked me to say in the police report that I will convert to Islam, but I refused.”

Zeenahom said that she refused to tell the police the names of her abductors, especially Sayed Khalaf, for fear of retribution. She is staying presently with her aunt.

Magdy Attia, one of the Coptic witnesses who demonstrated in front of the police station until Zeenahom was handed over to her father said that nearly two hundred Muslims, together with Sayed Khalaf’s family were there with weapons intimidating them. “We were told that they will take Zeenahom by force to convert and marry her main abductor Sayed Khalaf, a driver by occupation, who has divorced his Muslim wife recently ,” he said. “We were told Zeenahom will be Sayed’s second wife.”

The victim’s father said that the village mayor has beaten him when he said that he wanted to talk to his abducted daughter on the phone. He filed a police accusing the mayor of being an accomplice. Later he was threatened by the mayor demanding that his daughter retracts any accusations she made to Copts United advocacy of his involvement in her abduction and forced Islamization attempt. Talking of his siege he said: “I could not leave my home, as all roads were blocked. I had to phone the police to come and let me out of the area.”

A few days later the police and one of the members of the local council in Samalout “Magdi Malek”, forced on them, the so-called “reconciliation meeting” in which it was decided that the whole Coptic family should be deported from the village, reported Copts United.

Commenting on this case, Coptic attorney Mamdouh Nakhla, Director of “Al-Kalema” human rights centre said: “Forcing the girl and her family out of the village and leaving their home, for whatever reason, is a crime of forced displacement, which is a crime against humanity, punishable by the International Criminal Court.” Nakhla views the reconciliation meeting which was held in Ezbet Fanous as a “meeting for submission, and imposing the will of the strong upon the weak.” He intends to head a fact-finding commission to the area next week to document what happened to the girl’s family and interview witnesses.

Although her father has filed a report naming the abductors of his daughter, no action was taken against them.

“I am pleading for protection from the family of Sayed Khalaf.. I am afraid to leave my home. I need to go to work to earn money to feed my family. Sayed told me he will be after us until we all convert to Islam,” the father told Freecopts. “Sayed’s family is strong, they are numerous and have weapons… but I am only a poor man.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Alternatives to Surrender

To the roaring cheers of the local media, on Sunday the Schalit family embarked on a cross-country march to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence. They set out two days after the fourth anniversary of IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit’s captivity.

Outside their home in the North on Sunday, Gilad’s father Noam Schalit pledged not to return home without his son. The Schalit family intends to camp out outside of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s home until the government reunites them with Gilad.

For weeks the local media — and especially Ma’ariv and Yediot Ahronot — have portrayed the Schalit family’s trek to Netanyahu as a reenactment of Moses’ journey to Pharaoh. Like Pharaoh, the media insinuates that Netanyahu is evil because he refuses to free Gilad from bondage.

The only drawback to this dramatic, newspaper-selling story is that it is wrong. Gilad Schalit is not a hostage in Jerusalem. He is a hostage in Gaza. His captor is not Netanyahu. His captor is Hamas.

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Muslims Plan to Land a Scientific Lab on Moon in 2013

The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) will be honoured with a laboratory on the moon by 2013, a scientist said

Manama: Muslims are planning to land a scientific lab called Mohammad I on the moon by 2013, a scientist said.

“The station will be called Mohammad after the Prophet [PBUH] and it is our scientific response for the negative stereotyping against the prophet [PBUH],” Radhouane Fakir, a Canadian scientist of Moroccan descent, was reported as saying on Saturday.

“We will launch Mohammad II in 2015 in order to boost the scientific work of Mohammad I. We wanted a scientific reaction to all the offences against the Prophet [PBUH] so that we are closer to his values than to those of the people who offended him. The scientific labs will serve to remind the world of the importance of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH],” the Qatari daily Al Arab quoted him as saying.

Fakir said that the first lab would cost around $100 million and the second lab to reach the moon, in 2015, would cost around $1 billion. It would be funded by the Islamic world.

Fakir said he made his announcement at the Fanar Islamic Centre because of the tolerance between religions and cultures that it promoted.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Turkey: PM Said Israel Must Apologise for Gaza Blockade

New York, 29 June (AKI) — Israel must apologize for its blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as compensate the people of Gaza, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an interview on an American talk show.

The Turkish prime minister late Monday on The Charlie Rose Show also said that an apology would be a precondition for his country to continue its role in mediating any future peace talks.

Israeli commandos on 31 May stormed an aid flotilla aiming to break Israel’s three-year-old embargo of Gaza. Nine activists on a ship flying the Turkish flag were killed during the raid. Eight of the dead were Turkish citizens.

On Monday Turkey closed its airspace to several Israeli military flights in response to the the raid.

“Israel should issue an apology because of what has happened with the more recent events and compensate for the people and Gaza, which is like an open-air prison, must not remain so, and the blockades must be lifted. As long as these happen, this takes place, then we are ready for any sort of responsibility that we are asked to take upon ourselves,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said he thought Israel’s government impeded Middle East peace attempts, saying that “at the moment, the problem in Israel is the coalition government. The coalition government is the biggest barrier to peace.”

“Israel hasn’t really accepted a two-state solution,” the he added, saying that while Israel’s governments spoke about it, they in fact did nothing to advance it. On the other hand, Erdogan said, Turkey has “worked for the security and we worked for the security of the Israeli people and we have worked to convince Hamas, as well,” saying that Ankara had “convinced [Hamas] up to a certain extent.”

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

Turkey’s Cycle of Violence

Monday’s bombing of a military bus in Istanbul was the latest flashpoint in an escalating cycle of violence between Kurdish fighters and the Turkish military.

The location was unusual — fighting usually occurs in rural parts of southeastern Turkey — but scores of people have been killed in more than a dozen attacks over the last three months.

It’s a stark reversal from last summer, when Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — the main anti-government group — was talking about a “road map” for peace talks with the Turkish government.

Ankara responded with a few conciliatory gestures: State-run television launched a Kurdish-language channel, and the government promised economic reforms and greater civil rights for Turkey’s estimated 14 million ethnic Kurds, who have suffered systematic discrimination for decades.

One year later, those political changes have stalled, and the ceasefire has very much ended. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, vowed earlier this week that Kurdish fighters will “drown in their own blood”, and explicitly ruled out peace talks with Ocalan or the PKK.

And the PKK said earlier this month that it would scrap a year-old ceasefire and resume fighting.

Criticism from the right

Both sides blame the other for the truce’s collapse.

The Turkish military says the PKK has stepped up its attacks this spring, planting remote-controlled bombs and staging ambushes.

PKK leaders say they have been targeted by large-scale military operations [one of which even crossed the border into Kurdish parts of northern Iraq last month].

Erdogan’s political overtures suffered a major blow in December, when Turkey’s Constitutional Court outlawed the Democratic Society Party because of its alleged links to the PKK.

The party’s 21 members of parliament resigned after the ruling, which sparked violent clashes in several cities — most notably in Diyarbakir, where more than 5,000 people took to the streets.

Other much-touted initiatives have fizzled out as well.

Thirty-four Kurds, including several former members of the PKK, returned to Turkey last year from years of exile in northern Iraq. The government hailed their return as the first step towards repatriating thousands of Turkish Kurds living in northern Iraq.

But those plans have been put on hold — and all 34 returnees, except for four children, have now been charged with speaking in support of a terrorist organisation.

The attacks have taken on a political dimension for Erdogan, whose ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) faces difficult elections next year.

Erdogan’s overtures have helped the AKP win some Kurdish support, but they have also exposed the party to criticism from the rightist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the MHP, recently called Erdogan’s opening “a project of treason”.

The People’s Republican Party (CHP), the main opposition party, also blamed Erdogan’s policies for the renewed violence, though his criticism was more measured.

“I expressed my concerns over the policies followed [on terrorism] to the President. I explained my concerns over intelligence gathering and economic policies which lead to terrorism,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, said after a meeting with Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president.

Erdogan has promised not to abandon his overtures to the Kurds. But with violence quickly rising, he will face mounting pressure to crack down — hard — on Kurdish fighters.

Decades of fighting have not ended the conflict — and yet another round seems increasingly unavoidable.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Chechen Police Shoot Paintballs at Women With Uncovered Hair

by Sarah Menkedick

Police officers in Chechnya have been firing paintballs at Chechen women with uncovered hair; the policemen drive by in cars with tinted windows and shoot the women in the face and neck as they’re walking down the street.

Following the initial attacks last week, fliers from the shooters appeared in the Chechen city of Gudermes warning that if women didn’t cover themselves the paintballers would resort to “tougher measures.” The fliers also admonished, “Isn’t it nasty for you, while dressed defiantly, with your head uncovered, to hear various obscene ‘compliments’ and proposals? Think again!”

This infuriating and degrading development — shooting women with paint?! — is one result of Russia’s cold bargain with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Chechen rebel-turned-Kremlin-loyalist. Trying to maintain control over Chechnya and quash any separatist uprisings, Russia has essentially allowed Kadryov to run the Chechen republic according to his version of Islamic law.

Russia has turned the other cheek as Kadryov gathers thousands of men into a personal militia to enforce bans on alcohol and mandatory headscarves for women. This method of enforcement via paintballing is particularly abhorrent — both violent and humiliating, a form of subtle terror aimed at forcing women into subjugation.

Human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva told Reuters, “this paintballing is an obvious Kadyrov rule just used to strengthen and tighten his grip over his tiny republic.” Shooting women with paint in the face on the street and filming it on mobile phones, then, is apparently this man’s idea of strengthening power. This is an alarming sign of the increasing oppression of women in Chechnya that the international community needs to speak out about immediately, chastising both Kadyrov and the government in Moscow for violent violations of women’s rights and dignity

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Politicians Debate Ban on Islamist Group

Jakarta, 29 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — A political debate has erupted in Indonesia about whether to ban the extremist Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said that there was no need to ban the Islamist vigilante group despite its controversial methods.

“Let the law handle the [FPI]. As long as the police are firm on them, there is no need for them to become an illegal organisation,” PKS senior politician Agus Purnomo told reporters over the phone Tuesday.

Agus said that FPI’s brutality often came as a result of the police’s ignorance.

Indonesian lawmakers on Monday demanded the government crack down on the group which has threatened “war” against Christians in Jakarta and urged mosques to set up militia forces.

Parliamentarians from various parties held a media conference to demand the government outlaw the FPI — a private militia with a self-appointed mission to protect “Islamic” values in the secular country.

“The only way to stop the FPI from creating anarchy is to ban it. The FPI is not registered as an official group,” lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle said.

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

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Indonesia: Government ‘Shuns UN Torture Convention’

Jakarta, 30 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesia has failed to apply United Nations anti-torture regulations ratified by the country in 1998, according to a research report.

Indonesia is obliged to conduct effective legislative, administrative and judicial initiatives to prevent torture, including establishing regulations to criminalise it, according to Febi Yonesta, a researcher with the Partnership for Governance Reform (Kemitraan) which compiled the report.

“However, we still find many regulations that allow or tolerate the use of torture and other inhumane punishments,” he said at the launch of the report on Tuesday in Jakarta.

The report is entitled “The Level of Indonesia’s Obedience to the United Nations Convention against Torture”

He cited several regulations contradictory to the convention, at national and regional levels, including ones sanctioning the death penalty, and an Aceh provincial regulation on whipping.

“Indonesia’s Criminal Code doesn’t define torture as a crime. The code only rules cruel treatment [in article 335-551] and extortion of confession [article 422] as criminal actions,” he told journalists.

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

Indonesia: Obama Pledges to Boost Education

Toronto, 28 June (AKI/Antara) — US President Barack Obama has pledged greater co-operation with Indonesia on education and climate change in a bid to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries. Obama met his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting in Toronto on Sunday.

“Together we will discuss climate change issues to help develop study on that issue in Indonesia and to make it beneficial not only to Indonesia but also to the global region,” Obama said.

Obama also offered greater cooperation with Indonesia on education pledging to spend a total budget of 160 million dollars.

“The meeting this morning is possible because the friendship between Indonesia and the United States is strong and that we want to make it even stronger,” Obama said.

Yudhoyono said Indonesia and the US wanted to develop comprehensive cooperation to face the challenges in the 21st century.

“The challenges are among others global economic development and climate change,” Yudhoyono said.

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

Movie Based on US President’s Childhood Debuts in Indonesia

A film about U.S. President Barack Obama’s childhood days in Indonesia made its debut in Jakarta on Wednesday, promising a very different perspective on the man in the White House.

“Obama Anak Menteng” or “Obama the Menteng Kid” is set in the upscale Jakarta neighborhood of Menteng, where Obama lived from 1967 to 1971 with his mother and Indonesian stepfather.

Co-director Damien Dematra said it showed the U.S. president in a light that Americans might find strange.

“Viewers, especially Westerners, will see a different world. They’ll see Obama eating chicken satay, not hamburgers. They’ll see his neighbors and friends wearing checkered sarongs and Muslim caps,” he told AFP.

Even so, producers skirted controversy surrounding the extent that Islam influenced Obama’s early years in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

A scene showing Obama, who is a Christian, praying like a Muslim was dropped as it was deemed “too political”, Dematra said.

“He was just imitating other kids when they were praying but it didn’t mean he wanted to be Muslim. That scene wasn’t even shot because I didn’t want people to take it out of context and use it against him,” he said.

Based on his interviews with Obama’s surviving neighbors and friends in the Indonesian capital, Dematra claims the film is “60 percent fact and 40 percent fiction.”

Midwife Fitriah Sari, who was in the audience at the film’s debut, said Obama was portrayed favorably.

“He showed that sometimes saying sorry is actually more effective than using the fist in solving conflict,” Sari said.

Another who saw the film, Asmul Khairi, said: “This film was interesting.

“Obama is shown to be able to get along with anyone, regardless of race, religion or skin color. He showed cultural or physical differences are no barrier to forging meaningful friendships.”

The film features a cast of little-known Indonesian actors and was filmed in just over a month in the West Java city of Bandung — which retains some of the sleepy charm of 1960s Menteng.

Its budget was a million dollars, Dematra said.

Twelve-year-old American Hasan Faruq Ali plays Obama, or Barry as the president was known to his schoolmates.

Like Obama, Ali — who had no prior acting experience — is the son of a mixed-race couple and moved from the United States to Indonesia as a toddler.

He speaks Indonesian and English, just as Obama switched between his mother-tongue with his parents and Indonesian with his friends.

Clips available on the internet show “little Barry” learning to box with his stepfather after getting into a schoolyard fight, but ultimately learning to resolve conflicts through means other than violence.

“You’re from the West, but black. You’ve got weird hair and a big nose,” a neighborhood boy replies when Obama introduces himself as Barry.

“We have to stick together to achieve our goals and resolve our problems and fights,” Barry later tells his friends.

Dematra said: “When Obama first arrived, local kids rejected him as he didn’t look like them. There was a scene where Obama was bullied and he had to fight. He fought and he won and then they accepted him”.

Dematra said he did not want the film to be political, but to give viewers a sense of how Indonesia’s cultural diversity — mostly Muslim but with significant Hindu, Christian and other minorities — might have influenced “this pluralist and inspiring figure.”

The 100-minute film, produced by local company Multivision Plus Pictures, was due to debut earlier in June to coincide with a visit by Obama to his old hometown.

But the trip, like another scheduled for March, was postponed due to pressing issues in the United States. Obama is now expected in November.

“I was disappointed about the delays. If Obama sees the film, I’m sure he’ll have a couple of minutes of reflection about his past. It will be a sweet memory for him,” Dematra said.

The makers are hoping to release the film internationally in September..

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Google Site to be Monitored for ‘Blasphemy’

Islamabad, 26 June (AKI) — Pakistan on Friday said it would monitor Google, Yahoo, and other popular websites to to weed out what the government considers material that could be offensive to Islam.

The country in May blocked access to Facebook for two weeks following a “blasphemous” contest by some users to draw the prophet. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet as offensive and anti-Islam.

Telecoms official Khurram Mehran said links would be blocked without disturbing the main website.

Facebook is not on the list of monitored websites. Some of YouTube links will be blocked but the main site itself will be left alone.

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

Far East

Hong Kong: Govt Less and Less Sincere With the People, Card Zen Says

For Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus, the government’s decision to adopt a revised package of constitutional reforms without a public debate “changes everything”. It proves the government does not respect the people.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) — “Sincerity and respect for the people of Hong Kong are being lost,” Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, told AsiaNews. He was speaking about the government’s decision to adopt a revised constitutional reform package, only two days before it goes to the territory’s Legislative Council (LegCo).

Today the government has rejected calls to postpone the debate to give the public time to discuss the Democratic Party’s proposal to allow the people to elect five new District and functional constituency representatives. This effectively gives the government the 40 votes it needs to move the package forward. The LegCo debate on the “Package of proposals for the methods of selecting chief executive and for forming Legislative Council in 2010” will start tomorrow.

Cardinal Zen said discussions with the Chinese government have caused a “rift among pan-democrats in Hong Kong”. Even though the central government’s acceptance of the democrats’ proposal is “a breakthrough” on political reform issue, which has gone unresolved for years, some politicians can only see the benefits in front of them.

Timing is “a serious problem” and the Democratic Party should not accept the revised proposal for approval tomorrow. “The object of deliberation is something new, with many elements clamouring for clarification,” such as how to abolish functional constituencies in future, the cardinal noted.

For the cardinal, it may be “overly optimistic” to believe that it is “an easy way to a real one-person-two-votes system”.

“The people of Hong Kong have had no chance to express their opinion in this regard,” he added. Therefore, “To push for a quick vote on the proposal is an act of contempt towards the people of Hong Kong”.

Lina Chan Li-na, executive secretary of the diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), told AsiaNews that functional constituencies must be abolished and universal suffrage implemented in the elections for the LegCo and the office of chief executive if Hong Kong is to achieve true democracy.

The JPC and seven other Catholic and Protestant groups held a prayer Tuesday evening, staging the “Stations of the Cross for Democracy” outside the LegCo building, a day before the legislative body beings a debate on the constitutional reform package.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe: ‘Terrorist’ Suspects Arrested En Route to South Africa

Harare, 26 June (AKI) — Zimbabwe police on Friday announced the detention of two Pakistani men heading to World Cup host South Africa. The country’s media said one of the detainees was arrested under an international arrest warrant for terrorism.

“We have two Pakistani men in our custody and through Interpol we have established that there is a warrant for one of them,” police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was cited as saying in a news report.

The state-owned Herald newspaper said the two men flew from Saudi Arabia to Tanzania where they fraudulently acquired Kenyan passports before travelling to Zimbabwe by road last weekend.

The Herald quoted unnamed security officials as saying the wanted terrorism suspect was based in the Chilean capital Santiago

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


Germany’s Immigration Debate

Politician Demands IQ Tests for Would-Be Immigrants

Many in Germany have long been skeptical of immigration. Now, a conservative Berlin politician has proposed requiring immigrants to take an intelligence test before being allowed in. His idea has not been well received.

Germany’s conservatives have never been terribly coherent when it comes to immigration. Despite a stubbornly low birth rate and what many consider to be a developing need for skilled foreign labor, members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have long been unwilling to roll out the welcome mat.

On Monday, the party once again made a less-than-fortunate foray into the immigration debate. Peter Trapp, a domestic policy expert with the CDU in Berlin, demanded in an interview with the mass-circulation tabloid Bild that would-be immigrants to Germany be given intelligence tests before they are allowed in.

“We have to establish criteria for immigration that really benefit our country,” Trapp said. “In addition to adequate education and job qualifications, one benchmark should be intelligence. I am in favor of intelligence tests for immigrants. We cannot continue to make this issue taboo.”

Trapp received support from Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party. Ferber said: “We need a unified policy for Europe. Canada is much further along on the issue and requires that children of immigrants have a higher IQ than those born in Canada.”

Divided on Immigration

Their comments come just a month after numbers were released suggesting that Germany is not the first choice among those searching for a new home. In 2009, more people emigrated from Germany than arrived, marking the second year in a row that the country has shown a net loss, following a quarter century of net gains from immigration.

Ferber’s contribution to the debate is also not strictly accurate. Canada has a points system for would-be immigrants. Those with high language ability, extensive job training and financial wherewithal are preferred, though there is no intelligence test component to the Canadian immigration procedure.

Germany has long been divided when it comes to immigration. Whereas the country saw millions of “guest workers” arrive in the country during the “Economic Miracle” in the 1960s and 1970s, many in Germany had trouble embracing immigration as a solution to the country’s labor needs. Changing demographics have kept the debate alive, with many suggesting that Germany will have to open the gates to immigrants should it hope to keep its generous cradle-to-grave welfare system.

But previous efforts to increase immigration or even encourage highly qualified immigrants have proven controversial, particularly among Germany’s conservatives. In the early 2000s, the government of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder — from the center-left Social Democrats — launched a program known as the German green card, which was meant to attract IT experts to Germany to counter a lack of domestically trained experts. The CDU was adamantly opposed to the plan, with Jürgen Rüttgers, then involved in campaigning for the governorship of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, coining the unfortunate slogan “Kinder statt Inder!” — “children instead of Indians” — meant to indicate his preference for education over immigration.


CDU heavyweight Roland Koch found himself involved in a similar pre-election debate in his home state of Hesse in late 2007 when he demanded harsher penalties to control “criminal young foreigners.” His comments contributed to his disappointing results in that election.

The CDU on Monday was at pains to play down the comments made by Trapp and Ferber. Given Berlin’s focus on improving the integration of the country’s immigrant population, Maria Böhmer, who has been tasked by Merkel with improving integration, rejected the call for intelligence tests.

Such comments do not promote “a culture of welcoming, which would do our country good,” Böhmer said. “The demand for an IQ test for immigrants is absurd and does not demonstrate much intelligence.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.S. Grants Asylum to Born-Again ‘Son of Hamas’

Homeland Security wanted to deport ex-Muslim who spied for Israel

An immigration judge in San Diego ruled today the son of a Hamas founder who converted to Christianity and spied for Israel will be granted political asylum after the Department of Homeland Security dropped its objections.

As WND reported, Mosab Hassan Yousef had been denied his February 2009 request for asylum because the DHS interpreted his work as a counterterror agent with Israel’s Shin Bet security agency as engagement in terrorist activity, making him a threat to U.S. security.

Judge Rico Bartolomei ruled Yousef will be granted political asylum Aug. 26 after he is fingerprinted and passes a routine background check.

Yousef’s attorney, Steven Seick, argued in a court filing, “For 10 years, he fought terrorism in secret, hiding what he was doing and who he was. He deserves a safe place away from violence and fear.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Why Criminals Are Less Intelligent Than Non-Criminals

Murder is natural, the police are unnatural

Criminologists have long known that criminals on average have lower intelligence than the general population, but they do not know why. The Hypothesis may be able to shed new light on this question.

From the perspective of the Hypothesis, there are two important points to note. First, much of what we call interpersonal crime today, such as murder, assault, robbery, and theft, were probably routine means of intrasexual male competition in the ancestral environment. This is how men likely competed for resources and mating opportunities for much of human evolutionary history. They beat up and killed each other, and they stole from each other if they could get away with it.

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We may infer this from the fact that behavior that would be classified as criminal if engaged in by humans, like murder, rape, assault, and theft, are quite common among other species. The criminologist Lee Ellis documented many instances of these “criminal behavior” among different species with photographs in 1998. The primatologist Frans de Waal and his colleagues have documented brutal murders, assaults, and other interpersonal violence among chimpanzees, bonobos, and capuchin monkeys.

Second, the technologies and institutions that control, detect, and punish criminal behavior in society today — CCTV cameras, DNA fingerprinting, the police, the courts, the prisons — are all evolutionarily novel. There was very little formal third-party enforcement of norms in the ancestral environment, only second-party enforcement (retaliation from vigilance by victims and their kin and allies) or informal third-party enforcement (ostracism).

It therefore makes sense from the perspective of the Hypothesis that men with low intelligence may be more likely to resort to evolutionarily familiar means of competition for resources (theft rather than full-time employment) and mating opportunities (rape rather than computer dating), and not to comprehend fully the consequences of criminal behavior imposed by evolutionarily novel entities of law enforcement.

Men with lower intelligence are less likely truly to comprehend evolutionarily novel entities. Some of these evolutionarily novel entities are alternative means to resource acquisition and accumulation they could pursue instead of evolutionarily familiar means which are now classified as criminal in civilized societies. Other evolutionarily novel entities they are less likely truly to comprehend are means that law enforcement agencies employ to detect and capture criminals. The Hypothesis therefore offers one possible explanation for the negative association between intelligence and criminality.

At the same time, the Hypothesis also offers a novel hypothesis with regard to intelligence and criminality. As I mention above, while formal third-party enforcement of norms is evolutionarily novel, second-party enforcement and informal third-party enforcement are evolutionarily familiar. Thus the Hypothesis would predict that the difference in intelligence between criminals and noncriminals will disappear in situations where formal third-party enforcement of norms is weak or absent, and criminal behavior is controlled largely via second-party enforcement, such as situations of prolonged anarchy and statelessness, in fact, any situation that resembles the ancestral environment. Paradoxically, the Hypothesis would predict that less intelligent men will commit fewer crimes if the police disappeared, although more intelligent men may commit more crimes then.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]