Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101119

Financial Crisis
»China: Beijing to Announce Anti-Inflation Measures, Asian Markets React With Concern
»IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Urges Leaders to Cede More Sovereignty to EU
»Margaret Thatcher Knew the Single Currency Would Devastate Europe
»Carville Questions Obama’s Manhood…
»Full-Body Scanners: We Reveal All
»Let Ethanol Subsidies Die
»Massachusetts Suing Citizens Over Mandatory Insurance Premiums
»Over 95 Percent of 9/11 Workers Approve Settlement
»US Reserves of Rare Earth Elements Assessed for First Time
Europe and the EU
»English Defence League Demos ‘Feed Islamic Extremism’
»English Defence League is a Result, Not a Cause, of Islamism Says Leader
»Italy: Fugitive Camorra Superboss Caught
»Italy ‘May Have Saved’ Pakistan Blasphemy Woman
»Liberal Dutch Mosque Closes Due to Cash Crisis
»Lure of the Bosphorus
»Srdja Trifkovic: Europe in Crisis, Yet Again
»Swiss Minaret Ban Stays in Media Focus — One Year on
»Swiss Party’s Racist Cheek
»Swiss Anti-Immigrant Political Party Issues Image of Naked Models
»UK: Birmingham Schools Targeted by Islamic Extremists Warns Michael Gove
»UK: Cradley Heath Mosque Refused by Councillors
»UK: EDL Demos ‘Fuel Islamic Extremism’
»UK: Kidnap Victim ‘Bludgeoned to Death’ And Found in Back of Van Was Married Father-of-Three
»UK: Labour MP Who Branded Middle Class ‘Hypocrites and Drunkards’ Spends Night in a Cell After Being Arrested for ‘Drink Driving’
»UK: Merry Christmas Everybody: Council Puts Up Lights for Hindus and Muslims So They Don’t Miss Out on the Festive Spirit
»UK: Muslim Woman’s Race Rant
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Facing Our Fears
Middle East
»Iraq: Dutch MP Calls for Autonomous Assyrian Christian Region in North
»Iraq: President Urges Christians to Seek Refuge in Kurdish North
Far East
»Japans Warns West Against Lifting China Arms Embargo
Australia — Pacific
»Hijab Woman Sentenced to Six Months
»Vic Father Charged With Killing Daughter
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Fake Bomb Made in the US Caused Germany Terror Alert
»Militants Demand France Pullout From Afghanistan for Hostage Safety
Latin America
»Nicole Ferrand: The FARC’s Senator
»Germany: Authorities to Expel False Balkan Asylum-Seekers
»Italy: Govt Deports Egyptians Who Staged Crane Protest
»UK: Are Muslims Integrating or Are They ‘Taking Over’?
»UK: Pensioner Living in Britain for 64 Years Branded ‘Illegal Immigrant’
Culture Wars
»Lincoln Man Charged With Hate Crime, After Further Review
»Islam is Rising, Beware!
»Red Wine Packed With Antidiabetes Compounds
»Why So Silent About Attacks?
»Why Seniors Are Susceptible to Scams

Financial Crisis

China: Beijing to Announce Anti-Inflation Measures, Asian Markets React With Concern

Prices for staples, especially food, rise rapidly. October inflation stands at 4.4 per cent. Consumers rush to buy up everything they can to beat the next hike. The authorities contemplate setting a limit to prices and increase the cost of money. Many in Asia fear contagion from Europe.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies — China is dealing with its worst inflation in a decade. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao yesterday announced that measures would be taken to contain rising prices. Asian stocks reacted negatively to the news, as many operators wonder what those measures might be. “When necessary, temporary intervention measures will be implemented on prices of some important daily necessities and production materials,” China’s state council (cabinet) announced today.

Last month, the consumer price index hit a 25-month high in October, up 4.4 per cent year on year, with energy prices and especially food prices (+ 10.1 per cent) leading the way.

Expectations that prices might continue to rise has led to panic buying, accentuating the upward trend.

The Ministry of Commerce released figures yesterday, indicating that in the first two weeks of November, the average wholesale price of 18 staple vegetables was 62 per cent higher than in same period last year, and 11.3 per cent higher than at the beginning of this year.

In the big cities however, ordinary people are complaining that food prices are rising at a faster rate, with several hikes a week.

The authorities are now expected to set a ceiling on food prices. However, many observers are unconvinced that it will work. They point out that in May, when Beijing set limits to various food items, speculation continued and wholesale prices for meat rose.

In recent days, line-ups have appeared as people try to buy as much as possible ahead of expected price rises. Last Saturday, Zhang Juan, a 77-year-old retiree, told the South China Morning Post that she left home at 7.15 am to go to the shop, which opens at 8 am, but found about 50 people in front of her.

There are also concerns over the impact on China’s economy of the ongoing crisis in the West.

The United States does not appear willing to take steps to contain inflation. In Europe, alarm bells are going off over the crisis in Ireland and Portugal, especially after Irish authorities seem unwilling to accept EU support.

Experts note that China’s current bout with inflation is also due to massive public injections of capital to stimulate the economy at the height of worldwide financial meltdown.

Across Asia, stocks have declined, as investors wait for news from the mainland. Beijing has shown that it is capable of acting quickly and decisively in economic matters and that it will consider only its own interests.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 4 per cent yesterday. Investors fear that China’s central bank will increase the cost of money by reducing liquidity in order to tackle inflation.

At the same time, “Attention has shifted from the U.S. to concerns about Europe’s debt issues,” currency strategist Keiji Matsumoto told Bloomberg, and this “will be around with us at least till the end of this year.”

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

IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Urges Leaders to Cede More Sovereignty to EU

In what are likely to prove controversial proposals, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF managing director, called on the European Union to move responsibility for fiscal discipline and structural reform to a central body that is free from the influences of member states.

In a speech in Frankfurt addressing the sovereign debt crisis engulfing Europe once again, he said: “The wheels of co-operation move too slowly. The centre must seize the initiative in all areas key to reaching the common destiny of the union, especially in financial, economic and social policy. Countries must be willing to cede more authority to the centre.”

Europe is plagued by crisis because member states put too much faith in banks and let their public finances run out of control. Greece has already been bailed out and Ireland is expected to agree a €100bn (£85bn) rescue within days. Portugal is also at risk.

Mr Strauss-Kahn did not name any individual eurozone members, but warned: “The sovereign crisis is not over.”

Reform is vital but, he said: “The area’s institutions were simply not up to the task of managing a crisis — even setting up a temporary solution proved to be a drawn-out process.

“One [solution] is to shift the main responsibility for enforcement of fiscal discipline and key structural reforms away from the Council. This would minimize the risk of narrow national interests interfering with effective implementation of the common rules.”

Handing greater powers to the centre would lead to a greater loss of sovereignty for each of the eurozone’s member states. Monetary policy is already under the control of the European Central Bank, with national governments holding on to fiscal authority.

In proposals that are likely to play into the hands of eurosceptics in the UK and elsewher, Mr Strauss-Kahn recommended more tax harmonisation and a larger central budget. Reiterating a now common theme, he added that the euro area needs to rebalance — with Germany reducing its dependence on exports and other nations shrinking current account deficits.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Margaret Thatcher Knew the Single Currency Would Devastate Europe

Next week it will be 20 years since Margaret Thatcher fell. Pressure had been building on a number of fronts, but the issue which finally destroyed her was the yet-to-be-born euro. In the last weekend of October 1990, she travelled to a European summit in Rome, where Jacques Delors’ dream of European Monetary Union was high on the agenda. But while Mrs Thatcher was fighting her lone battle against the prospective single currency abroad, she was being fatally undermined at home. Geoffrey Howe, her bitterest cabinet critic, went on television to tell the interviewer Brian Walden that in principle Britain did not oppose the euro.

In her Commons statement after returning home, she was forced to slap Howe down: “this government believes in the pound sterling.” Howe resigned, and days later delivered the famous speech from the back benches that set in motion a leadership contest.

Today, Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography, first published in 1993, reads like a prophecy. It shows how deeply and with what extraordinary wisdom she had examined Delors’ proposals for the single currency. Her overriding objection was not ill-considered or xenophobic, as subsequent critics have repeatedly claimed.

They were economic. Right back in 1990, Mrs Thatcher foresaw with painful clarity the devastation it was bound to cause. Her autobiography records how she warned John Major, her euro-friendly chancellor of the exchequer, that the single currency could not accommodate both industrial powerhouses such as Germany and smaller countries such as Greece. Germany, forecast Thatcher, would be phobic about inflation, while the euro would prove fatal to the poorer countries because it would “devastate their inefficient economies”.

It is as if, all those years ago, the British prime minister possessed a crystal ball that enabled her to foresee the catastrophic events of the past year or so in Ireland, Greece and Portugal. Indeed, it is one of the tragedies of European history that the world chose not to believe her. President Mitterrand of France and Chancellor Kohl of Germany dismissed her words of caution. And when Mrs Thatcher was driven from office in 1990, a crucial voice was lost, and a new consensus started to form in Britain in favour of the euro.

This consensus stretched across the entire spectrum of the British establishment. It took in Tony Blair’s New Labour and all of Paddy Ashdown’s Liberal Democrats. The CBI came out for the euro, and so did the trades unions. The Foreign Office was doctrinally pro-single currency. Leading businessmen, such as Peter Sutherland (chairman of BP and Goldman Sachs International) and the fashion-conscious Richard Branson were strongly in favour. The Financial Times, a newspaper whose judgment has been wrong on every great economic issue of the last 40 years, was another supporter.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Carville Questions Obama’s Manhood…

while suggesting that Hillary has plenty to spare.

From Politico:

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Democratic strategist James Carville dropped this one-liner: “If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two.”

The quote was first noted by Tribune reporter Mike Memoli on his Twitter account.

Mark Steyn on Rush Limbaugh’s show moments ago reported that Obama was quick to suggest that no one would be touching his junk if he had any say in the matter though that’s yet to be confirmed.

Neither can we confirm that Bill Clinton was quick to volunteer his junk for touching by any and all suitors.

[Return to headlines]

Full-Body Scanners: We Reveal All

The recent release of pictures taken by full-body scanners has outraged the travelling public and focused attention on the risks the devices may carry. New Scientist deals with the concerns

What are full-body scanners?

Remember the X-ray specs of science fiction comics that would let people see through walls and clothing? Full-body scanners are a bit like them. The scanners take advantage of the fact that at certain wavelengths, electromagnetic waves can pass through clothes but not through the skin, metal or substances such as drugs and explosives.

If your eyes were sensitive to these wavelengths like the scanners, every person you meet would appear naked, with pens, coins, belt buckles and the like magically festooned about their person. You would also be able to see if they were carrying a knife, gun or explosives.

What are the health concerns surrounding them?

There are two main types of full-body scanner. One uses X-rays while the other uses lower-energy millimetre wavelengths. X-rays are hazardous because their photons have enough energy to ionise atoms and break chemical bonds. That can cause damage to DNA that subsequently leads to cancer. The machines are deemed safe because the total dose that someone receives during a scan is tiny.

However, earlier this year, a group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, raised a number of concerns over X-ray scanners. They said the X-rays they use are low energy to ensure they bounce only off skin rather than passing through the body, to produce an image focused on objects concealed beneath clothes. This means that the entire dose that the person being scanned receives is concentrated on the skin rather than spread throughout their body. That could mean the skin receives a dose that is one or two orders of magnitude more than expected.

To many observers, the response of the US Food and Drug Administration failed to properly address these concerns.

Are there health concerns surrounding millimetre-wave scanners?

In theory, these ought to be safer than X-rays because millimetre photons do not have enough energy to break chemical bonds. Last year, however, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suggested that these low energy photons could damage DNA in an entirely novel way. They say that while these photons cannot break DNA, they can shake it. This shaking may be so strong that it unzips the two strands in DNA, interfering with the genetic machinery that keeps cells working and healthy.

The team at Los Alamos did their calculations for submillimetre or terahertz waves, whose photons are slightly more energetic than those of millimetre waves. Their results are probabilistic rather than deterministic, they say. This explains why some experiments show that terahertz waves can damage DNA while other, practically identical studies show nothing.

While terahertz full-body scanners are not yet widely used, the work does show that the effects of electromagnetic waves on DNA are not fully understood.

Are there alternatives to full-body scanners?

Travellers can opt out of being scanned and choose to be frisked instead. In the US, one group is hoping to highlight the controversy over full-body scanners by encouraging everyone travelling on 24 November to elect to be frisked.

What about privacy concerns?

The US Transportation Security Administration admits that the scanners have the ability to store and print images. But it says this capability is used only when the machines are tested and is switched off at all other times. Critics point out that it isn’t clear how difficult it is to reactivate this capability or how the TSA prevents employees from recording the images with another device such as a cellphone camera.

Earlier this week, hundreds of images taken by a body scanner used by marshals at a courthouse in Florida appeared on the internet. The TSA says it would be impossible for a similar leak to occur from airport scanners. It’s fair to say the public is yet to be reassured.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Let Ethanol Subsidies Die

  • In 2004, the government started offering a tax credit worth 51 cents for each gallon of gasoline containing 10 percent ethanol.
  • The 2008 farm bill lowered that credit slightly to 45 cents per gallon, but kept it going for another two years.
  • Meanwhile, diverting grain to ethanol production caused corn prices to soar, lining the pockets of corn growers and refiners while increasing food costs for humans and feed costs for animals.

The good news is that unless Congress acts, the $5 billion in annual subsidies to corn ethanol will expire at the end of the year. The bad news is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exacerbated the situation last month when it to raised the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent for fueling late model cars.

  • The EPA boosted the amount of ethanol that can be blended with gasoline because the industry is currently producing 13 billion gallons.
  • Since the United States consumed only 138 billion gallons of gasoline last year, that brings ethanol producers dangerously close to maxing out their market.
  • In the meantime, higher feed costs have driven farmers to cut their herds — in July the number of beef cattle in the United States dropped to the fewest since 1973 and the number of breeding hogs fell to near the lowest level ever

In addition, it turns out ethanol isn’t so green after all.

Even an analysis by the EPA found that current ethanol production techniques actually result in higher emissions of greenhouse gases than refining and burning ordinary gasoline.

Failing to make a compelling case for the environmental benefits of ethanol, advocates often fall back on claims about energy independence. But a recent analysis by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, finds that ethanol has not reduced U.S. oil imports, says Bailey.


[Return to headlines]

Massachusetts Suing Citizens Over Mandatory Insurance Premiums

The state’s health insurance connector — the highly touted agency that aims to bring cheap medical care to the masses — has turned into a legal pit bull by aggressively going after a growing number of Bay Staters who say they can’t afford mandated insurance — or the penalties imposed for not having it.

The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority is cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year.

All told, more than 7,700 people have appealed state fines for not having health insurance, according to connector spokesman Richard Powers. The agency has hired several private attorneys at $50 an hour to hear many of the appeals, and some 3,150 of them have been denied — and the losers told to pay up.

The connector has also hired the Hub law firm Bowman & Penski — at $125 an hour — to defend itself against 13 lawsuits filed by fed-up taxpayers who insist they can’t afford state required insurance premiums or the escalating fines.

[Return to headlines]

Over 95 Percent of 9/11 Workers Approve Settlement

More than 95 percent of the workers who sued New York City and its contractors, saying their health was damaged by work they did at ground zero in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have approved a negotiated settlement of their claims, lawyers said on Friday. That clears the way for payouts of at least $625 million.

The workers had until Tuesday night to accept or reject the settlement, with 95 percent assent required for approval. In figures presented on Friday to the federal judge overseeing the litigation, 10,043 of the 10,563 workers, or 95.1 percent, accepted the settlement’s terms.

[Return to headlines]

US Reserves of Rare Earth Elements Assessed for First Time

The US has 13 million tonnes of rare earth elements but it would take years to extract them, suggests the first detailed report on the country’s supply.

“Rare earth” is an alternative name for the lanthanides — elements 57 to 71 — plus yttrium and scandium. The elements are integral to modern life, and are used in everything from disc drives, hybrid cars and sunglasses to lasers and aircraft used by the military.

China controls 97 per cent of the world’s supply and has been tightening its export quotas, sparking concerns that the rare earths could live up to their name.

Now, the US Geological Survey has looked at all known national reserves of the elements as part of a larger assessment of the threat posed to defence by limited rare earth supplies.

It found that the domestic pipeline is “rather thin”. The US boasts the third largest reserves in the world after China and the Commonwealth of Independent States, made up of nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. But the only rare earths mine the US has ever operated, at Mountain Pass, California, is currently inactive. Mining may restart there within two years, but any other mines will be far behind.

Down Under

Only a handful of sites are even being explored. “Then it’s literally years before you start applying for permits to start mining or building infrastructure or putting processing facilities in place,” says Gareth Hatch of consultancy firm Technology Metals Research in Carpentersville, Illinois, who was not involved in the new report. It could be 10 years or more before any new mines open, the report suggests.

The report says one of the most promising sites is Bokan Mountain on the southernmost island of Alaska. Ucore Rare Metals has been exploring there since 2007, and the region was once home to a uranium mine, so some infrastructure is already in place, together with a deep water port. See a map of other rare earth sites in the US.

The report suggests the US might break its dependency on China’s rare earth monopoly by looking to other future suppliers of rare earths, including Australia and Canada. Australia has far fewer rare earths overall than the US, but the ore in its Mount Weld mine contain the highest concentration of the elements known anywhere in the world. Since the mine was completed in 2008, ore has been mined and is now stockpiled, ready for its rare earths to be extracted.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

English Defence League Demos ‘Feed Islamic Extremism’

Right-wing groups like the English Defence League are turning parts of Britain into recruiting grounds for Islamic extremists, police have said.

The EDL emerged last year and has held demonstrations in a number of towns and cities against radicalisation.

But the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit has told BBC Radio 5 live there is evidence EDL events can encourage extremists.

Officers also say they are worried about radicalisation inside prisons.

Many EDL demonstrations and counter-demonstrations have ended in violence, and Det Supt John Larkin says they have witnessed signs of radicalisation afterwards.

“In some areas, we have evidence that once they have gone and the high-profile policing of the event has occurred, there’s fertile ground for those groups who would come in to encourage people to have this reality — this is the way white Western society sees us,” he said.

“And that’s a potential recruiting carrot for people and that’s what some of these radicalisers look for — they look for the vulnerability, for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, they perversely leave that behind.”

EDL leader Tommy Robinson said it was “ridiculous” to blame his organisation.

“9/11 was our fault, 7/7 was our fault, there’s been 17,000 terrorist attacks since September 11th, I guess they’re our fault,” he said.

“I guess the last 1,400 years of history, where Islam’s been at war with non-Islam, is our fault. It’s ridiculous.

“We’re not the cause. The root cause of the problem is the Koran, it’s Islam.”

‘Covert environment’

The BBC was given exclusive access to the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit — housed in one of the most secretive buildings in the UK.

Thousands of people will have walked or driven past the anonymous offices, somewhere in the West Midlands, without realising that inside lies a counter-terrorism hub.

The only clue is close-up where security is tighter than for neighbouring buildings. But there are no armed guards, barbed wire or guard dogs and, of course, there are no signs.

Det Ch Insp Alex Murray walks me through the gate and into the building.

“There’s always a certain element within the violent extremist community that may want to target a premise like this,” he says. “So for that reason it needs to remain discreet.”

It took months of delicate negotiations before I was allowed in, and it only happened under the condition that I did not reveal its whereabouts.

The intelligence community is beginning to believe that it is in its interests to be more open.

Despite this, Det Ch Insp Murray admitted that people were nervous about my visit, saying: “Historically, and for very good reasons, it’s been a covert environment. People don’t want to become targets themselves.”

Some areas were strictly off limits. Next to a door marked with a sign that indicated top security clearance was needed, I was told that “in theory” I might be allowed in, but I would need to be vetted, specially trained, and probably would not be allowed to reveal what I saw.

‘Classified info’

A lot of the building was accessible though. There is a large open dining area, with kettle, microwave and vending machine. Nearby there are changing rooms and a small gym. Upstairs there’s office space where more mundane work goes on and a large meeting room.

In the centre of its conference table were two phones with ultra secure lines.

One, marked Secret, can only be used in this country. The other is activated by a special key and can contact similar agencies around the world.

The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit was set up six years ago, the first outside London.

Its boss is Det Ch Supt Matt Sawers. He says: “We put together a small group of about 80 people, but some of the threats that started to present themselves meant that we needed to build up the numbers.”

I asked how many people currently work for the West Midlands CTU, but was told that the answer is classified.

The officers talk about current threats from what they call the al-Qaeda “franchise” and how links to Somalia and Yemen are giving them as much concern as more “traditional” areas like Pakistan.

In addition to the EDL effect, they are also worried about radicalisation inside prisons as well as colleges and universities.

Detection strategy

Inside the brightly lit modern building, staff with police, military and intelligence backgrounds work in two broad areas.

The first is detection. These are the officers who respond to any incidents or threats. Operations are either intelligence-led or in response to tip-offs from the public.

“There is normally a steady flow of information. You can quickly see which are the calls that will lead to immediate action,” says Det Insp Darren Walsh, who is in charge of the Initial Response Team.

West Midlands CTU’s biggest success so far came during Operation Gamble in 2006, when a plot to kidnap and behead a serving British Muslim soldier was foiled.

Its officers can be deployed anywhere and the unit’s forensic team spent many weeks in London after the 7/7 attacks.

Besides detection, the next area is prevention. This unit aims to build strong links with communities to try to stop radicalisation taking place.

After considerable success, there has been a major setback. This summer, West Midlands Police became embroiled in a scandal over surveillance cameras which were erected in predominantly Muslim areas in Birmingham.

Residents were told they were part of a crime-fighting initiative, but it emerged that they had been paid for out of counter-terrorism funds.

Everyone from the chief constable down has said sorry and the cameras are due to be taken down. But it has affected relationships and CTU knows they need to be rebuilt.

The government has also announced a national review of its Prevent Strategy, which is expected to report in the new year.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

English Defence League is a Result, Not a Cause, of Islamism Says Leader

The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit has claimed that group’s such as the English Defence League are responsible for “encouraging” the radicalisation of young Muslims in parts of Britain, a claim the EDL has strongly denied.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Superintendant John Larkin, said, “In some areas, we have that once they [the EDL] have gone and the high-profile policing of the event has occurred, there’s fertile ground for those groups who would come in to encourage people to have this reality — this is the way white Western society sees us.

“And that’s a potential recruiting carrot for people and that’s what some of these radicalisers look for — they look for the vulnerability, for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, they perversely leave that behind.”

The EDL however claim that blaming Islamic extremism on them is absurd, as they are a reaction to that extremism, rather than a cause of it.

The group was formed last year in response to protests by Islamists against British soldiers returning from their tour of duty. The soldiers were branded “rapists” and “murderers” by the Islamists.

Since then the EDL has held numerous demonstrations against Islamic extremism and the Islamification of Britain. The demonstrations have often turned violent with clashes breaking out not so much between the EDL and Islamists, but with the left-wing group Unite Against Fascism (of which Prime Minister David Cameron is a supporter).


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fugitive Camorra Superboss Caught

‘Beautiful day’ says interior minister Maroni

(ANSA) — Naples, November 17 — Fugitive Camorra superboss Antonio Iovine was arrested on Wednesday after 14 years on the run.

Iovine, 46, was caught in Casal di Principe, the town north of Naples that spawned the notorious Casalesi clan of the Neapolitan mafia whose criminal empire was exposed by writer Roberto Saviano.

“Today is a beautiful day for the fight against the mafia,” Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told reporters. Iovine, who did not resist arrest when apprehended in a friend’s house, was one of two Casalesi superbosses who have been in hiding for over a decade.

His arrest leaves Michele Zagaria, 52, as the only top boss not in custody.

Iovine, like Zagaria, was on Italy’s 30 most wanted list along with other superbosses like Cosa Nostra chief Matteo Messina Denaro.

Over the last two years Italian police have carried out a string of successful operations against the Camorra, Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta. The arrest came amid a continuing dispute between Maroni and Saviano over a TV show in which the writer said ‘Ndrangheta, whose control of the European cocaine trade has helped it expand north, was courting Maroni’s Northern League party for public contracts.

Saviano is under round-the-clock police protection because of death threats from the Casalesi after his 2006 bestseller Gomorra (Gomorrah), which was later turned into an award-winning film of the same name.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy ‘May Have Saved’ Pakistan Blasphemy Woman

Frattini voices optimism on Asia Bibi

(ANSA) — Rome, November 18 — Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini voiced optimism Thursday that Italy may have helped save the life of a Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five, was sentenced to death by hanging on November 10 under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Frattini pressed for he case to be reopened during talks on alleged discrimination against Pakistan’s four million Christians in Islamabad last week.

Speaking on a morning talk show Thursday, Frattini said: “Perhaps we have saved her. I don’t want to be too optimistic, but we have obtained an important result from the Pakistani government, because the competent minister has ordered the inquiry to be repeated”.

“There will be a fresh trial in front of a lower-court judge, then perhaps an appeal, and then there’s the supreme court. So we have achieved something positive”.

Frattini said he had received a “commitment” from Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani to have the country’s blasphemy laws changed.

“He understood that it is in Pakistan’s interest to ensure freedom for all religions”.

Bibi is the first woman to get the death penalty in Pakistan for blasphemy.

In July two Christian brothers were shot under the blasphemy laws.

The Italian government has launched a drive to ensure religious freedom for Christians in Muslim countries and is presenting a draft resolution to the United Nations.

It has voiced concern, echoing Pope Benedict XVI, about persecution in Iraq where there has been an exodus after persistent attacks including a Baghdad church bombing on October 31 that killed more than 50 people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Liberal Dutch Mosque Closes Due to Cash Crisis

An experimental Liberal Amsterdam mosque where prayers were said in Dutch has been forced to close because of financial problems, AP reports on Wednesday.

The Polder mosque has debts of around €200,000 and has turned down offers of financial help from abroad because it conflicts with its policy, AP says.

The mosque’s organisers hope to reopen next year in a cheaper location.

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

Lure of the Bosphorus

They were born and raised in Germany, France and Belgium. But now, faced with the difficulty of finding work and a career in those countries, more and more European Turks are choosing to move to Istanbul.

Guillaume Perrier

Once a month, about 50 of them meet in a fashionable bar in downtown Istanbul. It is a time for chat and the swapping business cards and job offers, but everyone is talking German. “German is my mother tongue,” insists Emine Sahin, the 37-year-old real-estate project manager, who organises the monthly meet of German-Turks who, like her, have chosen to come and live on the banks of the Bosphorus.

“The trend created by young Germans who pull up stakes and return to the old country is now a growing phenomenon. With the economic crisis in Europe, there aren’t enough job opportunities for young graduates with an international profile,” explains the young woman with large pale-coloured eyes. In contrast, Turkey with its Chinese style growth rates and dynamic society “offers much better prospects,” insists Emine, who was born in Ankara, but brought up in Germany where had parents emigrated. She defines herself as “a model of social integration.”

Fifty years after the arrival of the first Gastarbeiter (guest workers) in 1961, the migratory flow between Turkey and Germany has changed course. More than three million Turks live in Germany. But in 2009, the number returning to Istanbul (40,000) now outweighs the number of new arrivals (approximately 30,000). The children and grandchildren of Anatolian immigrants are now traveling back. A phenomenon which goes against fantastic theories of an invasion of Turkish workers in the event of Turkish accession to the European Union.

“I always dreamed of living in Istanbul”

According to a survey by the German Futureorg institute, one third of dual nationality students in Germany are thinking about a career in Turkey. Companies on the other side of the Rhine have understood how to take advantage of this phenomenon. The Turkish subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz now reseves 30% of its management positions for German-Turks. Government institutions, hoping to benefit from their dual culture, are also opening their doors to Euro-Turks. “Turkey is developing very quickly and needs people like us,” remarks Belgian born and educated Ilker Astarci, who was recently appointed as an advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “There are more opportunities than there are in Europe. I felt it was important to do something for Turkey, which is my country of origin.”

Large numbers of Europeans of Turkish origin from Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and France are answering the siren call of the city on the Bosphorus. “I am receiving more and more CVs from young French-Turks, especially young women,” says Hatice Luis, who runs the local office of a French logistics company. For some Turks, Istanbul offers a convenient means of escaping from familial pressure. The third eldest in a family of six girls, Hatice, age 32, grew up in Clichy-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis). “We lived in a three-room flat on the 10th floor, where my parents had set up a sewing workshop in the children’s bedroom,” she says. “My father, who comes from a small village, didn’t want his daughters to study. But I was saved by my secondary school teachers, who showed remarkable commitment when they insisted on my behalf.” In 2001, she finally arrived in Istanbul, “the only destination our parents are not opposed to,” remarks another “repatriate.”

Second and third generation European-Turks are often inspired by dreams of returning to their roots. “I always dreamed of living in Istanbul,” says Pinar Kiliç, who moved from Frankfurt in 2006, and now works for the Turkish subsidiary of Google. “I feel Turkish, even though I lived for 25 years in Germany. At home we spoke Turkish, and we ate Turkish food.”

“It comes as a real shock”

A quest for identity was also a motive for Hatice, who was “frustrated because she was not considered to be Turkish in Turkey, or French in France.” Now she has found a compromise in Istanbul “which is European with an Oriental quality, just like us,” she says. “But there is no doubt that I am French, even though I have only just obtained my nationality. That is something that I found out since I came to Turkey.” Emine, who defines herself as “German with Turkish roots” tells a similar story. “At age 14, I really didn’t know which culture I belonged to,” she explains.

For Ali Koç, who arrived from a small village in the Vosges in 2004, the goal was to improve his command of the language and to discover his parents home country. “Like many other French-Turks, I only knew the small village in Anatolia where I spent two months every summer,” he explains. “As for me personally, I feel that I am more French, but culturally I am more Turkish. At the same time, I’m very attached to the society where I was brought up: the acceptance of social diversity, and access to funding for education were very important to someone whose father only earned the minimum wage. There is nothing like it here.”

Migration to Turkey is a growing trend among highly qualified under-35s who find better opportunities than they would in Europe. They are sensitive to the issue of discrimination in European society and political debates on the question of social integration. “But I do not believe that negative experience or a lack of integration is the main reason for their desire to live in Turkey,” points out American academic Susan Rottmann, who has studied the phenomenon. And for the children of Anatolian emigrant families, the discovery of Istanbul “comes as a real shock,” remarks Ali Koç. Traveling to Turkey just like traveling to Europe also requires a sudden adjustment to cultural difference.

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

Srdja Trifkovic: Europe in Crisis, Yet Again

Alarming newspaper headlines greeted me at London’s Heathrow Airport on my arrival from the Balkans yesterday. The Daily Mail led with the EU President’s warning that “Ireland’s debt crisis could kill the European Union stone-dead.” The Independent’s front page (“Ghost estates and broken lives: the human cost of the Irish crash”) was accompanied by a photo that could have been made in Soweto. “EU left ‘fighting for survival,’“ announced the Telegraph.

Having spent two previous weeks in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina—where the rhetoric of “European Integration” is still tirelessly parroted by the political class—I was amused to see that the Brussels-registered “Titanic” was performing, yet again, as expected by those of us who would not be sorry to see its demise.

The latest news is that the crisis has been contained. A team of officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund came to Dublin with an offer that could not be refused. Ireland is now a state with its sovereignty as limited as that enjoyed by the German Democratic Republic before November 1989. This outcome was also expected, and in the next few days we’ll see many reassuring statements by various EU bureaucrats and Bundesbank officials that the Eurozone is safe and sound.

The underlying structural problems of the euro and of the European Union project itself remain unresolved, however. It was Greece yesterday, it is Ireland today, and with Spain, Portugal, and possibly even Italy, the question is “when,” rather than “if.” The Euro-IMF bailouts will be repeated, with ever greater losses to private bondholders, ever greater hardship to the inhabitants of the Eurozone PIGS (Portugal-Ireland-Greece-Spain), and ever-receding prospect of the experiment’s long-term viability.

The collapse of the single European currency was averted five months ago, following the Greek rescue operation and the establishment of the €440 billion European Financial Stabilization Facility (EFSF). The euro went up from $1.19 in June to $1.41 three weeks ago. Yet only last Tuesday EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy admitted that the EU was “in a survival crisis” and its future uncertain. His words were tantamount to an SOS signal directed at Germany, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded reassuringly by declaring that “if the euro fails, then Europe will fail, and with it fails the idea of European values and unity.” Her words reflected the consensus in Berlin and Frankfurt that the cost to Germany of another rescue is well worth the benefit of bringing the Union ever more tightly under its fiscal, economic, and political control. In other words, the Germans remain committed to an ever-tighter Union, controlled by themselves, and they are willing to endure financial costs in achieving it.

As the Financial Times noted, also last Tuesday, the result will “give an official EU imprimatur on Europe’s dirty secret: public treasuries will do anything to make private bank creditors whole.” Their ability to continue doing so indefinitely is far from certain, however. The following day the FT warned that the Irish crisis may herald further “contagious defaults”: there is but “little hope that the other ticking bombs with which Europe’s economies are riddled are going to be disarmed in time.”

The process will continue until the euro is taken apart, or until the four PIGS are expelled from the Eurozone. This may not happen in the next few months but it can hardly be avoided. It is noteworthy that, unlike the Greeks, the Irish had enjoyed two decades of strikingly successful growth before 2008. Its government tried to behave responsibly (unlike its counterparts in Athens) and applied painful austerity measures. As Matthew Lynn of Bloomberg’s London bureau explains, the problem wasn’t Ireland—it was the euro:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Swiss Minaret Ban Stays in Media Focus — One Year on

by Alexander Künzle,

Langenthal, site of a planned minaret, and a centre for industrial design and engineering, has been drawing media attention for all the wrong reasons.

Twelve months after a nationwide vote in favour of banning the construction of minarets, the town’s mayor is rather unhappy about the continuing publicity while the business community appears to ignore the controversy.

The row over the local minaret has not gone away. It had already received planning permission from the town before the vote was held, and that was confirmed by the cantonal authorities in September 2010. Opponents have now taken their case to the cantonal administrative court, which is expected to rule in 2011.

Considered by some as a byword for averageness, Langenthal is a town with a population of about 15,000, half way between the country’s business hub Zurich and the capital, Bern.

It is hardly a coincidence that the town and its consumers serve as a test ground for marketing experts seeking to launch new products, at least in the majority German-speaking part of the country.

The media attention over the planned minaret is not really welcome to the mayor Thomas Rufener. He wishes that people would simply see Langenthal living up to its reputation as an “average” town.

He points out that the result of the anti-minaret vote in November 2009 was similar in Langenthal to that nationwide, and adds that several political parties are trying to benefit from the media spotlight.

Rufener, a member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, dismisses the conservative and islamophobic image of Langenthal touted by much of the media.

“A lot of the international media are interested in Langenthal. But they lump the town and the anti-minaret ballot together, although the underlying issue has got nothing to do with Langenthal,” Rufener told


Twelve months after the vote, supporters of the minaret ban have announced plans to put up a memorial near the Muslim prayer hall, a building that at night looks more like a brightly-lit sports hall than a religious centre in an industrial zone on the edge of Langenthal.

The committee wants the monument — a human-sized statue in the shape of a corkscrew — to be placed in the middle of a major traffic roundabout.

However, the request has been rejected by the local council.

As a model of the monument is unveiled in a nearby state-of-the-art hotel, campaigners say the aim is to remind people of the persecution of non-Muslims in Islamic countries. The recent attack on a church in Iraq is mentioned during the event.

They harshly criticise the authorities for approving the construction of the minaret in Langenthal despite the verdict by voters. Several speakers also tap into fears of an increasing influence of Islam in Switzerland.


Fears of a different kind are felt by the members of Langenthal’s Islamic community, which is made up mainly of ethnic Albanians who immigrated from Macedonia.

Paradoxically, European Muslims who themselves were persecuted at home and fled to Switzerland are now put in the same category as Arab terrorists, says Mutalip Karaademi, a spokesman for the local Muslim community.

“There was no religious freedom in the former Yugoslavia. Even imams had to be members of the Communist Party. And during the 1990s military conflict in the Balkans, things took a turn for the worse.”

He says it is sad to see that victims of persecution have again become targets of political propaganda in a country like Switzerland which is proud of its democratic system which guarantees religious freedom…

(adapted from German by Urs Geiser)

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

Swiss Party’s Racist Cheek

A Swiss political party has sparked outrage over anti-immigration posters showing naked beauties romping in Lake Zurich compared to a snap of middle-aged Muslim women bathing in filthy water.

One snap shows a rear view of four stunning white women hand in hand on the edge of the lake, marked Lake Zurich 2010.

The second picture is supposed to the the same scene in 2030 showing what will happen to the country if immigration is left unchecked.

A group of overweight, headscarf-wearing women bath fully clothed while puffing on cigarettes in black, dirty water.

Leaders of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party have refused to apologise for the stunt or withdraw the poster.

Spokesman Jean-Pierre Gallati said: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Voters can decide. I think those who criticise it do not know what they are talking about.”

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

Swiss Anti-Immigrant Political Party Issues Image of Naked Models

The campaign is meant to warn the Swiss of what could happen to the country if it allows greater immigration.

It comes as the Alpine nation prepares to vote on whether immigrants who commit serious crimes should be automatically expelled.

The online campaign was produced by a regional branch of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest in parliament and the country’s biggest political force.

The first image shows a rear view of four young women holding hands and standing in the shallows of Lake Zurich.

The second shows a group of elderly women, possibly Albanians or Bosnians, wearing headscarves and smoking as they immerse themselves in muddy water. It is supposed to represent a vision of Switzerland 20 years from now.

A spokeswoman for the SVP told The Daily Telegraph that the controversial images had been created by party activists in Wohlen, west of Zurich, and would not be adopted nationally.

Switzerland will hold a referendum next week in which voters can decide whether foreigners who have been found guilty of murder, rape, drugs trafficking and other serious offences should be deported.

The expulsion initiative was put forward by the SVP, which has won support by capitalising on fears about foreigners, who currently make up more than a fifth of Switzerland’s population of 7.7 million.

Recent polls show that 54 per cent of Swiss voters would vote in favour of the measure while 43 per cent are against it.

The federal Justice Ministry has warned that a “yes” vote on Nov 28 could bring Switzerland into conflict with international obligations such as the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion or nationality.

Switzerland drew international condemnation last year after voters backed a ban, proposed by the SVP, on the construction of new minarets.

The party also caused outrage with a poster showing a group of white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Birmingham Schools Targeted by Islamic Extremists Warns Michael Gove

Schools in Birmingham have been targeted by Islamic extremists trying to infiltrate the education system, Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned.

He told MPs there were “genuine dangers” due to extremist influence in state schools — and revealed he had been working with Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) to counter the threat.

They have helped set up a series of workshops in inner-city Birmingham schools teaching students about Sufi music, which is inspired by poets who practiced Sufism, a mystical tradition within Islam.

Mr Mahmood said the aim was to teach young people about the true nature of Islam and counter the false impression they might get from extremists who deliberately target students.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons as MPs debated the Government’s policy of allowing parents and community groups to set up schools, known as free schools.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Cradley Heath Mosque Refused by Councillors

A MUSLIM group may be forced to sell up and leave its Cradley Heath base after Sandwell councillors refused plans to turn a rundown church hall into a mosque and meeting centre.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association had expected the proposals for St Luke’s Church Hall, Newtown Lane, to be passed, as recommended by officers, and accused councillors of a political decision not based on fairness.

Its president Dr Masood Majoka said he was “in a state of shock” after the planning committee refused the alterations and extensions to create a general purpose hall, minaret, dome, kitchen, toilets and a one bedroom flat.

The AMA bought the building two years ago with a view to refurbishing and extending it and Dr Majoka said they may now have to sell and move elsewhere or consider appeealing against the decision.

“It puts us in a difficult position and I have been in touch with our headquarters in London, but until we receive the exact wording for the reasons for refusal there is not much we can do,” he said.

Committee member and Cradley Heath councillor Julie Webb said members were concerned about possible parking problems and the size of the minaret and dome due to the proximity to houses.

“It would a shame if the association moved because the residents do not mind the mosque and have nothing against the people, but it was felt this was over development of the site,” she said.

Dr Majoka said he was baffled, as planning officers had not thought the proposals were excessive and the highways officer had reported that several traffic surveys had failed to identify any car parking problems.

“We believe this is a political decision not based on fairness,” he said, adding: “In the past two years we’ve been here, we’ve managed to raise over £200,000 for local, regional, national and international charities.

“We are worried this decision will badly affect this charitable work. It will be the local residents, the poor and the needy who will suffer the consequences of this decision.

“Our youth do regular litter picking from the local streets. We liaise with the local police, community, councillors and the MPs to maintain and further the local causes and peace in this area. It would be a shame if the local community were to lose these voluntary services.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Demos ‘Fuel Islamic Extremism’

Demonstrations by far right activists such as the English Defence League (EDL) fuel Islamic extremism, police have said.

Since the EDL emerged last summer, it has held demonstrations in towns and cities against Islamic extremism, with another planned for Preston city centre on Saturday November 27.

But the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit said there is evidence that violence or damage towards Muslim property associated with EDL protests encourages extremist retaliation afterwards.

Detective Superintendent John Larkin told BBC Radio 5 Live: “They look for the hook to pull people through and when the EDL have been and done what they’ve done, perversely they leave that behind.”

Another officer said extreme sections of the EDL attacking Muslims provide “constituent parts” for those who would radicalise vulnerable people to encourage them to “go through the gateway towards being radicalised”.

Also speaking to 5 Live, Policing minister Nick Herbert added: “Violence and intimidation are highly unacceptable, wherever it comes from. You can’t tackle extremism by being extremist yourself. You don’t prevent hatred by being hateful yourself.”

Meanwhile, Lancashire Constabulary said they are working hard to ensure the Preston EDL demonstration — which is likely to attract a counter event from Unite Against Fascism — causes minimum disruption.

Police and council chiefs want people to be able to go about their daily business in the city despite the gatherings, which have caused flashpoints at similar events elsewhere in England.

Chief Superintendent Tim Jacques, divisional commander for central division, said: “We want to make sure that Preston remains open for business as usual on the day and that there is no disruption to daily life, although obviously there will be a highly visible police presence throughout the day.”

Nick Lowles, chairman of the Hope Not Hate campaign, said: “This demonstrates how hate breeds hate. The EDL breeds Islamic extremism and Islamic extremism breeds the EDL. It’s time to break the chain. The Government must make a stand against extremism on both sides of the divide.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

UK: Kidnap Victim ‘Bludgeoned to Death’ And Found in Back of Van Was Married Father-of-Three

A kidnap victim who was found dying in the back of a van has been identified as 40-year-old Shaleem Amar.

Mr Amar, of Sunningdale, was married and father to an eight-year-old boy and two daughters aged seven and three.

A post-mortem examination carried out yesterday revealed Mr Amar had died of head injuries.

Mr Amar and his family are believed to have begun renting a £3million mansion in the leafy village two months ago.

Yesterday it emerged he could have been held in the ‘dungeon’ of the gated mansion for weeks.

Detectives investigating the mysterious abduction in a leafy Berkshire village have switched their investigation to the six-bedroom mansion.

Bizarrely, Tresanton — a luxury property in Sunningdale — was at the centre of a High Court battle over its sale several years ago to businessman John Morris.

The house, which is yards from Cliff Richard’s penthouse flat, was sealed off by police last night as detectives from the Major Crime Unit combed it for clues.

Neighbours say it was empty until around four weeks ago, when they started to spot lights and ‘strange’ activity.

Police insiders have reportedly said the house has a basement with a double-padlocked steel door.

One resident, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals, said: ‘In the last four weeks there have been lights on in the house at night.

‘There appeared to be lots of activity inside and it seemed very strange. An old dark coloured BMW 3-series was the car that was parked outside.

‘Very strangely, police came to my house on Wednesday and out of the blue asked if we were okay. We all were fine and they did not tell us anything more — it was very odd indeed.

‘Until four weeks ago the last time Tresanton was occupied was last summer. I think a wealthy family was in there for about eight weeks and during that time somebody gave birth.’

In 2008, Barry McKay — a previous owner of the property — sued top estate agency Savills over its sale, claiming the price was way below its true value.

The house, which has a gym, swimming pool and tennis courts, has recently been advertised for rent at a cost of £9,000-a-month.

Thames Valley Police said: ‘We conducted a forensic examination of the house in connection with the murder inquiry. Officers were searching the property from 3pm yesterday and are still in place today.’

Four men are still in police custody on suspicion of kidnap and murder after Mr Amar was found dying in the back of a white van stopped in the village.

Detectives were yesterday granted an extra 36 hours to question the suspects, aged 24, 26, 54 and 56 .

Thames Valley Police today refused to comment on claims that a tobacco baron might have ordered the hit on the victim.

His kidnappers were allegedly under investigation by Revenue and Customs over a cigarette smuggling operation, according to The Sun.

It was apparently customs officials who alerted police about the kidnap plot after a tip-off, which led to the operation on Wednesday.

As a result of the man’s death, the case has been reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by Thames Valley Police.

He was found ‘breathing shallowly’ in what is said to have been a cement sack and died of head injuries. He will be formally identified today.

Superintendent Richard Humphrey, police commander for the Slough area, said he was not ‘readily visible’ and was ‘only found when a thorough search was undertaken’.

Mr Amar, who is believed to have been battered with a sledgehammer, and was not wearing a shirt or shoes, was still alive though unconscious.

Witnesses said he was wrapped in a tarpaulin bag and looked like he had been tortured or burned.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for about 40 minutes but he died at the scene.

One of the four gunmen, barefoot and covered in blood, bumped into shoppers on Sunningdale High Street as he tried to flee from police, but was later captured.

The well-to-do area, which is home to the prestigious Wentworth and Sunningdale golf courses, is popular with celebrities including Chris Evans.

The drama unfolded at about 1pm on Wednesday on the A30 London Road which runs through the centre of Sunningdale.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: ‘I was driving behind a white van down the London Road when the police suddenly came from nowhere and stopped it.

‘It did not seem like the van had done anything wrong and then suddenly it was surrounded by armed police with guns. They got everybody out and they all started running off.

‘There was a body in a bag in the back of a van. When I saw him he was still alive and was making a noise. I think it was some sort of kidnapping.’

A secretary at law firm Campbell and Hooper said she saw the victim as she came back from her lunchbreak.

‘He only had bottoms on and I could see his chest and face were all red, like he had been burned. It was awful,’ she said.

Witnesses said a sledgehammer was recovered from the van, a 1999-registered Mercedes Sprinter diesel.

They also said the men in the van were heavily armed with what they believed were machine guns.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour MP Who Branded Middle Class ‘Hypocrites and Drunkards’ Spends Night in a Cell After Being Arrested for ‘Drink Driving’

A Labour MP who launched an extraordinary attack on middle class voters was today convicted of refusing to provide a breath sample to a police officer.

Eric Joyce was banned from driving and now has a criminal record after he was arrested by police and spent last night in the cells.

He refused to take a breath test after he was spoken to by officers in Grangemouth, Falkirk, and today appeared in court handcuffed to a burly custody officer.

The frontbencher, 50, launched an extraordinary rant at voters just three days ago in an article in which he branded them liars, racists, drunkards and even paedophiles.

Appearing at Falkirk Sheriff Court, he admitted failing to provide a breath sample and was banned from driving.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Merry Christmas Everybody: Council Puts Up Lights for Hindus and Muslims So They Don’t Miss Out on the Festive Spirit

Although the Muslim and Hindu events have already passed, the lights are being kept up by Rochdale Council in order to ‘represent the community’.

Officials are said to be anxious not to offend other faiths so they have ensured the Christmas display incorporates the other celebrations.

Eid is a Muslim festival which marks the end of the fast of Ramadan while Diwali is a Hindu celebration.

Many described the lights as ‘fantastic’ but the move has been criticised by an MP who claims the council is ‘pussyfooting’ around.

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, told the Daily Star: ‘I’ve no idea why local authorities up and down the country are so ashamed of celebrating Christmas.

‘All this kind of pussyfooting around is done in the name of not offending other people from other faiths.

‘But it tends to be done by white middle-class people with some kind of bizarre guilt complex.’

The Christmas lights were switched on last night although the Muslim Festival of Eid ends today and Diwali was celebrated two weeks ago.

Former boy band member Simon Webbe from Blue flicked the switch for the display, which cost £89,500.

A council spokesman said: ‘We have a varied and diverse display, representing our community.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Woman’s Race Rant

A DRUNKEN Muslim woman, who was spared jail for racially abusing a white couple, has now appeared in court charged with swearing at an Asian policeman.

Yasmin Ahmed hurled obscenities at Pc Abdus Salam when he went to arrest her friend for shoplifting, a court heard.

Somalian-born Ahmed taunted Pc Salam with racist jibes, wiggled her backside at him and spat in his face, Snaresbrook Crown Court was told. She was taken to Kentish Town police station, north London, where she hitched up her niqab and urinated on the floor.

Ahmed, 21, of Camden, admitted racially aggravated harassment, assaulting a police officer and criminal damage in June. She was freed on bail and will be sentenced after assessment for alcohol treatment. Last year, Ahmed got a six-month suspended jail term for racially aggravated assault on a white couple.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Facing Our Fears

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must have given Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quite a reception. Otherwise it is hard to understand what possessed him to accept the deal he accepted when he met with her last week.

Under the deal, Netanyahu agreed to retroactively extend the Jewish construction ban ended on September 26 and to carry it forward an additional 90 days.

Clinton’s demand was “Not one more brick” for Jews, meaning, no Jew will be allowed to lay even one more brick on a home he is lawfully building even as the US funds massive Palestinian construction projects. The magnitude of this discriminatory infringement on the property rights of law abiding citizens is breathtaking…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: Dutch MP Calls for Autonomous Assyrian Christian Region in North

The Hague, 18 Nov. (AKI) — A Dutch member of parliament Joel Voordewind, is urging the Netherlands to help Iraq’s Assyrian Christians establish their own northern autonomous region and police force, the Assyrian International News Agency reported on Thursday.

Voordewind’s move comes after a spate of deadly attacks targeting Iraq’s Christian minority of approximately 500,000, which has left its members in fear of their lives. Most want to emigrate.

Before the 2003 United States-led invasion and occupation of the country, there were around 800,000 Christians in Iraq.

Around 100,000 Iraqi Christians who have been left homeless have taken shelter in northern Iraq in the Plain of Nineveh.

Kurds, who were persecuted by late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, were allowed to develop their own militia and police to defend themselves. They also have their own autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Voordewind, an MP for the Christian Union party, wants an Assyrian autonomous region to be governed and secured by its police and militia.

The region would be established in the Nineveh Plain in North Iraq, where around 100,000 Chistians have taken refuge since 2003.

“The three big groups, Kurds, Sunnis and Shias have their own police and militia, only the Assyrians do not have this,” said Voordewind, quoted by AINA.

Voordewind is calling on the Kurds to help the Assyrians, arguing they should give the kind aid to Christian Assyirans which they have received from the international community.

“When I visited the Nineveh Plain in 2008, Assyrians showed me messages given to them from Muslims, saying ‘you Christians dogs, leave or die,’“ AINA cited Voordewind as saying.

“If we don’t help them with an autonomous region,” he adds, “they [Assyrians] will leave the country.”

Voordewind has asked the minister of defence to help the Assyrians establish an autonomous region.

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

Iraq: President Urges Christians to Seek Refuge in Kurdish North

Baghdad, 17 Nov. (AKI) — Iraqi president Jalal Talabani said Christians would be safe from sectarian attack if they move to Kurdistan in the country’s north. He said the stay would be temporary until the Iraq could guarantee their security.

“It’s necessary to immediately deploy special armed forces to protect the churches and the houses where Christians live,” said the Kurdish founder and head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party.

Christians in Iraq are the target of violent attacks. An assault on a Baghdad church in October killed 58 people, injuring socres more. Subsequent bombings have claimed further victims.

An Al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the Baghdad church attack and pledged to continue the violence.

The attacks have left members of Iraq’s Christian minority of approximately 500,000 in fear of their lives. Most want to emigrate. Talabani urged the religious minority to move to Iraq’s Kurdish north, rather than emigrating abroad.

““The Christians don’t have to move abroad, but only go to the northern part of the country to the Kurdish zone. They can stay their until our country becomes safe again,” Talabani said.

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

Far East

Japans Warns West Against Lifting China Arms Embargo

Japan issued a warning over a Chinese campaign for a Western arms embargo to be lifted after a new report showed China possessed the capability to “knock out” five of the six US airbases in East Asia.

Japan has objected to a Chinese campaign for a Western arms embargo to be lifted after a report showed China had enough weapons to “knock out” five of the six American airbases in East Asia.

Ending the embargo, put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, would be dangerous, Japanese officials said.

The report by The United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission said China’s improved military technology posed a significant threat to US forces based in Asia.

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“Since 2000, the [Chinese] air force has increased its number of fourth generation combat fighters by over 500 per cent,” said Carolyn Bartholomew, the vice-chairman of the commission. “China’s conventional missile capabilities alone may be sufficient to temporarily knock out five of the six US airbases in East Asia. Missile strikes could destroy US air defences, runways, parked aircraft and fuel and maintenance facilities.”

Japan opposes proposals to lift the joint US and European Union arms embargo.

“Economic pressures make it attractive to lift the embargo,” a senior Japanese official told The Daily Telegraph. “But we believe such an action will be short-sighted and dangerous”.

A Chinese diplomat said the embargo was “discriminatory and demeaning”. Chinese hopes for an easing of the em­bargo were raised after President Barack Obama wrote to Congress for permission to sell it six Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft to combat oil spills.

China has exerted significant pressure on European countries to support the lifting of the embargo, arguing that it has bracketed China together with such pariah states as Zimbabwe and Burma. France and Spain have indicated they may be willing to lift the ban.

Britain privately believes removing the embargo would make little difference, because most defence technology is already barred from export to China under other EU legislation.

However, Britain is unwilling to upset either Japan or the US by supporting the removal of the embargo.

[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Hijab Woman Sentenced to Six Months

A Muslim woman has lodged an appeal after she was sentenced to six months in prison for falsely accusing a police officer of forcibly removing her veil.

Carnita Matthews, a 46-year-old mother of seven, broke down in tears as Magistrate Robert Rabbidge described her crime as “deliberate, malicious and ruthless”.

“There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew that the complaint she was making was false,” he told Campbelltown Local Court on Friday.

“The system would collapse, of course, if people are making false and wrong complaints to authorities.”

Matthews was charged with one count of making a false complaint against police in August, after signing a statutory declaration claiming an officer forced her to remove her hijab, or face veil.

It was made three days after she was pulled over by Senior Constable Paul Fogarty at Woodbine, in Sydney’s southwest, for a random breath test on June 7 this year.

A video of the incident, which was played to the court, shows Matthews accusing the officer of being a racist after he handed her a fine for not displaying green P-plates properly.

“You look at me and see me wearing this and you couldn’t handle it. All cops are racist,” she says.

The magistrate rejected her lawyer’s argument that the prosecution could not prove it was Matthews herself who made the complaint and signed the declaration.

But police prosecutor sergeant Lisa McEvoy said there was no doubt.

“Her signature on that affidavit coupled with the signature on her driver’s licence is exactly the same,” she told the court.

Despite the fact Matthews has no previous criminal record, the magistrate said her crime was serious and demanded a “denunciatory” sentence.

He said highway patrol police faced an “onerous duty” in issuing fines to irate members of the public, adding an allegation of racism was serious and could jeopardise a career.

“There is an absolute and clear duty on police to satisfy who they are dealing with,” he told the court.

Stephen Hopper, Matthews’ lawyer, immediately lodged an appeal to the District Court against the conviction and sentence. His client was granted bail.

“The defence disagree with the learned magistrate’s decision,” he told AAP outside the court.

“Accordingly, we have lodged an all-grounds appeal for the matter to be heard in the District court.”

Mr Hopper said he couldn’t comment personally on the matter.

“Certainly, that doesn’t stop other people forming their own views,” he said.

“I am sure some people will agree with the magistrate and some people will disagree.”

           — Hat tip: James[Return to headlines]

Vic Father Charged With Killing Daughter

A man charged with the stabbing murder of his two-year-old daughter allegedly threatened to kill her several times after he picked her up from his ex-partner, a court has heard.

Ramazan Acar, 23, of Meadow Heights in Melbourne’s north, collected his daughter Yazmina from his ex-partner’s house at Hallam, in Melbourne’s southeast, on Wednesday evening.

Homicide squad Detective Senior Constable Scott Jones told the out-of-sessions hearing Acar threatened to kill Yazmina during several telephone calls made to him by the girl’s mother as he drove to an address at Campbellfield, near Meadow Heights.

Police allege Acar stabbed his little girl at the Campbellfield address.

Yazmina’s body was found in a field beside the Greenvale Reservoir, near his home, at about 1.35am (AEDT) on Thursday.

Acar has been remanded in custody following the out-of-sessions hearing at the Melbourne Custody Centre on Thursday night.

An autopsy conducted on Thursday afternoon found the girl died from multiple stab wounds, Det Jones said.

Acar is accused of dumping Yazmina’s body at Greenvale before returning to Campbellfield, where he allegedly set fire to his four-wheel drive.

Detectives arrested him and a 23-year-old Campbellfield woman a short time later in another vehicle.

Acar, who wore blue cloth forensic overalls and was barefoot, did not address the bail justice after the summary of the case.

He spent most of the hearing with his eyes cast downward but appeared calm throughout.

Acar is due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Earlier, police announced the woman arrested with Acar had been released from custody without charge.

Yazmina’s body was found in open ground near the reservoir, some distance from homes at the Greenvale Lakes housing estate.

Police and State Emergency Service workers conducted a line search of the area during the day.

At the scene, Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Snare of the homicide squad told reporters he could not give many details about the case, saying the investigation was still in its “preliminary stages”.

“The death of any young child is a tragedy and in these circumstances. A tragic set of events and the death of a young girl at two years of age,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Fake Bomb Made in the US Caused Germany Terror Alert

German interior minister says suspicious package found in Namibia was manufactured to test airport security

When a suspicious package was identified at Windhoek airport in Namibia on Thursday, the flight was halted, the Munich-bound passengers delayed and news sped round the world that an x-ray scanner had been found with batteries attached by wires to a detonator and a ticking clock.

Today, however, a German government minister revealed the bizarre truth: the bomb was fake, manufactured in the US to test airport security. It was not yet clear who had planted “test suitcase”, the German interior minister, Thomas de Mazière, said, but the one fact they had established was that the device had been manufactured by a US company that specialises in alarm systems. At no time were passengers’ lives in danger.

“This company is a manufacturer of alarm and detection systems and these real test suitcases are built to test security measures,” he said.

The US transportation security administration (TSA) confirmed today that it was working with the German and Namibian authorities “to determine the origin of the device and the reason it was being transported on the plane”.

According to tests by the German federal criminal police, the suitcase did not contain explosives.

German security experts said yesterday it was most likely that either US or African authorities were behind the test, following the discovery of several parcel bombs sent from Yemen to the US.

The suitcase, which contained batteries connected to a detonator and a ticking clock, was intercepted by authorities at Windhoek airport on Wednesday night and sparked an international terror alert.

The Munich-bound Air Berlin plane on which it was believed the suitcase was due to be loaded was delayed for about eight hours while security checks were carried out. Passengers were questioned by police when the plane landed at Munich airport yesterday morning…

[Return to headlines]

Militants Demand France Pullout From Afghanistan for Hostage Safety

France must pull its troops from Afghanistan if it wants to ensure the well-being of five French nationals taken hostage in Niger, the head of al Qaeda’s north African wing said.

“If you want safety for your citizens who are held captive by us, then you must move quickly to take your soldiers out of Afghanistan according to a specific time table that you announce officially,” said Abu Musab Abdul-Wadud, the head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in an audio message broadcast on Al-Jazeera television Wednesday.

The group has said it is responsible for the five French citizens who were kidnapped in September.

The five were among seven people linked to a French nuclear energy company who were abducted in the northern town of Arlit in Niger. The other two are from Togo and Madagascar.

Areva has been mining uranium for decades in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world.

In a televised interview with reporters Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged citizens not to visit areas where al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib operates.

“The situation on the terrorism front is troubling. I do not want to alarm the French,” he said. “But, we will not change even an iota of our policies because we are threatened.”

France has already said it may begin to withdraw some troops from Afghanistan next year.

Minister Herve Morin told French radio station RTL in late October that France will begin to transfer the control of certain districts to Afghans in 2011.

“There is a fixed date by NATO in the framework of its new strategy. That is the start of 2011,” he said. “In 2011, we are going to transfer a whole series of districts to the Afghans.”

“At this moment, there could be the first movements or withdrawal of allied forces from Afghanistan,” Morin said.

France has 3,750 troops in Afghanistan, according to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Nicole Ferrand: The FARC’s Senator

On September 27, 2010, Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba was removed from her senate seat. The country’s Inspector General provided evidence that supported the long held claim by high ranking Colombian officials that Ms. Cordoba had close ties to the narco-terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The decision removing Cordoba from office also forbids her from holding any public office for eighteen years.

In a statement, Colombia’s Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez explained that this sanction applies to Córdoba “for collaborating and promoting the illegal armed group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.” He stated that Cordoba clearly exceeded the duties specified in the authorization given to her by the Colombian government as an official mediator for the release of hostages.

According to the charges [PDF], she advised the FARC to send voice recordings instead of video footage of the insurgent group’s hostages as “proofs of life” in order to improve their strategy. The evidence against the now former senator consists of emails and letters found in the computers of slain commander “Raul Reyes,” who was killed on March 1 of 2008. They identify Córdoba by her aliases of ‘Teodora’, ‘Teodora Bolivar’ and ‘La Negra.’ The documents allegedly show that her exchanges with the group’s leaders were more than friendly.

For many locals, the decision to dismiss Cordoba could not have come sooner. The former senator has been known for her ties to the FARC for years. Mrs. Cordoba is also a close friend of Hugo Chavez and both have worked tirelessly to overthrow the government of Colombia in order to take power and then give the FARC a principal role. It has been suspected that Cordoba receives money from Caracas in order to continue her support of the FARC and Chavez.?

Colombia has long stood as a stronghold against Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution. Bogota’s progress against the FARC represents a major obstacle in his pursuit of integrating more countries under his umbrella. He knows the only way he can endlessly get away with illegally grabbing power and money is if the U.S. is kept at bay. Chavez wants the FARC to become a legalized political party with representation. He already has the loyalty of Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Cuba, and Nicaragua who have become dependant on Mr. Chavez’s handouts and oil. In addition, many corrupt politicians and leaders have become accustomed to the gifts they receive from Venezuela in exchange for their support. Other countries and international bodies such as the OAS have preferred to appease Chavez and rarely raise any protest against his dictatorial ways. Only a few openly confront Chavez and the most successful is Colombia. That is why Chavez and the FARC want its government destroyed…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Germany: Authorities to Expel False Balkan Asylum-Seekers

Berlin, 18 Nov. (AKI) — The number of false asylum seekers from Serbia and Macedonia has sharply increased this year after the European Union abolished visas for citizens of these countries and the authorities will be forced to send them back home, the German interior ministry said on Thursday.

In October alone, 1,083 citizens from Serbia and 743 from Macedonia applied for asylum in Germany, the interior ministry said.

Between January and October 3,032 citizens of Serbia and 1,790 of Macedonia applied for asylum. There were only more applicants from Iraq and Afghanistan, the ministry added.

German authorities said last month that people were applying for asylum because the rejected applicants were getting 600 euros assistance when they voluntarily agree to return home.

To stop the influx of false asylum seekers, German authorities have abolished assistance to citizens of Serbia and Macedonia when returning home.

Several European Union politicians have warned Serbia and Macedonia that their visa regimes might be reinstated if the influx of false asylum seekers wasn’t stopped.

Serbian police minister Ivica Dacic was told by his Bavarian colleague Joachim Herrmann last week that the false asylum seekers “will be expelled consistently and without hesitation”.

“It must be clear to everyone that the decision on travel without visas isn’t irrevocable,” Herrmann said.

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

Italy: Govt Deports Egyptians Who Staged Crane Protest

Rome, 18 Nov. (AKI) — A junior Egyptian minister was cited as saying Italy was on Thursday deporting two Egyptian immigrants who allegedly organised violent protests in support of group of illegal migrants that spent 16 days atop a construction crane.

Egypt’s deputy foreign minister Muhammad Abdel Hakim told Cairo-based daily Masrawi the Italian government had decided to deport 28-year-old Muhammed al-Haja and 20-year-old Muhammad Shaaban.

Al-Haja and Shabaan were due to be deported on Thursday.

The two men allegedly organised violent demonstrations in support of the illegal Pakistani, Moroccan and Egyptian immigrants who refused to come down from the construction crane in the northern city of Brescia unless Italian authorities granted them residency.

The four illegal immigrants ended their crane protest on Monday.

Their legal fate wasn’t immediately clear, but reports said they would not be arrested or expelled under the terms on which they were persuaded to end their protest.

The crane protesters and other immigrants and rights activists say Italian residency permits have become impossible to obtain since a law made being an illegal immigrant a crime, even for migrants who have been working in Italy for years.

A government amnesty granting residency permits to illegal immigrant domestic workers discriminates against other categories of migrant workers, according to the protesters and their supporters.

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

UK: Are Muslims Integrating or Are They ‘Taking Over’?

Mr. Blair is typical of many Western leaders who refuse to face the truth about the Muslim movement to dominate the world. Just as Neville Chamberlain argued for the appeasement of Hitler, Mr. Blair and others are missing the insidious takeover of the West that is under way.

I ask you, Mr. Blair: How’s the “integration” and “tolerance” experiment working in England and the rest of Europe? The European Muslim population is ever growing through lax immigration policies and Muslim birth rates, which far exceed the general birth rates of all others. In England, areas of the country already operate under Shariah law and government officials, including the police, do not interfere. There are reports of Muslim police officers who refuse to enforce English law if it concerns Jews. There are also widespread reports of violence against women, victims of Shariah law.

If England were to become a Muslim nation, I wonder if the new imam, leader of all England, would ask Mr. Blair to integrate into his theocracy?


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Pensioner Living in Britain for 64 Years Branded ‘Illegal Immigrant’

Joan Wakely, 65, a grandmother from Shaftsbury, Dorset, has lived in the UK since she was six months old when her parents moved from Canada to Britain.

However, when she arrived back at Gatwick Airport with her husband Mike, 64, after a holiday in Florida, she was classed as “an illegal alien” as she was travelling with her Canadian passport.

She has since applied for citizenship but faces being deported in February if her application is rejected.

Under the law, you must complete the relevant applications to become a British citizen or be given indefinite leave to remain in the country. Anyone who has lived in Britain legally for five or more years can apply to become a citizen.

Mrs Wakely has worked in this country all her life and has reared three children. She also has a National Insurance Number and draws her old age pension.

Her mother was English and her dad is Canadian and lives in a nearby nursing home.

However, she has never before completed the correct forms nor had them done for her as a child.

She has now paid £840 to apply for full UK citizenship — which includes taking a test to prove she can speak English.

Yesterday she said: “It seems that for the last 64-and-a-half years I have been an illegal immigrant — that is how I take it. It is absolutely stupid, ridiculous.

“At first I thought they were having a laugh. My reaction was one of total disbelief.

“Now at 65 I have been threatened with deportation from a country where I have lived since I was six months old.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Lincoln Man Charged With Hate Crime, After Further Review

A man accused of declaring himself a racist and punching a neighbor was charged Tuesday with committing a hate crime — more than three weeks after he was arrested.

Thod T. Kuaygong surrendered early Oct. 23 after screaming anti-white sentiments from behind a locked door for 30 minutes, according to a police report.

He continued his tirade on the drive to jail and while being booked.

Officers at the time cited Kuaygong on suspicion of committing a hate crime on top of the assault — turning what would have been a misdemeanor into a felony.

But the hate crime accusation disappeared when he was formally charged Oct. 25.

It reappeared Tuesday.

And now Kuaygong is the second suspect to face a hate crime charge in 2010, despite more than 30 reported hate crimes recorded by Lincoln police so far this year.

He faces a felony punishable by as many as five years in prison.

Lancaster County Chief Deputy Attorney Joe Kelly said his office restored the charge after he asked his prosecutor and the investigator to take a closer look at the case.

“It’s filed the way it is now because the investigation supports those charges,” Kelly said. “The facts we know of support those charges.”

Last month, Police Chief Tom Casady — addressing the gap between reported hate crimes and formal charges — acknowledged they’re hard to prove in court.

“What motivated a crime is very, very difficult to prove,” Casady said. “I understand it’s adding a level of complexity to the prosecution.”

But Kuaygong is accused of telling his victim he hated white people.

Police say he went to another unit in his apartment complex at 1119 E St. on Oct. 23, trying to convince a 19-year-old woman to return home with him.

He was upset and yelling. He told her she needed to be “with her people.”

Kuaygong and the woman are from Africa, according to the report.

The 35-year-old man in the other unit told police he reached out to shake hands, but Kuaygong called him a “white bastard” and punched him in the left eye, knocking him back into his apartment.

“I am a racist,” Kuaygong yelled.

“I hate white people,” he told police.

Kuaygong locked himself inside his own apartment after the 35-year-old called police.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Islam is Rising, Beware!

A religion is at war with us! At war with Christians and Jews. At war with America and Israel. At war with Europe and the entire, free, democratic world.

While the United States President is roaming the world, trying his best to appease and pander to Muslim nations, other American political leaders are warning that fundamentalist Islam is undoubtedly the number one threat to America’s security.

While visiting Indonesia, President Barack Obama tried to excuse Muslim “jihadist” strategies and acts of terror as a simple “misunderstanding.” He then castigated Israel, yet again, for its lawful Jewish settlements in the so-called West Bank. By contrast, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich told a nationwide TV audience that “extremist Islam” is not only the number one threat to US security but also the number one problem in the Western world.

These Muslims “wake up in the morning with thoughts of killing infidels,” Gingrich reminded. “Our government needs to understand that we need to take their threats seriously.” The former Speaker went on to state that the Muslims are taking advantage of our generous American freedoms, which are based on our Judeo-Christian values. They have no respect for Jews, nor Christians, and their long-term goals are to conquer us, make us convert to Islam, or kill us in the name of Allah.

We American Christians cannot overlook President Obama’s celebration of the Muslim holiday Ramadan in the White House while canceling the traditional annual National Day of Prayer. That’s outrageous! Nor can we easily forget how he told the Muslim nations that the United States is “not a Christian nation.” He has to be totally ignorant, or purposefully blind, to the historical facts of our founding to be able to state such a gross mistruth. And, of course, he keeps trying to tell all of our people that Islam is a peaceful religion. One can understand why this kind of public appeasement from the top breeds chaos and confusion across the country. Just look at controversy sparked by the “Ground Zero Mosque” proposal!

Who is the common person supposed to believe? Muslims? Or the President? We Americans must not forget the 9/11 bombing of the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, or the failed airplane Shoe Bomber, or the also-failed Times Square Bomber. Add to these destructive efforts in America the destruction of two American embassies in Africa and the US military barracks in Lebanon, not to mention the deadly attempt to sink an American warship in the Persian Gulf by blowing a gaping hole in her side (and killing a number of sailors onboard). And don’t forget what the Times Square Bomber — a disciple of the well-funded Al Qaeda in Yemen — clearly let us know: that extremist Muslims have just begun their destructive efforts in America, with much more to come.

Add to all this the ever-increasing path of Muslim destruction in Europe, all in the name of Allah. The bombings of trains and subways in Spain and England plus riots in France and the Netherlands all resulted in political appeasement in the name of tolerance and political correctness. Sadly, France has responded by actually considering allowing some aspects of Sharia law to be practiced by Muslims, and to legally protect these ruthless renegades, while England has decided to remove the study of the Holocaust from their school history classes because it “offends the Muslims.”

Of course, many appeasers want to argue that these murderous Muslims are only a few extremists; and that most Muslims are innocent, moderate citizens who love their children and neighbors and want peace. This may be true. But where is their moral outcry against the acts of terror perpetrated by the extreme elements of their co-religionists? I’ll tell you. It is stifled under the threat of jihad against them — the threat of being killed by their own family members, in many cases. The problem is not Muslims. It is Islam. There may be many peaceful Muslims, but true Islam is anything but peaceful.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Red Wine Packed With Antidiabetes Compounds

Red wine is a potent source of antidiabetic compounds — but they might not get past your gut. The finding is sure to enliven the ongoing debate over the drink’s health benefits.

Alois Jungbauer and colleagues at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, tested 10 reds and two whites to find out how strongly the wines bound to a protein called PPAR-gamma, which is targeted by the antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone. (This drug is marketed under the brand name Avandia and, while still available in the US, has been withdrawn in Europe because of fears over side effects.)

PPAR-gamma is a type of protein called a receptor. Among other things, it regulates the uptake of glucose in fat cells. Rosiglitazone targets PPAR-gamma in fat cells to make them more sensitive to insulin and improve the uptake of glucose. It is used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, a condition where people either do not make enough insulin to keep their body’s glucose levels down, or become resistant to normal insulin levels.

Several studies have shown that moderate consumption of red wine can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. So Jungbauer and colleagues determined the wines’ binding affinity for PPAR-gamma and compared the results with the effects of rosiglitazone. They found that the white wines had low binding affinities, but all the reds bound readily: the tendency of 100 millilitres of red wine — about half a glass — to bind to PPAR-gamma is up to four times as strong as the same tendency in the daily dose of rosiglitazone.

Red and green

“It’s incredible. It’s a really high activity,” says Jungbauer. “At first we were worried it was an artefact, but then we identified the compounds responsible in the wine.”

The flavonoid epicatechin gallate — which is also present in green tea — had the highest binding affinity, followed by the polyphenol ellagic acid, which comes from the oak barrels the wine is kept in. The researchers think that some of the antidiabetic activity of red wine could be due to these compounds activating PPAR-gamma.

But Jungbauer warns that these compounds don’t make red wine a magic bullet. The compounds in a glass of wine may have other antidiabetic effects and in any case, not all of the compounds will be absorbed and available to the body to use. “Wine also contains ethanol, which will add to your calories,” he says.

Véronique Cheynier, research director at the department of oenology at the University of Montpellier 1, France, says that most polyphenols do not pass through the digestive tract unchanged and may not be absorbed at all.

True temperance

The next step for Jungbauer and his team will be to measure the metabolic effects of the wine compounds on healthy people.

Jungbauer stresses that moderate consumption is the key to health benefits from wine. “It is important to limit the intake of wine. Obesity is one of the major problems of our society,” he says.

Paras Mishra of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, who was not involved in the study, warns that drinking too much wine “could be bad even in diabetes”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Why So Silent About Attacks?

Respect for religious beliefs is supposedly a universal value applicable to all faiths, making the world’s silence on recent attacks directed at Christians so puzzling, and so very unacceptable. This lack of action is especially lopsided considering the willingness of governments and organizations to attack anyone offering insult to Muslims.

When Florida pastor Terry Jones announced plans to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he was roundly, and rightfully, condemned. Christian groups worldwide were at the forefront of the protests, denouncing Jones and calling on him to respect the dignity of Islam. In 2005, allegations that U.S. military personnel had desecrated copies of the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp sparked an internal investigation to ensure no repeat.

Christians should be so fortunate to enjoy similar protection. This week in Pakistan, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to die for allegedly making slanderous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad — a dire crime under Pakistani law. Bibi’s neighbours objected to an infidel touching the communal water bowl and approached a cleric, claiming she had insulted the prophet. The cleric instigated a police investigation and now Bibi faces death, while the world looks on indifferently.

Meanwhile on Halloween, terrorists attacked a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad and killed 58 people. Governments spooned out the usual condemnations and complained about attempts to destabilize the fragile Iraqi order as the world yawned before moving on. Other incidents have attracted even less attention.

In Iran, a pastor named Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to die for apostasy and preaching to Muslims. His real crime appears to have been complaining after the Iranian government enacted a law forcing schoolchildren of all faiths to read from the Koran, even though the constitution promises freedom of religion to recognized minorities.

Back in Pakistan, numerous sources, including the Vatican and local clergy, have accused Muslim relief agencies of systematically discriminating against Christians while distributing aid to people affected by last summer’s devastating floods — even though most of the aid has come from Christian nations.

Not one of these incidents has garnered even a fraction of the attention the proposed Koran burning caused. This begs the question: Why?

Perhaps it’s because Christians rarely riot in difficult circumstances. They should not have to. In an enlightened world forever preaching equality and justice, no group should have to resort to death and destruction to get injustices remedied. By cherry-picking causes for concern, governments and groups expose the hollowness and hypocrisy of their vaunted values. It’s justice for all or justice for none.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Why Seniors Are Susceptible to Scams

Older adults aren’t as upset by possible financial losses as young people are, and brain scans show seniors’ brains don’t anticipate a loss as much as younger ones do. Understanding why these mistakes happen may make it easier to prevent them

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]