Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100816

Financial Crisis
»Are You Ready for How Bad it Will Get?
»Brussels Rebukes Slovakia Over Greek U-Turn
»China Favors Euro Over Dollar as Bernanke Alters Path
»Croatia: Real Estate Sector Prices Dropping
»Audio: Hamas Chief on 9/11 Mosque: ‘Islam Must Build Everywhere’
»Chuck Norris: Obama: Muslim Missionary?
»Frank Gaffney: Obama’s ‘Teachable’ Shariah Moment
»Hamas Boss Stirs World’s News With Islam Plan
»Islam Means the End of Religious Freedom
»Mich. School Practices 11 P.M. To 4 a.M.
»Scathing Congress Report Slams Obama’s ‘Covert, Criminal Activity’
»Top 10 States With Highest Cases of Syphilis for 2009
»Top Climate Scientists Speak Out on the Satellitegate Scandal
»Triumph Fades on Racial Gap in City Schools
Europe and the EU
»Assange: Swedish Press Freedoms ‘Most Proven’
»Germany: Why the 9/11 Mosque Was Closed
»Germany: No Angels Singer Admits to Sex While HIV Positive
»Ireland: Garda Issue Warning Over Online Racism
»Netherlands: Veiled Women Cause Concern About Airport Security
»Netherlands: More Christian Democrats Trust Wilders
»Spain: Bullfighting; Catalonia’s Ban Countered by French Town
»Sweden: Security Beefed Up for Sahlin Due to Threats
»UK: Councils Pay for Disabled to Visit Prostitutes and Lap-Dancing Clubs From £520m Taxpayer Fund
»UK: Domino’s Pizza Scraps Halal Menu
»UK: It Beggars Belief: How the Fake Homeless Are Raking in More Than £20,000 a Year
»UK: Police Told Not to Pursue Stolen Motorbikes… Because Thieves Weren’t Wearing Helmets and Might Get Hurt
»Kosovo Recognition Not a ‘Pandora’s Box, ‘ Thaci Tells EU
»Serbia: Tourist Bus Stoned in Muslim-Majority Sandzak Region
Israel and the Palestinians
»Arab League Sends 16 Dialysis Machines to Gaza
»Bosnian Serb Leader Condemns Turkey’s Activities in Bosnia
»Hamas: NYC Mosque Must be Built
»Israeli Air Force, F-35 Future of Combat Planes
Middle East
»August 21 Deadline for an Israeli Attack on Iranian Nukes
»Lebanon: Yacht and Jewel Imports From Italy on Rise
»Lebanese-Syrian Shared Industrial Zone Under Study
»Obama Warns Turkish PM Over Stance on Israel, Iran
»Saudi Arabia: Text Message to Warn of Women’s Departure
»Saudi Arabia: The Towers of Barbarism
»Shocking Images of Dead Kurdish Fighters: Turkey Accused of Using Chemical Weapons Against PKK
»Turkey: Donkey Prices Skyrocket After Council Announcement
»‘Viva Palestina’ Gaza Flotilla to Sail’
»‘Blocked’ Jetstream to Blame for Freak Weather in Russia and Pakistan, Say Scientists
South Asia
»Taliban ‘Kill Adulterous Afghan Couple’ In Marketplace
»Thailand: British Kickboxer Hunted on Thai Island Paradise After US Marine Stabbed to Death ‘Following Bar Brawl’
Australia — Pacific
»NZ: 100-Year-Old Scotch Pulled From Frozen Crate
»Italy: 23% of New Jobs to Immigrants
»Sarkozy Faces Backlash Over Roma Expulsions
»Men Paid Less Than Their Wives Are ‘Five Times More Likely to Cheat’
»Mystery of Most Common Contact Allergy Solved
»Why Warming is Falsely Reported When World is Cooling

Financial Crisis

Are You Ready for How Bad it Will Get?

For months now I have averred that the US economy was not in recovery and that in point of fact all talk of “recovery” was a load of BS. I realize this view is far from the consensus. Even those who are in the bear camp aver that the Stimulus did in fact bring us out of recession at least temporarily.

However, I would strongly contend that the recovery was in fact non-existent for the following reasons:

1. The Government data used to validate the recovery (GPD, unemployment, etc) is clearly massaged if not bordering on outright propaganda

2. We are in fact in a depression and the “recovery” was simply a bounce in economic activity taking place within the context of a larger economy contraction

Regarding #1, every Government data point used in promoting the “recovery” had some degree of fudging in it. Let’s consider GDP for instance.

There are numerous devious tactics used to overstate GDP growth, however, the most obvious gimmick the BLS uses is overstating GPD growth in the present and then revising it lower in the subsequent quarters.

A perfect example of this is the latest GDP numbers which featured large revisions of the first two quarters of the alleged “recovery”: 3Q09’s GDP growth was revised down from 2.2% to 1.6% and 4Q09’s GDP growth was revised down from 5.6% to 5%.

In my opinion, these revisions occur because the Feds greatly overstate GDP growth via numerous gimmicks and then revise the numbers to be more in-line with reality after the fact.

For an example of how the Feds overstate GDP in the present, consider the recent 2Q10 GDP growth numbers. According to last Friday’s announcement, second quarter GDP growth came in at 2.4%. However, several portions of this growth are questionable to say the least.


In plain terms, this latest economic contraction is a different beast than anything we’ve seen before. Placing it in the context of a normal recession, particularly a “double dip” recession, is ridiculous as it is clearly a full-scale Depression broken up by a brief bounce (which was brought about by Global stimulus spending greater than that of WWI, WWII, and the New Deal combined).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Brussels Rebukes Slovakia Over Greek U-Turn

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — The European Commission has sharply rebuked Slovakia for backing out of its promise to loan Greece €816 million as part of a wider EU-IMF rescue package.

“The eurogroup’s decision [to create the Greek bail-out fund] was a crucial act at a critical moment to safeguard financial stability of the euro area as a whole, including Slovakia. I can only regret this breach of solidarity within the euro area and I expect the eurogroup and the [economic and finance ministers’] Council to return to the matter in their next meeting,” economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement on Wednesday [11 August].

He stressed that Slovakia’s decision does not jeopardise the whole €110 billion EU-IMF package: “This development does not put in danger the loan to and the reform programme of Greece, which is proceeding rigourously.”

The Finnish politician’s remarks come after Slovakia’s new centre-right government in a parliamentary vote earlier the same day overturned the previous centre-left administration’s Greek deal.

The vote crushed the Greek loan by 69 to two.

Speaking in parliament, Slovak finance minister Ivan Miklos criticised the unfairness of poorer countries being roped in to bail out richer ones and euro area policy makers’ lack of accountability.

“I do not consider it solidarity if it is solidarity between the poor and the rich, of the responsible with the irresponsible, or of tax payers with bank owners and managers,” he said. “It’s true the top politicians in the eurozone are not excited by our position and that we have irritated them quite a lot. But this is only because they have been creating alibis for themselves and we have held up their behaviour to a mirror.”

At the same time, Slovak deputies on Wednesday did back the country’s participation in the eurozone’s overarching €750 billion rainy day fund, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), a commitment that puts them on the hook for €4.4 billion.

Mr Miklos said countries which consistently break EU stability rules should be allowed to go the wall under a “clear mechanism of a managed default,” however.

Slovakia became the 16th eurozone member in 2009, being the first former Communist EU country to take the step. Estonia is to become the 17th member next year but has no obligations to join the Greek fund or the EFSF.

All countries joining the single currency have to meet the same fiscal criteria. But actual levels of wealth vary widely within the zone, with Luxemburgers by far the richest and with Slovaks 23 percent less well-off than Greeks on average.

A spokesman for Mr Rehn told EUobsever that Slovakia will not face any legal penalty for its Greek u-turn but should expect unspecified “political consequences.”

He noted that eurozone countries will have to re-calculate the Greek package, which was based on 16 contributors and now has 15. “There is no sign that any other member state should follow the same direction [as Slovakia] …I don’t think it is legally possible, as they have all completed the formalities,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Favors Euro Over Dollar as Bernanke Alters Path

China, whose $2.45 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves are the world’s largest, is turning bullish on Europe and Japan at the expense of the U.S.

The nation has been buying “quite a lot” of European bonds, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China who was part of a foreign-policy advisory committee that visited France, Spain and Germany from June 20 to July 2. Japan’s Ministry of Finance said Aug. 9 that China bought 1.73 trillion yen ($20.1 billion) more Japanese debt than it sold in the first half of 2010, the fastest pace of purchases in at least five years.

“Diversification should be a basic principle,” Yu said in an interview, adding a “top-level Chinese central banker” told him to convey to European policy makers China’s confidence in the region’s economy and currency. “We didn’t sell any European bonds or assets, instead we bought quite a lot.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Croatia: Real Estate Sector Prices Dropping

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, AUGUST 16 — Croatia’s real estate market is in decline, though not markedly so. According to the figures reported on the site specialising in real estate sales, the average price for a new apartment in Zagreb in the month of July dropped by 0.2% compared with last June, while on the Adriatic coast prices dropped by 0.9%. At an annual level, Zagreb prices dropped by 3.5%, those on the Adriatic by 4.7%. According to the data released by the Office for Strategic Planning and Development for Zagreb, in the first three months of the year underway 297 new apartments were built (-80%), while in the same period of last year 1,365 had been built. The average price for a new apartment in Zagreb totals 1,851 euros per square metre (-3.5% compared with 2009), while on the Adriatic coast prices stood at 1,951 euros per square metre (-1.7%). The Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) office in Zagreb also noted that prices on the coast vary from one city to the next. In Pola, the average cost of an apartment is 1,400 euros per square metre, ni Rovigno 3,000 euros, in Fiume 1,700, and in Ragusa 3,500, while prices were lower in Slavonia, coming in at around 1,000 euros per square metre in Osijek. For the second half of 2010, real estate prices in Croatia are expected to drop further, accompanied by a high level of stagnation in the real estate market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Audio: Hamas Chief on 9/11 Mosque: ‘Islam Must Build Everywhere’

Terror-group leader: Muslims in U.S., around world united in common cause

Two days after President Obama came out in support of a plan to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero, the controversial project has received yet another high-profile endorsement — this one from the chief of the terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places,” stated Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is regarded as the chief of the group in Gaza.

Zahar said that as Muslims, “We have to build everywhere.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Chuck Norris: Obama: Muslim Missionary?

Unlike any other time in U.S. history, our First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion are in jeopardy. As if recently passed “hate-crime” laws and a politically correct culture weren’t bad enough, now our president is using international pressure and possibly law to establish a prohibition against insulting Islam or Muslims.

Let me remind us how we got here.

Speaking for most founders in his day, John Jay, America’s first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by George Washington himself, said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Two hundred years later, President Obama has already denied America’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage before the eyes and ears of other countries, as he publicly declared in Turkey on April 6, 2009, for the whole world to hear: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Obama’s ‘Teachable’ Shariah Moment

On Friday night, Barack Obama gave his full-throated endorsement to a mosque and “cultural center” on private property that has been purchased in Lower Manhattan adjacent to the site where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood. By Saturday, however, he wanted the American people to know that he was not commenting on “the wisdom” of putting such a mosque by that hallowed ground — just “the right” of its backers like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to do it, pursuant to the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom.

Unfortunately for the President — but fortunately for the country — it is too late for such ludicrous contortions and dissembling. However much Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats now regret his original White House statement, it has created a “teachable moment.” Not just about the Ground Zero mosque but about the larger enterprise it is intended to serve: bringing the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran, shariah, to America.

Imam Rauf makes no bones about that being his purpose. So do some of his most prominent backers, like the Muslim Brotherhood front, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Brotherhood’s Palestinian franchise, the designated terrorist group Hamas. In fact, according to the New York Post, on Sunday, Mahmoud al-Zahar, an Hamas co-founder and leader in Gaza, told WABC Radio host Aaron Klein: “We have to build the mosque [at Ground Zero]. We have to build everywhere. In every area we have [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray and this mosque is the only site of prayer.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Hamas Boss Stirs World’s News With Islam Plan

Word of terror chieftain’s blunt comments, which mirror president’s recent remarks, spreading fast

News agencies around the world are blasting the stunning admission by a Hamas co-founder who — echoing President Obama’s recent controversial comments — argued that a mosque must go up near Ground Zero.

“We have to build everywhere,” Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of the terror group and leader of its Gaza Strip faction, said on air Sunday to Aaron Klein, WND Jerusalem bureau chief and host of “Investigative Radio” on WABC New York.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islam Means the End of Religious Freedom

At an Iftar dinner in the White House, Barack Hussein Obama proclaimed that he supports the building of the Ground Zero mosque as part of his “unshakable commitment to religious freedom”. Which of course sounds very noble and good, until you ask a single question, Where is the religious freedom in the Muslim world?

Obama has made the case for Islam in America, on the grounds that America’s religious diversity promotes the religious freedom of all. Islam no less than any other belief system. Yet if introducing Islam into America promotes religious freedom, then why is there no religious freedom in the Muslim world? Why are churches firebombed in Malaysia because Christians presumed to use the word Allah? Why are non-Muslims forbidden to enter the city of Mecca, from which Jews and Christians were ethnically cleansed by Mohammed? Why are Coptic Christians being oppressed and humiliated by the Egyptian government? Why are Muslims murdering Buddhist teachers in Thailand? There are a thousand examples, all of which add up to a single conclusion— Muslims demand religious freedom, yet are not willing to give it to others…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Mich. School Practices 11 P.M. To 4 a.M.

DEARBORN, Mich. — A Michigan high school football team is holding preseason practices in the middle of the night to help its Muslim players practice both faith and football.

The predominantly Muslim squad from Dearborn says the nocturnal regimen is a way for players to eat and drink while observing the holy month of daytime fasting known as Ramadan that started last week.

The August heat also played a factor in Fordson High coach Fouad Zaban’s proposal to reverse the clock for a week of two-a-day practices.

It was nearly 1 a.m. when Kamel Farajthrows of the Fordson High School junior varsity team delivered a pass during practice last week.

Cutting practice wasn’t an option at football-crazy Fordson, which is coming off a one-loss season and has won four state titles and three runner-up seasons since it was established in 1928.

But nobody wanted to lessen the significance of Ramadan in the Detroit suburb widely known as the capital of Arab-America.

The moonlight practice is tailored for Adnan Restum and fellow Muslim teammates.

Illuminated by the night lights on the football field, Restum recently joined a scrum of teammates at the end-zone water fountain, taking a break from a grueling preseason football workout to guzzle a drink.

In just a few hours, he wouldn’t be able to take a sip. But the 17-year-old defensive tackle could rehydrate guilt-free during the 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. practice, and succumb to tempting boxes full of granola bars and chocolate milk, too.

“It feels really great,” said Restum, who has been fasting since he was about 10. “If we’re doing it during the day, we wouldn’t have water and it would be really hot and everything.”

Zaban proposed the late practices after realizing the rotating Ramadan would fall squarely during the start of a two-a-day practice schedule that launches football season.

Zaban, 40, a Muslim and former Fordson player, knows the high stakes. When Ramadan falls during football season, the players practice during daylight hours. But with August’s heat and doubled practice schedule, concerns grew about players’ health, particularly the high risk of heat stroke.

“We know how hot it’s been this summer — it’s not safe,” Zaban said.

Working it out meant getting the approval of school and district administrators and the blessings of players, parents and police. Then, there were the residents in the surrounding neighborhood, who would hear more noise and see the illuminated field. So he sent letters explaining the decision.

Zaban is unaware of such schedule switches elsewhere, though other teams at the school and in the district have moved practices earlier or later in the day. It’s been more than three decades since Ramadan last fell during football preseason and Fordson’s Muslim population was far smaller then — and, he notes, there were no field lights.

Zaban said the goal has been to let players break the fast at sundown and go to the mosque, and get players out in time for a meal and morning prayer before sunrise. The field is near bustling bakeries, cafes and restaurants catering to late-night customers.

But first, there are drills.

“Keep running! Heads up!” Zaban yelled while leading a passing drill. And, when a receiver flubbed a one-handed catch, the coach barked, “Hey, two hands!” The result was 20 push-ups.

Zaban said whether players fast is a personal choice and never an issue raised by him or his staff. Still, he says, it shouldn’t be an excuse for poor performance for the roughly 95 percent who do.

He ended the session before 4 a.m. with a message to the huddled, padded masses to “drink lots of water,” “get a good meal in,” and “man up.”

Defensive tackle William Powell, one of the team’s few non-Muslims, initially thought the coach was “out of his mind,” but he’s come around. In fact, he’s even fasted.

“I’m around ‘em, so I’ve tried a couple times but it’s hard,” the 17-year-old said.

For Rami Fakih, a wide receiver and defensive back, the nocturnal regimen has taken some adjustment but for different reasons. The brother of recently crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih said he had to think twice before hitting the fountain.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Then I remembered, you know. I looked up. There’s no sun. I can drink. I can eat.”

With that, he walked off the field and into the darkness with plans to grab a quick bite with friends at a local bakery.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Scathing Congress Report Slams Obama’s ‘Covert, Criminal Activity’

President charged with illegally using taxpayer money to manipulate public

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a scathing staff report today charging that the White House has “used the machinery of the Obama campaign to tout the president’s agenda through inappropriate and sometimes unlawful public relations and propaganda initiatives.”

An advance pre-publication copy of the report, shared by Issa’s Washington office with WND, accuses the White House of nothing short of criminal activity. It charges the Obama administration with violating federal laws to advance what the Government Accounting Office has characterized as an unlawful “covert campaign,” using federal resources “to activate a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign.”

Pulling no punches, the Oversight Republican Report accuses the Obama White House of “violating federal law prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for publicity or propaganda purposes.”

“The White house has failed to transition from campaign mode to leadership mode and is now inappropriately leveraging those campaign-trail relationships to unlawfully generate support for the president’s agenda,” the report concludes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Top 10 States With Highest Cases of Syphilis for 2009

Several cases of both primary and secondary syphilis have been traced all over the world. For 2009 alone, in the US, records show 5,830 cases. The top 10 states affected by the STD are the following:

North Carolina…

…from only 5,830 cases in 2009, there are already 4,180 cases recorded by MMWR as of June 5, 2010. This can increase in the coming weeks if the syphilis problem will not be dealt with accordingly.

[Return to headlines]

Top Climate Scientists Speak Out on the Satellitegate Scandal

US Government admits global warming satellite sensors “degraded” — temperatures may be out by 10-15 degrees. Now five satellites in controversy. Top scientists speak out.

In an escalating row dubbed ‘Satellitegate’ further evidence proves NOAA knew of these faults for years. World’s top climate scientists and even prior governmental reports cite underfunding and misallocation as the trigger for spiraling satellite data calamities. Key flaws with five satellites undermines global data.

Most disturbing of all is that it took publication of my article last week to persuade the authorities to withdraw the errant NOAA-16 satellite from service. But as Dr. John Christy indicates, the real Satellitegate is not about one satellite. The scandal is endemic with comparable flaws across the entire network; the scandal is also that it took a tip off from a member of the public and the widespread broadcast of my article before one of the offending junk boxes, NOAA-16, got taken down.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Triumph Fades on Racial Gap in City Schools

Two years ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, testified before Congress about the city’s impressive progress in closing the gulf in performance between minority and white children. The gains were historic, all but unheard of in recent decades.

“Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap — and we have,” Mr. Bloomberg testified. “In some cases, we’ve reduced it by half.”

“We are closing the shameful achievement gap faster than ever,” the mayor said again in 2009, as city reading scores — now acknowledged as the height of a test score bubble — showed nearly 70 percent of children had met state standards.

When results from the 2010 tests, which state officials said presented a more accurate portrayal of students’ abilities, were released last month, they came as a blow to the legacy of the mayor and the chancellor, as passing rates dropped by more than 25 percentage points on most tests. But the most painful part might well have been the evaporation of one of their signature accomplishments: the closing of the racial achievement gap…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Assange: Swedish Press Freedoms ‘Most Proven’

Julian Assange, the Australian founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has praised Swedish legislation protecting the freedom of the press but says that other countries, such as Iceland, are also working to improve their legal framework.

Speaking in a series of online chats with Swedish readers in major newspapers on Monday, Assange was asked why the WikiLeaks locates its main servers in Sweden and why legislation protecting the anonymity of sources makes the country a good choice for the website.

“It is true we also use other locations, but Sweden is, so far, the most proven in practice. It is not perfect and initiatives like the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative show that others are also looking to improve on Swedish laws which have set strong examples.” Assange said according to Svenska Dagbladet.

Assange said that he understood the dangers of the FRA signals surveillance law but also the advantages for Sweden in “gaining information to ‘trade’ with the United States and other intelligence agencies. He also claimed that the website is well versed in evading surveillance of its communications.

“Because we are routinely the target of intelligence agencies which do not obey the rule of law, our security design presumes that all incoming and going communication to our servers is monitored…We have a number of different methods to also conceal the source and destination of the communications,” he said.

The controversial law, passed in October 2009, gives sweeping surveillance powers to Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt — FRA).

Assange, who has gained worldwide attention since WikiLeaks’ publication of the so-called Afghan War Diary last month, confirmed that the website planned to release the remaining 15,000 classified documents it holds within “the next two to four weeks”.

Talking to Aftonbladet readers Assange claimed that “as far as we know” no one has been harmed by the publication of the documents, and expressed defiance at US government attempts to silence him and WikiLeaks.

“Nothing stimulates the mind like a superpower trying to set into motion an extradition for espionage,” he said.

Assange told Swedish readers that he started WikiLeaks to address “global injustices” that he couldn’t see how to solve with “conventional journalism or human rights activism”.

“The truth is all we have. If we are to get anywhere as a civilization, we must understand the world and how it operates, anything else is drifting in a dark sea,” he said according to Dagens Nyheter.

The Local reported on Sunday that Assange had confirmed that WikiLeaks plans to submit a formal application this week for a Swedish publishing licence (utgivningsbevis) in order to guarantee that the website is covered by Swedish whistleblower protection laws.

Assange, in Sweden as a guest of the Association of Christian Social Democrats, highlighted the importance of the country to WikiLeaks’ work during his stay.

“Sweden is vital for our work. We have had long-term support from the Swedish people and the Swedish legal system. Our servers were initially based in the United States and moved to Sweden early on in 2007,” he said.

Legal experts have speculated recently that the site may not be covered by Swedish legislation shielding journalists’ sources unless it obtains a publishing licence.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Germany: Why the 9/11 Mosque Was Closed

By Christoph Scheuermann

Last week, authorities closed down the Hamburg mosque where three 9/11 hijackers once prayed. Despite intense surveillance, it was still considered to be an epicenter of extremism. Now the Islamists who gathered there are looking for a new home.

You couldn’t exactly say that they were impolite. They solemnly handed new visitors a Koran in German translation. They smiled. They didn’t even mind being called Islamists. One of them took a dictionary down from the shelf and pointed with his finger at the definition of “Islamist”: Someone who studies Islam as a scholar. Which, of course, is not inaccurate.

They studied the Koran attentively and thoroughly at the Taiba mosque in Hamburg, just a few hundred meters from the city’s main train station. Police shut down the mosque last week. The Hamburg official in charge of interior affairs said it had become a center of radicalization and a meeting point for jihadists. The main door is now sealed shut.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Hamburg mosque became known worldwide as the Al-Quds Mosque. Three of the 9/11 hijackers had frequently attended prayers there: Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi. The building on Steindamm Street remained under surveillance for the next nine years. It was probably the most closely observed building in the city.

It isn’t quite clear why Christoph Ahlhaus, the interior minister of the city-state of Hamburg, decided to close the mosque at this particular time. The reasons he gave are not new. Besides, the organization that operated the mosque was having financial problems and it was quite possible that the Islamists would have vacated the building on their own before long.

Nothing But a Person Who Devotes Himself to Allah

The Taiba mosque had no minaret and its entrance at Steindamm 103, between a Vietnamese restaurant and a gym, was easy to overlook. It was reached by walking through a neighborhood of sex shops, arcades, junkies and prostitutes behind Hamburg’s main station. The supporting association had rented the second and third floors of the building, which consisted of 380 square meters of floor space (about 4,100 square feet) on each floor, enough for two prayer rooms, a barber shop, a kitchen, tables, chairs and a grocery.

Islam signifies devotion, the faithful claimed when the mosque’s doors were still open. They insisted that a Muslim is nothing but a person who devotes himself to Allah, and to the will of the almighty creator, ruler and preserver of all existence. A special form of devotion is fundamentalism, which can lead to violence if left unchecked. But no one at Steindamm 103 mentioned violence.

Three types of believers visited the mosque. First, there were the old people, with their stiff knees and hips, who sat on plastic chairs in the first row, directly at the window, during the Chutba, or Friday prayers. They had emigrated from Morocco and had prayed there for years.

Then there were the younger men, most of them under 30. Many looked back on a life of drugs, alcohol and violence, or at least that was what they claimed. In their search for truth, they plunged eagerly into what they believed undiluted Islam to be: the world’s strongest replacement drug. They wore light-colored robes and white crocheted caps, and they included Germans, Persians, Russians, Bosnians, Moroccans and men from other African countries. They were converts and reverts, people who had fallen, been reformed and now believed that they were enlightened.

They were also searchers who came to the mosque to connect with like-minded people, brothers who would embrace each other, overjoyed to have found a community where life suddenly made sense again. “A non-believer cannot understand how much this religion can capture the heart,” said one.

Keeping an Eye on the Mosque

Finally, there were the oddballs who wandered into the mosque from Steindamm Street, babbled about Allah and, by the next day, were back on the street corner smoking cigarettes.

The authorities focused most of their attention on the second group.

Many intelligence agencies were interested in the mosque after the 9/11 attacks. They noted that some of the men who repeatedly went there to pray were people who had attracted attention with their radical pronouncements. They wondered about the connection between the mosque and these seemingly radical individuals.

For years the Hamburg branch of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, had been keeping an eye on the mosque “with every tool of intelligence at our disposal,” as the agency disclosed after the mosque was shut down. The two floors were completely bugged. The Hamburg police was apparently trying to recruit informants, and the BfV was also interested. The mosque also appealed to Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, which would surreptitiously place its agents in the mosque, thereby enhancing their reputation as radicals before they were deployed abroad.

Visitors to the mosque suspected they were under observation. Mamoun Darkazanli, who led Friday prayers until recently and whose congregation called him Abu Ilyas, was probably also aware of the extent of the surveillance. Hardly anyone seemed to mind the bugs, the informants and the agents at first. In fact, the boys in the mosque were even proud of the fact that they were being watched; it made them feel important and reinforced their belief that they were special. They reflected on who might be a spy. When one man spoke Arabic without an accent, they suspected he worked for Egyptian intelligence, and they were also convinced that the CIA was watching them, and that perhaps the Moroccans were, as well. They also believed that the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, had to be involved…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Germany: No Angels Singer Admits to Sex While HIV Positive

No Angels pop star Nadja Benaissa on Monday confessed to a Darmstadt court that she had unprotected sex with three partners but failed to tell them she was HIV positive. She faces charges of causing bodily harm.

The 28-year-old admitted she had intercourse on five occasions between 2000 and 2004 with three different partners, but did not tell them she had the virus that causes AIDS despite knowing about her infection since 1999.

“I am deeply sorry,” the mother-of-one said, adding that she had been “absolutely careless” in her behaviour during those years and is now willing to accept legal consequences.

Benaissa, who has admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine at age 14, discovered her HIV status when she became pregnant at 16 in 1999.

The Hessian court also plans to review whether the singer in the all-female pop group infected one of the men with the virus. Because the incidents in question occurred when the defendant was in her teens, the trial is being addressed by a youth court. A verdict is expected on August 26.

A conviction for bodily harm can lead to a sentence of three months to 10 years in prison.

On April 11, 2009, Benaissa was arrested in front of fans just ahead of a performance at a Frankfurt night club. She was jailed on remand for 10 days and only after her arrest was it made public that she was HIV positive.

One of the unnamed plaintiffs told the court he had found out about Benaissa’s infection from her aunt and went to his doctor for a blood test straight away.

“A few hours later the doctor rang and told me to come over. I went to pick up the results with my brother,” and found out he was infected, he told the court.

“You have created a lot of suffering in the world,” he told the singer.

In a television interview in July 2009 the singer talked about living with being HIV positive.

“I can’t just go anywhere I like and be free and be a normal person. I now have this stamp. I will do my best to make the most of it,” she said.

“I am actually completely healthy, not sick. I am HIV positive. Being HIV positive doesn’t mean being ill. If the disease breaks out it is called AIDS. I have a completely normal life expectancy.”

In October an authorised biography of the the singer, who is rumoured to be considering leaving No Angels, is due to be released with the title, “Nadja Benaissa — Everything is going to be alright.”

No Angels shot to fame in 2000 thanks to a television casting show and had a string of hits in central Europe before splitting up in 2003. They reformed in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing a lowly 23rd place.

AFP/DDP/The Local (

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

Ireland: Garda Issue Warning Over Online Racism

By Allen Meagher

THE GARDA have warned people who set up pages inciting racism on online social networks that they are open to prosecution, and even people who join these sites could face charges.

Sgt David McInerney of the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office said site hosts like Facebook were also “open to prosecution” if there was a valid complaint about racist online material.

“It is only a matter of time before a prosecution is brought,” he said.

Two anti-Traveller pages were recently pulled by Facebook following complaints from members of the public.

One of the sites had more than 8,000 members before it was closed down, while another site still in operation which promotes abuse against Travellers has more than 300 members.

The Irish Traveller Movement described the sites as “particularly vile” and “grossly offensive”, while Pavee Point and the Waterford Travellers Community Development Project have lodged formal complaints with the Garda.

Sgt McInerney encouraged people with complaints to continue to come forward. He described racist online activity as “very harmful” and “a very very serious form of crime. People don’t realise the harm it causes. Such sites can lead directly to racial abuse against minorities in the streets.”

Also condemning the sites, Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey said: “Social networking sites have a responsibility to ensure that the platforms they provide aren’t being abused.

“There is a constant need for vigilance in relation to racism. Racism should be confronted however and wherever it manifests itself.”

The Minister’s reconfigured department now has responsibility for the Government’s equality remit, formerly with the Department of Justice.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Veiled Women Cause Concern About Airport Security

Caretaker Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings wants to know whether veiled Muslim women are able to pass through customs at Dutch airports without removing their veils.

Concerns about airport security have been raised because of a YouTube film showing three veiled women passing through an airport gate without showing their faces at Trudeau Airport in Canada. The incident has caused a great deal of commotion in the Canadian media.

Passengers and airport personnel say sometimes Muslim women are not asked to show their faces, even at customs, writes Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf.

The Dutch military police who are responsible for airport security in the Netherlands, deny this. They say veiled women are asked into a separate room where they remove their veils in the presence of a female officer.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: More Christian Democrats Trust Wilders

Confidence in anti-Islam PVV party leader Geert Wilders among Christian Democrat party members is growing, according to the weekly poll by Maurice de Hond widely published on Sunday.

His rating among this group rose from 3.1 in June to 5.2. With Liberal VVD supporters, it increased from 4.6 to 5.6.

Among all respondents though Wilders scores the lowest of the party leaders with 3.8. Liberal VVD leader Mark Rutte rates highest at 5.3. Labour leader Job Cohen saw his score fall from 5.5 in June to 4.5, just ahead of Christian Democrat leader Maxime Verhagen on 4.3.

As far as seats are concerned, the PVV remains the largest party on 31, with the Liberal VVD steady on 26 and the Christian Democrats slightly up on 19.

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

Spain: Bullfighting; Catalonia’s Ban Countered by French Town

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 16 — The town of Beziers in south-western France has offered the use of its own stadia to host bullfighting organised by Catalonian clubs. The offer comes after the decision made by the Spanish region to ban the spectacle.

“As soon as the Beziers Festival is over (this is a traditional mid-August event, which features bullfighting), we shall be in contact with the aficion of Barcelona,” Mayor Raymond Couderc said, “to suggest that their stage their larger bullfighting events here, now that they can no longer do so at home. We are ready to organise everything so that they can carry on experiencing the excitement in French stadia close to Catalonia”.

Many southern-French towns and cities organise regular bullfights in their stadia, which has attracted criticism from animal rights organisations. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Security Beefed Up for Sahlin Due to Threats

Security for Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin has been tightened due to serious threats against her just over a month before elections, Swedish media reported on Monday.

According to the tabloid Expressen, security for the prime ministerial candidate has gradually increased after a “barrage of threatening emails and letters to Mona Sahlin’s office in parliament.”

“The threat level has changed,” an unnamed police source told the paper.

When contacted by AFP, a spokesman for the Swedish security police, which handles security for high-profile politicians, refused to comment on the


On Sunday, when Sahlin held a large campaign rally in Stockholm ahead of the upcoming September 19 elections, four bodyguards wearing bulletproof vests were at her side the entire time, according to Expressen.

The 53-year-old career politician has received numerous threats in the past, the paper added. After a scandal dubbed the Toblerone Affair over her use of a party credit card to buy chocolate and other items in 1995, Sahlin was for a time forced to work in a bulletproof room.

In 2004, during a visit to the central Swedish town of Norrköping, a man walked up to her and asked if she was Mona Sahlin before punching her.

Sweden has been traumatised by two political assassinations in recent

decades. Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot on a Stockholm street in 1986, while foreign minister Anna Lindh was stabbed to death in an upscale department store in the heart of the capital in 2003.

Like Sahlin, both Palme and Lindh were Social Democrats. Neither of them had bodyguards with them at the time they were killed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Councils Pay for Disabled to Visit Prostitutes and Lap-Dancing Clubs From £520m Taxpayer Fund

A ‘man of 21 with learning disabilities has been granted taxpayers’ money to fly to Amsterdam and have sex with a prostitute.

His social worker says sex is a ‘human right’ for the unnamed individual — described as a frustrated virgin.

His trip to a brothel in the Dutch capital’s red light district next month is being funded through a £520million scheme introduced by the last government to empower those with disabilities.

They are given a personal budget and can choose what services this is spent on.

The man’s social worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said his client was an ‘angry, frustrated and anxious young man’ who had a need for sex.

‘He’s planning to do more than just have his end away — he’s having a holiday,’ he said.

‘He has been to two sexual health and sexual awareness courses and basically wants to try it.

‘The girls in Amsterdam are far more protected than those on UK streets. Let him have some fun — I’d want to.

‘Wouldn’t you prefer that we can control this, guide him, educate him, support him to understand the process and ultimately end up satisfying his needs in a secure, licensed place where his happiness and growth as a person is the most important thing?

‘Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights.’

Paying for sex is not illegal but soliciting sexual services, kerb crawling and paying for sex with women who have been coerced into prostitution is.

The social worker added: ‘Who says he can’t do what he wants? We can’t place restrictions on a young man who wants to experience the world.’

The trip emerged in data from Freedom of Information requests which revealed that many councils are using the money from the government’s Putting People First scheme to pay for prostitutes, visits to lap dancing clubs and exotic holidays.

Another man who has a brain injury has even had sex work built into his council care package.

This is designed to teach him to become sexually ‘self-reliant’ after his wife left him and took all their money.

It has increased his confidence and restored his faith in women, care workers said.

Critics yesterday said the use of taxpayers’ money to fund sex trips abroad as ‘deeply worrying’.

In Greater Manchester and Norfolk, social care clients have used their payments for internet dating subscriptions.

In one year, a man from Norwich who suffers mental health problems received a holiday to Tunisia, a subscription to an internet dating site, driving lessons and expensive art materials.

This was on top of state benefits. He claimed he needed ‘some time out, some rest and a change of scenery’ after a mental breakdown.

He also argued that a break in Tunisia with a friend was cheaper than a week in institutional care.

A survey by The Outsiders and TLC Trusts — groups which campaign for the sexual rights of people with disabilities — found most local authorities said they did not ‘condone’ transfer of their funds to pay for sex.

But of 121 councils who responded, 97 per cent said they had no offical policy on the topic.

Instead, they left decisions to the discretion of their social workers and junior managers.

Nevertheless, 53 per cent of the councils were said to have a strategy that ‘explicitly empowered’ disabled people to pursue their sexual aspirations.

Neil Coyle, director of policy at Disability Alliance, said most people with disabilities did not want or expect the state to pay for sexual services.

‘Public bodies don’t exist to find people sexual partners,’ he said.

‘When people go to councils for help, they are looking for essential services to maintain some level of dignified existence — help to dress and wash.’

Matthew Elliot, chief executive of The Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Many taxpayers will be appalled and offended that money intended for social care has been used in this way.

‘What’s more, it’s deeply worrying that this scheme has been so vulnerable to these abuses.

‘It’s essential that where public funds are involved, there are the sort of checks and balances in place that prevent money being wasted in this way.’

But Liz Sayce, chief executive of disability network Radar, agreed with the social worker the desire for sexual relations was a matter of human rights.

Cases involving payments should be carefully examined on a ‘case by case’ basis, she added.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Money allocated through Putting People First should be used by councils to help people to live independently.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Domino’s Pizza Scraps Halal Menu

Domino’s Pizza, which was among the first fast food outlets in Britain to serve halal-only takeaways, has ditched the menu after poor sales.

The chain enraged customers 18 months ago by completely removing pork from its pizzas in favour of halal-only meat at its branch in Hall Green, Birmingham.

But the pizza firm have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn back to their original menu due to poor sales.

Pizza fans in the Muslim area of Hall Green, Birmingham who were previously refused service when asking for a ham and pineapple or pepperoni pizza can now order their favourite toppings again after the store’s decision.

Domino’s Pizza have also reverted to conventional menus at the other two branches where they trialled halal-only menus for Muslim customers in Bradford and Blackburn.

In a letter to customers from its branch in Hall Green, which caters for surrounding Birmingham areas including Sparkhill, Moseley and Sparkbrook, Dominos explained: “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the store is no longer serving a halal menu.

“Dominos Pizza Group decided to trial a halal menu in Hall Green and two other stores in 2009, but it hasn’t had the impact expected and the company has reluctantly decided to return to a conventional Domino’s menu in all three stores.

“This has not been an easy decision for us and we are sorry for an inconvenience.”

All pork products are forbidden by Muslim law, so the three Dominos halal trial branches had to take them off the menu.

Pizza lover Chris Yates, 31, from Moseley, Birmingham, was refused his favourite ‘Meateor’ pizza covered in pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, ground beef and smoky bacon when he tried to order last February.

He said yesterday (SUN): “It’s good to see Domino’s have seen sense so that their customers can enjoy their best pizzas.

“They may have trialled the halal-only meat to please their Muslim customers, but I’m sure a lot of other people felt discriminated against because they couldn’t have what they wanted.

“Pizzas like the Meateor, Pepperoni and Hawaiian are classic toppings which shouldn’t have been taken off the menu in the first place.

“It was as if I wasn’t allowed ham or pork on my pizza encase I offended someone.

“It did seem pretty unfair on non-Muslim pizza lovers, so for Dominos to recognise that it hasn’t been successful and stick to what they do best is a welcome move as far as I’m concerned.”

A Dominos spokesperson said: “We have been trialling a halal-only menu in three of our stores over the last 18 months.

“It hasn’t had the impact we hoped it would have, and we have therefore decided to revert to our conventional menu in all three stores.

“The decision has been a completely commercial one in line with the launch of our new lunch campaign.

“The timing of the decision has tied in with that campaign.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: It Beggars Belief: How the Fake Homeless Are Raking in More Than £20,000 a Year

Their apparently pitiful existence and pleas for money attract the generosity of many passers-by.

But some beggars are making the equivalent of a £20,000-a-year salary and are not homeless at all, police have revealed.

They estimate many city centre regulars, who pretend to live on the street, make more money than hard-working professionals.

Some are routinely taking home as much as £40 a day, rising to £100 at weekends.

Working a six-day week, they can earn as much as £300 untaxed income a week, giving give them a salary of £15,600.

After tax and National Insurance deductions workers on a salary of £20,000, which is roughly what newly-qualified teachers earn, take home £15,391.85 a year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Told Not to Pursue Stolen Motorbikes… Because Thieves Weren’t Wearing Helmets and Might Get Hurt

As a gang of raiders roared off on three high-powered stolen motorbikes, they were spotted by patrolling police officers.

But instead of giving chase and trying to catch the thieves, they were told to stand and watch — because a pursuit would have put the criminals’ health and safety at risk.

As none of the trio were wearing crash helmets, the danger that they might fall off and hurt themselves was deemed too great, so they were allowed to escape.

Today, however, critics reacted to the decision with incredulity — and demanded to know whether any offender could be given carte blanche to flee simply by riding a motorbike without donning proper headgear.

And the officers’ chief constable admitted the guidelines, which apply across the country, risked getting in the way of tackling crime — but blamed pressure from politicians and the media.

Traffic officers spotted the balaclava-clad trio as they sped away from a showroom in Altrincham, Greater Manchester after smashing their way in to steal high-performance motorcycles worth a total of £20,000.

They radioed their duty inspector moments after the late night raid but were told that because the thieves weren’t wearing crash helmets or protective clothing, it would be unsafe to pursue them.

Instead the raiders were left to make their escape, and nearly a week on they remain at large while the garage’s furious owner has been forced to shut his fledgling business.

Victim Tony Crawford, who runs Manchester Motorbike Store, said: ‘It’s just bizarre that a criminal’s health and safety is more important than catching them.

‘But it’s not the police I blame, it’s the politicians who’ve put these ridiculous rules in place who are responsible.

‘What message are they sending out? They’re effectively telling criminals that as long as they make their getaway on a motorbike and don’t wear a helmet, the police won’t be allowed to chase them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Recognition Not a ‘Pandora’s Box, ‘ Thaci Tells EU

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Kosovar Prime Mnister Hashim Thaci has in a comment for EUobserver encouraged non-recognising EU states to change their mind following an International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion on independence.

“The circumstances that led to Kosovo’s declaration of independence were, and are, unique. The narrowness of the court’s ruling on this subject should reassure those countries that have been reluctant to recognise Kosovo,” he said.

“Kosovo’s declaration of independence is not a precedent, and attempts to argue that the court concluded otherwise or that its ruling opens a Pandora’s Box are wrong.”

The ICJ in the Hague on 22 July said Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law.

But five EU states — Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain — most of which have separatist problems at home, have not yet followed suit with the US and the rest of the EU in recognising Kosovo as an independent country.

Mr Thaci blamed the split with Serbia on the brutality of Slobodan Milosevic.

“The people of my country did not arrive at the decision to declare their independence lightly or in a political vacuum. We were long deprived of the most basic human rights, and in 1999 subject to a murderous campaign of ethnic cleansing from a Serbian government led by Slobodan Milosevic,” he said.

He added that any partition of Kosovo is out of the question, amid chatter in EU diplomatic circles that northern Mitrovica, an ethnic-Serb-dominated Kosovo region under de facto Serb control, could be given some form of autonomy.

“We cannot, and we will not, discuss Kosovo’s status as an independent sovereign state, Kosovo’s territorial integrity, or the creation of de facto or de jure autonomous regions within our borders,” Mr Thaci said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Tourist Bus Stoned in Muslim-Majority Sandzak Region

Beograd/Podgorica, 16 August (AKI) — Youths stoned a tourist bus in Serbia’s Muslim majority southwest province of Sandzak, according to reports on Monday. The bus, carrying tourists from a vacation in neighbouring Montenegro, was driving into Sandzak’s largest town of Novi Pazar when the attack took place.

None of the passengers was hurt when the vehicle was pelted with stones, breaking its windscreen, Serbia’s B52 channel quoted a spokeswoman for the the bus company, Nis Express, as saying.

The incident took place early on Sunday and police have detained several suspects, she said.

A local politician from Sandzak, Dzemail Suljevic, last week called for autonomy for the region and in more towns in central Serbia, sparking reactions from Serbia and Montenegro.

Sandzak stretches from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to Kosovo over an area of 8,403 square kilometers. Six of its municipalities of are in Serbia and five in Montenegro.

Belgrade’s daily Vecernje novosti on Monday reported that the idea of giving Sandzak more autonomy came from mufti Muamer Zukorlic, known for his resistance towards the official Serbian Islamic Community (IZS)

Zukorlic does not recognize IZS as representing Sandzak Muslims and looks instead to the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

“Zukorlic’s stories are dangerious fairy tales,” said Meho Omerovic, an MP for Serbia’s Socialdemocratic Party of Serbia, which originated in Sandzak.

“The people of Sandzak does not support Zukorlic’s and Suljevic’s dreams”, Omerovic says.

Vecernje novosti quoted one of Montenegro’s opposition leaders, Predrag Bulatovic, as saying: “The initiative is an attack to integrity of both states.”

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Arab League Sends 16 Dialysis Machines to Gaza

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, AUGUST 16 — The Arab League has sent 16 dialysis machines to hospitals in the Gaza Strip, announced the Arab League deputy secretary general for Palestinian and Occupied Territories Affairs, Mohamed Sobeih. According to Sobeih, the donation came on the heels of the latest visit by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa to Gaza’s Darel Chifaa hospital. On that occasion Moussa was informed of the hospital’s needs. “These machines have been taken to Gaza and are already in use,” added Sobeih, noting that the Arab League intends to supply Gaza Strip hospitals with “all necessary assistance to alleviate the sufferings of the Palestinian population.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Bosnian Serb Leader Condemns Turkey’s Activities in Bosnia

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik accused Turkey on Monday of interfering in Bosnia’s internal political affairs and Ankara of acting in favor of Bosnian Muslims.

“We resent the fact that Turkey wants a unified and centralized Bosnia, favoring only one of the peoples” living in the country, Dodik told Bosnian state radio from Israel, following talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Dodik said he had told Lieberman that the Bosnian Serb community “resented Turkey’s strong presence in Bosnia motivated only by support for the Bosnian Muslims, without any willingness to comprehend the context in which Bosnia exists.”

“I told the minister that it is not possible to accept an intermediary role by Turkey,” he said, without elaborating.

The 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict left the country split into two semi-independent entities — the Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation — each having its own government.

They are united by only weak central institutions.

Bosnian Serb leaders have constantly opposed further centralization, as demanded by the Muslims — who are a majority in Bosnia as a whole — and also the European Union.

They claim such a process would reduce their autonomy.

During his visit to Israel, Dodik was to meet President Shimon Peres later Monday in Jerusalem.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have severely deteriorated since Israeli commandos raided a humanitarian flotilla heading for Gaza on May 31, killing eight Turks and one American citizen of Turkish descent.

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

Hamas: NYC Mosque Must be Built

Palestinian terror group strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar says Muslims ‘have to build everywhere,’ including near site of 9/11 attacks, so that followers can pray just like Christians, Jews. US Senator: His words don’t carry any weight

A Hamas leader says Muslims “have to build” a mosque near ground zero.

Mahmoud al-Zahar said Muslims “have to build everywhere” so that followers can pray, just like Christians and Jews build their places of worship.

Al-Zahar spoke Sunday on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on WABC-AM. He is a co-founder of Hamas and its chief on the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says al-Zahar’s comments don’t carry any weight because Hamas is a terrorist organization. Schumer hasn’t taken a stand on the mosque.

Rep. Peter King, who opposes the mosque, says he won’t respond to Hamas.

The mosque is a project of the Cordoba Initiative, an advocacy group that promotes improved relations between Islam and the West. It didn’t respond to al-Zahar’s comments.

White House: Politics had no role in remarks

A White House spokesman said Sunday that politics was not a factor in President Barack Obama’s remarks about building a mosque near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City.

Deputy press secretary Bill Burton said it was “not politics” but Obama’s feeling that he had the obligation as president to “make sure people are treated equally” under the US Constitution.

Obama has said that religious freedom allows the mosque to be built, but without commenting on the wisdom of building one two blocks from an area known as ground zero. Republicans have pounded him for his comments, making it a November election issue.

Burton said Obama “felt it was his obligation as president to address this.” Obama was on a political trip to the state of Wisconsin.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Israeli Air Force, F-35 Future of Combat Planes

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 16 — The Israeli Air Force has chosen its future combat plane: the US-produced Lockheed Martin F-35I. It is a single-engine, single-seating fighter plane with multiple uses and highly advanced stealth (difficult for radars to detect) characteristics. In announcing the decision, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said that the “F-35 is a future combat plane that will allow Israel to maintain the air and technological superiority it currently enjoys in the region. The plane will increase the operating capacities of the air force in places both near and far, thereby contributing to consolidating state security.” The USD 2.75-billion order is for 20 F-35I, which will be delivered between 2015 and 2017. Initially the air force had requested 75 F-35, but given the high cost of the planes it had to agree to a reduced number. The purchase of the planes will be covered by the aid it receives from the United States for its defence: three billion dollars every year for the next decade. Moreover, the Lockheed industry, which produces the F-35, has pledged to entrust the Israeli Aeronautics Industry (IAI) with orders worth an overall four billion dollars. The United States has instead refused the request to fix the planes headed for Israel with avionics developed by Israeli industries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

August 21 Deadline for an Israeli Attack on Iranian Nukes

Former Ambassador John Bolton told FOX Business Network that Russia’s loading of nuclear fuel into the Iranian Bushehr plant means that Israel has an August 21 deadline for an Israeli attack.

Ambassador John Bolton on the Bushehr plant:

“Unless the Israelis act within the next 8 days… Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once their in the reactor, attacking means a release of radiation. No question about it. So if Israel is going to do anything against Bushehr it has to do something within the next 8 days. If they don’t then something Saddam Hussein wanted… Somthing Bashir al-Assad in Syria wanted, but couldn’t get; the Iranians, sworn enemies of Israel, will have.”…

           — Hat tip: Larwyn[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Yacht and Jewel Imports From Italy on Rise

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 16 — Italian exports to Lebanon of yachts and luxury boats have been growing healthily during the first six months of this year to stand at around 12.5 million dollars.

There was also a marked increase in the level of imports of gold and jewellery products, up by 60.6% at 10.6 million dollars. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanese-Syrian Shared Industrial Zone Under Study

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 16 — The Lebanese Industry Ministry is looking into the possibility of creating a shared industrial zone between Lebanon and Syria. Among the options looked into is that of creating a zone between Baalbek and Homs.

The possibility was included in the accords finalised two months ago between Lebanon and Syria.

One of the reasons for the creation of the industrial zone, according to the Lebanese Ministry, is that of the continual increase in fuel prices and electricity which could instead be subdivided between the two countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama Warns Turkish PM Over Stance on Israel, Iran

United States President Barack Obama has warned Turkey’s prime minister that Ankara’s position on Israel and Iran could lessen its chances of obtaining U.S. weapons, a report said Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to buy American drone aircraft to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, after the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq at the end of 2011, Britain’s Financial Times newspaper reported.

The PKK, which is listed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has bases in the mountains in northern Iraq, near the Turkish border.

“The president has said to Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress],” a senior administration official was quoted as saying in the daily paper.

These questions centered on “whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally,” said the official. “That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK will be harder for us to move through Congress.”

The United States voiced disappointment after Turkey voted against fresh U.N. sanctions on Iran, which the United Nations Security Council adopted in June. Ankara argued that Tehran should be given a chance to carry out a nuclear fuel swap deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil.

Relations between Turkey and Israel were thrown into crisis after a deadly Israeli raid targeting Gaza-bound aid ships on May 31 that left eight Turkish activists and a Turkish American dead.

Obama called on Turkey to cool its rhetoric about the raid when he met Erdogan at the G20 summit in Toronto in June.

An Israeli official, meanwhile, said Turkey has snubbed the country’s ambassador last week by not inviting him to a diplomatic dinner.

Lawmaker Ömer Çelik of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party said the snub was a “display of criticism” of Israel’s government.

The incident was the latest sign of deteriorating ties between the two formerly close allies.The Israeli official spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity because the ministry had no official comment.

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

Saudi Arabia: Text Message to Warn of Women’s Departure

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 16 — Raising a stir in Saudi Arabia is the latest move by the authorities to keep women under tighter control: the Foreign Ministry sends text messages to a “male guardian” (e.g. fathers, husbands or — in their absence — brothers who have been entrusted with the safekeeping of the women in the house) any time that their female “dependants” — wives, daughters, sisters, known as dependants since they depend on a “male guardian” — leave the country. It is a measure which aims to strengthen the already heavy restrictions in force, according to which no Saudi woman can leave or travel without the written authorisation of her “male guardian”, unless she is accompanied by a “verifiable family member”. And so, were someone to manage to secretly leave…

The news has sparked numerous protests and comments reported by Global Voice Online, which has been quoted by the French site Rue89. The following are a few of them. “I am an adult woman who for over ten years has been earning my own living, but according to the Saudi government I am a dependant to my death due to my gender,” wrote Eman on the SaudiWoman blog, who, on holiday in Italy, learned of the text message her husband had received. Hala writes that “the resources used to keep Saudi women under tight control would be better invested in the country’s infrastructure.” “You know what I say? I would also like a system to keep tabs on my husband, I want a text message every time he speaks to a woman he doesn’t know or flirts with a woman,” Jenna played down the measure in a spirited manner, while Vicks asked “where are the women’s rights activists, where are the movements for the rights of Muslim women.” In the same line was Ari’s comment: “When Saudi women, equal to other women and Muslim men, are ready to pay the price for equality, they will get it. In the meantime, some of them will have a holiday in the free world, while their less privileged brothers and sisters continue to suffer.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: The Towers of Barbarism

The Saudis have unveiled a plan to define Mecca as the center of the world by building a giant clock tower in Mecca. The Bin Laden group’s Royal Mecca Clock Tower which reads “In the Name of Allah”, aims to replace GMT time, with “Mecca Time”. The Royal Mecca Clock Tower, which looks like something you expect to pass on the way to Disneyland, like Dubai’s Burj Tower, or its world islands are pathetic attempts to buy the facade of civilization with petrodollars.

The Royal Mecca Clock Tower is emblematic of the inability of the Muslim world to do the hard work of actually becoming civilized. Instead they build Pharaoh-like monuments to their own glory using imported slave labor. And they finance all that using money given to them by civilized countries in exchange for a particular resource that happens to be located on their territory. A resource that was discovered and developed for them by companies belonging to civilized countries.

The barbaric thinking behind the Royal Mecca Clock Tower is that if they build a really big clock tower, it will become a global standard and the infidels will acknowledge the Koran’s Islamic science “zero magnetism zone” claims for Mecca. That sort of thinking demonstrates a basic incomprehension of how civilization works. It shows no understanding of why Greenwich Mean Time serves the function that it does, which isn’t because England spent money given to it by more civilized countries to build a really big ugly tower that impressed everyone.

This same kind of ignorance lies behind Dubai’s frenzied construction projects, in which modern skyscrapers are plunked down in the middle of a backward country. Where Western skyscrapers were the natural product of expanding economic and technological frontiers, Muslim skyscrapers are desperate attempts to buy superiority. A product of the same need to be superior to the infidels, that caused Islamic law to ban synagogues and churches from being taller than mosques. And now that they have the money, Muslim rulers are determined to build bigger buildings than the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower, or the World Trade Center, which they destroyed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shocking Images of Dead Kurdish Fighters: Turkey Accused of Using Chemical Weapons Against PKK

By Daniel Steinvorth and Yassin Musharbash

Turkish soldiers on patrol in a Kurdish area of southeastern Turkey: Did the Turkish military use chemical weapons against the PKK?

German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.

It would be difficult to exceed the horror shown in the photos, which feature burned, maimed and scorched body parts. The victims are scarcely even recognizable as human beings. Turkish-Kurdish human rights activists believe the people in the photos are eight members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) underground movement, who are thought to have been killed in September 2009.

In March, the activists gave the photos to a German human rights delegation comprised of Turkey experts, journalists and politicians from the far-left Left Party, as SPIEGEL reported at the end of July. Now Hans Baumann, a German expert on photo forgeries has confirmed the authenticity of the photos, and a forensics report released by the Hamburg University Hospital has backed the initial suspicion, saying that it is highly probable that the eight Kurds died “due to the use of chemical substances.”

Did the Turkish army in fact use chemical weapons and, by doing so, violate the Chemical Weapons Convention it had ratified?

Repeated ‘Mysterious Incidents’

German politicians and human rights experts are now demanding an investigation into the incident. “The latest findings are so spectacular that the Turkish side urgently needs to explain things,” said Claudia Roth, the co-chair of Germany’s Green Party. “It is impossible to understand why an autopsy of the PKK fighters was ordered but the results kept under seal.”

The politician said there had been repeated “mysterious incidents of this type that are crying out for an independent investigation.” Roth demanded that Turkey issue an official statement on the possible use of chemical weapons “in order to nullify further allegations.”

Ruprecht Polenz, a member of the German parliament with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and the chairman of the Bundestag’s Foreign Relations Committee, sees it the same way. “Turkey needs to urgently look into these accusations,” he told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding that an international investigation would be the best approach.

Turkey has been suspected of using chemical weapons for years, points out Gisela Penteker, a Turkey expert with the international medical organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. “Local people have said that again and again,” she explained. Finding proof is difficult, however, she said, because bodies were often released so late that it was hardly possible to carry out a thorough autopsy.

‘PKK Propaganda’

In Turkey, human rights advocates have long demanded an investigation. The army, however, has refused to comment on the issue. Similarly, the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been stubbornly silent or tried to portray the accusations of war crimes as “PKK propaganda.”

“The prime minister is not interested in human rights violations,” says Akin Birdal, a member of the Turkish parliament whose pro-Kurdish BDP opposition party has repeatedly questioned in parliament if Erdogan’s war in the southeast of the country is really being conducted legally. In Birdal’s view, the only thing that matters to Erdogan is that the army eradicates the PKK problem once and for all “by any means necessary.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has rejected the accusations, according to the Berlin daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung, which reported on the case Thursday. Turkey is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and its armed forces do not possess any biological or chemical weapons, the ministry reportedly said.

The newspaper also reports that it has obtained additional, shocking pictures in the meantime, supposedly autopsy photographs of six other killed Kurds. These images, too, have now been submitted to the Hamburg-based experts.

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

Turkey: Donkey Prices Skyrocket After Council Announcement

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 16 — A decision by the municipality of the Turkish southeastern province of Mardin to buy 10 donkeys for garbage collection has led to a dramatic rise in the price of the animals, Dogan news agency reported. Mardin Municipality chose to purchase the donkeys to use in the city’s streets after deciding to replace the sick animals among the 44 donkeys that have been used for garbage collection for years.

“After our decision concerning the donkey purchase, prices have immediately jumped three to four-fold,” said Mardin Mayor Besir Ayanoglu, from the Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

The municipality is considering checking neighboring provinces to purchase lower-priced donkeys, he said. After the announcement of the impending purchase, donkey prices more than tripled from their original price of 2,000 Turkish Liras (1,000 euro) municipal officials said. Around 500 streets in the historical center of Mardin are too narrow for motor vehicle traffic, meaning the municipality needs the animals’ help on garbage collection. The municipality currently employs 384 people and 44 donkeys as trash collectors; sometimes they collect the garbage five times a day, Ayanoglu said. The donkeys are monitored by veterinarians to guard against the impact of the intense summer heat in the area. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Viva Palestina’ Gaza Flotilla to Sail’

A flotilla of ships titled the “Viva Palestina” convoy will leave from London, Casablanca in Morroco and Doha in Qatar on September 18, according to an opinion article by George Galloway in Friday’s edition of the British socialist daily the Morning Star.

The flotilla will seek to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Galloway states in the article that now that the siege on Gaza is being condemned by the EU, UN, many governments and every major international aid agency, “we are at a moment when pressure can be brought to bear as never before to frustrate Israel’s moves to crush the Palestinians.”

Galloway expressed encouragement at British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech from last month in Turkey in which he equated Gaza to a prison camp and condemned Israel for the raid on the Mavi Marmara in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed by IDF naval commandos.

In addition to the launching of the new flotilla to take advantage of the momentum that has built up against the blockade, Galloway called for the nations of the world to isolate Israel as apartheid South Africa was isolated in order to challenge the Jewish state’s “criminal policy.”

Galloway, a former British MP and veteran anti-Israel activist, first announced plans for the “Viva Palestina” flotilla in June, shortly after attending the funerals of the Turkish activists killed aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Israel is currently conducting a probe into the raid of the Mavi Marmara led by former Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel. The UN is carrying out an international investigation into the flotilla led by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]


‘Blocked’ Jetstream to Blame for Freak Weather in Russia and Pakistan, Say Scientists

The jetstream is being held by the Rossby waves that normally produce its distinctive wave-like pattern.

These powerful spinning wind currents are caused by the Earth’s shape and rotation and push the jet stream from east to west at high altitudes.

Now scientists believe that Rossby waves are acting against the jetstream’s usual pattern, holding it in place, according to a report in New Scientist.

Since mid-July, when it would normally be moving eastwards the jetstream has been held in one place as strong Rossby waves push against it.

When the jet stream is held in one place it traps the weather systems that are caught between its meanders. Warm air is sucked north to the ‘peaks’ while cold air travels to the ‘troughs’.


(satellite maps at link)

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Taliban ‘Kill Adulterous Afghan Couple’ In Marketplace

A man and a woman who allegedly had an adulterous affair have been stoned and killed in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz.

The punishment happened in a crowded bazaar on Sunday in the Taliban-controlled village of Mullah Quli.

The Taliban have not commented on the public killing, but it was confirmed by local officials and witnesses.

This month the Taliban also reportedly flogged and killed a pregnant widow in western Baghdis province.

Mohammad Ayub, the governor of Imam Sahib district in Kunduz, told the BBC on Monday: “The Taliban brought them to the local bazaar.

“They stoned them because they were accused of adultery. There was a big crowd of people who watched.”

Two witnesses from Mullah Quli told the BBC that the Taliban asked the villagers to attend the stoning through an announcement on loudspeakers in the mosque.

“There was a big crowd of people,” one witness said. “The Taliban made the women wear black clothes and the men were made to stand. The Taliban started throwing stones.

“We were also asked to throw stones. After a while, the Taliban left. The woman was dead but the man was still alive.

“Some Taliban then came and shot him three times. The Taliban warned villagers if anyone does anything un-Islamic, this will be their fate.”

‘Climate of fear’

A Kunduz-based official with the Afghan intelligence agency, the NDS, confirmed the account.

He told the BBC: “It shows that they [the Taliban] want to create a climate of fear.”

According to news agency AFP, the woman was 23 years old and the man was 28.

A local tribal elder told the BBC that the couple had eloped and that the woman had been engaged, while the man was already married.

A jirga (tribal council) met and decided that the couple could come back to the village if the man paid compensation.

“The man returned after he was assured that he wouldn’t be harmed,” said the elder. “The Taliban arrested them as soon as they came back.”

Ahmad Nader Nadery, of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, told the BBC: “This is a big crime committed by the Taliban, an extra-judicial killing. It shows their cruelty.”

The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says Kunduz is a stronghold for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants where the central government has little control.

The Taliban operates a shadow government, consisting of judges, tax collectors, district governors and commanders, in several parts of Kunduz, he adds.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Thailand: British Kickboxer Hunted on Thai Island Paradise After US Marine Stabbed to Death ‘Following Bar Brawl’

Thai police are looking for a British kickboxer who is alleged to have stabbed to death a former US Marine after provoking a barroom brawl on a tropical island.

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 28-year-old Lee Aldhouse following the weekend attack which left Dashawn Longfellow, 23, dead on Phuket.

The American had been holidaying on the paradise island where his body was found early on Saturday with several stab wounds in his chest.

‘It is very clear what happened,’ police Lt. Col. Anukul Nuket said. ‘Everything is very clear cut.’

Police say Aldhouse picked a fight with Longfellow hours earlier at a local pub called the Freedom Bar, while the American was having drinks with a Thai girlfriend.

Witnesses described Aldhouse, who is unemployed, as a regular at the bar who was known for ‘getting drunk and picking fights and bragging that he’s invincible.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

NZ: 100-Year-Old Scotch Pulled From Frozen Crate

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A crate of Scotch whisky that was trapped in Antarctic ice for a century was finally opened Friday — but the heritage dram won’t be tasted by whisky lovers because it’s being preserved for its historical significance.

The crate, recovered from the Antarctic hut of renowned explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton after it was found there in 2006, has been thawed very slowly in recent weeks at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island.

The crate was painstakingly opened to reveal 11 bottles of Mackinlay’s Scotch whisky, wrapped in paper and straw to protect them from the rigors of a rough trip to Antarctica for Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod expedition.

Though the crate was frozen solid when it was retrieved earlier this year, the whisky inside could be heard sloshing around in the bottles. Antarctica’s minus 22 Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius) temperature was not enough to freeze the liquor, dating from 1896 or 1897 and described as being in remarkably good condition.

This Scotch is unlikely ever to be tasted, but master blenders will examine samples of it to see if they can replicate the brew. The original recipe for the Scotch no longer exists.

Once samples have been extracted and sent to Scottish distiller Whyte and Mackay, which took over Mackinlay’s distillery many years ago, the 11 bottles will be returned to their home — under the floorboards of Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds on Ross Island, near Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound.

Whisky lover Michael Milne, a Scot who runs the Whisky Galore liquor outlet in Christchurch, described the rare event as a great experience.

“I just looked at this (crate) and honestly, my heartbeat went up about three paces. It was amazing,” he said. “The box was like a pioneer’s box with the wood and nails coming out,” he said.

Although Milne said he’d give anything to have a taste of the whisky. “It is not going to happen and I am not going to get excited about it,” he said. “But if there was ever an opportunity, it could be a wonderful one to have.”

Nigel Watson, executive director of the Antarctic Heritage Trust, which is restoring the explorer’s hut, said opening the crate was a delicate process.

The crate will remain in cold storage and each of the 11 bottles will be carefully assessed and conserved over the next few weeks. Some samples will be extracted, possibly using a syringe through the bottles’ cork stoppers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Italy: 23% of New Jobs to Immigrants

(ANSAmed) — ROME — A rise has been seen in the demand for immigrant workers by Italian enterprises. For 2010, demand by enterprises has once again risen, to 21.3%, with an over 2 percentage-point increase in the hiring of foreign personnel, according to the Excelsior Unioncamere (Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture)- Labour Ministry report.

Job-related immigrant entrances are therefore expected to go from the 158,000 seen in 2009 to 181,000 this year, 22,400 more than those originally expected. Also rising is the share of foreign workers out of the total of jobs on offer, to almost 23% of the total of new ones (22.6% of the total, including seasonal jobs, compared with 20.3% last year). On the other hand, the taking on of Italian workers dropped by 0.3% (1,840 fewer), with a sharp drop (-7.2%) in seasonal ones, which decreased by 13,500.

The increase in the tendency to employ foreign workers is more marked, indicated the Unioncamere report, in enterprises with at least 50 employees (26%, 7.3 points more than in 2009).

The 22,400 more possible hirings of foreign workers is concentrated especially in services (+16,400), even though construction saw the largest relative increase (+40.1%), equal in absolute terms to 5,400 people. In industry the figure was +15.1%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Faces Backlash Over Roma Expulsions

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s drive to expel illegal Roma from the country has provoked criticism from the Roma themselves and a backlash from within the ranks of his own centre-right party.

On Sunday (15 August), over 250 cars and caravans belonging to Roma people were used to block a major road outside the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

It is the first major protest to take place since the closure of illegal Roma camps began two weeks ago and it caused serious disruption on the public holiday weekend, French radio station RFI reported.

Since Mr Sarkozy’s crackdown started on 6 August, over 40 camps affecting some 700 adults and children have been closed, with the government aiming to shut down 300 in total over the coming months. Any illegal immigrants are to be deported to their country of origin.

The president’s move against illegal Roma is part of a wider security clampdown that began in the wake of the shooting of a youth by police in the Loire Valley in July. The killing, carried out after the youth committed an armed robbery at a casino, provoked a riot.

Mr Sarkozy subsequently proposed tough new laws, including stripping French nationality from those who attempt to take the life of a police officer, thereby becoming the first French head of state to openly link immigrants and crime.

The proposals have attracted opprobrium from the left of France’s political establishment but the action against the Roma camps has also drawn criticism from within the president’s centre-right UMP party.

Following the latest raid on Saturday on a camp in an eastern Paris suburb, UMP law-maker Jean-Pierre Grand said the government’s policy was “turning disgraceful” and likened the camp evictions to round-ups during World War II.

Mr Grand said he had to react after hearing “that the authorities, arriving very early in the morning, break up families, sending men to one side and women and children on the other, and threatening to separate mothers and children.”

He went on to note that these type of evictions do not work, as the Roma tend to regroup later.

Other conservative politicians have also spoken out against the tightening security laws. In an interview with Le Parisien, ex-minister Christin Boutin, president of the UMP-allied Christian Democrat Party (PCD), called for an end to “cultivating fear” and “putting people up against one another.”

“Stigmatisation of one or another community exacerbates violence,” she noted, adding that many French people have foreign origins, including the president himself, who has a Hungarian background.

While the EU has largely declined to comment on Paris’ intentions towards illegal Roma or its proposed new laws, the UN has been quite blunt.

An anti-racism panel from the United Nations last week said that France is experiencing “a significant resurgence of racism” and lacked the political will to deal with the problem. Some members of the panel expressed concern over the nature of the political discourse in the country, including on national identity and immigration.

However, a survey last week by the pro-government Le Figaro newspaper indicates the hardline approach may make Mr Sarkozy, who has been slumping in the polls, more popular.

The survey showed strong public support for his security crackdown, including 79 percent of those asked in favour of the dismantling of gypsy camps.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Men Paid Less Than Their Wives Are ‘Five Times More Likely to Cheat’

Men who are financially dependent on their wives are more likely to be unfaithful, research shows.

And the greater the earning gap, the more likely the man is to cheat, with stay-at-home husbands five times more likely to have an affair than those who contribute an equal amount of money to the partnership.


For the latest study, sociologists surveyed the salaries and relationships of a group of 18 to 28-year-olds who had been in the same relationships for more than a year. All the couples were married or living together.


‘At the other end of the spectrum, men who make a lot more money than their partners may be in jobs that offer more opportunities for travel like long work hours, travel and higher incomes that make cheating easier to conceal.’

The key to keeping a man faithful, it seems, is for him to earn a third more than his wife.

But men who want to keep their wife on the straight and narrow should keep her on a tight budget, the American Sociological Society’s annual conference heard.

The survey found that those who were financially dependent on their husbands or boyfriends were less likely to cheat than those who earned as much or more.


[Return to headlines]

Mystery of Most Common Contact Allergy Solved

Nickel allergy is the most common contact allergy in the western world, with people affected reacting to costume jewellery, coins and even medical implants. Now we know why: it seems nickel imitates the action of bacteria.

Matthias Goebeler at the University of Giessen in Germany and his colleagues looked at cells from the blood vessels of people with a nickel allergy. The team found that these cells react to nickel when a group of receptors known as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are present.

When the team “knocked out” the genes behind each of the 11 types of TLR, they identified TLR4 as nickel’s target — the same TLR that bacteria bind to, sparking the body’s immune response.

“This receptor was thought to only be relevant for bacteria,” says Goebeler, who suspects that other allergens may act in the same way.

Nickel and bacteria bind to different parts of the receptor,the team say, so blocking nickel’s binding site could prevent allergic responses to the metal without stopping the body’s inflammation response to infection.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Why Warming is Falsely Reported When World is Cooling

Obsession with finding human causes means they ignore what we know about natural mechanisms

Finally, a weather person has mentioned the word “blocking” when talking about the heat and fires in Moscow. It’s a natural event as the world shifts from the warming trend of the 1990s to a cooling trend since 2000. Distortion of reality about global temperatures continues with warming claims while Western North America, most of Eurasia and large areas of the southern hemisphere report below normal temperatures. It’s been the coldest summer on record north of 80°N latitude and rate of sea ice melt continues to decrease.

Recently the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency as hundreds of people died from the coldest temperatures in 50 years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sean O'Brian said...

Ireland: Garda Issue Warning Over Online Racism

One of the sites had more than 8,000 members before it was closed down, while another site still in operation which promotes abuse against Travellers has more than 300 members.

Travellers are racially no different from ordinary Irish people. They just lead an alternative 'lifestyle' - similar to Roma gypsies. Last year a Traveller was convicted of raping an 85-year old woman. They are not well-liked as a community by some people.