Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100730

Financial Crisis
»Dallas Fed Chief: Texans Are ‘Lucky Puppies’ In Economic Recovery
»IMF Backs More Stimulus to Help Slow US Recovery
»Obamacare’s Stealth Assault on Small Business
»Slowing Economic Rebound …
»Soaring Corporate Profits May Not Translate to New Jobs
»Banks Won’t Take Fort Hood Shooting Suspect’s Paychecks
»BP Oil Spill: Was Tony Hayward Right After All?
»Caroline Glick: See No Evil
»Mother Denied Bail in Attempted Murder
Europe and the EU
»Strip Criminals of French Nationality — Sarkozy
»UK: Cameron Goes Native
»What David Cameron Doesn’t Know About Turkey
North Africa
»Donkey’s Wild Ass Ancestor Confirmed
»Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi: Parents Should Choose Sports for Their Children That Prepare Them for Jihad
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza: There Would be No Blockade if the People of Gaza Had Set About Building a Peaceful and Prosperous Land
Middle East
»The Honorary Ottoman
»Turkey’s Two Faces
»Turkey: Ankara’s Proxy
»Eastern Africa Polio-Free, But Cases Found in Russia
South Asia
»Floods Kill More Than 400 in Pakistan’s Northwest
»Official Rejects Claim Wikileaks Offered Document Review
»Viewpoint: Afghan War Logs, War Crimes and Hypocrisy
Australia — Pacific
»Islamists Spread Terror Message
»Australia: People Smugglers Go Free
»UK: Migrants Will End Up Driving Our Population Higher Than Germany’s
»Antarctica Experiment Discovers Puzzling Space Ray Pattern

Financial Crisis

Dallas Fed Chief: Texans Are ‘Lucky Puppies’ In Economic Recovery

Texans are “lucky puppies” thanks to the relative strength of the state’s economy, but regulatory uncertainty is threatening the national recovery, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said Thursday.

Doubts about the impact of federal taxing and spending policies, health care costs and financial regulations are apt to hinder economic growth, even though borrowing costs are low and many corporations have plenty of cash, Fisher said.

“Businesses and consumers are being confronted with so many potential changes in the taxes and regulations that govern their behavior that they are uncertain about how to proceed downfield,” Fisher said in a speech to the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

“Awaiting clearer signals from the referees that are the nation’s fiscal authorities and regulators, they have gone into a defensive crouch,” he said.

Regulatory uncertainty is far from the only challenge facing the nation’s businesses at a time of 9.5 percent unemployment. The economy is recuperating from the aftermath of the burst housing bubble and the severe recession of 2008 and 2009, analysts say.

“It’s hard to measure these things, but I think the biggest problems by far are in fact the real headwinds of limited availability of credit to small businesses and some households, and the overhang of too many vacant houses,” said Dana Johnson, chief economist at Comerica Inc., the Dallas-based financial services company.

In Fisher’s view, however, it’s getting increasingly difficult for business owners to predict the future costs of government policy. That makes companies reluctant to invest and hire, he said.

“Until business operators are provided the clarity they need, they will continue to hoard their cash, limit their payrolls and constrain investment in new plant and equipment — none of which provides hope for the unemployed or will put us on a more forceful path to recovery,” he said.

The nation is in the midst of a “slow slog out of what proved to be a most hellish downturn in 2008 and 2009,” Fisher said.

Growth is apt to remain below 3 percent for a “prolonged period,” he said. The U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.7 percent during the first three months of the year.In Texas, weak spots such as commercial real estate remain, and recent Dallas Fed surveys of manufacturers have yielded disappointing results.

But job creation this year has been stronger than in the nation as a whole, Fisher said, citing particularly impressive gains in private-sector and goods-producing jobs.

“So we have been lucky puppies,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

IMF Backs More Stimulus to Help Slow US Recovery

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund on Friday said more stimulus spending might be needed to aid a slow US economic recovery, wading into a toughly-fought political debate in Washington.

Warning that the “economic recovery has been slow by historical standards” and that “the outlook remains uncertain,” the IMF’s directors said more stimulus spending might be needed.

“Further decisive action is needed to achieve stable medium-term growth and limit risks of adverse international spillovers.”

President Barack Obama has clashed with Republicans over the need for government to step in to help the ailing economy, making spending one of the toughest fought political battles in the US capital.

Obama’s critics accuse the president of putting Americans’ futures at risk by ballooning US debt through ineffective stimulus spending.

Obama was set to visit Detroit later Friday to tout a 64-billion-dollar bailout which kept the city’s automakers afloat, promoting it as the type of “tough decision” needed to avoid economic depression.

But the IMF — after earlier arguing strongly for the US to cut its debt levels — said a bleak economic outlook could make further spending necessary, and could prompt a delay of planned budget cuts.

“Directors saw scope for a smaller up-front fiscal adjustment if downside risks materialize, complemented by measures to bolster medium-term credibility,” the IMF said.

The comments comes against a bleaker economic backdrop than when the IMF last reported on the US economy in early July.

A key US government report Friday is expected to show the recovery is losing pace.

Analysts expect gross domestic product to have slowed to 2.5 percent in the period, down from 2.7 percent in the first three months of the year.

“Private demand has been sluggish, while the unemployment rate has receded only modestly from near post-Depression highs,” the IMF said.

The IMF’s top brass said the recovery was “still dependent on policy support” as economic “risks are elevated and tilted to the downside.”

“Directors saw near-term trade-offs between supporting recovery and addressing long-term legacies,” a statement said.

The IMF also argued that the Federal Reserves ultra-low interest rates could be sustained for longer given the low risk of inflation.

In an accompanying report, IMF staff said there was scope for “carefully targeted measures” to boost job creation.

Nearly one in ten American workers is currently without a job, and the ranks of the long-term unemployed are swelling monthly.

“The unemployment rate is higher than in any postwar period save a brief point in the 1980s, while unemployment duration, the percent of long-term unemployed, and the number of involuntary part-time workers are all at record highs,” the IMF said.

The fund said unemployment would likely remain over nine percent in 2011, but that Obama’s policies had had an impact.

“Overall, stimulus added over one percent to growth in 2009, with a smaller effect expected in 2010,” the report said.

“Thanks to a massive policy response to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the US economy is recovering, but further decisive policy action will be needed to address the policy challenges stemming from the crisis.”

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Obamacare’s Stealth Assault on Small Business

…Embedded in the new health-care law, however, is a staggering requirement: using a new form — the 1099k — small businesses will have to start reporting all their purchases of goods from other businesses. (You can see a draft version of the 1099K form on the IRS website.)

(Embedded in the new health-care law, however, is a staggering requirement [pdf]: using a new form — the 1099k — small businesses will have to start reporting all their purchases of goods from other businesses. (You can see a draft version of the 1099K form on the IRS website.)

Did you rent a car or stay in a hotel? 1099K.

Buy ink and paper from Staples? 1099K.

Lease space in a local mall? 1099K.

Collect revenue from PayPal, eBay, or Amazon merchants? 1099K.

And don’t forget to collect each company’s taxpayer ID number while you are at it!

There are some exceptions: Businesses with revenues of less than $20,000 are exempt, as are purchases that total less than $600 for the year. Non-exempt businesses, however, are looking at a sudden lurch from approximately 10 forms per year to probably several hundred.

The IRS intends the measure as a revenue-enhancer. If more transactions are reported, more can be taxed. The provision got tucked into the health-care bill not because it has any relation to health-care, but in order to plump the revenue side of health-care reform—and thus tilt the numbers to make the total bill look less costly…

[Return to headlines]

Slowing Economic Rebound …

The recovery is losing so much momentum that employers are unlikely to step up hiring anytime this year, and unemployment could return to double digits.

That was the bleak conclusion of analysts Friday after the government said economic growth crawled at a 2.4 percent pace in the spring. It was the economy’s weakest showing in nearly a year. And many economists think growth is even slower now.


It takes about 3 percent growth in gross domestic product just to create enough jobs to keep pace with the population increase. Growth would have to equal 5 percent for a full year to drive the unemployment rate down by 1 percentage point…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Soaring Corporate Profits May Not Translate to New Jobs

Rapid growth in China and other emerging economies has pushed up earnings for companies that sell most of their wares abroad, such as locally based Exxon Mobil Corp. and Texas Instruments.

But companies built around domestic demand, such as Southwest Airlines and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, are also doing well.

After crashing in fall 2008, corporate profits have soared to their highest levels since 2006.


Companies now announcing second-quarter results could break the all-time record of $1.6551 trillion set in the second quarter of 2006.

“Companies have done a masterful job of cutting expenses, including people, which doesn’t bode well for employment,” said Frank Anderson, a senior lecturer in finance at the University of Texas at Dallas.


…this isn’t a conventional situation. Consumers, the traditional locomotive of the American economy, aren’t in much of a buying mood. Spending is up from the depths of the recession, but consumers are also paying off debt and adding to savings.

Flat demand has set off a debate over whether the United States is in danger of slipping into a period of falling prices and wages — what’s known as deflation.

James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, warned Thursday that the country could be at risk of repeating Japan’s deflationary experience…

[Return to headlines]


Banks Won’t Take Fort Hood Shooting Suspect’s Paychecks

BELTON — As he sits in the Bell County Jail, accused of the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, Maj. Nidal Hasan continues to receive his monthly U.S. Army paycheck, which based on his rank and experience is probably more than $6,000.

That’s standard procedure for soldiers who are confined before military trial, according to Army officials.

But Hasan, charged with a shooting spree that shocked the country, is not a standard defendant. And he’s having a hard time finding a bank to take his money.

According to his civilian attorney John Galligan , Bank of America notified Hasan last month that it was closing his account and no area bank so far has agreed to open an account for the Army psychiatrist. Military regulations require soldiers to be paid through direct deposit, making a bank account indispensable.

“I think it’s just another example of the prejudice that he’s been exposed to,” Galligan said. “It’s money that he’s entitled to, that he has a right to.” [emphasis added]

[After all, how can you be prejudiced against a guy who is alleged to have used two semi-automatic handguns for ease of concealment and improved fatality headcount, jumped up on a table to maximize his clear field of fire while exultantly yelling “Allah akbar!” to witnesses as he proceeded to murder 13 and wound 26 others in cold blood during a premeditated terrorist attack upon fellow soldiers that he had sworn an oath to protect and defend? Hell, it could happen to just about anyone, right? — Z]

But Hasan shouldn’t miss a paycheck. Army regulations allow commanders to grant waivers exempting soldiers from the SURE-PAY direct deposit system. Fort Hood officials said that when a soldier has a pay problem, commanders and finance officials help the soldier fix the issue, and Galligan said he is working with Fort Hood officials on finding a solution.

Galligan said he and his staff have tried to open accounts in Hasan’s name at half a dozen banks but were turned down at each one. He was especially angry that Fort Hood National Bank also refused, he said.

“In its unique position as the one major bank on post, with access to all of the soldiers, they turned us down too,” Galligan said. “Well, give me a break. How many other people pending a court-martial, still presumed to be innocent, does the bank say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to do business with you?’

[Ask yourself this Attorney Galligan: How many American soldiers undergo court-martial for committing a premeditated terrorist attack upon their fellow recruits? Any clues yet there, Galligan? Or is this just another eternal mystery for you lawyer types? — Z]

Galligan said, “How do you expect me to get a fair trial at Fort Hood if he can’t even get a bank account?”

A Bank of America spokeswoman declined to comment for privacy reasons, and officials with Fort Hood National Bank did not return a call for comment. But experts say banks have the right to choose their clients as long as they do not discriminate against a class of people. Neither federal nor state bank regulations address when a bank may refuse to open or close an account, according to officials with the Texas Banking Commission and the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“As far as deciding who to do business with or not, they have discretion,” said Shannon Phillips , the deputy general counsel with the Independent Bankers Association of Texas.

Galligan said Hasan has a car payment, legal fees and obligations to family members. According to the Department of Defense military pay table, a soldier at Hasan’s pay grade earns more than $6,000 a month.

Hasan’s pretrial Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a grand jury hearing in the civilian judicial system, is scheduled to begin in October. Based on the results of that hearing, which could last several weeks, an investigating officer will recommend whether the case should proceed to a court-martial.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

BP Oil Spill: Was Tony Hayward Right After All?

The disgraced BP boss enraged Americans when he played down the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Now it seems he was closer to the truth, reports Richard Alleyne.

The catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 men on April 20 may have been extinguished quickly but the political and economic fallout from the subsequent spill has been unprecedented.

President Obama described it as the “worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”, and environmental groups spoke in almost biblical terms of “dark shadows” and the “black hand of tar” that would bring disaster to the Gulf of Mexico. The President and senators on Capitol Hill demanded explanations from BP — referring to it, persistently and anachronistically, as “British Petroleum” — and promised to keep their feet on the necks of its management.

At a cost of billions, an armada of nearly 7,000 boats and 43,000 workers took to the water, laying 10 million feet of containment barriers, applying 1.8 million gallons of dispersant, skimming and burning millions of gallons of oil, and cleaning up beaches and wildlife.

As his engineers tried and failed to stem the flow, Tony Hayward, BP’s increasingly beleaguered chief executive, tried to play down concerns, describing the leak as a “tiny amount” in a “very big ocean”, which only inflamed American opinion. Agreeing eventually that it was an “environmental catastrophe”, he saw his company’s share price tumble by £100 billion at one point, wiping out 50 per cent of its total value.

The capping of the well two weeks ago and the promise of a $20 billion compensation fund failed to quell the storm. This week, the pressure on BP seemed even greater as Hayward finally succumbed and stepped down, and the company reported a second quarter loss of £11 billion, the biggest in British corporate history. Even Greenpeace got in on the act, blockading 50 petrol stations in London in protest at BP’s policies.

But through all the fog of name-calling, doom-mongering and political accusations, something unexpected has been happening out on the water. At first, it was just camera crews and photographers complaining that they could not find oiled animals to shoot; then it was the clean-up crews themselves who were struggling to find anything to clean. The immense patches of surface oil that once covered thousands of square miles of the Gulf have largely gone, and now just a handful of dead animals — all birds — are being reported each day. Furthermore, toxicity levels on the ocean floor appear to be low.

One hundred days on from the original blow-out, the question is beginning to be asked: might the scale of the potential environmental damage have been exaggerated? Was the ill-fated Mr Hayward right when he predicted that the environmental impact of the spill would be “very, very modest”?

For many marine scientists, the answer seems to be yes — and now that some of the initial fury has died down, they are putting their heads above the parapet to say so.

Dr Simon Boxall, an expert in marine pollution and dispersion at the National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, explains that there was panic at the estimated size of the spill, between 140 and 200 million gallons — the equivalent of about four supertankers of oil.

“People think ‘oil spill’ and think ‘disaster’,” he says. “But it is not always the case. It is not all about the size of the leak. It is the type of oil and where it happens that matter. People don’t realise that one tonne in a mangrove is more damaging than 100 tonnes on a beach, which is more damaging than 10,000 tonnes in the open ocean.”

The combination of the fact that it was light, or “sweet”, crude oil and that the disaster happened in warm waters so far out to sea always meant, he says, that it would be dispersed very quickly. The Gulf, which has a lot of natural seepage into its waters, has, he explains, developed microbes that break down the oil.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a bit like the River Tyne. There is a lot of industry and boat traffic along it, as well as the oil industry, which has minor leaks all the time. When Tony Hayward said it was a drop in the ocean, it might have been the wrong thing to say at the time, but it was the truth. This spill is the equivalent of less than a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. For all but a tiny bit of the Gulf, it will be back to normal within a year.

“The beaches will be normal before Christmas, fishing will be back in two months and the shellfish industry in two years. It’s not that the oysters and clams are poisonous, it’s just that they won’t taste very nice.”

A quick look at the statistics produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other bodies seems to bear out his thesis. Of the more than 2,100 miles of threatened coastline, one quarter has been touched by oil and much less has been heavily soiled. As for wildlife, the total number of animals found dead and covered in oil for the whole period is 1,296 birds, 17 sea turtles and three dolphins — that is less than one per cent of the birds killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. During the same period, 1,675 birds, 82 turtles and 53 dolphins were found dead without any outward signs of oiling.

“The truth is, the death toll is very small when you compare it with other major disasters,” says Dr Martin Preston, a marine chemist at Liverpool University, who was involved in the clean-up after the Braer disaster off the Shetland islands in 1993, in which 85,000 tonnes of crude oil were spilt.

“I had a feeling right from the start that this would not be the worst environmental disaster they have had. I think the Exxon Valdez will turn out to be much more serious environmentally. Economically, it has been very, very bad, and I think this has been made worse than it needed to be.

“There is no doubt it has been hyped up. But it is one of those things that you cannot say, especially if you are British. I really think it was the lawyers who were driving it.”

Professor Geoffrey Maitland, an energy engineer at Imperial College, agrees that the Gulf is well adapted to oil spills because tens of millions of gallons naturally seep into it every year. “Many people do not realise that oil is a naturally occurring substance and nature has a way of dealing with it,” he says. It doesn’t need to be scooped off, burnt or dispersed with chemicals. “In fact, it is often best to let it just evaporate and biodegrade naturally.

“With all the clean-up work, natural evaporation and biodegradation, I reckon 50 per cent of the oil has already gone and the rest will follow shortly. There is talk of a lot of oil below the surface, but I am a bit sceptical, as oil is less dense than water and so it floats.”

The success of the clean-up operation is bringing its own problems. Fishermen, who are being paid to help, fear they will soon be out of pocket because there will be no more work for them, and with a third of the fisheries still closed they will not be able to return to their trade.

Meanwhile, some American scientists are also playing down the disaster, particularly in light of the environmental damage already inflicted on the Gulf coast — one describes it as like “a sunburn on a cancer patient”.

Ivor Van Heerden, a marine scientist at Louisiana State University, says that we are not seeing “catastrophic impacts”. “There is a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it,” he told Time magazine.

His colleague Paul Kemp adds that pictures of birds covered in oil have caused a lot of economic damage, with people staying away from beaches and the fishing industry shut down.

“People see oiled pelicans and they go crazy,” he says. “But this has been a disaster for people, not biota [animal and plant life].”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: See No Evil

It’s springtime for Jew-haters.

This week Oscar winning conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone joined Helen Thomas and Mel Gibson in the swelling ranks of out-of-the-closet celebrity Jew-haters. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Stone said that Adolf Hitler had been given a bum rap and that through “Jewish domination of the media,” the Jews have inflated the importance of the Holocaust and wrecked US foreign policy.

In the wake of criticism in Jewish circles, on Wednesday Stone’s publicist issued a mealymouthed clarification.

Stone failed to retract or amend his statement that “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f—-ed up United States foreign policy for years.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]


Mother Denied Bail in Attempted Murder

Johra Kaleki, the 39-year-old mother of four who is accused of trying to kill her eldest daughter, has been denied bail.

Kaleki’s 19-year-old daughter arrived home at 6:30 am June 13, causing her mother to fly into a rage.

Quebec Court Judge Sal Mascia put a publication ban on his judgment, which took him 45 minutes to read aloud.

He put no limitations on Kaleki communicating with her family from prison.

She is due back in court Aug. 30 to set a date for her preliminary hearing.

           — Hat tip: SF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Strip Criminals of French Nationality — Sarkozy

President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he wanted to strip French nationality from anyone of foreign origin who threatened the life of a police officer, in a crackdown after riots shook two French towns this month.

Speaking in Grenoble, where street violence erupted in mid-July after a local man died fleeing police after allegedly holding up a casino, Sarkozy said he also wanted to increase prison sentences for violent crimes.

“French nationality should be stripped from anybody who has threatened the life of a police officer or anybody involved in public policing,” Sarkozy said…

[Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Goes Native

This post is going to be —- again, the man just won’t stop — about David Cameron and the speed, indeed eagerness, with which he and his Government are handing powers over to Brussels. Last week’s capitulation to EU demands that foreign police will be able to travel to the United Kingdom and take part in the arrest of Britons is just the most recent of the powers Cameron is surrendering the Brussels. I will get back to all that in a moment.

But before I start, I ask you to wonder at this: somehow the prime minister was willing to sit there on Indian television yesterday and listen to demands that the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond be wrenched from the Monarch’s most spectacular crown and handed to the modern state of India. This kind of polite listening to insulting demands for Britain’s treasures to be handed to politicians who are running modern states which were not even in existence when the jewels — or the Elgin Marbles, or any of the rest — were moved to London happens now anytime a senior British politician visits one of the disgruntled countries.

Yet Cameron was in Turkey before he arrived in India. If he thinks this kind of demand merits gentlemanly consideration, I would have welcomed a demand from him to have Christianity’s greatest church, the Hagia Sophia built by the great Christian Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, handed back to Christianity by the modern Turkish government. Minus the added minarets, of course.

But, odd, that: visiting British politicians never demand the return of Western Christian treasures which were seized by Muslim powers.

Indeed, if Cameron had been up on British history when that demand about the Koh-i-Noor was made on Indian television, he could have countered that he would rather more expect the demand to come from Pakistan. The defeated maharajah from whom the diamond was taken was a ruler in what is now part of Pakistan. It is likely that the then Maharajah of Lahore got it the same way the British did: he seized it, fair and square. ‘If New Delhi is eager for the diamond to go back to its historic home,’ the prime minister should have purred, ‘would the Indian government like us to begin negotiations with the Pakistani government?’

But more, Cameron missed another trick.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

What David Cameron Doesn’t Know About Turkey

by Michael Weiss

Who said this?

Hamas are resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land. They have won an election. I have told this to U.S. officials … I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organization. I think the same today. They are defending their land.

That would be Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking before an exultant crowd a few weeks ago in the city of Konya as a newly decorated defender of regional Islamism. This is the man whom David Cameron was out to please the other day when, in a speech delivered in Ankara, he referred to Gaza as a “prison camp,” assailed Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara as “completely unacceptable,” and insisted that despite the aura of hopelessness now clinging to Turkey’s agonized bid to join the European Union, it must join it whatever the grumblings from Germany and France. Brutal occupation of Cyprus, subjugation of a Kurdish minority in everything from politics to linguistics, and ongoing denial of the Armenian genocide are evidently Maastricht-compatible initiatives to the new British prime minister, considered even by his support base not to “do” foreign policy so terribly well.

That didn’t stop a fellow Conservative, MP Daniel Hannan, from encouraging Cameron’s Obama-like overture to an increasingly hostile and subversive ally: “Cameron’s reasons for backing Ankara’s bid for EU membership are solidly Tory: Turkey guarded Europe’s flank against the Bolshevists for three generations, and may one day be called on to do the same against the jihadis.”

Except that Turkey is sponsoring the jihadists, not guarding against them-a fact which ought to have been clear to Cameron in the post-script news coverage to the flotilla crisis. The best look into Turkey’s turn toward radicalism has been provided by independent Turkish journalists who have for months been arguing that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is leading the country into the asphyxiating embrace of the East. The Islamist “lite” party, which won power in 2002, used to adhere to a policy of “zero problems with the neighbors;” today it prefers one of helping the neighbors cause problems with the West.

Consider AKP’s relationship with IHH, the Turkish “charity” that was behind the well-planned assault of Israeli commandos on board the Mavi Marmara, a ship that, it always bears repeating, carried no humanitarian aid cargo whatsoever. (Its upper-deck personnel, on the other hand, were armed and individually loaded with bundles of cash yet no forms of identification. If not jihadist by avocation, they certainly dressed the part.)

IHH, which was founded in 1992 and registered as a charity three years later, has undergone a series of transformations over the past two decades. It started out under the pretext of providing social services to the Muslim community (building mosques, helping orphans) but swiftly came under suspicion for being a liaison to al Qaeda. It has finally found a role it’s proud to own, that of being an Anatolian philanthropy for Hamas. (Ironically, Turkish authorities before the Erdogan era were the ones who did the most to scrutinize the NGO; so intense was the legal pressure brought to bear on IHH that it was even prohibited from contributing to Turkish earthquake relief efforts in 1999 and its funds were frozen in Istanbul by the then governor of the city.)

Today, IHH is a high-profile affiliate of the umbrella organization, the Union of Good, which was founded by Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to establish Hamas fundraising fronts…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Donkey’s Wild Ass Ancestor Confirmed

Five thousand years ago, in North Africa, humans formed an alliance with the wild ancestors of the donkey, twice.

This was no insignificant feat; domestication of the donkey’s ancestors helped these ancient cattle herders become more mobile and adapt as the Sahara Desert expanded. Donkeys also expanded over-land trade and contributed to the growth in the early Egypt state.

New research answers, and raises, questions about who these wild animals were and how humans brought them into the fold…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi: Parents Should Choose Sports for Their Children That Prepare Them for Jihad

Following are excerpts from an address delivered by Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi, which aired on Al-Nas TV on July 11, 2010.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit ..

Saladin’s Mother Taught Her Son To Play With A Stick And A Ball

Safwat Higazi: “Saladin’s mother taught her son how to be a mujahid and a fighter. Iban Shaddad asked Saladin: ‘What games did you play when you were a child?’ Saladin said: ‘My mother taught me how to play a game of stick and ball, and this game became my hobby and my specialty.’ This game is like the polo of today — it is played on a horse, with a stick and a ball, and the players hit the ball with the stick while riding the horse. The horses gallop with much strength and at great speed. That used to be the game of stick and ball.

“When he was young, Saladin used to play this game. His mother chose for him a sport that was suitable for Jihad. She did not choose a game like backgammon or billiards, or any other soft and laid-back game. No. She chose a sport that would teach him Jihad and fighting — the game of stick and ball, which is like polo.”

“Today… Children Sit In Front Of The Computer… And Play Games That Will Never Lead Them to Wage Jihad”

“You should choose the sport that your son will play. I’m not saying that a child should not play, but he should play a game that will benefit him when he grows up.

“Today, all our children sit in front of the computer and the PlayStation, and play games that will never lead them to wage Jihad.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: There Would be No Blockade if the People of Gaza Had Set About Building a Peaceful and Prosperous Land

Lord Mandelson’s recent reflection on Blair’s refusal to condemn Israel during its war against Hizbollah makes poignant reading this week:

“[Tony] really needed friends and it would have been easier for him to play to the gallery — but he chose not to. It speaks volumes for Tony Blair. He was not at that time prepared to make concessions to Israel’s enemies. He was not prepared to let Hizbollah off the hook by simply joining the criticism of Israel.”

David Cameron could do worse than take heed of this remark following his speech in Turkey. Playing to the gallery of the liberal media (or is it the Liberal Democrats?) is too dangerous when it simultaneously plays into the hands of the lawless, Islamist terrorists who run Gaza.

As it happens, Gaza isn’t a “prison camp”. Tom Gross has comprehensively documented why here ( and it is so rich in impeccably-sourced research that I cannot add to it, save for urging you to read the whole thing. However, to the extent that there are hardships and restrictions in Gaza, to choose to blame Israel for them (and to blame Israel alone) has the effect of squarely letting Hamas, the organisation committed by its Charter to the genocide of all Jews and international Jihad, off the hook.

You don’t need me to tell you what a despicable regime Hamas run. But let’s be clear about another thing: when Israel withdrew from Gaza, the people of Gaza could have set about building a peaceful and prosperous land, no doubt facilitated by the extraordinary international aid and goodwill that the Palestinian people enjoy. They didn’t: they voted in terrorists, their chosen regime was Islamist and lawless and Gaza swiftly became Iran’s rocket-launching pad.

So who bears the blame for a blockade? When a criminal is incarcerated to protect the innocent, doesn’t one blame the criminal rather than the jailor? Any adversity suffered by Gazans is, bluntly, the price they are paying for the elections they have made and the avowed aggressive intent of their leaders. To put it another way: if Wales voted in Hamas and started firing rockets at England, do you suppose we would think it was England’s fault that the people of Wales no longer enjoyed a liberal border policy?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

The Honorary Ottoman

May 1916 was a propitious time for the history of the Ottoman Empire — that is, for the historiography of it, not for the historic existence of the empire itself, which was about to come to a decisive end. For, by an extraordinary coincidence, the two greatest modern historians of the Ottoman world were born that month, less than a week apart: Halil Inalcik in Istanbul on May 26 and Bernard Lewis in London five days later. Even more extraordinarily, both are still going strong, in the middle of their tenth decade. It’s almost as if the leading experts on Victorian England today had been born in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Each of these two historians has exerted a huge influence, but in different ways and on mostly different subject matters. Inalcik has concentrated on the Ottoman Empire in Europe, with an emphasis on social and economic history, often grounded on the study of archival sources. Lewis has focused more on the Arab world — though he also wrote a ground-breaking study of the rise of modern Turkey. His classic book, The Muslim Discovery of Europe (Littlehampton, 1982), is concerned mainly with Ottoman contacts with Western Europe.

Over the years, Lewis has done less drudgery in the archives than Inalcik , partly because he found, early in his career, that a Jewish researcher was regarded with suspicion by the permit-issuing authorities in many Arab states. But in any case, Lewis’s interests have taken him beyond economic or administrative history into the realm of ideologies, social attitudes and ideas. He has written on anti-Semitism, Muslim attitudes to race and the “political language of Islam”, as well as the history of political movements and geopolitics. Nor has he shied away from public controversy — whether saying that the mass-murder of Armenians should not be called a genocide because it was not the product of deliberate policy, or responding with withering scorn (and compelling arguments) to the attack on “Orientalism” by Edward Said.

Since 9/11, Lewis has gained special prominence as a commentator on the origins of Muslim ressentiment against the West. He has also been described as the architect of US policy towards Iraq, which seems an exaggerated way of saying that he has been consulted by presidents and policy-makers in Washington. While his views on some things may have changed subtly over the years, he has been consistent on three points: that democracy is generally better than other forms of government; that although Arabs have little experience of democracy, they are not radically disqualified by their history or culture from developing and appreciating democratic rule; and that democracy cannot be imposed by force.

That third point could have made him an opponent, not a supporter, of the invasion of Iraq. Since the invasion, he has insisted, reasonably enough, that the attempts to create a democratic state there should be strengthened, not abandoned. But it is not clear that he ever regarded democracy-making as a sufficient justification for going to war. His writings in the build-up to the invasion suggested that two other motives were at work in his mind: changing the geopolitics of the Middle East, and demonstrating Western resolve and power. “A regime change may well be dangerous,” he wrote in late 2002, “but sometimes the dangers of inaction are greater than those of action.” Readers will have their own views on whether he got that right.

Bernard Lewis has always combined his scholarly work with addressing the general public, through media appearances, lectures and articles. Two collections of his essays have already appeared: Islam and the West (1993) reprinted 11 substantial items and From Babel to Dragomans (2004) offered more than 50 pieces, including short newspaper articles. His latest collection, Faith and Power, prints 13 essays and lectures, all of them focusing in one way or another on Islam, the nature of Islamic politics and polities and the relationship between Islam and the West.

Lewis is a lucid writer as well as a learned man, and almost everything he writes will contain something illuminating and thought-provoking. But I wonder whether he has been well served by the editor who persuaded him to put this collection together…

Faith and Power: Religion and Politics in the Middle East

Bernard Lewis

OUP, 240pp, £14.99

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Two Faces

There is a non-Arab Middle Eastern country that has occupied foreign territory by force for more than three decades — and nobody else recognises that occupation. That same country has denied its national minorities such basic rights as cultural autonomy and has prevented them from using their own languages. A ruthless war has been raging against a self-appointed national liberation movement, which it calls terrorists. Not infrequently, it has launched brutal cross-border raids in pursuit of the said “terrorists”, without bothering to ask its neighbours for permission. And it has blockaded a landlocked neighbour as punishment for a long-standing conflict tinged with the memory of a genocide that the blockading party denies ever happened.

If you thought I was describing Israel you’d be wrong: it’s Turkey. Turkey occupied Northern Cyprus in 1974, later supporting a separate Turkish-speaking republic there that is recognised by no one except Ankara. Turkey has also fought the Kurdish PKK in a ruthless war that has seen tens of thousands killed. While fighting the PKK — in Iraq — Turkey has been reluctant to recognise Kurdish autonomy at home. Not only is separatism not indulged but the very notion of a separate Kurdish identity is dismissed. Kurds cannot teach and learn in their own language, while their national identity is routinely suppressed.

Turkey is reluctant (to put it mildly) to confront its past and still won’t accept its genocide against the Armenians. Now comes Turkey’s harsh criticism of Israel, before and after the Gaza flotilla incident in June. You may notice a tinge of hypocrisy. Naturally, Turks of all political stripes will object to at least some of the above. The PKK are terrorists, without the inverted commas — and it is hard to fight terrorism within the constraints of international law and human rights. Israel wouldn’t disagree.

Turkey intervened in Cyprus in 1974 in order to rescue ethnic Turks after a military coup engineered by the Greek military junta. While the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus might be little more than political fiction, one cannot ignore its existence or the needs and wishes of its 250,000 citizens. Still, as far as the EU is concerned, Northern Cyprus is EU territory under Turkish military occupation.

On the Armenians, Turkey remains understandably opposed to determining history by foreign parliamentary resolutions. But it is a little more open to the idea of an unbiased historical inquiry into the events of 1915, there is room for improvement. There are, in short, many parallels between Turkish conduct and what Israel stands accused of by Ankara. Turkey does not have cast-iron justification for its behaviour. It has legitimate excuses perhaps, but they do not place it on the moral high ground from which it can lecture others on human rights, justice, peace and international law.

In years gone by, Turkey’s own fight against the PKK meant it avoided lecturing Israel on its approach to terror. The Turkey-Israel strategic alliance was based on similar predicaments and common enemies. The rise of an Islamist government in Ankara has changed all that. The only reason why Turkey felt it could turn its back on its erstwhile ally and engineer a crisis in the Mediterranean is its political orientation.

Europeans may find it difficult, in the short term, to understand the flotilla incident other than in the romantic terms of a harmless group of peace activists being attacked by ruthless Israeli commandos. The EU may use the events to redouble its largely pointless effort to promote peace in our time in the Middle East. Beyond the teary-eyed response of the European commentariat, there is a longer- term issue that sooner or later Europe will have to address. Ankara is slowly starting to look and act more like an Islamist government. As its Cold War Atlanticism morphs into a foreign policy adversarial to Western interests, Turkish relations with Russia and Iran point increasingly to irreconcilable differences with Nato.

Turkey used to be the West’s best answer to the rise of radical Islam and the lack of democracy in the Muslim world. Its role in the flotilla incident should be a wake-up call for those still convinced of that. Turkey has joined the radicals and in so doing it has both eroded domestic democracy and harmed Western interests in the region. Ankara should be made to pay a price. Losing Turkey should not be the goal of Nato. But Turkey must choose — and the West should offer Ankara no discounts.

Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ankara’s Proxy

At the heart of Israel’s deadly raid of the Mavi Marmara on May 31 is the Turkish charity Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (I.H.H.), the “Free Gaza” flotilla’s lead organiser. But the extent to which I.H.H. has been enabled and underwritten by the Turkish government has been increasingly scrutinized by international observers over the past several months and for good reason. In the aftermath of the violent showdown on the high seas, which left nine Turkish passengers dead and a number of Israeli commandos critically injured, Turkey’s parliament passed a resolution to “reconsider economic and military relations” with the Jewish state, a decades-long ally. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, returning to Istanbul after an emergency meeting with Hillary Clinton, blamed Israel alone for the confrontation and accused it of committing a “crime against humanity.” But the most incendiery rhetoric came from Turkish Prime Minister R ecep Tayyip Erdogan himself.

Recent months have seen a weakening of the once assured Israeli-Turkish relationship almost to the point of dissolution and in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara clash, Erdogan has not only depicted Israel as an anathema, worse than “bullies and pirates,” but also full-throatedly endorsed its main clerical enemy in the Levant. “Hamas are resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land,” he told an ecstatic anti-Israel rally a few weeks ago in the Turkish city of Konya. “They have won an election. I have told this to US officials… I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organization. I think the same today. They are defending their land.”

Most of Turkey’s independent political class see domestic and international calculation behind this bluster, a way for Erdogan to shore up Islamist credibility in advance of an upcoming election and reposition Ankara as a renascent power broker in the Middle East — Iran’s chief competiton for that role. One writer for the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet observed that, it’s “almost as if [Erodgan] was waiting for a new crisis with Israel to be able to work the streets in order to regain some of the political ground his ruling Justice and Development Party has been loosing over bread and butter issues at home.”

But this raises the fundamental question of why a country that is both an ally of the United States and Nato as well as an aspiring member of the European Union would brazenly declare its solidarity with a terrorist group outlawed by both. The answer lies in the increasingly Islamist nature of Erodgan’s regime as well as the complicated relationship his party AKP has enjoyed with I.H.H., a suddenly infamous non-governmental organisation that acts more like a governmental one. Its evolution has been from a rogue and highly suspect charity into the advance guard of a new Turkish foreign policy.

I.H.H. was established in 1992 and registered as a charity in Istanbul in 1995. Its declared purpose was performing Muslim social services (helping orphans, building mosques, monitoring human rights abuses) but it swiftly came under the suspicion of the Turkish authorities for the alleged involvement of its senior leadership in global terrorism. In 1997, Turkish police raided its headquarters in Istanbul and arrested a number of its top men after they uncovered weapons, explosives, and bomb-making instructions as well as a “jihadist flag.” According to the investigating authorities, “detained members of I.H.H. were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.” At this time I.H.H. was labelled a “fundamentalist organisation” by Ankara and even banned as a registered charity from contributing to the relief effort of an devastating earthquake that struck the city of Izmit in August 1999. The governor of Istanbul froze the NGO’s b ank accounts, telling the Washington Post: “All legal institutions may have some illegal connections. This might be the case here. If they don’t like it, they can appeal in court.”

However, the most comprehensive indictment of I.H.H. has come from the former French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière, who now oversees the U.S. Treasury Department’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Eastern Africa Polio-Free, But Cases Found in Russia

Eastern Africa is free of polio again, with four countries — Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda — having reported no cases of the crippling disease for more than a year, U.N. and other aid agencies said on Friday.

But the virus appears to have spread from Tajikistan, where it has paralysed 437 children since April, to infect 6 ethnic Tajiks in Russia, according to the World Health Organisation.

“It was detected in a few individuals in Russia in Tajik communities. An investigation is going on, we don’t know where infection took place,” WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told Reuters.

Russia’s last confirmed case of polio was in 1996, but if the investigation shows the victims were infected in Tajikistan, they would be classified as part of the epidemic there, he said…

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Floods Kill More Than 400 in Pakistan’s Northwest

Three days of torrential rains caused rivers to burst their banks in several places and unleashed widespread destruction in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, destroying houses, bridges, schools, roads and railway tracks.

“According to initial reports received from all districts, 408 people have so far been killed” since Wednesday, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in the provincial capital of Peshawar.

“We fear the death toll will rise once the water recedes. We are facing the worst disaster in the history of our province.”…

[Return to headlines]

Official Rejects Claim Wikileaks Offered Document Review

A claim by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the U.S. government had an opportunity to review stolen military documents published on the group’s website is untrue, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

“It’s absolutely false that WikiLeaks contacted the White House and offered to have them look through the documents,” Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said.

The website recently published tens of thousands of classified documents spanning the timeframe January 2004 through December 2009 that reportedly were given to several U.S. and international media outlets weeks ago. The documents detail field reports from Afghanistan and an alleged Pakistani partnership with the Taliban. The documents also include names of Afghan informants who work or have worked with the U.S. military.

Assange told “ABC Lateline” in Australia last night that WikiLeaks and several media groups contacted the White House prior to releasing the documents for assistance in reviewing them to make sure innocent names were not released. White House officials declined, he said.

He added that White House officials were not given “veto” power, but were given an opportunity help WikiLeaks minimize potential danger to informants and innocent civilians named in the cables. The New York Times acted on behalf of WikiLeaks, he said.

“We never had the opportunity to look at any of the documents in advance to determine anything,” Lapan said. “The documents were brought to the attention of the White House, but no copies of documents, or opportunities to review were given.”

[Return to headlines]

Viewpoint: Afghan War Logs, War Crimes and Hypocrisy

Carmel Gould

It is difficult not to resort to worn phrases like ‘double standards’ when comparing the British media reaction to the contents of the Afghan war logs with its reaction to (any) Israeli military action. The basic equation is: Israeli operation which results in civilian deaths equals ‘war crimes’ and ‘disproportionate use of force’; Nato operation which results in civilian deaths equals nothing of the sort.

The over-arching theme in media coverage of the Gaza flotilla raid (May 2010), the Dubai assassination (January 2010) and the ongoing discussion of the Gaza conflict (2008/9) has been the question of legality, or, more specifically, the suspicion of criminality of the part of the State of Israel. Was Israel’s boarding of the Mavi Marmara in international waters a war crime? Was its use of force against passengers disproportionate? Did the IDF commit war crimes in Gaza? Should Israeli officers be arrested for war crimes should they dare to visit the UK?

Followers of Middle East affairs will be desensitised to the media fixation with such questions. The crux of the matter is the underlying assumption that where alleged non-combatants have died at the hands of Israel, a crime must have been committed. So, with the release of 90,000 previously concealed records documenting the war in Afghanistan, including numerous incidents of the killing of Afghan civilians by Nato soldiers, we might have expected a similar narrative.

Not so. Of 52 articles published on the websites of BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times on 25 and 26 July (the first two days of reportage), not one cited the international legal concept of ‘proportionality’. Hence, no accusations of ‘disproportionate’ force against Nato troops.

Likewise, the term ‘war crimes’ — omnipresent in any discussion of Israel’s conduct in Gaza — was notably near-absent. Only eight articles mentioned the term, all but one of these referring directly to the claim by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that troops may have killed civilians unlawfully.

Incredibly, The Guardian’s dedicated webpage containing 23 articles only made two references to possible war crimes and neither appeared in the section called ‘The death toll’ which focused on civilian deaths.

Of six BBC News articles, only one mentioned the issue of ‘war crimes,’ again, when relating the claims by Assange. In its ‘selection’ of the log contents, ‘Civilians in the firing line’ came seventh out of a list of nine topics. ‘War crimes’ and ‘proportionality’ were not mentioned.

These findings point to a genuine double standard whereby the spectre of international law violations is raised by the media on an extremely selective basis. Why has the media not reflexively fixated on the question of whether Nato soldiers are war criminals in the way that they have done, and continue to do, regarding Israeli soldiers? Why are the Afghan civilians not held up as victims of the violations of the laws of war by UK troops?

The inconsistency here should not be dismissed or ignored. International law ought to be politically blind, not used to single out and exceptionalise the conduct of an unpopular country, only to be downplayed when such talk might be inconvenient.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Islamists Spread Terror Message

AN Islamist website based in Australia is co-hosting an international forum this weekend.

It is described by a London research centre as an “online conference of global terrorists”.

The forum, to be streamed live on the Australian-registered website Authentic Tawheed, will feature a line-up of speakers known for their militant teachings and links with al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups.

They include British-based cleric Abdullah el-Faisal, who was previously a translator for British al-Qa’ida leader Abu Qatada, and who was deported from Britain in 2007 after being convicted of inciting racial hatred and urging his followers to kill non-Muslims.

The forum will “examine the current war against Islam and Muslims, and ask for how much longer can the kuffar (non-believers) fight against the deen (religion) of Islam, and the necessary steps needed for victory”. A starting time of midnight tonight in Sydney is advertised.

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The keynote speech, titled Conquest of Washington, will be delivered by militant sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad, who British authorities accuse of mentoring several men convicted of terrorism-related offences. He fled Britain for Lebanon after the London 7/7 bombings and is barred from returning.

The London think tank the Centre for Social Cohesion says authorities in Australia and elsewhere should move to prevent such events.

“Convicted terrorists and Islamist hate preachers are regularly using internet chat forums and websites registered to the US and Australia to circumvent anti-terrorism measures,” says the centre’s director, Douglas Murray.

“Anti-terrorism measures are used to convict hate preachers and stop incitement to terrorism by proscribing organisations, as well as barring individuals from entering the UK. However, these same hate preachers can use websites registered outside the UK with impunity.

“Chatrooms are increasingly being used . . . to disseminate a violent Islamist ideology from virtually any country. Governments worldwide need to develop policies to combat this threat.”

The Authentic Tawheed (tawheed is an Islamic concept referring to the oneness of God) site was registered last month through an internet service provider in Brisbane. It has links to downloadable books and sermons by a range of militant clerics, including the US-born, Yemen-based Anwar al-Awlaki, who is accused by the US government of inspiring the Fort Hood military base shooting in Texas last November and the botched Christmas Day airline bombing in Detroit a month later.

It also has a link to a US-registered site,, which contains a page endorsing suicide attacks.

The former head of international counter-terrorism for the British police Special Branch, Nick O’Brien, who now heads terrorism studies at Charles Sturt University, says Australian authorities should monitor the forum.

“There is a balance between the right of freedom of speech and encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism or violence,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Australia: People Smugglers Go Free

PEOPLE smugglers rescued with 81 desperate passengers northwest of Christmas Island on Wednesday night will escape prosecution because they are classified as “rescued mariners” not illegal entrants.

The four Indonesian sailors yesterday arrived at the island with their 81 clients after their vessel, No. 150 since Labor was elected, was located by a RAAF P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft late on Wednesday, apparently taking on water about 120km northwest of Christmas Island.

Photos show passengers wearing life jackets, although the vessel does not appear to be low in the water.

The arrival coincides with a crackdown by the military, which threatens to jail anyone who leaks information about boat arrivals to the media.

Agents from the Defence Security Agency are investigating how News Limited, publishers of The Daily Telegraph, obtained a signal known as a FRAGO (fragmented operational order) warning crews about the legalities of dealing with vessels in distress outside Australian waters.

Detailed intelligence had indicated that the latest boat would arrive in Australian waters earlier on Wednesday, but when it didn’t show up the plane set out to locate it.

When it was found, the Navy patrol boats HMAS Broome and HMAS Armidale steamed to the rescue and transferred the 85 people from the stricken vessel.

The crew will be dealt with under Safety of Life At Sea laws and not the Migration Act, thus avoiding jail time.

The latest arrivals come after revelations last week that an election campaign surge was about to begin and that people smugglers had changed tactics to avoid prosecution.

It is understood that the latest 81 arrivals were mainly males between 18 and 50, with half from Sri Lanka and the remainder Afghan and Iraqi.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a slip of the tongue when questioned on the boat yesterday, apparently confusing East Timor with Nauru.

“I don’t want to stop boats at sea, I want to stop them leaving shore and setting sail in the first place. That’s why I outlined my plans for a regional processing centre and why we commenced the dialogue with Nauru,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

UK: Migrants Will End Up Driving Our Population Higher Than Germany’s

Britain is destined to become the most heavily populated country in Europe, U.S. experts predicted yesterday. They said that in 40 years’ time Germany will have lost its position as the European country with the highest number of people, which it has held since it was founded as a unified country 140 years ago. While Britain’s population will have climbed close to 80million, there will be just 71.5million Germans in 2050, a report said.

The estimates from the U.S. pressure group Population Reference Bureau follow the disclosure earlier this week that a third of all the population growth in Europe is now concentrated in Britain.

The figures supplied by the U.S. organisation say that Germany’s population will have fallen by 11million by 2050, thanks to its falling birth rates and low levels of immigration. But in Britain — where numbers will reach 70million in 2029 according to official projections — there will be 77million people by 2050, the report said.

In comparison, France, the next most populous European nation, will have seen numbers climb from the current 66.1million to just 70million. Both France and Germany currently have far more people than the 62million estimated numbers in Britain. But neither has the high immigration levels which mean numbers in this country are rising much faster than anywhere else on the continent.

Official estimates say that around two thirds of population growth in Britain is a result of high immigration. The latest predictions of the effects of immigration and population growth came as David Cameron tried to put an end to Coalition differences by insisting there will be a cap on numbers coming into the country.

European figures earlier this week showed that numbers in Britain swelled by 412,000 in 2009, almost a third of all population growth in the 27 EU countries. Yesterday ministers disclosed a Whitehall analysis which showed 100,000 new homes will be required each year for the next 25 years simply to cope with the numbers of immigrants arriving in the country.

The Population Reference Bureau, which campaigns for the spread of contraception as a means of controlling population numbers around the world, published figures similar to those first calculated by the United Nations last year. The UN accepted official British estimates that the population of this country will grow by 174,000 a year as a result of migration. But in Germany migration will add only 110,000 a year to the population while birth rates are falling, and in France, migration will mean an extra 100,000 people each year.

Frank Field and Nicholas Soames, the backbench Labour and Tory MPs who head the Cross-Party Group on Balanced Migration, said in a statement that it was necessary to restrict immigration.

‘If this is to be achieved, whilst retaining the flexibility that our economy needs, we must ensure that economic migration no longer confers an almost automatic right to settle here.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Antarctica Experiment Discovers Puzzling Space Ray Pattern

A puzzling pattern in the cosmic rays bombarding Earth from space has been discovered by an experiment buried deep under the ice of Antarctica.

Cosmic rays are highly energetic particles streaming in from space that are thought to originate in the distant remnants of dead stars.

But it turns out these particles are not arriving uniformly from all directions. The new study detected an overabundance of cosmic rays coming from one part of the sky, and a lack of cosmic rays coming from another.

This odd pattern was detected by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, an experiment still under construction that is actually intended to detect other exotic particles called neutrinos. In fact, scientists have gone out of their way to try to block out all signals from cosmic rays in order to search for the highly elusive neutrinos, which are much harder to find.

Yet in sifting through their cosmic-ray data to try to separate it from possible neutrino signals, the researchers noticed the intriguing pattern.

“IceCube was not built to look at cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are considered background,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Rasha Abbasi in a statement. “However, we have billions of events of background downward cosmic rays that ended up being very exciting.”

Previous studies have found a similar lopsidedness (called anisotropy) in the sky over the Northern Hemisphere, but this was the first time scientists saw that the pattern extended to the southern sky visible from Antarctica.

“At the beginning, we didn’t know what to expect,” Abbasi said. “To see this anisotropy extending to the Southern Hemisphere sky is an additional piece of the puzzle around this enigmatic effect — whether it’s due to the magnetic field surrounding us or to the effect of a nearby supernova remnant, we don’t know.”

One idea to explain the asymmetry is that a star may have recently died in a supernova explosion relatively nearby, and its remnant may be pouring out loads of cosmic rays that would dominate the signals we receive.

Whether or not the mystery gets solved, the observations could help scientists understand more about how cosmic rays are formed in the first place. Growing consensus favors the supernova remnant idea, though the details are not hammered out. Scientists think that the shells around dead stars, made of puffed-out layers of gas that were expelled by the star before it exploded, contain strong magnetic fields that may act as cosmic particle accelerators, speeding up particles to close to the speed of light.

“This is exciting because this effect could be the ‘smoking gun’ for our long-sought understanding of the source of high-energy cosmic rays,” Abbasi said.

IceCube’s findings on cosmic rays are detailed in a paper published Aug. 1 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Yorkshireminer said...

Cameron is a bloody idiot, I get fed up by our Politician showing there ignorance he should have told this load of Wankers (People who have a masturbatory obcession) to go and take a ?. The Koh-i-Noor diamond was given to Britain legally and If my memory severs me correctly was included in the peace treaty ending the first Sikh War in 1845, it was legally acquired and if there are any Greeks reading this whistle for the Elgin Marbles Elgin bought them they were not stolen and when he bought them you were not bloody interested in looking after them. End of rant.