Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100719

Financial Crisis
»Cyprus Economy Placed Under EU Monitoring
»Obama’s Economic Time-Bomb Set to Explode in 2011
»Spain: More Than 100 Billion in Bad Debts
»Breitbart Hits NAACP With Promised Video of Racism
»Diana West: Seventy-Five Billion Dollars a Year and What Did They Forget?
»Frank Gaffney: Kagan’s Shariah Problem
»He Came, He Saw, He Spent
»Intelligence Gathering Cost “Unknown”
»Islam: A Cancer Oozing Across America
»It’s Really About Controlling Our Lives
»Official: Seep Found Near BP’s Blown Out Oil Well
»Soros-Funded Group Wants Feds to Probe Talk Radio
Europe and the EU
»A Second Venus Found in Orkney as Archeologists Create History
»Germany: Islamists Offered Way Out of Extremist Groups
»Netherlands: ‘Municipalities Can Exclude Foreigners From Cannabis Cafes’
»Now Syria Bans the Burka… As British Female Cabinet Minister Says Freedom to Wear Muslim Veil is a Right
»Spain: More Than 80% of Catalans in Favour of Burqa Ban
»Spain: Suspected Wahhabi Proselytism in New TV Channel
»Syria Bans Face Veils at Universities
»Troktiko — Controversial Greek Blog Administrator is Assassinated
»UK: Council Race Spies Secretly Rummage Through Rubbish Bins to Discover Families’ Habits
»UK: David Cameron Raids Dormant Accounts to Pay for Big Society Schemes
»UK: Fugitive Bus Driver Who Decapitated Passenger in Horror Crash is Jailed After Going on Run
»UK: Margaret Thatcher’s Family ‘Appalled’ At Streep Movie
North Africa
»Tunisia: Descendents Russian Refugees in Bizerte
Israel and the Palestinians
»Chief of Staff Ashkenazi in Italy
»Gaza: First Shopping Centre Inaugurated
»How the Media, The UN and the Diplomats Saved Hamas 18 Years Ago
»Obama Again Predicts Direct Israel-Palestinian Talks, Is He Wrong Again?
»West Bank: 5 Hamas Members Arrested for Police Murder
Middle East
»Jonathan Spyer: Losing the Scent in South Lebanon
»Turkey: Failed Coup, 196 People Formally Charged
South Asia
»Afghanistan: ‘The Price We Have to Pay is Much Higher Than Expected’
»Indonesian Muslims Facing Africa During Prayers
»Pakistan: On Trial for Blasphemy, Two Christian Brothers Murdered in Faisalabad
»Pakistan — United States: Islamabad: US$ 7.5 Billion in Aid Against Terrorism and Chinese Influence
»Pakistan Couple Ordered Stoned to Death for Adultery
Far East
»For Many Pregnant Chinese, A U.S. Passport for Baby Remains a Powerful Lure
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Retired British Couple Found Dead in Boot of Volvo After Robbery at Their South Africa Home
Latin America
»Bowls of Human Fingers and Teeth Found in Mayan Tomb
»Common Sense on Mass Immigration
Culture Wars
»UK: White Christian Britons ‘Unfairly Targeted by Draconian Religious Hate Laws’
»Audio: Climate Change Scepticism Could Soon be a Criminal Offence
»Climate Change: Personal Attacks Continue Instead of Dealing With the Science
»IPCC Warns Its Scientists to Avoid the Media
»Men Are Like Apes When Competing for Status

Financial Crisis

Cyprus Economy Placed Under EU Monitoring

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, JULY 19 — The Cyprus economy has been officially placed under EU monitoring, due to its growing budget deficit, the local press report. During a meeting in Brussels the finance ministers Council, ECOFIN, implemented the relevant procedure on the public deficit for Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark and Finland. Sources in Brussels reported that Cyprus must reduce the deficit below 3% by the end of 2012. The country’s deficit stood at 6.1 of Gross Domestic Product last year, according to statistics provided by the Republic of Cyprus in April this year. Public debt was at 62% of GDP this year, two points higher than the limit set by the EU treaty.

The four countries including Cyprus that were placed under monitoring today, joined twenty more against which procedures of excess deficit have been set in motion. The three countries still escaping this process are Eurozone member-state Luxemburg, as well as Sweden and Estonia. Meanwhile, Estonia was today given the final go ahead to join the Eurozone as of January 1st 2011, becoming the currency’s 17th member. Ecofin was also briefed by the President of the Economy and Public Finance Committee on the stress test that 91 major European banks are undergoing. They include six Greek and two Cypriot banks.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Economic Time-Bomb Set to Explode in 2011

If you listen to the lies spewing forth from the lips of the Obama Administration, the US economy is improving, millions of jobs are being “saved or created” and we’re well on our way to a strong recovery. But, the volatility of the numbers that Obama and economists in his pocket use to try and convince us that our financial situation is improving tell an entirely different story.

Ex-Clinton Democrat and co-Chair of Obama’s so-called debt commission Erskine Bowles recently warned that our nation’s debt is a fiscal cancer that threatens to devour the nation from within, if left unchecked. The warnings from the committee he tasked with solving our economic dysfunction couldn’t be any clearer.

In spite of this dire prediction, have Obama and Congressional Progressives begun to tighten the purse strings? To the contrary. Aided by Republicans like Scott Brown, they’re spending like never before and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, from June 29 to June 30, 2010 in one 24-hour period alone, the US national debt ballooned $166 billion dollars.


The deteriorating situation we find ourselves in is no accident. It isn’t due to incompetence or inexperience, rather it is the direct result of premeditation. Every single one of Obama’s policies has been cloaked as some critical reform, the practical effects of which can’t possibly be known until after implementation. But, the benefits, Barry tells us, will be realized immediately. Each and every one of these legislative disasters has proved to be a power grab costing far more treasure and freedom than advertised.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Spain: More Than 100 Billion in Bad Debts

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 19 — In May default on credit supplied by Spanish banks and savings banks reached 5.50%, two cents more than in the previous month and the highest level since February 1996, according to the data released today by the Bank of Spain.

The total volume of bad debts was for the first time higher than 100 billion euros (100.372 billion). Savings banks recorded the highest rate: 5.511%, against 5.518 in April. Banks saw their default rate rise to 5.42% in May, after April’s 5.40%.

The figures on bad debts have been rising since the end of 2007, at the time the property bubble burst and unemployment started to rise. The stress tests carried out on 91 European financial institutes, including 27 Spanish banks, to assess the capacity of these institutes to deal with a possible worsening of the situation, will be made public on Friday. For the eventuality that some of the Spanish financial institutes fail the test and need to increase their capital, the government, according the on-line edition of El Pais, has asked Brussels for an extension of the Restructuring Fund, until the moment the results of the tests will be released. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Breitbart Hits NAACP With Promised Video of Racism

The NAACP is about to learn one of the most basic of all lessons in life — those who live in glass houses should avoid provoking a stone-throwing war. After the civil-rights organization threatened to issue a condemnation of Tea Party activism by equating it with racism (a position from which they ultimately retreated), Andrew Breitbart announced that he would publish at least one video of the NAACP itself cheering racism. Breitbart delivers on that promise today at Big Government, showing USDA official Shirley Sherrod explain to an appreciative NAACP audience in July 2009 how she deliberately withheld information from a white farmer in Georgia trying to save his land and his business:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Diana West: Seventy-Five Billion Dollars a Year and What Did They Forget?

Talk about burying the lede. The last ‘graph of the widely anticipated Wash Post takeout on National Intelligence Sprawl says it all, or at least quite a lot:

Soon, on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Anacostia, a $3.4 billion showcase of security will rise from the crumbling brick wards. The new headquarters will be the largest government complex built since the Pentagon ….

National security meets St. E’s: How tragically appropriate. And yes, the inmates will definitely be running this asylum — some of the estimated 854,000 Americans with top secret clearance currently and clandestinely spilling out of massive new government complexes all over the country. My conservative brethren seem concerned that the Post report reveals a slew of largely post-9/11 national security secrets. The question is, with nearly a million people possessing Top Secret clearance, how many secrets are there left to reveal? Has our national security apparatus gotten too big not to fail?

The story conveys the sense of intel sprawl with an array of giant figures, beginning with last year’s $75 billion budget, two-and-a-half times larger than the budget was on 9/11.The story continues:

At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending.

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, for example, has gone from 7,500 employees in 2002 to 16,500 today.

The budget of the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, doubled.

Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces became 106. It was phenomenal growth that began almost as soon as the Sept. 11 attacks ended.

Nine days after the attacks, Congress committed $40 billion beyond what was in the federal budget to fortify domestic defenses and to launch a global offensive against al-Qaeda. It followed that up with an additional $36.5 billion in 2002 and $44 billion in 2003. That was only a beginning.

With the quick infusion of money, military and intelligence agencies multiplied. Twenty-four organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

But with all of that — and I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of thousands of square feet of new security-related office space to house it all — why must we endure the continued indiginity of full-body scanners etc. at our airports just to have a nice flight … maybe? Why are our great institutions still ringed in mazes of siege-like security? Why must we forever live in a “post-9/11” world? The answer is because in all of these 263 organizations created or reorganized since 9/11 at a cost of untold billions of dollars there is one thing they all forgot.


I will bet my bottom dollar that there is in all of this burgeoning bureacracy no single office organized to comprehend, apply or even be curious about, in Pentagon parlance, the enemy threat doctrine, which in this particular case is jihad. Similarly, I will bet there is no program designed to investigate the historical, canonical fruits of victorious jihad: namely, Islamic law (sharia), and the attendant condition of dhimmitude that sharia imposes upon Islamized populations — which is both an objective and also an enabler of jihad. Instead, what we see in this fractic explosion of bunker-style infrastructure-cum-high-tech extravagance is an Orwellian study in mass denial, a hamster-in-a-cage approach to what is purposefully obscured as “transnational violent extremists” when the actual threat is in fact guilelessly and precisely presented by all perps as Islamic jihad.

Such is life in the politically correct, multiculturally dictated (read: dishonest) world.

Here’s my idea for reassessing the national security problem and saving the taxpayers trillions in the process…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Kagan’s Shariah Problem

The author of the New York Times bestseller The Grand Jihad, Andrew McCarthy has put the Senate Judiciary Committee on notice: There is a serious problem with the nomination of Elena Kagan to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court: “…As Dean [of the Harvard Law School] she became the champion of Shariah.”

Shariah is the name given by the authorities of Islam to the barbaric, totalitarian and supremacist code that its adherents seek to impose on all of us. It calls for the murder of homosexuals, the mistreatment of women, the flogging and stoning of those accused of adultery, the killing of apostates and girls who defile their family’s “honor” by dating non-Muslims or wearing pants or make-up, etc.

Shariah is no less toxic when it comes to the sorts of democratic government and civil liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. According to this legal code of Saudi Arabia and Iran, only Allah can make laws, and only a theocrat can properly administer them, ultimately on a global basis…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

He Came, He Saw, He Spent

In the latest stop on his “Recovery Summer” tour, rock star President Barack Obama landed in Holland, Michigan Thursday, insulted its congressman, handed American stimulus dollars to a Korean corporation, and proclaimed Obamanomics a success even as Michigan has lost 94,000 jobs since his Recovery Act was enacted.

All in all, another day in the life of an increasingly unpopular president who seems to be living in an alternative universe.

That universe insists that government is the source of jobs, and so Obama was in Western Michigan to declare another victory in Washington’s mission to create a new green economy.

But the green economy looks like a lot of green for the well-connected. The president handed $150 million in stimulus money over to Korean CEO Peter Bahnsuk Kim of LG Chem. LG Chem is an $11 billion Korean conglomerate that hardly seems a candidate for the American Recovery Act. No wonder the program is so unpopular.

Accompanying Obama was Governor Jennifer Granholm — Obama praised her as “one of the best governors in America” even as she presides over the nation’s second highest unemployment rate — who has been complaining that Washington Republicans are denying her the $500 million in stimulus money she needs to plug Michigan’s Medicaid budget hole. So here she was in West Michigan celebrating $150 million for Corporate Korea. Huh?

Obama said his benevolence would create 300 jobs in Holland — but that’s $500,000 per job. At least it’s a bargain compared to the $ $1.25 million per job Obama spent on two solar companies in Arizona over the July 4 weekend.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Intelligence Gathering Cost “Unknown”

Washington, 19 July (AKI) — The United States intelligence gathering apparatus has become “so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work,” the Washington Post said on Monday, in the first installment of an investigative report two years in the making.

“Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on top secret programs related to counter-terrorism, homeland security, and intelligence at over 10,000 locations across the country. Over 850,000 Americans have top secret clearances,” said the article, the first of three installments.

“After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine,” the newspaper found.

“In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space (1,579,300) square metres.

Defence secretary Robert Gates said the bureaucracy of US intelligence gathering had not become unmanageable, but that it was sometimes hard to get precise information.

“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that — not just for the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defence — is a challenge,” Mr Gates told the newspaper.”

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

Islam: A Cancer Oozing Across America

One of the best short works on the history of Islam is by Dr. Peter Hammond. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Dr. Hammond in Washington, DC., several years ago along with my dear friend, Gen. Ben Partin. Dr. Hammond knows this issue like few others and his book, Slavery, Terrorism and & Islam, is a must read. Dr. Hammond points out and history clearly backs up his statement:

“What few Westerners understand is that Muslim leaders who call for the overthrow of governments and the establishment of an Islamic superstate controlling all aspects of life, for every person on earth, are not necessarily extremists on the fringe of Islam. Jihad, the subjugation and forcible conversion of all people to Islam and world domination are, in fact, central tenants of Islam. Jihad is the sixth pillar of Islam.”

As Dr. Hammond gives permission to copy reasonable text from his thoroughly researched book, here are a few pages just to give you an idea; click here.

If you think Dr. Hammond is some sort of bigot, you would be badly mistaken. Go look at this 2:07 second video of what has happened in Sweden now that the Muslim population has grown to 1/4th of the population. If you think this isn’t coming to this country, you’re in denial. The same cancer is oozing across America and a growing threat.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

It’s Really About Controlling Our Lives

“Low carbon fuel standards” mean higher costs, few environmental benefits and less liberty

Within days, Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to bring sweeping energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor. He won’t call it cap-and-trade or cap-tax-and-trade, and certainly not a carbon tax.

“Those words are not in my vocabulary,” he says. “We’re going to work on pollution.”

Senator Reid’s twenty-pound bill will be laden with lofty language about “clean energy,” energy conservation, “green jobs,” reducing “dangerous” power plant emissions, ending our “addiction” to oil, creating a renewable economy, and saving the planet from “imminent climate disaster.”

Environmental euphemisms aside, however, the legislation is really about imposing national “low carbon fuel standards” (LCFS) and forcing dramatic reductions in the use of oil, natural gas and especially coal. It would expand on existing laws, regulations and decrees, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that carbon dioxide somehow “endangers human health and welfare,” EPA’s June 30 invalidation of flexible air quality permits for Texas refineries, Interior Secretary Salazar’s offshore drilling moratorium, multiple state and federal renewable energy standards and mandates, and various state and regional “greenhouse gas initiatives” that restrict emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.


As to the great utopian vision of “green jobs,” Spain’s subsidy-driven wind turbine industry cost the country 2.2 jobs for every eco-job it created, according to studies by Dr. Gabriel Calzada. And when the global recession hit, the subsidies dried up, the turbine-making jobs disappeared, and hundreds of wind and solar companies were driven to the precipice of bankruptcy.

Wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars require “rare earth” metals. America’s probable deposits are locked up in wilderness areas, which leaves China as the world’s predominant producer. So the bulk of the green manufacturing jobs will be in China — while we will get the temp jobs hauling, assembling and installing components made in the Middle Kingdom and shipped to the United States.

Thus, China, India and Brazil will continue to surge forward on plentiful coal and metals, cheap labor, affordable electricity, a can-do attitude, laxer environmental standards, and a rational refusal to accept legally binding carbon dioxide reductions. Thus, even if the USA went cold turkey, and completely shut down all greenhouse-gas-spewing factories, homes and cars, these developing country emissions would overwhelm our sacrifices within a few months, and atmospheric CO2 levels would continue to rise.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Official: Seep Found Near BP’s Blown Out Oil Well

NEW ORLEANS — A federal official said Sunday that scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane seen near BP’s busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that’s been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not yet been made.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official said BP is not complying with the government’s demand for more monitoring. BP spokesman Mark Salt declined to comment on the allegation, but said “we continue to work very closely with all government scientists on this.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Soros-Funded Group Wants Feds to Probe Talk Radio

Says cable-news networks engaged in ‘hate speech’

A George Soros-funded, Marxist-founded organization with close ties to the White House has urged the Federal Communications Commission to investigate talk radio and cable news for “hate speech.”

The organization, calling itself Free Press, claims media companies are engaging in “hate speech” because a disproportionate number of radio and cable-news networks are owned by non-minorities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A Second Venus Found in Orkney as Archeologists Create History

A PARTNER has been found for a rare 4,500-year-old Neolithic figurine discovered at an archaeological dig site on a remote Scottish island.

The second carved figure was unearthed just 100 feet from the spot in Westray, Orkney, where the artefact dubbed the Orkney Venus was found last year.

The new figurine is headless and made of fired clay rather than sandstone. But archaeologists say it bears a striking resemblance to the original.

The Orkney Venus was the earliest carving of a human figure found in Scotland.

It is believed both date back to 2,600 BC, when a Neolithic village existed at the dig site at the Links of Noltland in Westray.

Experts believe the figurines could have been depictions of deities, and the discovery of a second adds weight to the theory that they could have been kept in the home by our early ancestors.

The latest find was discovered outside the excavated ruins of a Neolithic house. Two pieces were discovered, which have been glued together by specialists.

Without its head it stands just one and a half inches tall.

A thumb-shaped indentation at the top of the body shows where the head had been attached.

Clay balls found near the spot could have been used as heads for the figurines, archaeologists believe.

The second figurine has more distinct carvings than the original, probably made by a sharp bone point.

A square carving on the front, possibly depicting a tunic, is divided into triangles. A centrally punched hole could represent the figure’s belly button.

It was found by archaeologist Sean Rice, working for Historic Scotland’s contractor EASE Archaeology .

Peter Yeoman, head of cultural resources at Historic Scotland, said: “It’s difficult to speculate on the precise function or meaning of these figurines.

“They could even be children’s toys.”

However, he said similar findings in other European countries are generally recognised as images of deities, including some “well-endowed” female figurines that were clearly fertility objects.

“This being the case, the figurines start to allow us to consider the spiritual life of the Nortland families more than 4,000 years ago, possibly with the earliest evidence we have of worship being channelled through physical representations of spirits or gods,” he said.

Until now, he said, it had only been known that our early ancestors in Scotland had worshipped deities at major monuments.

“This suggests perhaps they did not just represent their belief system on the grand scale, but also they had them in the home,” he said.

Today the exposed spot has been damaged by wind erosion, putting its archaeological heritage at risk of being destroyed…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Islamists Offered Way Out of Extremist Groups

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has started an opt-out programme for Islamists trying to leave extremist groups, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière announced on Monday.

Participants and their family or friends can now find help via email or telephone with the new “HATIF” service, which stands for Heraus Aus Terrorismus und Islamistischem Fanatismus, or “Leaving terrorism and Islamist fanaticism.”

“Hatif” is also the Arabic word for telephone.

“The main goal of HATIF is to prevent violence in the name of Islam,” the intelligence agency the Verfassungsschutz said.

The service, offered in both Turkish and Arabic, will not try to lead people from the religion of Islam, but instead provide safe options for those hoping to extract themselves from extremist circles, the agency said.

Candidates and their families will receive help changing locations, seeking occupational qualifications and deflecting threats.

Experts believe that danger to those looking to turn away from Islamist extremists is extremely high. According to de Maizière, Islamists continue to keep Germany in their sights, with more than 29 such organisations active within the country.

Meanwhile the number of people thought to be Islamists has risen to 36,270 — up from 34,720 in 2008.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: ‘Municipalities Can Exclude Foreigners From Cannabis Cafes’

LUXEMBOURG, 17/07/10 — Dutch municipalities are allowed to exclude persons not living in the Netherlands from cannabis cafe’s (‘coffee shops’), in the view of the Solicitor-General of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The Solicitor-General considers the measure admissible to protect public order against the nuisance caused by drugs tourism. According to his advice, the entry ban for drug tourists contributes to the battle against the illegal drugs trade in the European Union.

The Court’s advice was sought by the Council of State. The Netherlands’ highest administrative court wants to know whether Maastricht municipality, which adopted the measure, was thereby infringing EU rules.

The Council of State has to make a decision on the appeal by an operator of a coffee-shop in Maastricht. He had to close his business temporarily after two people from the EU not living in the Netherlands were found there during a police check-up.

The Solicitor-General points out that drugs, including cannabis, are not trade goods that come under the European rules for free traffic of goods. Trade in narcotics is generally forbidden.

According to the legal expert, the Maastricht measure does not violate freedom to provide a service either, because the sale of cannabis is forbidden in all member states, including the Netherlands — there, the sale of cannabis in coffee shops is only tolerated.

The judges at the Court in Luxembourg are not bound to adopt the advice of the Solicitor-General, but in most cases they do.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Now Syria Bans the Burka… As British Female Cabinet Minister Says Freedom to Wear Muslim Veil is a Right

Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil from the country’s universities.

The Education Ministry’s ban comes as similar moves in Europe — and calls for one in England — spark cries of discrimination against Muslims.

An official told local media: ‘Our students are our children and we will not abandon them to extreme ideas and practices.’

Syria is not a Muslim country. An official at the ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria’s secular identity.

Sunday’s ban does not affect the headscarf, which many Syrian women wear.

But the burka — the most concealing of the Islamic veils, in which women are forced to peer out at the world from behind a mesh mask — and the niqab, a veil that covers the head and mouth but leaves the eyes exposed — have both been banned.

The niqab and the burka are not widespread in Syria, although they have become more common recently.

The secular, authoritarian government has recently tried to curry favour by rallying to the cry of moderate Islam at home.

But it remains wary of Islamic fundamentalism, which is a threat to its power — especially in education.

Last month, hundreds of primary school teachers who wear the niqab were moved to administrative jobs, local media reported.

The move came as the pressure was turned up in Britain and across Europe for as similar ban.

A British Cabinet Minister today delivered a staunch defence of a woman’s right to wear a burka.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said women were ‘empowered’ by the freedom to wear the face coverings.

Her comments came after her colleague, Immigration Minister Damian Green, resisted demands from within the Tory party to ban the burka, which critics claim is a symbol of the oppression of women.

Mr Green said a ban would be ‘rather un-British’ and run contrary to the conventions of a ‘tolerant and mutually respectful society’.

This is despite a YouGov survey which found that 67 per cent of voters wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be outlawed.

Spain is to debate banning the burka this week. The ruling Socialist party has indicated it will support the the opposition popular party, which says the garments are degrading to women.

The lower houses of parliament in France and Belgium have approved a ban on face-covering veils, but their upper chambers have to ratify the law.

The Netherlands may yet decide on a ban, while Switzerland has outlawed minarets, from where Muslim are called to prayer.

Syria has banned the burka and the niqab in its universities.

France’s lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burka-style Islamic veils, and Spain and Belgium have similar votes in the pipeline.

Tory MPs who back a ban include Philip Hollobone, who has tabled a private member’s Bill that would make it illegal for anyone to cover his or her face in public.

Mr Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, said that he would refuse to hold any constituency meetings with women wearing burkas.

He said: ‘This is Britain. We are not a Muslim country. Covering your face in public is strange, and to many people both intimidating and offensive.’

But Mrs Spelman yesterday made the counter-argument that wearing a burka is important for women’s rights. Normally, the burka is defended on the grounds of religious freedom, but the minister made what appeared to be a feminist argument for the face-covering.

She said: ‘I don’t, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear. I’ve been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result of actually visiting why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.

‘It is part of their culture, it is part of understanding that they choose to go out in the burka and I think those that live in this country, if they choose to wear a burka, should be free to do so.

‘We are a free country, we attach importance to people being free and for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning when you wake up what you wear.’

French parliamentarians voted last week to outlaw full-face veils, including burkas, in public.

He said: ‘I stand personally on the feeling that telling people what they can and can’t wear, if they’re just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do. We’re a tolerant and mutually respectful society.

‘There are times, clearly, when you’ve got to be able to identify yourself, and people have got to be able to see your face, but I think it’s very unlikely and it would be undesirable for the British Parliament to try and pass a law dictating what people wore.

‘I think very few women in France actually wear the burka. They [the French parliament] are doing it for demonstration effects.

‘The French political culture is very different. They are an aggressively secular state. They can ban the burka, they ban crucifixes in schools and things like that.

‘We have schools run explicitly by religions. I think there’s absolutely no read-across to immigration policy-from what the French are doing about the burka.’

The new head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad, said that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims.

He pointed to the spread of mosques and sharia, or Islamic law, as positive signs of the greater freedom Muslims are given in this country.

Catherine Heseltine from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee said MPs should not waste their time discussing a ban.

She said: ‘Britain is a free country. We value our freedoms and we don’t want MPs or the government telling British citizens what they can or can’t wear.

‘How does it hurt anybody else if a woman chooses to wear a small piece of cloth across her face?

‘Quite frankly, MPs, there’s a £160billion debt; shouldn’t they be busier worrying about what they’re going to do about that, than a small piece of cloth that a few women choose to wear?’

Under the French ban, which is expected to be approved by the country’s Senate in September, a woman wearing the burka can be stopped on the street by police and ordered to a police station, where she will be compelled to remove the veil. The woman faces a possible fine. Muslim men who are deemed to have ‘forced’ their wives or daughters to wear the burka will also be fined.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that the burka ‘is not welcome’ in his country. He claims that it is ‘oppressive’ to women and reduces them to ‘servitude’.

He said: ‘The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Spain: More Than 80% of Catalans in Favour of Burqa Ban

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 19 — More than 80 of Catalans agree with the ban on wearing the burqa and the niqab, the veil that leaves only the eyes uncovered, in public buildings; 64% would like to expand the ban to the streets.

This emerged from a survey carried out by the Noxa Institute for La Vanguardia daily. The poll shows that the general opinion is opposed to the two Muslim garments. In fact, only one on three Catalans wants to allow wearing them on the street. Just 24% of the interviewed people would tolerate them in public transport, and 16% would allow them in public buildings.

These results go against the position of some political parties, which have not taken a common stance on the use of the burqa in the region. In some cases these parties vote in favour or against the ban in different municipalities. According to the survey, most people who are against the ban vote for the PP, the CiU, the PSC and Esquerra Republicana, while the opinions of ICV voters are more divided.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Suspected Wahhabi Proselytism in New TV Channel

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — The project centres on the creation of a television channel called “Cordoba” in Madrid, with headquarters in the industrial area of Tre Cantos. A channel meant to spread, in Spanish, in the Iberian peninsula and in Latin America the conservative Islamic school of Wahhabism. But, according to anti-terrorism experts quoted today by ABC newspaper, the television channel risks being the basis for ‘Jihad’ preaching in the Hispanic community which, with 700 million Spanish speakers, is tempting for Wahhabi proselytism.

Wahhabism, a conservative Islamic movement begun in the 18th century with the aim of bringing Islam back to its pure origins, is official doctrine in Saudi Arabia, the native country of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and the country of origin of most of the September 11 bombers, but whose government is a U.S. ally and is strongly involved with the fight against Islamic terrorism.

The man behind the promotion of the new TV channel, the launch of which was put back from August to October, is the Saudi Sheikh and theologian Saleh Al Fawsan, member of the Council of great sages of Saudi Arabia. The second part of the project would include, according to sources quoted in the newspaper, the launching of “Cordoba TV” also in France, the United Kingdom and China. “Saleh Al Fawzan, “ writes ABC, “not only executes therefore one of the duties of his doctrine, which is to spread it outside of Saudi Arabia, but he includes his project in an attack by Islamic extremism to ‘recuperate Al Andalus’, considered by Muslims to be paradise lost and occupied by the Spanish”.

The new channel could start up in October, if the obstacles that blocked its scheduled start in August are overcome. But it is by no means certain that the project will get the go ahead.

Sheikh Saleh Al Fawzan, together with his son in Saudi Arabia, is the owner of a communications company and a digital newspaper and has reportedly already received a ban by the government of Mohamed VI on launching his TV channel in Morocco. Attempts to start up the channel in Granada and Cordoba, in Andalusia, came to no conclusion. From here arose the decision to head for Madrid.

According to the quoted anti-terrorism experts, Cordoba TV could become a dangerous instrument for proselytism and for the radical Islamic factions, destabilising the Islamic community in Spain. The August start of the channel of seventy year-old Sheikh Al Fawzan and his son Abdulaziz Al Fawzan has also been problematic, according to ABC, because of the rivalry between the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) and the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (UCIDE), the two most numerous Islamic associations in the Iberian peninsula, inspired by different interpretations of the Koran.

Al Fawzan is identified by ABC as the spiritual guide of one of the terrorists behind the September 11 attacks, Saudi Abdulaziz al Omari, who was part of the command group directed by Mohamed Atta. Al Omari graduated from the Islamic University Imam Mohamed Ibn Saud, where his professor of sharia, Islamic law, was none other than Saleh Al Fawzan. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria Bans Face Veils at Universities

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil from the country’s universities, as similar moves in Europe spark cries of discrimination against Muslims.

The Education Ministry issued the ban Sunday, according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly. The ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria’s secular identity, he said.

Sunday’s ban does not affect the headscarf, which many Syrian women wear.

The niqab is not widespread in Syria, although it has become more common recently — a move that has not gone unnoticed in a country governed by a secular, authoritarian regime.

“We have given directives to all universities to ban niqab-wearing women from registering,” the government official told The Associated Press on Monday.

The niqab “contradicts university ethics,” he added.

He also confirmed that hundreds of primary school teachers who were wearing the niqab at government-run schools were transferred last month to administrative jobs.

Syria is the latest country to weigh in on the niqab, perhaps the most visible hallmark of strict, conservative Islam. European countries including France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands are considering similar bans on the grounds that the veils are degrading to women. Opponents say such bans violate freedom of religion and will stigmatize all Muslims.

France’s lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils on July 13 in an effort to define and protect French values, a move that angered many in the country’s large Muslim community.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Troktiko — Controversial Greek Blog Administrator is Assassinated

BREAKING NEWS — The administrator of the most popular political and social blog in Greece, “Troktiko” — the Rodent — was assassinated after being shot with 20 bullets.

Known for its controversial political articles, stigmatizing the former, right wing government of New Democracy, Troktiko became the most popular, Greek-owned destination in Greece. With an Alexa ranking of 869 globally, surpassed many international web sites in traffic.

The administrator of Troktiko, journalist writer and radio producer Socrates Giolias aged 37, was executed with a barrage of bullets, outside his residence around 5:20am local time today, in Ilioupolis — a suburb of Athens, in Greece.

According to his wife, who gave a shocking testimony to police, several individuals, dressed up and posing as security personnel rang their home doorbell to inform him that his car was being stolen; as soon as he followed them he was gunned down. The individuals escaped in a Honda Civic which was later found burned up.

           — Hat tip: TC[Return to headlines]

UK: Council Race Spies Secretly Rummage Through Rubbish Bins to Discover Families’ Habits

Councils are secretly rifling through thousands of dustbins to find out about families’ race and wealth.

Waste audits allow officials and private contractors to check supermarket labels, types of unwanted food — and even examine the contents of discarded mail.

The local authorities are using social profiling techniques to match different types of rubbish to different ethnic groups or wealthy and poor households, as part of a recycling drive initiated by the last Government.

Householders can then be placed into social categories, which in some areas range from ‘wealthy achievers’ to the ‘hard-pressed’ — and subsequently targeted for future leafleting campaigns.

But last night critics condemned the move as ‘highly intrusive’. Most homeowners have no idea that their rubbish is being searched or that data collected could be used to prosecute those who place rubbish in the wrong bin.

At least 90 councils ran covert bin-rifling operations last year, according to Freedom of Information requests.

They targeted a total of more than 10,000 families and argue that Government guidance suggested all checks on bins should be done without the knowledge of householders.

‘Ideally, you do not want to inform the public of an audit taking place, as this could alter their disposal behaviour,’ it said.

But the secret nature of the audits will raise concerns about privacy. Although some councils used their staff to conduct the operations, many hired in private contractors.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron Raids Dormant Accounts to Pay for Big Society Schemes

David Cameron denied that his Big Society plans are a cover for spending cuts today as he announced the scheme will be funded from cash in dormant accounts .

The Prime Minister unveiled his plans for ‘communities with oomph’ today, spelling out how local community groups will get help to run local services.

He hailed the Big Society scheme as ‘the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power’ from the state to individuals.

Big Society schemes around Britain will be paid by the Big Society Bank, which is expected to be fully up and running by April next year.

But critics called the plans ‘privatisation by the back door’ and said the initiative is designed to get essential services off the government’s books.

In a speech in Liverpool — one of the first areas to benefit — Mr Cameron announced that community projects in four areas of the country are to be given state support.


From next April, the plans will be paid for by a Big Society Bank, set up with up to £400 million of funds in dormant bank accounts — though only £60 million is thought to be available now.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Fugitive Bus Driver Who Decapitated Passenger in Horror Crash is Jailed After Going on Run

A bus driver who went on the run after being found guilty of decapitating one of his passengers in a horror smash has been jailed for four years.

Raouf Mraidi, 30, fled from the UK after it emerged he ran a red light in his double-decker and smashed into a tram and a BMW.

One of the his passengers, 28-year-old Andrzei Karcz, died in the accident in Croydon on September 7 2008 after being thrown through the front window of the bus. He was decapitated. Six other passengers were injured.

Mraidi was charged with causing death by dangerous driving after a court heard how his 468 bus caused a trail of devastation, hitting a tram, shop fronts and a BMW before coming to a halt.

Mraidi, a French Tunisian, appeared before Croydon magistrates in May 2009, but was bailed ahead of his trial, which was set for December of that year.

Although he had his passport confiscated, Mraidi — who was living in Bermondsey at the time of the crash — was able to abscond to his native France using an identity card that allows people to travel freely between European countries.

He was jailed for four years in his absence after he failed to show for the trial at Croydon Crown Court, with the judge, Warwick McKinnon saying finding him in France would be like ‘searching for a needle in a haystack’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher’s Family ‘Appalled’ At Streep Movie

‘Left-wing fantasy’: Former prime minister portrayed as dementia-sufferer looking back at life with sadness

Although the prospect of Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher may have pleased some admirers of the Conservative former prime minister, her children have been horrified to discover more about the film.

Mandrake hears that the screenplay of The Iron Lady depicts Baroness Thatcher as an elderly dementia-sufferer looking back on her career with sadness. She is shown talking to herself and unaware that her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, has died.

“Sir Mark and Carol are appalled at what they have learnt about the film,” says a friend of the family. “They think it sounds like some Left-wing fantasy. They feel strongly about it, but will not speak publicly for fear of giving it more publicity.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Descendents Russian Refugees in Bizerte

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 19 — In 1920 the Tunisian port of Bizerte hosted around thirty military ships of the White Russian fleet which had fled the Crimea. On board these ships were around 6,000 officers, seamen and their families. They remained on board of these ships for four years, and opened a school, a hospital and a church on the ships. After this period many headed for other countries, but other remained on the African continent where they were involved in agriculture, in the construction of ports and roads, in fish farming and in the processing of farm produce. To commemorate this event, around sixty descendents have arrived in Bizerte on board a ship that set sail in Venice.

They will repeat the voyage made by their ancestors in the opposite direction, from Bizerte to Sebastopol. The passengers have arrived from several countries, including France, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Canada and the Czech Republic.


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Chief of Staff Ashkenazi in Italy

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 19 — Yesterday Israeli Chief of Staff General Gaby Ashkenazi began a five-day official visit to Italy and Franc on the invitation of his counterparts in the two countries: General Vincenzo Camporini and Admiral Edouard Guillaud. The Israeli military sopkesman said that the visit was meant to strengthen cooperation. According to the spokesman, Ashkenazi in Italy will meet with — in addition to General Camporini — the head of the Defence Ministry and will be visiting a number of military bases. Ashkenazi’s schedule includes a meeting with the local Jewish community and a visit to the Arch of Titus today in Rome. The latter is of particular significance for Jews since it shows the emperor Titus after Jerusalem had been taken, as well as a seven-armed candelabra found in the Temple. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gaza: First Shopping Centre Inaugurated

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, JULY 19 — Starting this week, even the Gaza Strip will be able to boast of its own shopping centre for the first time since the 1990s. For its inauguration, the Gaza Mall attracted a crowd of curious onlookers to the middle class area of Rimal. In order to facilitate access to the building, authorities asphalted a street for this express purpose. The Hamas government was represented by Labour Minister Abu Osama al-Kurd. Built on two floors, the Gaza Mall offers visitors an atmosphere of “normality” in which they can relax.

Well air-conditioned, on the first floor there are a number of cafe’s, an ice cream shop and a well-stocked supermarket, while on the upper floor there are shops selling clothing, perfume, footwear and glasses. In Gaza another shopping centre, Al-Sahra, was opened at the beginning of the 1990s by a businessman with high-level standing within the Palestinian Authority, but it did not last long. Many in Gaza today hope that the opening of the Gaza Mall will be only the beginning of a wider-ranging relaunch of economic and commercial activity.


           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

How the Media, The UN and the Diplomats Saved Hamas 18 Years Ago

For the past two months the media has been consumed with talk of Hamas ruled Gaza and the flotillas meant to break the Israeli blockade. But how one might ask did Gaza come to be overrun with Hamas terrorists. The answer is that the world forced Israel to let them in.

18 years ago in the winter of 1992, there was another Gilad Shalit, and his name was Nissim Toledano, a border police sergeant was kidnapped by terrorists on the way to work. After an extended search, Nissim Toledano was found dead in a roadside ditch. In response to that attack and numerous other atrocities committed by Hamas, including a planned massive car bombing, Israel made the decision to deport 400 Hamas terrorists. Among them the past and present day leaders of Hamas. And you might assume the story ends there. And you would be wrong. United Nations forced the deported “citizen” terrorists back to Israel

The United Nations issued a unanimous resolution condemning Israel’s deportation of “civilians” and demanding that Israel immediately bring them back, or face sanctions. The United States voted for that resolution, along with three others condemning Israel. Thomas R. Pickering, the American delegate warned that the deportations of Hamas terrorists “do not contribute to current efforts for peace.” Of course we now know, just how much the Hamas terrorists that the Bush and Clinton Administrations forced Israel to accept “contributed to peace”.

Lebanon refused to officially accept the terrorists. The Red Cross brought them tents and blankets and the media swarmed to take photos of them “shivering from the cold” while drinking coffee outside their tents. Newsweek accused Israel of “Deporting the Hope for Peace”. The LA Times ran a tearful interview with the wife of Mohammed Taamari, a future member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who was terribly lonely without her husband. Much as after the flotilla raid, the Israeli media condemned the clumsy mishandling of the deportations.

Finally after enough browbeating by James Baker and Warren Christopher, Rabin agreed to take the Hamas terrorists back. In a bizarre charade that would serve as a tragic foretelling of events to come, Rabin agreed to return 100 terrorists immediately, and to take the remainder back in a year. 18 years later, the Hamas terrorists that Israel took back control all of Gaza, and have been responsible for an untold number of murders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Again Predicts Direct Israel-Palestinian Talks, Is He Wrong Again?

by Barry Rubin

This article is an updated and revised version of a piece by me published in Pajamas Media. Please credit and link to them.

Last September, President Barack Obama said in a major speech in New York, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas standing nearby, that there would be direct Israel-Palestinian negotiations in Washington by November 2009.

It didn’t happen.

The media didn’t ridicule the Obama Administration or point to this failure. Too bad. That kind of behavior by the media plays a positive role, in this case teaching the president to be more circumspect and skeptical about rapid progress.

Moreover, the president of the United States should never say that something is going to happen unless he knows that it will happen.

Now, in July 2010, the president stated that there would soon be direct talks, perhaps even before September:

“And my hope is, is that once direct talks have begun, well before the moratorium [Israeli construction freeze that ends in September] has expired, that that will create a climate in which everybody feels a greater investment in success.”

But is there any reason that this deadline will be met? No.

Israel is eager for direct talks; the PA keeps finding excuses for opposing them. One of the PA’s arguments, made secretly to the United States, is that it fears going to direct negotiations will bring criticism from Arab states. The PA also fears that anything that looks like a concession is going to heighten tensions with Hamas, which will use such a step to portray the PA as traitorously moderate.

Notice that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan don’t oppose direct talks. So what the PA is really worried about, inasmuch as these expressions are sincere, are the radical forces: Syria, Hamas, and Iran. What, you might ask, would be most effective in overcoming that barrier. The answer is: a tougher U.S. line toward the radicals and a more credible determination to defend the moderates. But that is lacking in Obama policy even though the administration doesn’t even seem to realize that this kind of problem exists.

Here is how the White House sums up Obama’s phone conversation of July 9 with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas:…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

West Bank: 5 Hamas Members Arrested for Police Murder

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 19 — Shin Bet (Israeli domestic secret services agency) have arrested five Hamas activists held to be responsible for the killing in June of an Israeli police officer in the zone of Hebron, the West Bank, and the injuring of three of his fellow policemen. According to the broadcaster, the Hamas cell — which was organised a year ago and which is trained in the use of firearms — had been planning on taking an Israeli policeman or settler hostage. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Jonathan Spyer: Losing the Scent in South Lebanon

Last week, the IDF released evidence of Hizbullah stockpiling of weaponry in populated civilian areas of southern Lebanon. The IDF material showed an aerial map of the Shi’ite town of El Khiam. The map showed details of a developed military infrastructure woven into the fabric of the town’s civilian population.

While the precise details were new, the fact of Hizbullah’s use of civilian areas as bases for its military reconstruction after 2006 is by now no longer a major revelation.

The fact of this activity is not seriously in doubt. It is in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war. The mechanisms by which Hizbullah and its allies act to neutralize the 12,000 strong international force tasked with preventing the movement’s military activities in Lebanon’s south have also been in evidence over the last couple of weeks.

Tensions have been steadily rising between elements of the UNIFIL forces deployed in south Lebanon (specifically — the French contingent) and supporters of Hizbullah’s “resistance.” A number of incidents have taken place. On June 29, UNIFIL conducted a 36-hour deployment exercise.

In the days that followed, members of the French contingent were attacked in the village of Touline by a crowd which pelted them with rocks, sticks and eggs.

On Saturday, July 3, in the village of Kabrikha, a gathering of around 100 civilians blocked the road, preventing a French UNIFIL patrol from entering the village. The soldiers were reportedly disarmed, and a number were injured. The Lebanese army eventually intervened to separate the crowd from the patrol. Villagers interviewed after the incidents claimed that UNIFIL troops had tried to enter homes — a claim which a spokesman for the UN forces denied.

Michael Williams, UN special coordinator for Lebanon, meanwhile, described the incidents as “clearly organized.”

Williams was correct. Mobs of 100 civilians do not suddenly appear by accident in southern Lebanon. It is not an area known for its liberal attitudes toward freedom of political association. In the Shi’ite villages of the area, the only force able to march, demonstrate and make its presence felt is the “resistance” — that is Hizbullah — and its allies…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Failed Coup, 196 People Formally Charged

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 19 — A court in Istanbul has today formally charged 196 people, mostly active or retired soldiers, as part of an investigation launched last February in the wake of information obtained about Ergenekon, a presumed secret nationalist organisation alleged to have tried to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Islam-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. The news was announced by the Turkish media.

The main suspect is the former army general Cetin Dogan, who is believed to be the brains behind the alleged subversive plot (code named ‘Balyoz’, the Turkish word for ‘hammer’) that was revealed in January by the pro-government newspaper Taraf but never carried out.

Accusations against the 196 defendants range from attempted massacre to attempted coup d’etat. Investigators say that the aim of ‘Balyoz’ was to throw the country into turmoil with acts of violence and terrorism. Among other things, the plan included soldiers letting off bombs in Istanbul mosques during Friday prayers, attacking museums with explosive devices and crashing fighter planes, allowing the blame to fall at the feet of the Greek air force and leading the now discredited government to resign.

The most significant suspects include the former commander of Turkey’s air force, the general Ibrahim Firtina, the former commander of the Navy, general Ozden Ornek and the former deputy Chief of Staff, Ergin Saygun, all of whom are now retired. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: ‘The Price We Have to Pay is Much Higher Than Expected’

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday Afghanistan will need long-term support from NATO even after the Afghan army takes full control of security. Speaking before Tuesday’s Kabul Conference, he predicted more casualties and said the world underestimated the scale of the mission.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday Afghanistan will continue to need NATO’s help in the long term.

“Even if our troops switch to a supporting role, Afghanistan will need the constant support of the international community including NATO,” Rasmussen wrote in a guest commentary for German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt published on Monday. He also said he expected heavier fighting and more casualties.

The article was written ahead of Tuesday’s Kabul Conference, which will be attended by Rasmussen, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and delegates from some 60 nations to discuss the country’s reconstruction and the handing over of all security to the Afghan government.

Rasmussen called on NATO and its member nations to reach an agreement with the Afghan government on long-term cooperation. “Such a partnership would give Afghanistan even more self-confidence when it regains control over its own fate,” the secretary general wrote. He said it was important to send a clear message about long-term ties with the country. The Afghan population should know “that we continue to stand by their side,” he said, adding that Afghanistan must not be allowed to become a safe haven for terrorism again.

‘Underestimated Size of the Challenge’

“After nine years of international involvement it has become painfully clear that the price we have to pay is much higher than expected — especially regarding the international and Afghan soldiers killed,” Rasmussen said. “It cannot be disputed that the international community underestimated the size of this challenge in the beginning.”

He said the military offensives under way in Taliban strongholds would doubtless lead to more intense fighting. “Regrettably there will be more casualties,” he said. But he added that these military operations were of enormous political significance. “They contribute to weakening the Taliban politically and militarily.” This would encourage many Taliban fighters to leave and seek reconciliation.

The Kabul Conference will work out a “clear path for the transition to Afghan responsibility and participation,” Rasmussen said. It would be a milestone towards re-establishing Afghan sovereignty.

Britain’s Independent newspaper reported on Sunday that a leaked draft resolution of the Kabul Conference envisages the Afghan army taking full military control of the country by 2014.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesian Muslims Facing Africa During Prayers

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — People in the world’s most populous Muslim nation have been facing Africa — not Mecca — while praying.

Indonesia’s highest Islamic body acknowledged Monday it made a mistake when issuing an edict in March saying the holy city in Saudi Arabia was to the country’s west. It has since asked followers to shift direction slightly northward during their daily prayers.

“After a thorough study with some cosmography and astronomy experts, we learned they’ve been facing southern Somalia and Kenya,” said Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent cleric of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI. “We’ve revised it now to the northwest.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: On Trial for Blasphemy, Two Christian Brothers Murdered in Faisalabad

Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Masih Emmanuel were shot to death outside the courthouse right after a trial hearing. Both were handcuffed on their way back to prison. Police were going to clear them of the accusations. For days, Muslim religious leaders had incited Muslim faithful against the two, calling for their death.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) — Gunmen shot to death Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Masih Emmanuel, two Christian brothers on trial for blasphemy, as they left court in Faisalabad city (Punjab). The men were handcuffed together when the attack took place; they were on their way back to prison after their court appearance.

When they were arrested on 2 July, the Christian community sounded the alarm bell, fearing possible attacks. Immediately right after their arrest, Muslims organised a protest demonstration, calling for the two Christian brothers to be put to death.

The brothers were killed by two gunmen outside the Faisalabad courthouse, where they had been taken for a hearing. They were an easy target for an execution-style assassination since they were shackled together. A police officer accompanying the two victims was also wounded. The killers escaped.

For several days, Muslim religious leaders in Faisalabad had been fanning the flame of hatred against the two brothers, calling for their death. The two were arrested less than a month ago after leaflets allegedly bearing their names and featuring derogatory remarks against the Prophet Muhammad were found around town.

Local sources said that police were going to clear them because an analysis of the hand-written leaflets showed that the two brothers were not the authors.

For Pakistani Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the accusations against the Christians were fabricated by people who had a grudge against them. One of the two brothers was a Protestant clergyman. Their families maintained their innocence all along.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, slammed the crime without mincing his words. He called the death of the two brothers, plain and simple murder, on allegations of blasphemy. He also renewed a call for the repeal of the law, stressing the “deep concern” of Pakistan’s Christian community. He also criticised the government for doing little to stop the abuses of the law.

Last week, many Christian families fled Faisalabad’s Waris Pura neighbourhood, where the incident allegedly occurred, for fear of violence. On 15 July, Muslim protesters marched through the city calling for the death of the two brothers. The next day, at the end of Friday prayers, Muslim religious leaders egged on the Muslim faithful to demonstrate against the Christians. During the demonstration, the Holy Rosary Catholic Church was attacked with stones and rocks.

The murder of the two brothers, whose arrest had shocked the Christian world, coincides with a visit to Pakistan by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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

Pakistan — United States: Islamabad: US$ 7.5 Billion in Aid Against Terrorism and Chinese Influence

Five-year aid plan will fund energy, health care, agricultural and water projects. US secretary of state highlights US concern for the wellbeing of the Pakistani people, but security remains key issue. Dams and new energy sources are offered as alternatives to nuclear deal with Beijing.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The US government has announced a US$ 7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan, to show the Pakistani government and people that the United States is interested in the country’s development, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced yesterday, at the end of a day-long “strategic dialogue” in Islamabad between American and Pakistani officials. Security, however, remains the United States’ top priority. The White House has called on Islamabad to take further steps to fight extremist militias and the Taliban.

Congress had approved the US$ 7.5 billion aid deal last year, including two hydroelectric dams. Ms Clinton stressed that the United States is concerned about the wellbeing of the Pakistani people, beyond the issue of extremism. Energy and health care are the stated priorities, including renovating three hospitals, in Karachi, Lahore and Jacobabad.

Clinton said the US, in addition to hydroelectricity, would also fund several solar and wind energy projects, to limit the import of the nuclear power deal between China and Pakistan, something that worries both Washington and New Delhi.

US aid will also be used to launch several agricultural programmes, and to expand access to clean water in Pakistan, a serious challenge for many Pakistanis.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, said the aid package would bring important benefits for Pakistan. “This relationship is beyond security,” he said.

Nevertheless, security concerns and the jihadist threat remain a fundamental part of the US-Pakistan relationship. In fact, speaking to the BBC, Ms Clinton said that the United States was still concerned about possible attacks coming from Pakistan.

The secretary of State also warned that an attack against US territory from Pakistani-based groups would have “devastating impact” on US-Pakistani relations.

In view of this, the United States wants the Pakistani government to dissociate itself from the Haqqani network, a group blamed for a number of attacks and abductions but which is also thought to have close ties with Pakistani intelligence services.

Ms Clinton is scheduled to travel to Kabul tomorrow for a great donor conference on Afghanistan.

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

Pakistan Couple Ordered Stoned to Death for Adultery

ISLAMABAD — A couple have been sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery in north west Pakistan by a tribal court, locals and officials said.

The man involved, Zarkat Khan, apparently managed to run away, while the woman is in the custody of the tribal court, according to local residents. The incident occurred in a remote area called Kala Dhaka, or Black Mountain, that is part of the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which runs adjacent to Afghanistan.

The death sentence, handed down in a Manjakot village last month, will be carried out once the man is found, said a member of the tribal court, known as a jirga which supposedly decided cases according to Islamic law. The two were married, but not to each other.


Some locals believe the verdict will not be carried out, or, if it is, there will be some quicker form of execution.

“We burnt down the man’s house, as per our tradition,” said Maroof Khan, who allegedly sat on the jirga that decided the case, though he denied that. “When we get hold of them, we’ll kill them, there’s no doubt about that. It was a clear-cut case. This is our custom. We will just shoot them. Finished.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

For Many Pregnant Chinese, A U.S. Passport for Baby Remains a Powerful Lure

SHANGHAI — What can $1,475 buy you in modern China? Not a Tiffany diamond or a mini-sedan, say Robert Zhou and Daisy Chao. But for that price, they guarantee you something more lasting, with unquestioned future benefits: a U.S. passport and citizenship for your new baby.

Zhou and Chao, a husband and wife from Taiwan who now live in Shanghai, run one of China’s oldest and most successful consultancies helping well-heeled expectant Chinese mothers travel to the United States to give birth.

The couple’s service, outlined in a PowerPoint presentation, includes connecting the expectant mothers with one of three Chinese-owned “baby care centers” in California. For the $1,475 basic fee, Zhou and Chao will arrange for a three-month stay in a center — two months before the birth and a month after. A room with cable TV and a wireless Internet connection, plus three meals, starts at $35 a day. The doctors and staff all speak Chinese. There are shopping and sightseeing trips.

The mothers must pay their own airfare and are responsible for getting a U.S. visa, although Zhou and Chao will help them fill out the application form.

At a time when China is prospering and the common perception of America here is of an empire in economic decline, the proliferation of U.S. baby services shows that for many Chinese, a U.S. passport nevertheless remains a powerful lure. The United States is widely seen as more of a meritocracy than China, where getting into a good university or landing a high-paying job often depends on personal connections.

“They believe that with U.S. citizenship, their children can have a more fair competitive environment,” Zhou said.

There are no solid figures, but dozens of firms advertise “birth tourism” packages online, many of them based in Shanghai, and Zhao said the number has soared in the past five years. But he said that many are fly-by-night operations, unlike his high-quality service.

“The customers we serve are very successful and very affluent,” he said…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Retired British Couple Found Dead in Boot of Volvo After Robbery at Their South Africa Home

A retired British couple have been murdered at their seaside home in South Africa, police said today.

The bloodied bodies of Christopher and Jennifer Early were discovered in the boot of their Volvo car following a suspected robbery at their home.

Detectives today said they believed the couple, aged 69 and 62, were murdered last Thursday at the beachfront property in Hibberdene.

The sleepy resort lies around 60 miles south of Durban on South Africa’s north-eastern coast. A favourite with holidaying locals, the village has five beaches and is a popular spot for diving and fishing.

Warrant Officer Banie Pienaar said it appeared Mr Early had been bludgeoned to death and his wife had been executed by a gunman.

He said: ‘They appear to have been the victim of a violent robbery. It seems that the gentleman was attacked outside their property in the driveway to their home.

‘The post-mortem suggests that he was beaten to death with some sort of bush knife.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Bowls of Human Fingers and Teeth Found in Mayan Tomb

A well-preserved tomb believed to be the final resting place of an ancient Mayan king has been discovered in Guatemala, scientists announced last week.

The 1,600-year-old tomb was discovered on May 29 beneath the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz. It is packed with of carvings, ceramics, textiles, and the bones of six children, who might have been sacrificed at the time of the king’s death.

However, much more work is needed before the scientists can piece together all the clues about the tomb’s owner.

“We still have a great deal of work to do,” said Stephen Houston an archaeologist at Brown University in Rhode Island. “We’ve only been out of the field for a few weeks, and we’re still catching our breath after a very difficult, technical excavation. Royal tombs are hugely dense with information and require years of study to understand.”

Tomb discovery

Before making the actual discovery, Houston said the team thought “something odd” was happening in the deposit where they were digging. They knew a small temple had been built in front of a sprawling structure dedicated to the sun god, an emblem of Maya rulership.

“When we sunk a pit into the small chamber of the temple, we hit almost immediately a series of ‘caches’ — blood-red bowls containing human fingers and teeth, all wrapped in some kind of organic substance that left an impression in the plaster. We then dug through layer after layer of flat stones, alternating with mud, which probably is what kept the tomb so intact and airtight.”

Eventually the scientists unearthed the final layer to reveal a small hole.

They lowered a bare lightbulb into the hole, and suddenly Houston saw “an explosion of color in all directions — reds, greens, yellows.” It was a royal tomb filled with organics that Houston says he’d never seen before: pieces of wood, textiles, and thin layers of painted stucco.

“When we opened the tomb, I poked my head in and there was still, to my astonishment, a smell of putrification and a chill that went to my bones,” Houston said. “The chamber had been so well sealed, for over 1600 years, that no air and little water had entered.”

The tomb itself is about 6 feet high, 12 feet long, and four feet wide. “I can lie down comfortably in it,” Houston said, “although I wouldn’t want to stay there.”

Royal burial

It appears the tomb held an adult male, but the bone analyst, Andrew Scherer, assistant professor of anthropology at Brown, has not yet confirmed the finding. So far, it seems likely that there are six children in the tomb, some with whole bodies and probably two solely with skulls.

And who was this man? Though the findings are still very new, the group thinks the tomb is likely from a king they only know about from other hieroglyphic texts. “These items are artistic riches, extraordinarily preserved from a key time in Maya history,” Houston said. “From the tomb’s position, time, richness, and repeated constructions atop the tomb, we believe this is very likely the founder of a dynasty.”

Houston says the tomb shows that the ruler is going into the tomb as a ritual dancer. “He has all the attributes of this role, including many small ‘bells’ of shell with, probably, dog canines as clappers. There is a chance too, that his body, which rested on a raised bier that collapsed to the floor, had an elaborate headdress with small glyphs on them. One of his hands may have held a sacrificial blade.”

The stone expert on site, Zachary Hruby, suspects the blade was used for cutting and grinding through bone or some other hard material. Its surface seems to be covered with red organic residue. Though the substance still needs to be tested, “it doesn’t take too much imagination to think that this is blood,” Houston said.

The findings were announced July 15 during a press conference in Guatemala City, hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, which authorized the work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Common Sense on Mass Immigration

This little book acquaints all Americans as to the deadly onslaught of illegal aliens invading America. “Common Sense on Mass Immigration” published by is a must read by every American. This book features top experts on this crisis and gives solutions.

“We are a nation of immigrants, but immigrants originally settled every nation in the world,” said former Colorado Governor Lamm. “This cliché confuses facts with wisdom. It tells nothing about what we want America to become. We are no longer an empty continent—we are a crowded 309 million people — with problems of sprawl, pollution and vanishing open space.”

In the following paragraphs, you will read what some of the top experts have to say about mass immigration, whether legal or illegal. If left unchecked, immigration of any kind leads to accelerating consequences in every sector of America. Immigration stands as the greatest threat and the most destructive nation-destroying phenomenon in the history of the United States of America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: White Christian Britons ‘Unfairly Targeted by Draconian Religious Hate Laws’

Over-the-top ‘religious hate’ laws have fuelled a worrying trend of prosecutions for even mildly critical remarks, a think tank has warned.

Draconian hate laws have dragged disputes that would normally be settled in a healthy argument between people into the courts, it suggests.

The majority of those prosecuted are white men, it claims.

A new report from the think tank Civitas ‘A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today’, warns that people are being charged with serious offences for discussing religion.

It cites examples of over the top prosecutions including:

Atheist Harry Taylor put leaflets mocking Christianity and Islam in a prayer room at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. He was charged with causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act.

Tauriq Khalid was taken to court for a racially motivated ‘hate’ offence after he gave a two fingered gesture to BNP leader Nick Griffin. Mr Khalid was cleared. Although the blasphemy law — which only applied to Christians — was repealed in 2008, it has been overtaken with a much more virulent ‘anti hatred’ legislation.

People are being charged through the back door for causing ‘religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress’ under the Public Order Act.

This could destroy open and critical decision of religion, warns academic and author, Jon Gower Davies, formerly head of religious studies at Newcastle University.

He said: ‘The British people might be forgiven for thinking that their basic religious-cultural inheritance, the culture under which we have grown up, is not just out of control but under some insidious attack.’

While the number of racial and religious hate crimes fell from 13,201 in 2006-7 to 11,845 in 2008-9, the volume of hate legislation has rapidly expanded.

Mr Davies said: ‘The law has been invited to insert its punitive, plodding and primitive self into areas of life from which we have long been accustomed to assume not simply its absence, but the positive existence of a freely-negotiated civic culture. In this culture and civil society we accept an obligation to sort things out for ourselves—as reasonable men and reasonable women.’

Hate laws, he warned, would actually fuel more abuse and hate as assorted ‘miscreants’ would be paraded before the courts.

Mr Davies said that there seemed to be a bias in applying the law.

He said: ‘The new laws do not simply remove blasphemy but extend it: and (again, in effect) extend it to provide a special de facto protection to Islam.’

The majority of defendants in race or religious hate crimes were white British males, he said. When a Muslim man defaced a war memorial in Burton upon Trent after spraying the words ‘Islam will dominate the world—Osama is on his way’ and ‘Kill Gordon Brown’ across the plinth, he was prosecuted for criminal damage but not for religious or race offences.

The Crown Prosecution Service had argued that defacing the memorial was not an attack on any particular racial or religious group.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Audio: Climate Change Scepticism Could Soon be a Criminal Offence

People who are sceptical of climate change could soon be facing criminal charges in the European Court of Justice, British National Party leader and MEP Nick Griffin MEP has said.

Speaking in an exclusive Radio Red, White and Blue interview on this week’s “Eurofile” report, Mr Griffin told interviewer John Walker about a recent sitting of the European Parliament’s subcommittee dealing with the matter, which had passed a ruling which in effect placed legal sanction against anyone who dared question the origin, cause or effect of “climate change.”

Mr Griffin revealed how he could not get a straight answer out of the committee while it was in session, but that afterwards it was admitted to him that that intention of the rule was to criminalise dissension on the topic of “climate change.”

[Comments from JD: see article for link to audio file.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Climate Change: Personal Attacks Continue Instead of Dealing With the Science

Up to a point Clive Crook, Senior editor of the The Atlantic, wrote a brilliant assessment of the whitewash that were the three investigations of the Climategate fiasco. “I had hoped, not very confidently, that the various Climategate inquiries would be severe. This would have been a first step towards restoring confidence in the scientific consensus. But no, the reports make things worse. At best they are mealy-mouthed apologies; at worst they are patently incompetent and even willfully wrong. The climate-science establishment, of which these inquiries have chosen to make themselves a part, seems entirely incapable of understanding, let alone repairing, the harm it has done to its own cause.”


David Suzuki, whose Foundation is funded by oil companies and chaired by James Hoggan whose PR company has alternate energy companies for clients says, “It must be difficult, if not downright embarrassing, to be a climate-change denier these days.”

No, what’s embarrassing is continued use of the term “climate change denier” with its holocaust connotation, and the fact that all skeptics acknowledge climate change. The question is what is the cause, but that’s science. It is the same pattern as before. Demonstrate your scientific ignorance and make personal attacks rather than answer the questions posed by skeptics or inferred by the facts.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

IPCC Warns Its Scientists to Avoid the Media

Scientists have reacted with dismay at a letter sent out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) advising them not to talk to journalists. The letter was published just two days before the publication of a review of the “Climategate” affair that criticized researchers at the University of East Anglia for lacking openness.

IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri sent the letter on 5 July to each of the 831 experts selected to take part in preparing the panel’s fifth assessment report (AR5) on climate change. This report is due to be published in 2013 and 2014 and follows on from the fourth assessment released in 2007, which concluded that global warming is real and very likely due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities. The assessment exercise is made up of three working groups that will deal with the fundamental science and impacts of climate change as well as mitigation and adaptation strategies.

In his letter Pachauri wrote that increased scrutiny of the IPCC “imposes on us a heavy responsibility to see that errors of any kind are completely eliminated from the AR5” and that as a result the panel would have to “work diligently and with a level of rigour perhaps not seen in previous reports”. (The IPCC having come under heavy criticism earlier this year for erroneously stating in the 1997 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.) Pachauri then went on to offer his “sincere advice” that researchers “keep a distance from the media” and that any questions about that researcher’s working group be directed to the co-chairs of that group while general queries about the IPCC should be forwarded to the panel’s secretariat.

Peter Cox, a climate modeller at the University of Exeter in the UK and a member of the science working group, believes that Pachauri’s advice is fairly routine. He says that working group members are free to talk to journalists about their own work but that they should avoid talking about IPCC procedure because it is so complex…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Men Are Like Apes When Competing for Status

Apes are showing themselves to be more and more like humans, as various studies suggest they share much of our DNA, pass on culture and even understand and mourn death.

Now a new study reveals the hormone changes linked to competition in bonobos and chimpanzees mirror those in human guys vying for, say, mates or status.

“These findings suggest that men’s psychological and physiological sensitivity to competition is not simply a result of living in a competitive human society,” said Victoria Wobber, a Harvard graduate student and first author of the study. “Instead, it appears that when our ancestors diverged from chimpanzees and bonobos, individuals would have been similarly responsive to competitive events, with this evolutionarily inherited in humans.”

Sweet Tarts and saliva

The researchers tested hormone changes by setting up potentially competitive situations in which a pair of male bonobos or male chimpanzees observed a pile of food being placed in an adjacent “testing” room. Then the pair was brought into that room and left to eat, or not.

Researchers used swabs dipped in Sweet Tarts candy to take saliva samples from the apes immediately before each trial, before the food was presented but after the individuals were placed in the pairing, and 15 minutes after the last trial.

“We knew that this candy stimulated saliva without changing steroid levels, so we needed to use that particular candy, but it needed to be in powder form,” Wobber told LiveScience. “So, I spent countless hours grinding Sweet Tarts with a mortar and pestle — fortunately, both species loved the resulting powder, meaning that the hours were worthwhile!”

The dominant ape of each pair monopolized the food about 50 percent of the time, with the two sharing the food during the other half of the time.

Competition hormones

In the non-sharing scenarios, males of both species showed hormonal changes in anticipation of competing for the food, though the changes were different for each species.

Male chimpanzees showed an increase in testosterone, a hormone associated with competition and aggressive interactions. Male bonobos, however, showed an increase in cortisol, which is linked with stress and more passive social strategies in animals.

“Chimpanzee males reacted to the competition as if it was a threat to their status, while bonobos reacted as if a potential competition is stressful by showing changes in their cortisol levels,” Wobber said.

The hormone changes occurred even before the pair competed for food, suggesting both primates could predict whether the situation would result in cooperation or not.

“These cortisol increases occurred in both individuals in the non-sharing pairs [of bonobos] — both the dominant and the subordinate,” Wobber said. “Thus even the individual who was going to get more food was ‘stressed’ by the situation of food not being divided equally between individuals.”

Evolution of aggression

The results make sense seeing as chimpanzees live in male-dominated societies where status is paramount, and dominant ranking is achieved through aggressive behaviors. In bonobo societies, the most dominant individuals are female, and tolerance allows the male animals to cooperate with one another and share food.

When chimpanzees and bonobos diverged, bonobos seem to have evolved a non-aggressive coping style when stressed, while chimpanzees kept the ancestral “fighting” state.

The new study suggests these different behavioral states evolved alongside the corresponding changes in hormone levels.

How men act like apes

Men who cope with competition like bonobos — that is, passively — also show changes in cortisol levels, past research shows. To these guys, competition is more of a stressor than a status-determining event. Other studies have shown some men respond to competition more like chimpanzees and experience changes in testosterone levels.

But the jury is still out on whether the same guy would experience different hormone changes depending on the situation.

“It’s actually an area for future research whether the same man, presented with different events, would react differently, being chimpanzee-like in one situation and bonobo-like in another, or show a similar profile across situations, being always chimpanzee-like, for example,” Wobber said.

Something unique about human males is that after competition they experience an increase in testosterone if they win or a decrease if they lose, accounting for giddy or depressed sports fans following a win or loss. This post-competition change wasn’t seen in the apes.

The research was published on June 28 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]