Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110401

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Think Tank Fears Economy Will Shrink Faster
»New Euro Threat Emerges: Irish Banks Fail Stress Tests
»The Economy
»Boy: 12, Accused of Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Against Classmate is a Muslim, Claims His Dad
»Caroline Glick: American Jewry’s Fight
»D.C. Resident Complains About Nonstop, Noisy Protests
»Large Hole Discovered After Southwest Flight Makes Emergency Landing
»Malicious Attack Hits a Million Web Pages
»Obama Administration Pushing Back on Congressionally Directed Rocket
»Organ Crisis as Hispanics Refuse to Donate — Even Though They Make Up 45% of Recipients
»Voting With Their Feet
Europe and the EU
»Britian Says Case Strong for Turkey Joining EU
»Corruption: Lobbying Scandal Forces EU’s Hand
»Ex-Sarkozy Aide Lashes Out at Debate on Islam
»Italy: TV, Photographers Denied Access to Berlusconi Sex Trial
»Italy: Anti-War Slogan Found in Livorno Parcel Bomb
»Italy: ‘Use Wool to Mop Oil Spills’ Say Luxury Textile Makers
»Netherlands: Wilders Wants Debate on ‘Real Nature’ Of Mohammed
»Netherlands: Prime Minister and Wilders Have Not Discussed Fitna 2
»Sarkozy’s Plan for ‘Poisonous’ Debate on Rising Muslim Population in France Savaged by Religious Leaders
»Spain: Worst in Europe for Increase in Anti-Semitism
»Sweden: Tattooed by Politics
»UK: Militant Muslim Warns Royal Wedding Terror Attack is ‘Highly Likely’
»Bosnia: Return of Wine Made From Vines Destroyed in War
Mediterranean Union
»Tunisia: EU Ready to Double 2012-2013 Partnership Fund
North Africa
»Egypt: After Jan 25 Revolution Slow Recovery
»Germany and China Call for Libya Ceasefire
»Italy: Foreign Minister Will Meet Libyan Rebel Leadership in Rome
»Libya: Rebels: Yes to Ceasefire if Gaddafi Troops Leave West
»Libya: Westerwelle: Military Means Are Not the Solution
»Odyssey Dawn: Toward Total War in Libya
»The Netherlands Opposes Arming Libyan Rebels, Says PM
»Tunisian Jews Say No to Emigration to Israel
»White House Fellow Founded Soros-Funded Military Scheme
Israel and the Palestinians
»Facebook Faces Accusation of Facilitating Israel Invasion
»Israeli Firms Seeking Business Partners in Cyprus
Middle East
»A Turning Point or Just Scoring Points in Turkey’s Ergenekon Case?
»Rewarding Bad Behavior
»Sharp-Shooters Fire on Crowds in Damascus
»Signs of an Axis Shift in EU’s Trust in Turkey’s Ruling Party
»Syria: USA Advises American Citizens to Leave the Country
»Syria: Protests: Hundreds “Locked Inside” Damascus Mosque
»Syria: Country Holding Breath, Today Anti-Regime Protests
»Syria: As Protests Spread Across Syria, So Does Repression
»Syria: Fresh Protests; Opposition, Already 10 Casualties
»Moscow Will Have 60 New Churches and Still No New Mosque
South Asia
»A Racist’s Perspective
»Afghanistan: Six US Soldiers From Same Unit Killed
»Afghan Officials: 8 Killed at UN Office When Quran Burning Protest Turns Violent
»Afghanistan: Two UN Staff Beheaded and Eight Others Murdered in Protest Against U.S. Pastor Who Burnt Koran
»At Least 12 Killed During Koran-Burning Protest at UN Office in Afghanistan
»Australia Warns Bali Bomb Arrest Could Spark Attacks
»Malaysian Christians Say No to Discriminatory Government Slogans on Bible
»Malaysia Clerics Ban ‘Poco-Poco’ Dance for Muslims
»Malaysia: Muslim Clerics Ban ‘Poco-Poco’ Dance Citing ‘Christian Roots’
»Nepal: Kathmandu: Christians on Hunger Strike for Cemetery
»See “New Kabul City” On $1 Million a Minute
»UN Workers Killed During US Koran Burning Protest
Far East
»Japan PM Visits Tsunami-Devastated Village, Enters Nuke Zone
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ivory Coast: U.N. [Says] Elected Christian Leader Must be Ousted for Muslim
»Sudan Lauches a Cyber-Army Wrapped in the Koran
»Zimbabwe’s Killing Fields: Mass Grave of Over 600 Bodies Found in Mine Shaft
»600 Refugees in Taranto Station After Fleeing Camp
»GOP Drafts Legislative Assault on Illegal Immigration
»Italy Aiming to Repatriate 100 Tunisians Per Day
»Italy: Maroni Calls on Tunisia to Keep to Commitments
»Italy: Migrants: Errani Says Regions Oppose Tent Cities
»Mass Breakout at Southern Migrant Camp
»Mass Evasion by Immigrants in Manduria, Only 400 Present
»Milan Immigrants to be Flown to Centres All Over Italy
»Tensions as Immigrants Invade Taranto Station
»Weird Geometry: Art Enters the Hyperbolic Realm
»Wind and Wave Energies Are Not Renewable After All

Financial Crisis

Greece: Think Tank Fears Economy Will Shrink Faster

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 1 — Greece’s economy is seen shrinking at a faster rate than the government expects this year, sending unemployment well above the 15% mark, daily Kathimerini reports quoting the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) as saying. Think tank IOBE said the Greek economy is expected to contract by an annual rate of “up to 3.2%” this year, versus the government’s forecast for contraction of 3%, due to plunging private and public consumption. “Already high unemployment, changes to private sector labor relations and public sector salaries will put pressure on consumption spending this year,” IOBE said in its quarterly report on Thursday. “Public sector consumption will also clearly be at lower levels for a second year.” According to the latest data available, the Greek economy shrank at an annual pace of 6.6% in the last quarter of 2010, contracting for the tenth straight quarter, as uncertainty arising from the debt crisis hurt investments and household spending. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou believes the downturn has entered shallower water and expects a return to growth within the year.

On the job front, IOBE forecasts that Greece’s unemployment rate will keep rising to an average of 15.5% in 2011, adding that it will take some time for employers to adopt recently introduced flexibility to labor laws and boost job growth. In the last quarter of 2010, Greece’s jobless rate jumped to 14.2%, from 12.4% in the previous three months, resulting in a total of some 712,000 workers being out of work. The country’s work force numbers about 4.2 million people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

New Euro Threat Emerges: Irish Banks Fail Stress Tests

Ireland’s banks performed so badly in the latest EU stress tests that the country’s last remaining major independent financial institutions will likely be nationalized. The entire banking sector is set to radically shrink, but that might carry significant risks for Ireland’s European partners.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Economy

During the institutional bailout days of 2008, the companies in need of a helping hand—just a bit of liquidity to keep the gears turning—received no less than $9 trillion in overnight loans. Think about that. Perhaps now you can appreciate the scale of our problems.

“The $700 billion Wall Street bailout turned out to be pocket change compared to trillions and trillions of dollars in near zero interest loans and other financial arrangements that the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who had authored the provision of the financial reform law that required the disclosure.

Lawmakers demanded disclosure, over the Fed’s initial objections, as U.S. central bankers pushed beyond their traditional role of backstopping banks to stem the worst financial panic since the Great Depression. The Fed posted the data on its website to comply with a provision in July’s Dodd- Frank law overhauling financial regulation.

The U.S. subsidiaries of European financial institutions, led by Zurich-based UBS and Brussels-based Dexia SA, were some of the largest users of a Fed program. The biggest U.S.-based user was bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG), at $60.2 billion.

On Dec 1, 2010, Bloomberg reported that the Fed’s emergency lending spanned the global economy, including U.S. branches of overseas banks; corporations such as General Electric Co. (GE), investors like Pacific Investment Management Co. and computer executive Michael Dell—all to the tune of $3.3 trillion.


In this subversive tactical maneuver, the U.S. government is not only nationalizing private domestic businesses, but also foreign businesses. This is taxpayer funded corporate welfare with no control relinquished and no repayment required. Even if the debt is repaid, where does the repayment-money go? There is no reduction in the national debt, thus no tax relief afforded the taxpayer. And since that is the case, this allows selected businesses to operate negligently without any consequences, knowing that the U.S. government has assured taxpayer income as reimbursement for losses.

Who determines which businesses or countries are too big to fail and which businesses or countries will fail? So far, it’s been the Fed, a private central bank. But if you follow the money and research the foreign and domestic shareholders of the bailouts, you’ll discover that these funds are all going to the same few billionaires throughout the world. The rich are getting richer, and they are doing so off the backs of the U.S. taxpayer, and the facilitator of this transfer of wealth is our U.S. government.


Per the Galveston Examiner, Aug 7, “The president sold the taxpayer bailout of Government Motors (GM) by telling us that it was needed to save jobs. Obviously it doesn’t mean American jobs, since GM is spending half a billion taxpayer dollars to build a new plant in Mexico.

According to Bloomberg, April 2009, “GM Co. reports, shuttering U.S. plants in a bid to avoid bankruptcy, is ‘likely’ to build a new factory in China…


Through Quantitative Easing 1 (QE1) and QE2 (and I fear an eventual QE3), the U.S. is buying its own debt. With the government borrowing money to pay its debts, this multiplies the over-all debt, which super-inflates the dollar and reduces its purchasing power. High unemployment and a slow growing economy create stagflation. The worst of two worlds is when both of these economic disasters—hyperinflation and stagflation—are operating simultaneously.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Boy: 12, Accused of Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Against Classmate is a Muslim, Claims His Dad

A schoolboy has been charged with hate crimes after allegedly beating up a Muslim classmate and trying to rip the religious headscarf from her head.

Osman Daramy, 12, yelled ‘are you a Muslim?’ as he and another girl kicked and punched the 13-year-old to the ground at a school in Staten Island, New York, according to police.

But according to his father, the boy’s mother is Muslim.

‘How could a Muslim have another hate crime against a Muslim?’ asked Frank Davis, 32, about his son.

Davis told the New York Post that while the family does not regularly attend a mosque, they pray at home and his son joins in on Islamic prayers with his Muslim mother Agnes Daramay.

The father told the New York Daily News that he recently bought a ticket for his son to fly to Sierra Leone so he can live with relatives and escape the abuse he is subjected to at school.

‘They treat the African kids different,’ she told the Daily News, showing off the April 17 ticket to Freetown.

‘Other kids mock him and the teacher never stuck up for him…I need to get him out of this country.’

But Daramy had been tormenting the girl for two months, said sources at the school, allegedly shoving, hitting and threatening her.

One teacher described him as a ‘terror’, telling the Post ‘he goes around terrorising staff and students.’

Daramy was arrested yesterday and charged with felony assault and aggravated harassment as hate crimes.

The victim, who has not been named, was left with bruises and a cut lip after Daramy and another girl, also 13, allegedly assaulted her behind a building at Berta A. Dreyfus School on Tuesday.

The vicious attack culminated in Daramy trying to rip the hijab off the girl’s hair, police said, but she fought back and stopped him.

The girl’s older sister told the Post yesterday her sister was ‘fine’. She said: ‘She was crying at that moment, but she’s OK.’

She said: ‘My brother is the one who called the police. He got angry, he wanted to beat the kid up, but he is older and decided to call the cops.’

According to the Post, Daramy had already been in trouble on Monday when he ran around school wielding a pair of scissors after using them to cut a girl’s hair.

A teacher told the newspaper he had been suspended ‘in-house’ rather than being reported to police.

And another member of staff said his behaviour had been so difficult officials had at one time appointed a school safety agent to sit at the front of the class to ‘allow the teacher to teach.’

But a woman claiming to be his mother, who did not wish to be named, told the Post: ‘I know my son is a good boy.

‘He’s a kid, he made a mistake. It’s not right for him to bug anybody for their religion.’

Daramy is being held at the Spofford Juvenile Center in The Bronx, and his case will be dealt with by the Family Court because he is so young.

Officers from the NYPD’s hate crimes task force are now looking for the girl alleged to have joined in the assault.

A source told the Post there had been other violent incidents at the school. Last week a student punched a teacher in the face, and another had to take leave after being pushed into a wall.

The source said: ‘I feel safer walking to my vehicle outside the school than I do walking into my own school.

‘Things aren’t reported as they should and students aren’t disciplined as they should.’

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: American Jewry’s Fight

Over the past year or so, American Jewish opponents of Israel like writer and activist Peter Beinart have sought to intimidate and demoralize Israelis by telling us that American Jews either no longer support us or will stop supporting us if we don’t give in to all the Arabs’ demands.

But statistical evidence exposes these threats as utter lies. According to mountainous survey evidence, the American Jewish community writ large remains deeply supportive of Israel. Two surveys released last year by the American Jewish Committee and Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies showed that three quarters of American Jews care deeply about Israel and that Israel is an important part of their Jewish identity. The Brandeis survey notably showed that young American Jews are no less likely to support Israel than they were in the past.

In fact, American Jews under 30 are more hawkish about the Palestinian conflict with Israel than Jews between the ages of 31-40 are…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

D.C. Resident Complains About Nonstop, Noisy Protests

As union leaders and “community organizers” ratchet up the noise level of assorted demonstrations and protests, using microphones, megaphones, and even drums that can be heard for blocks, some city residents are beginning to find their voices, however tepidly. It’s as if they fear angering the coordinators and participants of these uprisings. Mainstream news outlets often seem a bit too anxious to remove from their sites what few reports and opinion pieces on the subject they print, probably for the same reason.

Take the March 27 commentary in the Washington Post by District of Columbia resident Masako Iwamoto, who asked right up front whether a worker’s right to protest trumped residents’ rights to peace and quiet. Iwamoto, declining to comment on the merits of the protest, wrote an exceptionally reasoned piece focusing only on the noise that, since February, had disturbed her sleep and that of fellow residents, made their illnesses insufferable, and rendered it impossible to follow a radio or television program even with the windows closed. The racket usually extended from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily — a full 12 hours, she noted.

Apparently, workers had a beef with their employers at a hotel on 15th Street Northwest, in the same block as the Washington Post, which printed Iwamoto’s piece, and they were trying their hardest to rally support for their cause.

“If it were just the chanting and shouting of a typical protest, that would be bad enough. But these picketers use drums and microphones to make themselves impossible to ignore… There is no escape,” explained Iwamoto.

Suddenly, the relatively peaceful existence Iwamoto had found in Washington, D.C., as opposed to New York City, had become a nightmare; the mere thought of returning home touched off extreme tension, giving her headaches.

Finally, she walked several blocks to confront the organizer (or at least the lackey of the moment) to ask that the noise be toned down and to explain how the protesters were making life miserable for people who had nothing to do with the hotel workers’ complaints.

The response? The organizer told her the workers had a right to protest and declared that if residents such as Iwamoto were unhappy, they should call the hotel management and demand that they better improve the workers’ conditions. At that point, Iwamoto asked the organizer how she would feel if the noise was in front of her house? The organizer laughingly replied that it wouldn’t happen because she lived in “a residential area.”

What is interesting about this exchange is that Iwamoto clearly didn’t understand this struggle between peaceful individuals and the tried-and-true Marxist agitation techniques that started long before in the Leninist-Stalinist world of Eastern Europe. They were perfected in the United States during the volatile 1960s, when well-paid agitators such as Herbert Marcuse, among others, imported them, to the glee of naïve college-age students having nothing better to do on their parents’ dime. Back then, most of these young people didn’t know much about the topics of their protests, or even particularly care, as long as their friends attended. It was an event staged to “be seen” and, sometimes, even to play grown-up, under the illusion one was making a difference.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Large Hole Discovered After Southwest Flight Makes Emergency Landing

(CNN) — A Southwest Airlines flight landed safely at a military base in Yuma, Arizona, on Friday with what passengers described as a 3-foot hole in the fuselage of the Boeing 737.

“I heard a loud popping sound about three or four minutes before it blew open on us,” passenger Greg Hansen told CNN.

“(Then) a big explosion happened. A big noise, and from there, you felt some of the air being sucked out. It happened right behind me, in the row behind me and it covers about two and a half rows,” he said from seat 11C.

Hansen, 41, a regional sales manager for a biotech company, was flying home to Sacramento from a business trip. Some people panicked and screamed as the blue sky and sun began to shine through the cabin in mid-flight, he said.

“Most people were just white knuckles holding onto the arm rests. The pilots did a great job and were under control to get us to a manageable level,” he said.

But just behind him, Hansen says he could see the jagged edge of the aircraft where the rivets used to be.

“You can see the insulation and wiring. The interior ceiling panel was bouncing up and down with the air,” he said.

“It was surreal, when you’re riding in a modern aircraft. You’re used to being enclosed and not having the window rolled down,” he said.

Hansen described the hole as being about 3 or 4 feet long and about a foot wide.

Hansen said that he and the rest of the passengers were still on board Southwest Flight 812, after making an emergency landing at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station/International Airport at 7:07 p.m. ET.

The FAA said the captain made a rapid controlled descent from 36,000 to about 11,000 feet after the cabin lost pressure. Investigators are en route to the base, the FAA said.

“We do not know the cause of the decompression,” said Ian Gregor of the FAA.

Southwest said in a statement that the flight crew “discovered a hole in the top of the aircraft.”

A new aircraft is en route to the base with maintenance, ground crew and customer service agents “to assess the damaged aircraft and support the 118 customers aboard.”

Hansen said the incident took place about 35 minutes into the flight. He says that it took about 45 seconds or a minute before the oxygen masks came down after the hole blew open.

“The crew was pretty calm about it. They walked around and checked on everyone,” he said. “But it wasn’t like the movies where papers get sucked out of the hole, but you could feel it and hear the noise.”

Hansen said that most of the passengers were complaining of a pain in their eardrums from a rapid descent.

Southwest Airlines said only one injury is being reported.

“There are no reported customer injuries,” reads a statement released by the airline. “One of the flight attendants, however, received a minor injury upon descent.”

Hansen said one male flight attendant appeared to fall, and was bleeding from a facial injury.

An airport official told CNN that passengers will remain on board the damaged plane to ensure their safety, until the new replacement plane arrives.

“They have been tended to and are being given refreshments because the temperature on the tarmac is near 100 degrees,” said Yuma International Airport spokeswoman Gen Grosse.

One of the passengers told CNN affiliate KOVR that the incident occurred shortly after flight attendants took drink orders.

“I heard a huge sound and oxygen masks came down and we started making a rapid decent. They said we’d be making an emergency landing,” said the passenger, identified only as Cindy. “There was a hole in the fuselage about 3 feet long. You could see the insulation and the wiring. You could see a tear the length of one of the ceiling panels.”

A spokeswoman for Boeing declined to comment on possible causes of the incident.

“The 737 has an outstanding safety record,” said Julie O’Donnell. “We are in communication with the (National Transportation Safety Board) and stand ready to assist.”

[Return to headlines]

Malicious Attack Hits a Million Web Pages

SEATTLE (Reuters) — More than one million website pages have been hit by a sophisticated hacking attack that injects code into sites that redirect users to a fraudulent software sales operation.

The so-called “mass-injection” attack, which experts say is the largest of its kind ever seen, has managed to insert malicious code into websites by gaining access to the servers running the databases behind the Internet, according to the technology security company that discovered it.

Websense, which first found evidence of the attack earlier this week, has called it ‘LizaMoon,’ after the site to which the malicious code first directed its researchers.

Users can see that they are being redirected when they attempt to visit an infected address, and can close the window with no ill effects, said Patrik Runald, a senior manager of security research at Websense.

The attack has largely affected small websites so far, he said, with no evidence that popular corporate or government websites have been compromised.

If users do not close the window after typing an infected address, or clicking an infected link, they are redirected to a page showing a warning from ‘Windows Stability Center’ — posing as a Microsoft Corp security product — that there are problems with their computer and they are urged to pay for software to fix it.

Websense said the site appeared to be set up by sophisticated fraudsters out to make money, but it was not clear whether the site also planted malicious software on users’ computers if they made a purchase on the site, or if the operation was linked to an identity theft scam.

The presentation of the bogus website, as shown by Websense, is high quality but clearly fraudulent. Microsoft has no product called ‘Windows Stability Center”. The company did not immediately have a comment on the attack.

Websense said some third-party Web addresses containing information about podcasts available on Apple Inc’s iTunes service had been compromised, but said Apple appeared to have prevented the malicious links from working. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The attack may take some time to be tamed, warned Runald, as researchers first have to identify the software being compromised, and then website operators have to install updated software.

“Attacks like this tend to stay for a very long time,” he said. “Once they are onto something, it tends to stay with us. This LizaMoon event won’t disappear over a day.”

           — Hat tip: AP[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Pushing Back on Congressionally Directed Rocket

Obama administration officials continue to push back against a congressionally directed heavy-lift launch vehicle development that would salvage elements of the Constellation program the president seeks to dismantle.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Organ Crisis as Hispanics Refuse to Donate — Even Though They Make Up 45% of Recipients

Hispanics are less likely to donate organs than the rest of America despite the fact they make up 45 per cent of patients on the waiting list. The Hispanic community’s reticence about donating organs could lead to a crisis within the field of donation, particularly as the Hispanic population is soaring. Their lack of willingness to donate centres on religion as many believe that without a whole body, they will not be able to get into heaven.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Voting With Their Feet

The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.

When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy. Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the Midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

Although California has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase in the Asian-American population of Nevada, more so than any other state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor the hostile climate for business that California maintains.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britian Says Case Strong for Turkey Joining EU

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) — British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday the case for Turkey joining the 27-nation European Union was clearer than ever.

“The case for Turkish membership of the European Union in my view is clearer than ever, for increased economic prosperity, for a bigger market for our goods and services, for more energy security and for real benefits for the EU’s long term stability,” Cameron said.

“I also believe the accession process itself is a catalyst for change. I will continue to champion Turkey’s accession,” Cameron added.

Cameron was speaking during a news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

           — Hat tip: DT[Return to headlines]

Corruption: Lobbying Scandal Forces EU’s Hand

The European Parliament’s political leadership has approved a plan put forward by parliamentary President Jerzy Buzek, which aims to eradicate corruption among MEPs. According to Rzeczpospolita, the project will be supported by four pillars: an obligatory register of lobbyists (the current register is voluntary), reinforcement of the code of conduct with MEPs to ensure clear rules on relations with lobbyists, a modification of procedures (necessary for the adoption of the new rules) and — last but not least — the establishment of a parliamentary ethics committee.

“As it stands,” explains the Warsaw daily, “there is no single organisation that can determine if an MEP has acted unethically.” The anti-corruption initiative has been prompted by revelations in the Sunday Times which offered bribes to several MEPS — some of which were gratefully accepted.

Although “Jerzy Buzek has let the EU’s anti-fraud office (Olaf) conduct an investigation into the Sunday Times cash-for-amendments scandal. But he continues to deny access to MEPs’ offices,” reports EUobserver. The Polish European Parliament President argues that “MEPs must first be stripped of their immunity and that national authorities in Austria and Slovenia should step in to handle criminal proceedings.”

While MEPs Ernst Strasser (Austria) and Zoran Thaler (Slovenia) have resigned in the wake of the scandal, Romania’s Adrian Severin has continued to sit in parliament as an independent. For Revista 22, which cites other cases of corruption in European institutions, the affair is little more than “the tip of the iceberg”.

The Bucharest weekly notes that in 2008, one of Germany’s highest ranking European Commission officials, Fritz Harald Wenig, was forced to resign in the wake of a similar Sunday Times investigation, in which “journalists passed themselves off for lobbyists” eager to distribute brown envelopes to eurocrats.

And this is just one in a number of cases: in 2004, Greece’s Kalliopi Nikolaou, who was employed by the European Court of Auditors in Luxembourg, allegedly made use of unjustified payments to buy an apartment in London, while in 1999, French Commissioner Edith Cresson had a very close friend in a research job financed by European funds. In short, concludes Revista 22, “Brussels continues to be haunted by the spectre of corruption.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ex-Sarkozy Aide Lashes Out at Debate on Islam

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ousted adviser on diversity called the president’s conservative party the “plague of Muslims” amid a growing furor over its plans to debate Islam’s role in France. Even Prime Minister Francois Fillon, a prominent member of the governing UMP party, is distancing himself from its debate next week on secularism and religion in France. Fillon said Thursday he won’t take part. Many of the debate’s critics fear it could lead to the stigmatization of French Muslims.

Sarkozy fired his diversity adviser Abderrahmane Dahmane last month after Dahmane criticized the debate. In an interview Thursday, Dahmane told The Associated Press that he wants to rally Muslims against the UMP and its leader, Jean-Francois Cope, in charge of the debate. “We are going to engage the whole (Muslim) community against Jean-Francois Cope and against his party. Cope’s UMP is the plague of Muslims,” he said. Dahmane is a controversial figure of Algerian descent who has called on French Muslims to wear a green star Tuesday in a sign of protest, similar to the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear under Nazi occupation. Prominent Jewish figures in France have bristled at the comparison between France’s Muslims today and Jews persecuted and killed in World War II.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: TV, Photographers Denied Access to Berlusconi Sex Trial

Ban for ‘security’, reporters with notebooks allowed

(ANSA) — Milan, March 31 — Television crews and photographers will not be granted access to the first hearing next Wednesday of a Milan trial into allegations Premier Silvio Berlusconi used an underage prostitute, prosecutors said Thursday.

A judge had previously authorized the presence of photographers and TV crews of state broadcaster RAI, who were then supposed to made the footage available to other networks.

However, Milan prosecutors have overruled that decision for “security reasons” and to stop the cameras influencing the evidence witnesses give.

Reporters with notebooks and sound recorders will be able to attend the first part of a trial that has shocked Italy and hit frontpage headlines around the world.

Berlusconi denies paying to have sex with a Moroccan runaway and belly dancer called Ruby before she was 18 and also rejects charges he allegedly abused his position to get her out of jail after an unrelated accusation of theft last May.

He says left-leaning prosecutors have trumped up the accusations and those in three separate corruption trials he faces to oust him from power.

Prosecutors, however, say they have evidence showing the premier paid for intercourse with 33 alleged prostitutes after so-called ‘bunga bunga’ sex parties, including Ruby, who they say he slept with 13 times when she was 17 after she was allegedly recruited at a beauty contest at the age of 16.

The premier has said the allegations, which carry a combined jail term of 15 years, are absurd, because of his age and because he has a secret girlfriend who would not have allowed such behaviour.

“I’m (almost) 75 years old and although I’m naughty, 33 girls in two months seems a bit much even for a 30-year-old,” Berlusconi recently told Rome-based daily La Repubblica. “It’s too much for anyone.

“And then there’s an extra hurdle… I have always had next to me a girlfriend who I have luckily been able to keep out of all this sleaze. If I had done everything they say, she would have clawed my eyes out. And I assure you, she has very long nails”.

Ruby has also denied ever having sex with Berlusconi and said money he gave her was a gift.

The premier has called witnesses including George Clooney, who has a villa on Lake Como, the Hollywood star’s Italian girlfriend Elsabetta Canalis and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo as witnesses in his defence.

Clooney says he only ever met Berlusconi to appeal for aid for Darfur while Canalis has denied Ruby’s claim she saw the pair at one of the premier’s incriminated parties.

Ruby, who is now 18 and whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, claims she had sex with Real Madrid star Ronaldo after meeting him at a Milan disco in January 2010. The star, currently the highest-paid footballer in the world, has denied meeting Ruby or giving her 4,000 euros for sex.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Anti-War Slogan Found in Livorno Parcel Bomb

‘Out of Afghanistan and Libya’ say anarchists FAI

(ANSA) — Florence, April 1 — An anarchist anti-war slogan has been found in the remains of a parcel bomb that blew up in the hands of a paratroop officer in Livorno Thursday, leaving him with serious eye injuries and three amputated fingers.

The message from the Informal Anarchists Federation (FAI) read “(We are) against Italian involvement in the missions in Afghanistan and Libya”, judicial sources said Friday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Alessandro Albamonte, 41, of the crack Folgore parachute brigade, is in hospital in Florence where doctors said he was “comfortable” even though he would have to go into intensive care with “major” eye injuries and a mutilated right hand.

FAI were also responsible for two other parcel bombs Thursday: one that wounded two people at the Swiss nuclear energy federation and another that was defused at a Greek prison.

The anarchists, who have links with Greece and Spain, have waged several bombing campaigns over the last few years including parcel bombs sent to Swiss, Chilean and Greek embassies in Rome at Christmas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Use Wool to Mop Oil Spills’ Say Luxury Textile Makers

Garage experiment leads to ecological breakthrough

(ANSA) — Milan, April 1 — A group of luxury textile executives have patented a new system of cleaning oil spills on the sea: mopping it up with raw wool. The executives have designed a system to be installed on tanker ships that would enable crews to sponge up oily messes large and small, by dumping wool into the water and wringing it out like a sponge.

“Even we were stunned by the results,” Mario Ploner, CEO of Tecnomeccanica Biellese told reporters at a presentation in Milan Thursday. Ploner headed the engineers who designed a ‘kit’ for tanker ships called Wores, based on the principle.

The executives from Biella — a district at the foot of the Alps in Piedmont famed for furnishing some of the world’s finest wool textiles to luxury clothing makers — are exploiting natural qualities of wool that keep sheep warm and dry through the winter. Wool repels water, absorbs oil-like substances — like sheep’s naturally occurring lanolin — and floats.

They found that wool can absorb roughly ten times its weight in oil without picking up water, and can also be wrung and reused up to ten or twelve times. Thus a kilogram of wool can be used to remove at least 100 kilograms of oil, they claim.

To demonstrate the principle, an assistant poured gooey, black, pungent motor oil into a vat of water in front of the journalists. He then scooped a handful of raw tufts of matted wool from a bag. With a few simple strokes, the globs of oil clung to the sopping wool, leaving the water limpid.

The assistant then tried a more ambitious trick of dumping a thick layer of oil on the water. The mechanical rollers for squeezing out oil from the wool began to seize up as the wool wound tightly around the rollers.

“With 10,000 kilograms of wool, we can clean up one million liters of oil in ten hours,” said Luciano Donatelli, the man who came up with the idea. Donatelli heads a consortium of small and medium-sized fine-textile manufacturers as well as Biella’s Union of Industrialists.

In August 2010, after news of repeated failures to abate the great black geyser spewing from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Donatelli remembered the peculiar hydrophobic properties of wool, a material he has worked with throughout his career, since an ill-fated day in his youth.

About 45 years ago, he and some buddies accidentally spilled naphtha in the family pond. Naphta is a petroleum product commonly used in camp stoves, lighter fluid, and cleaning solvents. Donatelli said they tried everything they could think of to clean it up, including paper and sand, without success.

A local mattress maker suggested they try using wool, which was also used by car mechanics for swiping away grease. The mattress maker knew the properties of wool, because it was commonly used to stuff mattresses in Italy at the time. The youths tried tackling the naphta with wool.

“It came out like a miracle,” recounted Donatelli. “It cleaned up all the oil”.

Remembering this event, Donatelli made a late-night call to his friend and colleague Mauro Rossetti, director of the Textile and Health Association of Biella, a group in charge of textile research and innovation, and urged him to test the idea.

Rossetti said he commandeered his wife’s plastic dish basin from the kitchen to try out the idea in the garage. He recalled being dumbfounded by its effectiveness.

More tests followed in a laboratory, and Rossetti recruited Mario Ploner, CEO of Tecnomeccanica Biellese, a firm specialized in textile machinery. Ploner and his engineers set about designing a wool deployment system that could be installed on a tanker ship.

They say they can custom-build an oil cleaning kit for roughly one million euros on a 50-meter ship. They claim the cost is highly economical for ship owners, amounting to a tiny fraction of the cost of a new ship, which they say generally costs about one million euros per meter. They also say that outfitting old ships with a kit — and thus converting it into a cleaning ship — could be an effective way to redeploy ships on the verge of obsolescence.

Another advantage of the system, they say is that it works best with the lowest grade, ordinary, unprocessed wool, which is very coarse and full of greasy lanolin. This was an unexpected outcome. The executives thought light, processed wool, stripped of its lanolin would have the greatest absorbing capacity. Instead, they found that the coarser and richer in lanolin and other impurities, the more the oil clung to the wool. Such wool, which is found on sheep raised for milk, cheese, or slaughter, is normally unusable for clothing or other industrial purposes, and discarded.

“Farmers don’t know what to do with the wool,” said Rossetti. “This would enable them to get a small amount of revenue from it”.

Rossetti says disposing of oil-tainted wool is relatively simple: it can be burned to produce heat. Oil recouped from wringing the wool could be refined and consumed at a regular refinery, further amortizing the cost of the kit.

The group, Gruppo Creativi Associati (GCA), has patented two kit designs: one for large ships and spills, and one for small ships and spot problems. Both designs are still virtual — computer-rendered — as the group has yet to build a physical prototype. They are currently searching for a large industrial partner to help them develop and commercialize their invention.

“There are not only garages in Silicon Valley,” said Donatelli. “They also exist in Italy.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders Wants Debate on ‘Real Nature’ Of Mohammed

THE HAGUE, 01/04/11 — Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders wants a public debate on the “real nature and character of Mohammed.” Such a debate can give insight and support to Muslims worldwide to leave Islam, says Wilders in an article in newsmagazine HP/De Tijd.

Wilders maintains that Islam is highly dangerous and that this becomes clear from reading the Koran, but also by looking at the character of Mohammed. “The historic Mohammed was the harsh leader of a band of robbers from Medina, who plundered, raped and murdered without scruples. The sources describe orgies of savagery in which hundreds of people had their throats cut, hands and feet hacked off, eyes put out and whole tribes wiped out,” according to Wilders. “When we are confronted today with the madness of Islamic terrorists, it is not difficult to discover where this madness comes from,” he adds.

The debate on Mohammed is necessary, Wilders claims, because those who want to escape from the grip of Islam and Mohammed may pay for this with their life. Apostates are heroes that deserve support, he says. “It is time that we help these people by unmasking Mohammed.”

Wilders quotes the Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina in HP/De Tijd, founder of an organisation for Islamic apostates. Sina called the Prophet “a narcissist, a paedophile, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a misogynist, sexually obsessed, a sect leader, a lunatic, a rapist, a torturer, an assassin and a robber.”

Wilders also cites academics who say Mohammed had a brain tumour. As a result, he had hallucinations, which were written down as visions. Other academics put it down to paranoid hallucinatory schizophrenia. “The truth is not always so nice or politically correct,” writes Wilders in the piece.

HP/De Tijd meanwhile asked CDA parliamentary leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma for his comment on the statements by ‘tolerance partner’ (in the coalition) Wilders. Van Haersma Buma termed them “unnecessary and tasteless.” The CDA “will ensure that the equality of humans and the constitutional state take priority in cabinet policy.”

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

Netherlands: Prime Minister and Wilders Have Not Discussed Fitna 2

Prime minister Mark Rutte and anti-Islam party leader Geert Wilders have not had any contact about the latter’s plans to make a new film attacking Mohammed.

Rutte told reporters at his weekly news conference he had not spoken to the MP about his Fitna 2 film, which will be released next year.

But the film would have to keep within the bounds of decency, Rutte was quoted as saying by news agency ANP.

Wilders used the microblogging service Twitter to tell his followers the film will be about the ‘barbaric life of the sick soul Mohammed’.

The first Fitna film, a 17-minute compilation of video clips, was released in 2008.

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

Sarkozy’s Plan for ‘Poisonous’ Debate on Rising Muslim Population in France Savaged by Religious Leaders

France was today attacked by religious leaders for organising a ‘poisonous’ national debate about the growing number of Muslims living in the country.

They accused President Nicolas Sarkozy of trying to attract racist voters by holding the all-party political discussion next Tuesday.

It will see people complaining about numerous aspects of Islamic life, from its links with terrorist groups to the wearing of burkas.

But French Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Buddhists today joined Muslim leaders in published a joint statement saying the debate would cause ‘confusion in the troubled period we are going through.’

With the French airforce currently joining the RAF in pouring bombs and missiles on Muslims in Libya and Afghanistan, the leaders believe that Gallic followers of Islam will be stigmatised even further.

The statement points to the championing of irreligious secularism by the debate’ s organisers, rather than a form of secularism embracing all religions, including Islam.

‘Do we need, in the current climate, a debate on secularism?’ says the statement. ‘Is a political party, even if it is in the majority, the right entity to lead such a debate alone?’

The religious leaders said secularism should be ‘a foundation of our desire to live together’, warning against: ‘lumping things together and so risking stigmatisation.”

Former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou, leader of the France’s Democratic Movement, said the debate would spread ‘poison’ around the six million odd Muslims who live in France.

With a general election due next year, Mr Sarkozy’s governing UMP party has been trying to win votes from the far right National Front party.

It has already succeeded in banning the burka, and other forms of Muslim head coverings, and has stressed its opposition to worshippers praying openly on French streets.

But UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope, who pushed for the debate, issued an open letter to Muslims this week saying he wanted a new ‘Code of Secularity’ that would keep schools and other institutions entirely religion-free.

‘The practice of Islam in a secular nation is not the burka not prayers in the street, nor the rejection of diversity,’ said Mr Cope.

The national debate about Islam and secularism will take place a week before France’s burka ban officially comes into force.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Worst in Europe for Increase in Anti-Semitism

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 31 — Anti-Semitism is growing at an alarming pace in Spain, where in 2010 approximately 4,000 cases of racial incidents and hate crimes were reported, according to the report commissioned by the foreign ministry’s Observatory on anti-Semitism quoted today by the media. Spain is at the top of the EU list for violent acts, demonstrations of racial hatred (Jews particularly), that are always increasing because of the economic crisis.

According to the survey, which interviewed 1,012 citizens above the age of 15, 58.4% of the population claims that “the Jews have a lot of power because they control the economy and means of communication”, while more than one third (34.6%) has a rather low or completely negative opinion of this religious community, comprised by approximately 40,000 people. It is the reason why the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities (Fcje) and the Movement against intolerance are warning about the “dangerous growth of anti-Semitism” highlighted by the report.

And a few new and alarming facts, for example that the far right has a less negative opinion of the Jewish communities (34%) than people who belong to the centre left (37.7%).

Presenting the report, Fcje president Jacobo Israel Garzon stated that “If these figures are correct, Spain would be the only case in Europe, and the Country would have a serious problem”.

There is a confirmation of the alarming diagnosis of the previous report on anti-Semitism carried out five years ago, according to which more than half the students did not want a Jewish kid sitting next to them. But even the one carried out in 2008 by US institute Pew Research Centre, which ratified that Spain is among the Countries of its area where rejection of Muslims and Jews has grown the most over the last five years. If the situation is worsening it is also because, according to Esteban Ibarra, the head of the Movement against intolerance, the Spanish government did not keep its promise of amending article 510 of the criminal code in order to punish as a crime any incitement or defence of racial or anti-Semite hatred, and ignored the mandate of the European Commission. According to the Observatory, the situation was exacerbated by the crisis because of the alleged economic power believed to be in the hands of the Spanish Jews, even though they represent barely 1% of the entire national population. And, to confirm that prejudice affects all social levels, there is the fact that two thirds (62.2%) of 58.4% of those who claim that “the Jews are very powerful because they control the economy and the media” are university students.

Of those who admit feeling “aversion towards Jews”, only 17% link it to the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. Jacobo Israel insisted that “You cannot associate the hate of Jews with the State of Israel or its policies”. However, on many of the Spanish media, anti-Semite feelings are expressed exactly because of that conflict. Insults on the internet, rude comments in synagogues, trivialisation of the Holocaust, and even 400 xenophobe and anti-Semite websites are among the problems identified by the 2010 report. But also three attacks on people, including the aggression of Israel in Madrid’s Independent University, and threat letters to Clara Sanchez, author of the best seller ‘The smell of lemon leaves’, a psychological thriller on the golden lives of Nazi war criminals on the Alicante Coast.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Tattooed by Politics

Swedish detective fiction is highly profitable—and intent on slaying the dragon of capitalism

According to their fans, these members of the Swedish intelligentsia are telling a deeper truth about Swedish society that, to the naked eye, looks placid and egalitarian but conceals something uglier—xenophobia, misogyny (the Swedish title of Lars son’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is “Men Who Hate Women”) and subterranean fascists—that honeycombs the structures of power. The region wrestles with very real threats from religious extremists—just last year, a failed suicide bomber in Stockholm and an assassination attempt against a “blasphemous” cartoonist in Copenhagen. But somehow that theme doesn’t turn up in crime fiction from the school of Mr. Mankell, Ms. Marklund or the popular Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø.

Instead, the Scandinavian detective will likely continue focusing on the “criminal capitalists” (Larsson’s phrase), mustache-twisting businessmen and omnipresent women-haters. Mr. Mankell, the former Maoist, has taken to heart the Chairman’s dictum that all art must be politically useful or it is bourgeois decadence. “The Troubled Man,” so full of detective-who-plays-by-his-own-rules cliche’s, fails mostly because it plays by very strict ideological rules.

Sweden bequeathed to the world brilliant but often overlooked writers such as Hjalmar Söderberg, Vilhelm Moberg, August Strindberg and Selma Lagerlöf. Nowadays the country’s literary reputation is being murdered, but there’s no mystery about the identity of the perpetrators.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Militant Muslim Warns Royal Wedding Terror Attack is ‘Highly Likely’

Firebrand cleric Anjem Choudary has warned that a terror attack is ‘highly likely’ at the Royal wedding.

The hate preacher has told all Muslims to stay away from Westminster Abbey on April 29, describing it as ‘a prime target’.

Choudary has also been preaching to followers of the hate group, Muslims Against Crusades, and is backing its plan for a ‘forceful demonstration’ at the wedding.

Choudary said: ‘All Muslims should stay away from the public gatherings like the Royal wedding and the Olympics because there is a very high likelihood of an attack.

‘Prime targets most probably would be public gatherings like that, so I think Muslims in general should stay away to avoid injury.

‘Maybe when the priest says “is there anyone who objects to this wedding speak now or forever hold your tongue” — who knows what will happen at that time?

‘If my brothers decide to use the opportunity when the world is looking at the Royal Family to pass a message so that we can avoid more deaths of innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan, that should be applauded.

‘Prince William has been on military duty in Afghanistan, as well as his brother.

‘I believe that the Queen and her children are supportive of the war in Afghanistan, which translates to us as a war against Muslims.’

He added: ‘We believe this is complete murder and mayhem that they have orchestrated. We will stand against and expose anyone who supports that.

‘Security services in this country will tell you there is very high risk (of a terror attack). That is their main concern about the wedding.’

In 2004 Choudary said a terror attack on British soil was ‘just a matter of time’ and after the London bombings he refused to condemn the atrocities.

He became leader of Islam4UK but it was banned last year under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Now a new group has emerged in its place and Choudary admits he is involved.

Muslims Against Crusades is attracting the same fanatics who caused uproar with their planned protest at Wootten Bassett.

They sparked outrage when they demonstrated on Armistice Day, burning poppies during the two-minute silence.

The group has set up a website with a clock counting down to the Royal wedding, calling the Royal Family ‘enemies to Allah and his messenger’.

Choudhary says the disruption to the Royal wedding could include hardliners from the group setting fire to Union Jack flags.

He said: ‘It’s not illegal in this country to burn a Union Jack. There may be placards and people addressing the crowd.

‘A lot of them are former students of mine. Also they were previously with al-Muhajiroun so I do know them. I’m not their spokesman but they invite me from time to time.

‘Some of them of them still have very similar views but they have their own administration and their own activities.

‘I do appear on some of their platforms to speak but I’m not involved in organizing.

‘They’re a good bunch of people and I think what they say is the truth.

‘We live here under the covenant of security and in return for being protected we don’t target the lives of the people where we live.

‘I don’t advocate anyone to try any operations of violence here but this is supposed to be a country where people believe in freedom of expression. I think people should express their freedom to loathe the monarchy and what they stand for.’

The 44-year-old solicitor from East London first joined Islamist organisation al-Muhajiroun in the late 90s and acted as right-hand man to extremist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, as well as spokesman for the organisation.

After the disbanding of al-Muhajiroun in 2004, he spoke in praise of Muslim terrorists, calling the 9/11 terrorists ‘magnificent martyrs’.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said, in reference to burning the Union flag, that any words or behaviour likely to cause ‘harrassment, alarm or distress’ to a reasonable person could be dealt with under public order legislation — as with the poppy burning incident.

He added: ‘When planning for major events the threat or terrorism is always a consideration. The Royal wedding is no exception to this.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Return of Wine Made From Vines Destroyed in War

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 1 — It is the story of a wine that tastes of hope, peace and the desire to start life all over again. The “Vino Daorson” wine cooperative is producing its first bottles of wine from the vines of Bosnia Herzegovina, which were destroyed or abandoned during the war that devastated the country in 1992. The cooperative is the result of an all-Italian solidarity project aiming to help small and very small wine producers in the area. The wine will be premiered for the first time anywhere in the world in Verona next Saturday, during the Vinitaly event, which will be attended by the head of Development Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, Francesco Catania. The Umbria-based Arnaldo Caprai winery will host partners of the cooperative on its stand at the event, offering them visibility and the chance of commercial contacts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Tunisia: EU Ready to Double 2012-2013 Partnership Fund

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 1 — If Tunisia confirms its commitment to ambitious reforms favouring the transition to a democratic regime, the European Union is ready to double its partnership funding over the two-year period between 2012 and 2013 to 320 million euros. This is according to the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, who was speaking at the end of his visit to Tunisia.

“It is too early to talk about future sums of money. These will depend on the concrete reforms for which Tunisia will request our support. But to give you an idea: we have planned to spend 160 million euros in Tunisia in 2012 and 2013. In the best case scenario, in line with the ambitious reforms launched by the government that the Tunisian people will choose, I can predict that this figure may be doubled. Further decisions could also be taken this year”.

In the short-term, the European Union has already allocated 17 million euros more in funding and part of this aid has already been mobilised. “All of this is just the beginning and we are ready to do more,” Fule said. The extra funds will be set aside in particular for disadvantaged regions in inland areas of the country, the Commissioner explained, as well as to support the electoral process, civil society and the media.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: After Jan 25 Revolution Slow Recovery

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 1 — Egyptian politics is looking to turn over a new leaf. The Egyptian economy, meanwhile, is demanding greater stability and security. For all the change that it has brought about, the revolution has run up enormous costs. From the Stock market collapse (-8.9%) on the day of its reopening, on March 23, to the halting of productive activity, recovery looks to be an uphill task, with some sectors, such as the textile industry, having been completely inactive for weeks.

One example of this is Mobaco Cottons. The family-run clothing company with a long history began its production with three women working in a basement in the 1970s, at the height of the “Infitah” (opening), when President Anwar Al Sadat ensured that the country began to open up to market logic. Today, the company has 1,500 employees, 40 outlets in the Egyptian capital alone, two shops in the luxurious Saint Germain area of Paris and turnover of around 10 million euros per year. “When the revolution was at its peak, our shutters stayed down and production was completely frozen, causing huge financial losses”, Monique Ashba, the entrepreneur who began the adventure in 1974, tells ANSAmed. “Some of our shops were damaged and looted, one was completely burnt down”. Her desire to walk away and close the door is therefore both strong and understandable. “I thought about it a lot, and the temptation was very strong,” Ashba says. “But then you say to yourself ‘how can I put 1,500 employees on the street?’“. Indeed, some of the company’s employees have more than 20 years of service behind them. Another issue, she says, is that in recent weeks “people leaving the country are met with suspicion, like thieves trying to flee with their plunder”. The desire for democracy has reached the factories too. “There were moments of tension at Mobaco too, but everything has calmed down. Because here, at least, people have always been treated with respect”. For now, orders are low “and our shops are half empty. We will see what happens”.

Different story, similar ending. The Sekem company was set up in 1977 by Ibrahim Abuleish — a man with a degree in chemistry and another in medicine — who, after years of studying in Austria and Germany, returned to Egypt and bought from the state 70 hectares of desert around 70 kilometres outside Cairo. He begun to transform them into flourishing and fertile land, following the principles of biodynamic agriculture, which is based on sustainable production systems. Over 2,500 employees work in nine different companies, operating in the sectors of horticulture, breeding, cereal growing, cotton and officinal herbs, the transformation of food products, textiles and pharmaceuticals. Vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, spices, tea, fruit juices, jams, cereals, oil, seeds, cotton and pharmaceutical products are all exported to France, Germany, the UK, Holland and the United States. In the weeks of the uprising, says Dr. Abuleish, “our problem was not production, but the impossibility of reaching markets. Blocked roads and the closure of the port of Alexandria stopped us from selling our goods”. Even during the most difficult times, he explains, “I never wanted to shut everything down and walk away”. There were problems, too, within his companies, caused by demands for union rights. “Those who had just been taken on were demanding wage increases. They were influenced by the atmosphere that was sweeping through the country. On the other hand, our employees who had worked for us for years worked two extra hours for free every day to help us tackle our economic difficulties”. What does the future hold? For these entrepreneurs, Egypt will never return to the days of planned economy. “Foreign investments are vital to our economy,” they say.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany and China Call for Libya Ceasefire

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has joined with China in calling for a ceasefire in Libya and insisting that the situation cannot be solved by “military means.”

Westerwelle, who is visiting China, joined his counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing in calling for a ceasefire and a political solution on Friday — even as NATO allies are involved in a military campaign authorized by UN Security Council resolution 1973.

“There can only be a political resolution and we must get the political process underway. That should begin with a ceasefire that Qaddafi must heed to allow the peace process to begin,” he told reporters.

His remarks may further annoy Germany’s traditional NATO allies, the United States, France and Britain, all of whom are taking part in military action to stop Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi attacking rebels and civilians. While Qaddafi cannot be targeted under the terms of the UN resolution, the coalition wants him ousted from power.

Both Germany and China abstained two weeks ago in the United Nations Security Council in a vote on whether to intervene militarily. Germany’s traditional allies are already reportedly disappointed with Germany’s refusal to contribute and its Security Council abstention. Westerwelle’s remarks may entrench the view that Germany is siding with China, with whom it has growing economic and political ties, rather than the west.

Liechi said he was “very concerned” by the latest developments in Libya. “We see and hear reports every day that more civilians have been injured and killed and the military action is likely to escalate.

All countries had to follow the “spirit of the Security Council resolution.”

“We should find a solution by diplomatic means,” he said.

Westerwelle called on Qaddafi to “finally silence the weapons and allow there to be a peaceful political process.”

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

Italy: Foreign Minister Will Meet Libyan Rebel Leadership in Rome

Rome, 31 April — (AKI) — Italys’ foreign minister Franco Frattini will meet members of Libya rebel Interim National Council in Rome next week, Frattini told the private Canale 5 television channel on Thursday.

Frattini said he was in regular contact with the rebel leadership and would hold talks with Ali Essawi, the rebel official in charge of foreign affairs, in the Italian capital on Monday.

“We have close contact with the rebels in Bengasi, where our consulate is always open,” said Frattini, referring to the eastern port city and rebel stronghold where the Interim National Council is based.

Frattini played down fears that Al-Qaeda had infiltrated the uprising against longtime Libyan strongman Muammer Gaddafi, who seized power in a military coup and has ruled for 41 years.

Frattini said the way forward was not warfare but diplomatic pressure to bring about defections among members of Gaddafi’s inner circle and and to persuade him to go into exile.

Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, only reluctantly joined military operations earlier in March allowing seven of its military bases to be used for missions in the North African country.

“It is not through actions of war that we can make Gaddafi leave, but rather through strong international pressure to encourage defections by people close to him,” Frattini told Canale 5 television.

He was speaking after news on Thursday that Libya’s foreign minister Moussa Koussa, one of Gaddafi’s closest advisers, had defected and flew to Britain aboard a flight from Tunisia.

Uganda, Chad, Venezuela are among countries which have so far offered Gaddafi asylum.

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

Libya: Rebels: Yes to Ceasefire if Gaddafi Troops Leave West

(ANSAmed) — BENGHAZI, APRIL 1 — Libyan rebels have said that they would be prepared to accept a ceasefire if pro-Gaddafi forces leave cities in the west of the country and give the people freedom of expression.

The head of the National Libyan Council (the provisional rebel government in Benghazi) has demanded that “mercenary” troops also be taken off the streets, as a condition for the ceasefire.

“We do not have any objections to a ceasefire,” said Mustafa Abdul Jalil during a joint press conference with the UN’s special envoy to Libya, Abdelilah Al Khatib, “as long as Libyans in western cities have full freedom to express their points of view”.

Jalil also said that rebels will need weapons if Gaddafi’s forces do not stop their attacks on citizens and repeated his demand for help in combating the significantly better equipped Tripoli forces. The head of the rebel government has said that they will not waver from their main demand, which is for the Libyan leader and his family to leave the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Westerwelle: Military Means Are Not the Solution

(AGI) Beijing — To put an end to the Libyan crisis, “military means” are not the right answer. This was the statement re-iterated by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle during an official visit in Beijing, after having met with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi. “There can only be a political solution”, Westerwelle underscored, “and it is therefore the way of diplomacy that must be undertaken. For the peace process to start”, he added, “it is necessary to begin with a cease-fire that also Muammar Gaddafi must respect”.

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

Odyssey Dawn: Toward Total War in Libya

“Total confusion reigns just 13 days after the launch of the war in Libya,” writes Mediapart. “In less than two weeks, what began as a humanitarian operation — with an authorisation to deploy limited military means — has been transformed into a war to bring about regime change.”

For the Parisian news website, the goal of the United States, which is providing the bulk of the resources for the Odyssey Dawn is quite simple: to overthrow Gaddafi. We are now witnessing “an all out attack on military infrastructure and political power centres” by the operation which from Thursday 31 March will be fully controlled by NATO from its headquarters in Naples.

“The strategy of total war (which is far removed from the spirit of Resolution 1973) has prompted increasingly bitter criticism from the Arab League, as well as Turkey and Italy, which was hoping to intervene as a mediator in a bid to persuade Gaddafi to go into exile,” adds Mediapart. As a result, the news website argues that the coalition is headed straight for the quagmire it desperately wanted to avoid. Now that Gaddafi’s army is winning back territory, “the status quo will likely persist, and barring his sudden overthrow, in the long term the country may have to be divided.”

The situation is all the more problematic for the coalition in view of the increasingly heated debate about the Libyan opposition and the reality of the National Transition Council, which was France recognised as the legitimate power in the country on 5 March. This is particularly the case in the United States “where some suspect that Islamists and even Al-Qaeda fighters are playing an important role in the uprising.”

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

The Netherlands Opposes Arming Libyan Rebels, Says PM

The Netherlands will do what it can to prevent international forces arming the rebels in Libya, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

MPs on Thursday urged Nato not to intervene militarily in Libya, arguing that change must come from the Libyans themselves, not the international community.

There is pressure in the US for the international community to supply arms to opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

UN resolution

Rutte said the Netherlands is opposed to arming opposition forces and that the UN resolution paving the way for military intervention in Libya does not allow it either. He also re-emphasised the cabinet’s decision that the Netherlands will not be involved in bombing Libyan government targets.

The MPs were speaking during Thursday night’s debate on extending the Dutch role to monitoring the UN-declared no-fly zone.

CDA MP Henk Jan Ormel warned that military intervention could also give rise to expectations in Sudan or Ivory Coast.

And Labour’s Frans Timmermans said Nato must keep strictly to the terms of the UN resolution. Arming the rebels in Libya would be ‘beyond the boundaries of what the UN agreed,’ he said. If that happened, the PvdA would no longer support the mission, he said.

The left-wing green party GroenLinks on Thursday withdrew its support for the Dutch mission in Libya, saying there are too many uncertainties and divisions about the aim of the Nato action.

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

Tunisian Jews Say No to Emigration to Israel

The Israeli government adopts funding package to help Tunisian Jews move to Israel in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution. Tunisian authorities express “great regret” over the proposal, slamming Israel’s “interference” and “malicious call”. “We are Tunisians above all, and we do not have any problems. We live like everyone else, and no Jew is going to leave the country,” says the head of Djerba’s Jewish community.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Tunisian Jews say no thanks to Israel’s invitation to leave the country that sparked the ‘Jasmine Revolution’. On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved a package of funding to help Tunisian Jews move to Israel, citing “the worsening of the Tunisian authorities’ and society’s attitude toward the Jewish community, as well as the difficult economic situation that has been created in the country since the revolution.”

Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry reacted immediately to the proposal, slamming what it called Israeli “interference” in its internal affairs. The ministry expressed “great regret” over what it described as “a malicious call to Tunisian citizens to immigrate to Israel in an attempt to damage the image of Tunisia after the revolution.”

“Tunisia is outraged by the statements” from “a country which still denies the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, shamefully defying international law,” the statement said.

Israel’s offer also prompted the leader of the Jewish community in Tunisia to criticise the Israeli government. “No Jew is going to leave the country,” he said.

Michael Jankelowitz, spokesman for the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel, said on Tuesday that since the uprising began in December, only 16 immigrants arrived from Tunisia.

Perez Trabelsi, president of the Jewish community on Djerba, said, “Israeli officials have received false information about our situation. We are Tunisians above all, and we do not have any problems. We live like everyone else, and no Jew is going to leave the country.”

The Jewish community in Tunisia is still one of the largest in the Arab world but its numbers have dropped from 100,000 in 1956, when it won independence from France, to around 1,500 today. Most Tunisian Jews left for France or Israel.

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

White House Fellow Founded Soros-Funded Military Scheme

Doctrine cited by Obama as justification for bombing Libya.

A White House fellow served on the advisory board to the commission that founded the military doctrine “Responsibility to Protect,” used by President Obama as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

As WND was first to report, billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, the world’s leading organization pushing the military doctrine.

Also, several of the doctrine’s main founders sit on boards with Soros.

The doctrine and its founders, as WND reported, have been deeply tied to Obama aide Samantha Power, who reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya. Power is the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights

Now, it has emerged that Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. charitable foundation, served on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that original founded Responsibility to Protect.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Facebook Faces Accusation of Facilitating Israel Invasion

$1 billion damages sought for alleged death threats

Larry Klayman, founder of Freedom Watch, has announced that he has launched a lawsuit against Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, for allegedly facilitating jihad against Israel.

It seeks damages of up to $1 billion.

WND reported earlier this week on strategies that were being developed on Facebook pages for thousands of people worldwide to “return” to the original homes of their families in “Palestine” on May 15.


According to the complaint, prepared for the District of Columbia civil division, “Plaintiff has encountered the Facebook page titled ‘Third Palestinian Intifada’ … This Intifada FB Page at all material times calls, and called for an uprising beginning on May 15, 2011, after Muslim prayers are completed, announcing and threatening that ‘Judgment Day will be brought upon us only Once Muslims have killed all the Jews.’“

It explains, “This Intifada FB Page has had over 360,000 participants. According to reports, three similar FB Intifada pages have come up with over 7,000 subscribers. In the last days, the Public Diplomacy Minister of Israel, Yuli Edelstein, accurately stated in a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that the Intifada FB Page featured ‘wild incitement’ with [a] call to kill Jews and talk of liberating Jerusalem through violence. He asked that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook take down the page and similar and related pages, but defendants refused, obviously to boost Facebook’s circulation and revenues, as this page created enormous controversy and thus viewership. It also resulted in Facebook adding large amount of additional users to its site, particularly in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israeli Firms Seeking Business Partners in Cyprus

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 1 — A business delegation from the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce will be visiting the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the April 4 and 5. The Israeli companies participating in the delegation and their fields of interest include the pharmaceutical and medical firm A Lapidot, Arava, which is interested in meeting with carob growers and producers of carob products, Contel, a company involved in water technology, Deshe Oz, which is interested in meeting with importers or distributors of artificial grass and sport field/playground surfaces. Another firm, Naji Makhoul says it wants to meet companies in the fields of fresh seeds and nuts, Log-Inn The Smart Home, a company involved in smart-home systems will also be in the delegation, as will Lynn Bichler, a firm interested in meeting companies in the retail and services industries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

A Turning Point or Just Scoring Points in Turkey’s Ergenekon Case?

Increasingly negative public reactions to the Ergenekon probe and the ruling party’s fears of damaging its prospects in the upcoming election are being seen as the key drivers behind the reassignment of the case’s prosecutor.

“The latest reactions in society against the arrests of the journalists created a very negative atmosphere against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and this has definitely played a strong role in the reassignment of [prosecutor] Zekeriya Öz,” Ihsan Çaralan, editor-in-chief of daily Evrensel, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday.

The Ergenekon investigation into an alleged coup plot has been controversial and painful from the beginning, but the timing of Öz’s reassignment just three months ahead of general elections is considered “significant” among some political circles. As Sedat Ergin, a columnist for daily Hürriyet put it, the public support gained during the confiscation of explosives at the beginning of the case has been lost little by little with the subsequent waves of arrests.

Prosecutor Öz had been pursuing “his case” for three years and 10 months, with some of the operations it has entailed — including the police raid of the home of Professor Türkan Saylan, the chairwoman of Support for Contemporary Living Association, or ÇYDD, in April 2009 — drawing harsh criticism from certain circles in society.

It is the latest wave of the probe, however, that has seen the largest public reaction erupt from both inside and outside Turkey. The arrests of journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener and the seizure by police of an unpublished book by Sik all came three months before the elections, when the legitimacy of the latest Ergenekon operations started to be questioned by a large number of people.

“Even some circles that are closer to the governing party have started to be skeptical about the latest arrests,” Çaralan from Evrensel told the Daily News.

Even though the ruling AKP has moved to distance itself from the reassignment of Öz, claiming it cannot interfere with the judiciary, it has become almost obvious that the atmosphere surrounding his investigation was doing huge damage to the ruling party in the pre-election period.

“The reactions of the public, reactions of the media, even the reactions coming from the filmmakers during the Yesilçam award ceremony in protest of the journalists’ arrests, must have gotten the attention of the governing party. I believe these latest reactions in society definitely played a strong role in the reassignment of Zekeriya Öz,” Çaralan said.

“The government’s rhetoric on ‘not interfering in the judiciary’ is not convincing at all. The Ergenekon case is a political case and without the decision of the governing party, nobody can make these kinds of assignments in Turkey,” the Evrensel editor said.

He said he believes the government began to feel uncomfortable with the latest operations of the Ergenekon probe not due to their concern about having a more democratic society, but rather in order to defeat harsh criticisms before the general elections.

Çaralan also drew attention to the fact that the new post to which Öz has been assigned also occupies a strong place in the judiciary system. “Öz has become the deputy chief prosecutor of Istanbul now, and this is a very important position for a prosecutor to hold,” he said.

“The question ‘Who really pulls the strings in Turkey?’ is being asked,” said Hürriyet columnist Ergin. “This is a question Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan can hardly take, and I think it is a very critical threshold.”

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

Rewarding Bad Behavior

By Barry Rubin

US President Barack Obama’s recent decision to appoint a new ambassador to Damascus is further proof positive of the effectiveness of the strategy pursued by Syria over the last half decade. It also showcases the sense that the current US administration appears to be navigating without a compass in its Middle East diplomacy.

The appointment of experienced and highly regarded regional hand Robert Ford to the embassy in Damascus is not quite the final burial of the policy to “isolate” Syria. The 2003 Syria Accountability Act and its sanctions remain in effect. But with Syria now in possession of a newly minted American ambassador, in supposedly pivotal negotiations with Saudi Arabia over the Special Tribunal in Lebanon, with its alliance with Iran intact, having repaired relations with Iraq, and in continued, apparently cost-free defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency over inspections of its nuclear sites, the office of President Bashar Assad could be forgiven for feeling slightly smug.

Syrian policy appears to have worked. And since there are few more worthy pursuits than learning from success, it is worth observing closely its actions on the way to bringing about its resurgence.

Syria’s regional standing was at its nadir in 2005: Assad was forced to abandon his country’s valued and profitable occupation of Lebanon; the US was in control in Iraq; Israel appeared to have turned back the assault of Damascus-based Islamist terror groups. The future seemed bleak for the Assad family regime.

How did we get from there to here? The formula has been a simple and familiar one, involving the potential and actual use of political violence and the subsequent offer of restraint.

Thus, Syria set out to successfully prevent the achievement of stability in Lebanon. A string of murders of anti-Syrian political figures, journalists and officials began almost before the dust had cleared from the departure of the last APC across the border in 2005.

The semicoup undertaken by Syrian-allied Hizbullah and its allies in May 2008 set the price of further isolation of Damascus at a rate higher than either the US or “pro- Western” Arab states were willing to pay. The process of Saudi-Syrian rapprochement began shortly afterward.

It has now reached the somewhat surreal stage where Damascus, which was almost certainly involved in the killing of Rafik Hariri, is being treated as a key player in helping to prevent the possibility of violence by Syrian and Iranian sponsored organizations in the event of their members being indicted for the murder.

With regard to Israel, the defense establishment and part of the political establishment maintain an attitude of patience and forgiveness toward the Syrian regime. This, to be sure, has its limits. Damascus’s attempt to develop a nuclear capacity was swiftly and effectively dealt with in 2007. On two known occasions in recent years, Israel has brushed aside Syria’s domestic defenses to engage in targeted killings against senior military or paramilitary figures on Syrian soil.

Yet the belief that Syria seeks a way out of the supposedly stifling bear hug of the Iranians remains prevalent in defense circles and in large parts of the political establishment.

This perennial article of faith means that in the event of Syria’s feeling lonely, it need only raise an eyebrow in Israel’s direction for the eager suitor to come running.

This took place, for example, in October 2007, at a time when Syria had good reason for feeling isolated.

The commencement of Turkish-mediated negotiations with Israel helped in cracking the wall of Syrian isolation.

Once other powers began to get on board the dialogue train, of course, the negotiations could be allowed to quietly fade away. The latest indications are that the defense establishment persists in its faith. The result is that Syria, as long as it stays within certain limits of behavior, is able to domicile and support organizations engaged in armed action against Israel, at no cost.

ON IRAQ, a number of regional analysts have suggested that part of the reason for the Obama administration’s persistent and largely one-sided policy of engagement with Damascus derives from the porous border between Syria and Iraq. The maintaining of this open border by the regime as an artery providing fresh fighters for the Sunni insurgency constituted a useful tool of pressure. The US now wants quiet as it prepares to withdraw from Iraq. Once again, the simple but effective methods of the protection racket appear to pay off.

More broadly, Syria originally favored Iyad Allawi’s candidacy for prime minister, but fell into line with big brother Iran’s backing of Nouri al- Maliki. Relations with Maliki have now been repaired, despite Syria’s suspected involvement in a series of bombings in Baghdad early last year.

Finally, with regard to its nuclear program, Syria has banned all IAEA access to the site of the destroyed al-Kibar reactor, since 2008. This decision followed an initial IAEA report concluding that the facility had similarities to a nuclear reactor, and noting the discovery of uranium particles at the site.

In November last year, an IAEA report noted that “with the passage of time, some of the information concerning the site is further deteriorating or has been lost entirely. It is critical, therefore, that Syria actively cooperate with the agency.” Critical to the agency, maybe.

Less critical, apparently, to the Syrians.

WHAT LESSONS may be learned from this relatively comprehensive list of interactions? What might an aspiring Middle Eastern regime or movement glean from the Syrian experience of the last half-decade — all the way from the hurried departure from Lebanon to the return of the US ambassador.

There are two obvious lessons.

The first is that if you are in a confrontation with the West, hang tough, because the West and its allies will eventually tire, particularly if you are willing to raise the stakes to a level on which the other side will not be willing to play. The currency Syria has traded in, with subtlety and determination, is political violence…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Sharp-Shooters Fire on Crowds in Damascus

(AGI) Damascus — Syrian press agency Sana denies reports that police fired on protesters killing 7 in Damascus and Homs.

According to another source, however, “a group of armed men fired from the rooftops of Damscus’ Douma district, targeting hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces.” ..

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

Signs of an Axis Shift in EU’s Trust in Turkey’s Ruling Party

Trust in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, appears to be diminishing among European circles due to growing concerns about fundamental freedoms, particularly in connection to the ongoing Ergenekon coup-plot case.

The views of EU institutions vis-a-vis Turkey have seen a clear shift, according to Demir Murat Seyrek, a senior policy adviser for the European Foundation for Democracy.

“There is an erosion of confidence in the AKP’s democratic rhetoric,” he said, adding that up until now some backpedaling on democratic reform had gone largely ignored by the EU.

“At the beginning of their governance, the AKP delivered beyond the expectations of Europeans as far as democratic reform was concerned. When shortcomings started, no one wanted to listen,” Seyrek told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review earlier this week. “Those criticizing the AKP were blamed in EU circles of being critical because they are not of the same political view of the AKP and of exaggerating negative developments.”

EU institutions have been extremely restrained until recently in their reactions to developments around the Ergenekon case, said Çimen Baturalp, a reporter at daily Cumhuriyet.

Even six months ago, the AKP still enjoyed the image of a political party pursuing democratic reform, but the tide is now turning against the ruling party, Seyrek said.

Recent developments linked to the Ergenekon case seem to have been instrumental in changing the mood in Brussels. The arrests of journalists such as Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, followed by police raids to confiscate copies of Sik’s unpublished manuscript on the religious Gülen community, have rung alarm bells in Europe.

The Ergenekon case has been portrayed as a necessary step toward democratization by pro-AKP circles with strong influence on EU institutions, Baturalp said.

“They have been listening to everything from the AKP angle,” she said, adding that even the Social Democrats within the European Parliament have more contacts with the AKP than with the main opposition Republican’s People Party, or CHP, with which they are more naturally politically aligned.

The impression among European circles that the Ergenekon case is necessary to address previously “untouchable” elements within the state and society is weakening, and the case is now increasingly perceived by the EU as a way of carrying out a vendetta against people seen as opposing the AKP, said Amanda Paul from the European Policy Center.

The EU has thus far been accommodating to Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, with its institutions expressing more criticism of limitations placed on freedom of the press in Ukraine, for example, compared to Turkey, Paul said.

She added, however, that the change in the EU’s perception is reflected in the European Commission’s progress report as well as the European Parliament’s recent resolution on Turkey. Adopted March 9, the resolution said the European Parliament is concerned about the deterioration in freedom of the press in Turkey and called on the government in Ankara to uphold the principles of press freedom.

The resolution is one of the harshest adopted on Turkey in the past couple of years, said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a member of the European Parliament. He said this is due to increasing concerns among those who favor Turkey’s membership in the EU. “Those who are supporting Turkey’s membership are deeply worried about the developments there,” he said.

The existence of a strong opposition to Turkey’s entry into the EU forces those who are supportive of the Turkish bid to be very careful in voicing criticism of the Turkish government, however, lest they strengthen the hand of those opposing Turkey’s bid.

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

Syria: USA Advises American Citizens to Leave the Country

(AGI) Washington — The US State Department has advised Americans to consider leaving Syria as the crisis in the country continues.

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

Syria: Protests: Hundreds “Locked Inside” Damascus Mosque

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 1 — Hundreds of anti-regime protesters have been locked inside the Umayyad Mosque in the heart of the old city of Damascus by plainclothes security forces in the area, which two weeks ago was the setting for similar unauthorised protests. This is according to an activist in the Syrian capital, who was contacted by telephone by ANSA as he was in the courtyard of the old mosque.

Protests against the regime are also being signalled in the north-east of the country, in the province of Qamishli, near the border with Turkey and Iraq, where an indeterminate number of Kurdish Muslim and Christian demonstrators took to the streets this morning, according to eyewitnesses contacted over the telephone by ANSA.

The sources have described marches containing “thousands of demonstrators”. In Amuda, Qamishli, Tell Amar and Ras Al Ayn, all border towns, “Kurds and Syrians have taken to the streets side by side chanting ‘We don’t want Arabic or Kurdish, just national unity!’“.

If confirmed, these would be the first marches not authorised by the Syrian regime in a region that is rich in energy resources and of significant strategic importance.

In 2004, Damascus security forces staged a bloody repression of an uprising by Syrian Kurds demanding the recognition of their fundamental rights as citizens of the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Country Holding Breath, Today Anti-Regime Protests

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT/DAMASCUS, APRIL 1 — Yesterday the Syrian regime carefully announced some progress on the “road of reform”, while the country is holding its breath for the anti-government demonstrations called for today. The protests could lead to more violence used by security forces against the demonstrators.

So far “normal citizens” who say that they genuinely support the country’s leader “forever” have only attacked the protesters with words.

“In all regions. From all houses and all prayer halls. All citizens and free men must go to the main public squares tomorrow, Friday of martyrs”. This appeal was made yesterday on Facebook sites, urging people to join today’s demonstration: “To the public squares. To come together and to stay there.

Stay there until our requests have been granted. All our requests”.

The demands of the part of the “Syrian people” that uses social networks to talk, ignored by the State-controlled media, are a clear threat to the “nation’s stability”: the end of the state of emergency that has been in force for almost 50 years now, the release of all political prisoners, opening to multipartyism, a new law on the media, removing censorship. And as also happened a week ago, when presidential advisor Buthayna Shaaban promise accredited journalists in a press conference that the leader would “soon” announced “very important decisions” — regarding the end of the Baath monopoly, in fact the only party since 1963, the end of emergency laws and the promulgation of a law on political parties — yesterday as well, on the eve of the anti-regime demonstrations, State-controlled press agency SANA reported timid “reforms” mentioned by the President. The creation of a commission that will investigate the victims of the repression of uprisings in Daraa and Latakia, south and north-west of Damascus. The formation of a committee of experts that has to “study how to pave the way for the abrogation of emergency laws”, only after passing “a law that guarantees the country’s security, dignity of its citizens and the fight against terrorism” by April 25. Meanwhile a London-based humanitarian organisation reports that yesterday government agents killed “more than 25 demonstrators who were peacefully protesting” in Latakia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: As Protests Spread Across Syria, So Does Repression

Security forces crack down hard on demonstrations. Deaths and wounded are reported in many cities. Some sources speak of a massacre in Damascus. Full of promises, Assad’s address to the nation is met with disappointment; example: the promise that the ruling party will set up a committee “to study” how to lift the state of emergency.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — More deaths and wounded were reported today in Syria, a day after the address to the nation by President Bashar al-Assad. His opponents called for demonstrations after the address as it fell far short, according to Western diplomats, of the expectations of those who want reform, freedom and democracy.

Opposition sources say that thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets today, which is a day of prayer. For the first time, the police cracked down around Abdul Karim al-Rifai Mosque in Damascus, causing a massacre according to protesters.

More demonstrations have been reported in Latakia and Deraa, scene of deadly clashes in previous days, as well as in Qameshli, Homs, Douma, Mouda, Hama and Baniyas. Almost everywhere, demonstrators report gunfire and violent crackdown by security forces.

Wednesday afternoon, following Assad’s address to a supportive parliament, opposition activists said, “People were furious after they watched Assad’s speech and they came on to the streets to peacefully vent their anger”. However, “they came under fire from the security forces and from unidentified people in passing cars. We are still trying to establish the death toll”.

As evidence of the broad disappointment generated by the presidential speech, Syria’s official news agency SANA announced that “Under a directive by President Bashar al-Assad,” the ruling Ba’ath party (the only one allowed in the country) is setting up “a committee of legal experts [. . .] to study new laws on national security and counter-terrorism, in order to pave the way for ending the state of emergency”.

Effectively, this means an end to change on the short run. It also signals a rejection of those who expected an immediate end to the 48-year emergency rule, which gives police the right to arrest and detain people without due process. It also dashes all hope for press freedom and an end to the one-party state.

Likewise, SANA reported that the president “directed the Head of the High Judicial Council to form a special judiciary committee to launch immediate investigations into all the incidents which claimed the lives of a number of civilians and military personnel in Daraa (Deraa) and Latakia.”

In his speech, the president blamed the incidents on foreigners and enemies of Syria. (PD)

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

Syria: Fresh Protests; Opposition, Already 10 Casualties

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 1 — After Friday prayer, more violent protests against the regime were held in Syria today. Ten people, according to sources in the opposition, have reportedly already died in clashes between protestors on one side and police and groups in favour of the Assad regime on the other. Official news agency Sana denies the reports and continues to state that the situation is under control. Incidents reportedly erupted in Damascus inside and around the Umayyad Mosque and in several neighbourhoods in the outskirts of the city: in Duma, a suburb in the northeast part of the capital, three people have reportedly died, while clashes are still taking place inside of the Al-Rifai Mosque in Kfar Suseh. In Latakia, about 200 young people tried to set up tents in a square for a “permanent rally”. Further south in Banyas, another costal city, a protest march is reportedly taking place where demonstrators are shouting anti-Baath slogans, the party that has been in power for nearly 50 years. Similar situations are taking place in Homs and Hama, 180km and 220km to the north of the capital. All of the protests have been repressed violently, say sources in the opposition.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Moscow Will Have 60 New Churches and Still No New Mosque

The decision of Mayor Sobianin, approval by the Patriarchate. Muslim leaders watch but also warn the Patriarchate against ostracizing the Islamic community and thus triggering a “time bomb”.

Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) — It is more difficult to build a single mosque than 60 churches in Moscow. Muslims, who are well aware of this given that Russia for years has denied them permission to build a new place of worship, look helplessly at the decision of the mayor of the capital Sergei Sobianin, to give the green light to 60 new Russian Orthodox churches. “We welcome the unprecedented decision,” said the spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church Vladimir Viguilianski. In the Russian capital there is an Orthodox church for every 25 thousand inhabitants, compared with the ratio of 1:10,000, which is found in the rest of the country, says Viguilianski. After 70 years of state atheism, “Moscow now has 350 Orthodox churches, five times less than before the October revolution of 1917,” said the spokesman.

Muslim leaders, who are currently experiencing moments of tension with the political power after years of friendly relations, do not condemn the mayor’s decision adding they are convinced that their needs “will be fulfilled sooner or later,” according to spokesman of the Council of muftis of Russia Goulnour Gaziev. The construction of a mosque in the south-east of Moscow was suspended last year over protests raised by local residents, concerned about disturbance to public peace that could result in the presence of an Islamic religious centre. The city has a community of 1.5 million Muslims out of 12 million inhabitants. There are four official mosques open for worship. Recently, the chief mufti of Russia, Ravil Gainutdin, criticized the ostracism of the 20 million followers of Muhammad in the Federation by the Orthodox majority, warning that the attitude is triggering a “time bomb”.

“How can you fight radicalism if the young people are forced to meet in houses, basements and sheds with a suspicious imam?” demanded Gainutdin. He also took the national media and political power to task, guilty of encouraging ‘Islamophobia’ with their speeches, already latent in Russian society, and of not aiding co-existence between religions.

For their part, human rights organizations and groups that are fighting for the secular state, point to the Mayor’s futile effort to bow to the Patriarchate’s demands: the already existing churches in the City are half empty, they point out that Is there really any need to build new ones?

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

South Asia

A Racist’s Perspective

My own beautiful mother was told time and again by my father that she was lucky he married her, because she was dark-skinned. Racism, in short, is a stark reality of day-to-day life in Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Six US Soldiers From Same Unit Killed

Kabul, 1 April (AKI) — Six US soldiers have been killed in a single mission in eastern Afghanistan over the past two days, a Nato spokesman said on Friday..

“I can confirm that six coalition soldiers have been identified as US soldiers, and were all killed as part of the same operation, but in three separate incidents,” the US defence department said in a statement.

The deaths took place from late Wednesday through Thursday.

The soldiers were all from the same army unit.

They were part of a helicopter assault team aiming to clear insurgents out of the area in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

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

Afghan Officials: 8 Killed at UN Office When Quran Burning Protest Turns Violent

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Eight foreigners were killed Friday after demonstrators protesting a reported burning of the Muslim holy book stormed a U.N. office in northern Afghanistan, opening fire on guards and setting fires inside the compound, a top Afghan police official said.

The topic of Quran burning stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide after a small American church in Florida threatened to destroy the holy book last year. The Florida pastor had backed down but purportedly went through with the burning last month, prompting protests in three Afghan cities.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman in Balkh province, said the protest in Mazar-i-Sharif began peacefully when several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the U.N. mission’s compound to denounce the Quran’s destruction.

It turned violent when some protesters grabbed weapons from the U.N. guards and opened fire on the police, then stormed the building, he said. “I can see the smoke over the compound,” he said.

Gen. Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, said those killed included five Nepalese guards who were working for the U.N. and two other foreigners employed at the complex. He said one other foreigner was wounded. Later, Rawof Taj, deputy police chief in Balkh province, said the injured individual had died.

Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that people working for the U.N. had died in an attack on the operation center, but he could not provide details.

“The situation is still confusing and we are currently working to ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff,” he said from his office in Kabul.

Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, had left Kabul for Mazar-i-Sharif to personally handle the situation, he said.

Mohammad Azim, a businessman in Mazer-i-Sharif, said that clerics with loudspeakers drove around the city in two cars on Thursday to invite residents to the protest. After Friday prayers at a large blue mosque in the city center, clerics again called on worshippers to attend a peaceful protest.

Several hundred people also protested the reported Quran burning at several sites in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan. Protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium in Herat and chanted “Death to the U.S.” and “They broke the heart of Islam.”

About 100 people also gathered at a traffic circle near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Police directed traffic around the demonstration in the capital. One protester carried a sign that said: “We want these bloody bastard Americans with all their forces to leave Afghanistan.”…

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

Afghanistan: Two UN Staff Beheaded and Eight Others Murdered in Protest Against U.S. Pastor Who Burnt Koran

At least 10 United Nations staff were murdered — two by beheading — after extremists stormed their compound in northern Afghanistan today.

According to reports, protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif beheaded two U.N. guards, seized their weapons and began blasting those inside the compound after a demonstration against Koran burnings in the U.S. turned violent.

The bloodshed is the worst attack on the U.N. in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

Over a thousand protesters had flooded into the streets after Friday prayers, where they heard reports about the Koran burnings in America last month.

At least four Afghan workers were also killed and officials fear the death toll could rise to 20.

After slaying the guards, the armed mob scaled the compound’s blast walls before setting fire to a guard tower and several other buildings.

An Afghan police source, who asked not to be named, said the chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived.

Among those murdered were Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish and Nepalese nationals. Two were decapitated, it is understood.

Early reports said that 10 people had been killed in the attack but this afternoon that up to 20 UN staff died.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Nairobi that the attack was ‘outrageous and cowardly’.

The worst previous attack was in 2009 in an insurgent assault on a guesthouse where UN staff were staying. Five UN staffers were killed and nine others wounded.

In October 2010, several militants were killed when they attempted to ambush the UN compound in Herat dressed in burkas worn by women.

General Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, said those killed included five Nepalese guards who were working for the UN and two other foreigners employed at the complex.

A UN spokesman confirmed that workers had been killed at the mission, but he said the situation on the ground was still confusing and it was difficult to ‘ascertain facts’.

Staffan De Mistura, the top UN representative in Afghanistan, was heading to Mazar-i-Sharif to handle the matter personally, he added.

Mohammad Azim, a businessman in Mazer-i-Sharif, said that clerics with loudspeakers had driven around the city in two cars to invite residents to the protest.

They were protesting at last week’s ceremonial burning of a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.

Controversial pastor triggered international outrage last year when he urged Americans to burn the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

He relented following an intervention by President Obama but on March 21 he and pastor Wayne Sapp finally carried out their threat.

After Sapp set fire to the text, he let it burn for ten minutes.

And tonight pastor Jones remained defiant over his decision to hold the Koran burning, saying it was time for ‘Islam to be held accountable’.

He said: ‘We must hold these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities. The time has come to hold Islam accountable.

‘Our United States government and our President must take a close, realistic look at the radical element Islam. Islam is not a religion of peace.

‘We demand action from the United Nations. Muslim dominated countries can no longer be allowed to spread their hate against Christians and minorities.

‘They must alter the laws that govern their countries to allow for individual freedoms and rights, such as the right to worship, free speech, and to move freely without fear of being attacked or killed.’

Simmering anger at the burnings finally erupted across the Middle East today.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the western Afghan city of Herat.

There, protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium and chanted ‘Death to the US’ and ‘They broke the heart of Islam’.

Around 200 also protested near the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Both protests remained relatively peaceful.

Demonstrations against the Koran burning also took place in Pakistan today.

Women representing the Working Women Welfare Trust marched through the streets of Karachi voicing their anger against Pastor Jones.

Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement calling the burning a ‘crime against a religion’.

He denounced it as a ‘disrespectful and abhorrent act’ and called on the U.S. and the UN to bring to justice those who burned the holy book and issue a response to Muslims around the world.

He also said Mazar-i-Sharif would be one of the first parts of the war-torn country that Afghan security would take from Nato forces.

The shocking killings in Afghanistan today were triggered by anger at the burning earlier this month of a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.

The controversial ceremony was carried out by pastor Wayne Sapp and preacher Terry Jones.

Mr Jones first came to worldwide attention when he started a Facebook campaign calling for people around the world to set fire to copies of the Koran on last year’s ninth anniversary of 9/11.

He dubbed it International Burn a Koran Day.

It was only after the intervention of President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he went back on his vow to burn the Koran.

He said later that he planned to burn ‘a few hundred Korans’ in a bonfire on church property and that he was expecting a crowd of ‘several hundred’ but believed others would burn the books on their own.

On March 21 this year, he finally carried out his threat. A copy of the Koran was burned in front of a crowd of 30 people outside his church. Beforehand, he held a bizarre mock trial and execution of the Holy Book before fellow pastor Wayne Sapp doused it in gasoline and set fire to it.

He claimed he went back on his word because he has been trying to give the ‘Muslim world an opportunity to defend their book’ but received no response from them.

A former hotel manager, Jones worked as a missionary in Europe for 30 years before he took over as head of the Dove World Outreach Center, a fundamentalist Christian church in Gainesville, Florida.

He and his wife Sylvia were asked to leave Germany, where they had set up a 100-strong congregation in Cologne.

One of his three children accused them of ‘financial and labour abuses’ and said that ‘the workforce was comprised of the Jones’ disciples, who work for no wages and live cost-free in tatty properties owned by the couple’.

His daughter Emma still lives in Germany and has no contact with her father but it was reported she emailed him at the time of the Koran burning threats to ask him to stop.

A protestant church official in Cologne said he had a ‘delusional personality’.

He also runs an antique and used furniture store on the grounds of the church.

A former employee who was sacked and expelled from the church later revealed that punishments for disobedience in the church included carrying a life-size wooden cross or writing out all of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible as well as cleaning the barnacles off his boat in Tampa.

He penned the book Islam Is The Devil and the phrase is frequently used on billboards around the church’s property.

In August 2009, two children, a ten-year-old and a 15-year-old, who belong to Jones’ church, were sent to school wearing T-shirts that read ‘Islam Is of the Devil’. They were sent home for dress code violations.

Jones believes Islam promotes violence and that Muslims want to impose Sharia law in the United States.

He and his wife allegedly learned what they know about Sharia law by watching videos on YouTube and he admitted in the past he had never actually spoken to a Muslim person before.

He calls himself a doctor and claims he was awarded an honorary doctorate of theology degree from the California Graduate School of Theology in Rosemead in 1983 but the university has never confirmed this.

According to ABC, he is often seen on the church’s 20-acre compound with a pistol strapped to his hip.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

At Least 12 Killed During Koran-Burning Protest at UN Office in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Thousands of protesters angry over the purported burning of a Koran by a Florida pastor stormed a United Nations compound Friday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 12 people, including eight foreigners.

Two of the foreigners were beheaded, Reuters reported. There were unconfirmed reports that the death toll was as high as 20.

The demonstration in Mazar-i-Sharif turned violent when some protesters grabbed weapons from the UN guards and opened fire, then mobbed buildings and set fires on the compound, officials said. Demonstrators also massed in Kabul and the western city of Herat.

The topic of Koran burning stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide after the Rev. Terry Jones’ small church, Dove Outreach Center, threatened to destroy a copy of the holy book last September. The Florida pastor had backed down but the church claimed that it went through with the burning last month.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman in Balkh province, said the protest in Mazar-i-Sharif began peacefully when several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the UN mission’s compound, choosing an obvious symbol of the international community’s involvement in Afghanistan to denounce the Koran’s destruction.

It turned violent when some protesters seized the guards’ weapons and started shooting, then the crowds stormed the building, sending plumes of black smoke into the air. One protester, Ahmad Gul, a 32-year-old teacher in the city, said Afghan security forces at the scene killed and wounded protesters.

Gen. Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, said those killed included five Nepalese guards who were working for the UN and two other foreigners employed at the complex. He said one other foreigner was wounded. Later, Rawof Taj, deputy police chief in Balkh province, said the injured individual had died. Taj said 25 people had been arrested.

The nationalities of the other three foreigners was not known.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said four protesters also were killed and nearly two dozen civilians were wounded.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said P.O. Yershov, a Russian citizen who was employed at the U.N. office, was injured in an attack.

Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that people working for the U.N. had died in an attack on the operation center, but he could not provide details.

“The situation is still confusing and we are currently working to ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff,” he said from his office in Kabul.

Staffan de Mistura, the top UN official in Afghanistan, had left Kabul for Mazar-i-Sharif to personally handle the situation, he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Nairobi, said it was “a cowardly attack that cannot be justified under any circumstances.”

Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said “a fairly substantial number” of UN staff and guards had been killed, but he gave no figure. “Among the casualties we believe that some of them were guards trying to protect the other staff,” he said.

President Obama strongly condemned the attack and stressed the importance of work of the U.N. staff in Afghanistan.

“Their work is essential to building a stronger Afghanistan for the benefit of all its citizens. We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to reject violence and resolve differences through dialogue,” Obama said.

Mohammad Azim, a businessman in Mazer-i-Sharif, said that clerics with loudspeakers drove around the city in two cars on Thursday to invite residents to the protest. After Friday prayers at a large blue mosque in the city center, clerics again called on worshippers to attend a peaceful protest.

When Abdul Karim, a police officer in Mazar-i-Sharif, went inside the compound to investigate, he saw the bullet-riddled bodies of three Nepalese guards lying in the yard, and a fourth on the first floor.

He said another victim with a fatal head wound died on a stairway to the basement of the compound, which was littered with broken glass and bullet casings. A man who was killed inside a room had wounds to his face and body, Karim said.

Several hundred people also protested the Koran burning at several sites in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan. Protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium in Herat and chanted “Death to the U.S.” and “They broke the heart of Islam.”

About 100 people also gathered at a traffic circle near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The Gainesville, Florida church’s website stated that after a five-hour trial on March 20, the Koran “was found guilty and a copy was burned inside the building.” A picture on the website shows a book in flames in a small portable fire pit. The church on Friday repeated its claim that a Koran had been burned.

In a statement, Jones did not comment on whether his act had lead to the deaths. Instead he said it was time to “hold Islam accountable” and called on the United States and the UN to hold “these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities.”

Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement calling the burning a “crime against a religion.” He denounced it as a “disrespectful and abhorrent act” and called on the U.S. and the United Nations to bring to justice those who burned the holy book and issue a response to Muslims around the world.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Australia Warns Bali Bomb Arrest Could Spark Attacks

SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia warned the arrest in Pakistan of an alleged mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings could spark revenge attacks against Westerners in Indonesia, and cautioned nationals against going there.

Officials announced on Wednesday that a man thought to be Umar Patek, one of the most wanted Islamic extremists in Southeast Asia, was in Pakistani custody.

Patek, who had a $1 million bounty on his head, was the alleged field coordinator for the massive Bali nightclub attacks that killed more than 200 people, almost 90 of them Australians.

In updated advice, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its website that Australians should reconsider travel to Indonesia, particularly Bali.

“Information in March 2011 indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia, which could take place at any time,” it said, without specifying what the new information was or where it came from.

But the travel advice alluded to Patek’s arrest, which it said “may increase the risk of violent responses in Indonesia in the short term”.

“On some occasions where high-profile extremists have been detained or killed, there has been a strong response from some supporters in Indonesia, including acts of violence,” it said.

“We consider that any terrorist attacks are more likely to focus on places where large numbers of Westerners gather, including, but not limited to, tourist areas in islands such as Bali, as well as Jakarta and other places in Indonesia.”

The last significant bombing in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country — was carried out by two suicide attackers who killed seven people at two luxurious Jakarta hotels in July 2009.

Patek is a suspected member of Al-Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), blamed for a series of deadly bombings targeting Christians and Westerners in Indonesia dating back to 1999.

Indonesian authorities had believed he was hiding among Islamic rebels in the southern Philippines. The International Crisis Group think tank reported in 2008 that he had become the commander of foreign jihadists there.

Patek reportedly returned to Indonesia early last year to join a new militant group being set up in Aceh province by another alleged Bali ringleader, Dulmatin.

Dulmatin was killed during an Indonesian police raid in March 2010, and Patek disappeared from the radar.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Malaysian Christians Say No to Discriminatory Government Slogans on Bible

Malay language Bibles still under lock and key, because the government wants to limit to Muslims the use of the word “Allah” for God. A ruling rejects their decision, but in Kuala Lumpur pushes ahead with a policy of progressive restriction of religious freedom.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The Christian Federation of Malaysia has rejected the Government’s proposal to release 35 thousand Bibles with “For Christianity” printed on the cover. The books, written in Malay, have been under lock and key since 2009 in the port where they arrived. The government had earlier decided to release them, but wanted to stamp a serial number and the slogan “Only Christians” on the cover. The controversy stems from a government decision to ban the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God by non-Muslims. The judiciary has decided against the government on this point, but a sate for the appeal hearing has yet to be fixed.

The Malaysian Christians argue that there should be no “restrictions, prohibitions and proscriptions” in the use of the sacred books. The government wants to impose an inscription on the Bible, printed in Indonesia, to reduce the risk of Muslims converting.

The Bible Society of Malaysia, which imports and distributes Bibles, took charge of a shipment of five thousand Bibles “defaced” by the government writing on March 28. The general secretary of the company, Simon Wong, said that they “can not be sold to Christian buyers” in their current state. “Instead they will be respectfully kept as museum pieces, a witness of the Christian Churches in Malaysia.” The president of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, Bishop Ng Moon Hing, said that “there is a systematic and progressive reduction of public space to practice, profess and express our faith. The freedom to wear and display crosses and other religious symbols, to use religious terms and to build places of worship has been progressively restricted. “

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

Malaysia Clerics Ban ‘Poco-Poco’ Dance for Muslims

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Islamic clerics in a Malaysian state want Muslims to avoid a popular dance they claim has Christian influences.

The “poco-poco” is a line dance that is common at social events in Muslim-majority Malaysia. It is widely thought to have originated in Indonesia.

Islamic scholars in Malaysia’s Perak state say they believe the “poco-poco” is traditionally a Christian dance and that its steps make the sign of the cross.

State cleric Harussani Idris Zakaria said Friday the scholars have issued an edict forbidding the dance. It is not clear if other states will ban it.

Some Muslims insist the ban is unnecessary. Malaysian clerics have also banned yoga for Muslims and barred girls from behaving like tomboys, but the edicts are not legally binding.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Malaysia: Muslim Clerics Ban ‘Poco-Poco’ Dance Citing ‘Christian Roots’

Kuala Lumpur, 1 April (AKI) — Muslim clerics in Malaysia have issued a fatwa banning the “poco-poco” — a popular dance they say has Christian roots.

Synchronised steps among dancers make the sign of the cross, according to clerics in Malaysia’s Perak state.

It is not yet clear if the ban is legally binding, cleric Harussani Idris Zakaria was cited in a news report as saying.

Zakaria says that the dance’s origins are in Jamaica and was linked to spirit worship.

“These elements are obvious reasons why it is not suitable for Muslims to take part in the dance,” he said, cited by Singapore’s New Straits Times.

“Instead of poco poco, why not celebrate Malaysian culture and adopt a local dance?” he said.

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

Nepal: Kathmandu: Christians on Hunger Strike for Cemetery

The rotating fast began on 23 March in front of Ratna Park, in the capital’s downtown area. Christian leaders will continue until the government does not grant Christians land for cemetery. To avoid a clash with Hindus, Christians have agreed to give up the right to bury their dead near Pashupatinath temple.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — Nepali Christian leaders have been on a rotating fast for the past eight days to get the government to agree to a burial place for Christians. The protest began on 23 March in front of Ratna Park in the heart of Kathmandu. It followed a large demonstration on 20 March by thousands of Christians who marched with empty coffins in front of government offices. Despite promises, the authorities have not heeded Christian demands; instead, they have urged them to buy land with their own money.

In recent years, Kathmandu has seen a great deal of real estate speculation. This has limited the amount of land available to Christians and other minorities for cemeteries, forcing them to bury their dead on top of one another in the same tomb.

To solve the problem, the authorities in 2009 granted Christians the Shleshmantak forest near the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath.

The decision sparked protests by Hindus across the country, forcing the local government to ban burials in the forest.

More recently, the Supreme Court lifted the ban, but police and temple authorities continue to prevent burials in the area.

Sunder Thapa, who organised the protest and is in charge of the Christian Advisory Committee for the New Constitution, said that the hunger strike would continue if the government continues to ignore Christian requests.

“Why does the government treat us as non-citizens, and deny us the right to bury our dead,” he asked.

The activist explains that Christians only want a place where they can commemorate their dead in a dignified manner.

“We are not interested in the Pashupatinath temple,” he said. “We are willing to give up the land if the Hindu community disagrees. However, the government should provide us burial grounds across the country.”

In Nepal, more than 70 per cent of the population is Hindu. Traditionally, Hindus are cremated, not buried. Christians represent 3 per cent of the population and together with other minorities have to buy land with the money of the faithful to set up their own cemeteries.

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

See “New Kabul City” On $1 Million a Minute

by Diana West

If you like US Marines walking around Marja handing out $50,000 a day, you’ll love the US taxpayer, the Japanese, others and, of course, “private investors” injecting untold billions to build “New Kabul City.” Maybe they can get some collateral-free, interest-free, free loans from Bank of Kabul?

From the AP:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

UN Workers Killed During US Koran Burning Protest

At least seven UN employees were killed Friday after demonstrators protesting the burning of the Koran by a US pastor stormed a UN compound in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, according to a police spokesman quoted by AP.

AP — An Afghan official says seven people have been killed at a U.N. office in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif when a Quran burning protest turned violent.

Demonstrators stormed the U.N. office Friday, opening fire on guards and setting fires inside the compound after reports that a Florida pastor burned a copy of the Muslim holy book.

Gen. Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, says the dead included five guards working for U.N. and two other people employed at the complex. He says one other person was wounded.

A spokesman for Balkh province, Munir Ahmad Farhad, says several hundred demonstrators were peacefully protesting the purported burning when the gathering suddenly turned violent.

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

Far East

Japan PM Visits Tsunami-Devastated Village, Enters Nuke Zone

TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) — Japan’s prime minister made his first visit to the country’s tsunami-devastated region on Saturday and entered a nuclear exclusion zone to meet workers grappling to end the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan spoke with refugees living in a makeshift camp in the fishing village of Rikuzentakata, decimated by the tsunamis which struck on March 11 when Japan was rocked by a massive earthquake, leaving 28,000 dead and missing.

“It will be kind of a long battle, but the government will be working hard together with you until the end. I want everyone to do their best, too,” Kan told one survivor in a school that was now an evacuation shelter.

Despite its tsunami-seawalls, Rikuzentaka was flattened into a wasteland of mud and debris and most of its 23,000 population killed or injured, many swept away by the waves.

“A person that used to have a house near the coast told me ‘Where am I supposed to build a house after this?’, so I encouraged this person and said the government will provide support until the end,” Kan told reporters.

Unpopular and under pressure to quit or call a snap poll before the disaster, Kan has been criticised for his management of Japan’s humanitarian and nuclear crisis and his leadership remains in question.

“There are some evacuation centres that lack electricity and water. There are people who can’t even go look for the dead. I want him to pay attention to them,” said Kazuo Sato, a 45-year-old fisherman.

Kan later entered the 20 km (12 mile) evacuation zone on Saturday and visited J-village just inside the zone, a sports facility serving as the headquarters for emergency teams trying to cool the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi plant…

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ivory Coast: U.N. [Says] Elected Christian Leader Must be Ousted for Muslim

World body sides with defeated challenger against nation’s own constitutional process.

Another North African nation apparently is being plunged into civil war by rebel Muslims who want to get rid of a Christian president, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

They are being supported by United Nations and U.S. efforts, even though the nation’s own constitutional process affirmed Christian President Laurent Gbagbo’s election victory.

Already Arab revolts have spread across North Africa and the Middle East. Libya is involved in what could be called a civil war, and Yemen appears about to enter one.

Now, in the Ivory Coast, forces of Muslim-backed Alassane Ouattara from the northern part of the country have taken over the capital, Yamoussoukro, just as the U.N. Security Council has voted to impose sanctions against the country until its current president, Gbagbo, relinquishes power.

Gbagbo has his major backing from the southern Ivory Coast.

Already, rebel forces of Ouattara have captured six towns in a month from security forces loyal to incumbent Gbagbo. Reports from the area say that fighting has broken out in the eastern portion of the country bordering Ghana. Ouattara forces have just seized San Pedro, the world’s largest cocoa exporting port, and are on the outskirts of the country’s economic capital of Abidjan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sudan Lauches a Cyber-Army Wrapped in the Koran

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.” — George Santayana

In a ringing blow to Iranians (one of the champions of online repression), the ruling party of Sudan has gone one step further and dressed its online dissident-crushing apparatus up in divine drag. Calling them “cyber-jihadists,” they have promised to unleash them on anyone thinking of speaking their mind in the increasingly hermetic country.

Mandur al-Mahdi, a senior official with the country’s governing (sort of) National Congress Party announced that its “‘cyber battalion’ was leading ‘online defence operations,” according to the BBC.

The “Arab Spring” uprisings that have leaped across the Maghreb into Egypt and beyond have not left the soon-to-be-divided Sudan alone. As with most of the countries in the area, Sudan too had a hashtag date for its revolution, #jan30. Ushahidi’s Patrick Meier put together a Crowdmap for the use of Sudanese protesters.

But the protests do not seem to have grown over time as they have elsewhere. On the Sudan Crowdmap, reports end on February 5.

Regardless, the government of Sudan’s warlord since 1989, Omar Al-Bashir, are intent on putting a group in place that can handle the online elements of any sustained protest movement. Other countries have not had great luck shutting down protests by controlling elements of their online communications.

By adding a dark smear of something vaguely resembling “religion” to their particular efforts at online repression, the Sudanese government is recognizing that many of the region’s hated tinhorns have been secular tyrants. They are no doubt hoping an end run around the religion question will give them the luck their brothers in the area have lacked.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Zimbabwe’s Killing Fields: Mass Grave of Over 600 Bodies Found in Mine Shaft

Hundreds of skeletons found in a remote mine shaft in Zimbabwe have been used as political propaganda by supporters of President Robert Mugabe.

The Fallen Heroes of Zimbabwe Trust, a previously little known group of Mugabe party loyalists, says says the remains of more than 640 bodies have been discovered in the disused Chibondo gold mine near the provincial center of Mount Darwin, 110 miles from Harare,

But while the trust says the bodies are those of victims of colonial atrocities committed under former leader Ian Smith, pathologists say visual evidence may point to more recent killings in a nation plagued by election violence and politically motivated murders.

The trust last month launched a program to exhume skeletons in the mine shaft in northeastern Zimbabwe, saying the country’s former rulers were guilty of human rights violations that far outweigh any accusations of rights abuses leveled against Mugabe’s party and his police and military.

Zimbabwe’s sole broadcaster, in news bulletins and repeated interruptions to regular programs, has urged ordinary citizens to visit the disused mine to witness the horror of colonial atrocities.

Reporters taken to Monkey William Mine at Chibondo on a trip organized by Mugabe’s Ministry of Information said school children were bused there.

Militants sang revolutionary songs, shouted slogans and denounced whites and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s pro-Western party for its links with Britain, the former colonial power.

‘Down with whites. Not even one white man should remain in the country,’ villagers, evidently carefully choreographed, proclaimed.

They danced at the site in what was said to be an ancient ritual to appease the spirits of those killed by white troops before independence in 1980.

Villagers appeared to go into trances and others wept and simulated firing guns.

Exhumed skeletons, bones and remains lay in random heaps, some covered by sheets and blankets, near a pile of coffins. Hair and clothes were clearly visible; one corpse wore black tennis shoes. The mine shaft emitted an overwhelming stench.

Journalists who descended a 40-meter shaft found a body with what appeared to be blood and fluids dripping onto the skulls below.

But Maryna Steyn, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said human remains should not retain a strong stench after 30 years.

‘Usually, when we have remains that are lying around for more than a few years, the bones are no longer odorous,’ she said.

Steve Naidoo, a pathologist at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, added it ‘seemed strange’ that bodies from three decades ago would still have some skin.

‘Bearing in mind that the bodies are exposed to an open environment, albeit in a mine shaft, scavengers can access them quite easily. In 30 years, one would expect complete and advanced skeletonisation,’ he said.

The Mount Darwin district saw some of the fiercest fighting in the seven-year bush war waged by Mugabe’s guerrillas that ended white rule and swept him to power.

Former colonial soldiers say guerrilla dead were disposed of in mass graves often doused with gasoline or acid.

Forensic tests and DNA analysis of the remains won’t be carried out, said Saviour Kasukuwere, the government minister of black empowerment. Instead, traditional African religious figures will perform rites to invoke spirits that will identify the dead, he said.

Mr Kasukuwere said the Chibondo remains were discovered in 2008 by a gold panner who crawled into the shaft. But spirits of war dead had long ‘possessed’ villagers and children in the district, he said.

‘The spirits have refused to lie still. They want the world to see what Smith did to our people. These spirits will show the way it’s to be done,’ he said, referring to Ian Smith, the last white prime minister of the former colony of Rhodesia.

‘This is the extent of atrocities committed by the Smith regime. They loot our resources and they close up the mine with our bodies.’

The prime minister’s party has criticised the exhumations for stoking hatred at a time the nation still seeks healing not only from the pre-independence war but also from political violence that has left hundreds dead over the past decade and tens of thousands of documented cases of torture and abduction.

After independence an estimated 20,000 civilians were killed by Mugabe’s soldiers when they crushed an armed uprising in the western Matabeleland province. Many of those victims still lie in unmarked mass graves in the arid bush.

In a sweeping crackdown ahead of elections proposed this year, police and security officials have banned rallies of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, arrested its lawmakers on what the party describes as trumped up charges and have hounded human rights activists.

Tsvangiria’s party has called for scientific research and ‘informed debate and reflection’ on all violence that included killings of its supporters surrounding disputed elections in 2008.

The party stopped short of alleging that the corpses at Chibondo could include its supporters who have disappeared and remain unaccounted for in years of political and economic turmoil.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


600 Refugees in Taranto Station After Fleeing Camp

(AGI) Taranto- Around 600 immigrants are trying to board trains heading North from Taranto station after leaving the refugee camp. The refugees arrived at the station at 8PM and have since taken it by storm, provoking a response by the authorities.

According to police sources in Taranto (Apulia) 300 or so of the 600 refugees scattered from the area whilst the remaining 300 have been surrounded and are being supervised by police, traffic police and ‘carabinieri’ (military police).

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

GOP Drafts Legislative Assault on Illegal Immigration

Congressional Republicans want more fencing, sensors, agents and drones to keep out all illegal migrants.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Aiming to Repatriate 100 Tunisians Per Day

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 1 — Italy is aiming to repatriate 100 Tunisian immigrants per day. This is according to the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who has been speaking at the control group meeting called at Rome’s Palazzo Chigi to discuss the immigration emergency.

The Prime Minister said that the proposal made to Tunisia regarding the repatriations would include economic support from Italy towards the reinsertion of migrants in their country, and called the costs involved “sustainable”.

During the course of the meeting, which was also attended by the Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, the Defence Minister, Ignazio La Russa, representatives of town, provincial and regional councils and the head of Italy’s civil protection, Franco Gabrielli, it was decided that 7,000 tents on sites chosen for reception centres for migrants in various Italian regions will be ready within 48 hours.

Berlusconi said that the government had indentified temporary sites to receive migrants in every region, but each one will in turn be allowed to suggest an alternative location in which camps may be set up.

The problem of migrants, Berlusconi said, can not rest on Italy’s shoulders alone. The Prime Minister observed that European heads of state were showing “a generalised selfishness that is very negative”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Maroni Calls on Tunisia to Keep to Commitments

(AGI) Rome — Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, called on Tunisia to keep to its commitments over repatriation. At a press conference following a meeting on immigration at the prime minister’s office, he explained: “It is clear that the best way to resolve the migrant issue is with Tunisia’s cooperation and in Monday’s meeting we’ll try to convince and, if necessary, compel Tunisia to stick to its commitments, with repatriation and the prevention of departures.” .

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

Italy: Migrants: Errani Says Regions Oppose Tent Cities

(AGI) Rome — Vasco Errani rejected tent cities that may violate the human rights of the migrants and frighten local people.

President of the Conference of the Regions, Vasco Errani, said that instead it is necessary to refer back to Article 20 of the consolidating act on immigration that provides for extraordinary reception measures for exceptional circumstances.

Taking part in discussions today on immigration, Errani explained: “We must start from the idea that this is a humanitarian emergency that should be managed properly by the institutions. The meeting has been content-heavy.”

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

Mass Breakout at Southern Migrant Camp

Undocumented non-EU nationals slip through gap in fence

(ANSA) — Manduria, April 1 — Migrants staged mass breakaways from a camp in this southern Italian town, having been transferred there Friday after being part of a wave to land on the island of Lampedusa.

The migrants, part of a contingent of 1,700 mostly Tunisian migrants to be shipped from Lampedusa and taken to Manduria, managed to slip through a gap in the camp fencing left by firefighters working at the site.

The escape will feed fears that migrants will end up dispersed in the areas of temporary camps the government is setting up to accommodate almost 20,000 people who have arrived in Italy this year following unrest in North Africa.

Local people have staged protests at camps in other parts of Italy and Interior Ministry Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano quit Wednesday over the number of people being sent to Manduria, part of his home patch.

Italian media have shown footage of smaller-scale breakouts from other centres over the last few days.

Earlier on Friday, migrants protested as officials visited the Manduria camp, shouting “freedom” in French, with some complaining about a lack of food.

“This situation is a real scandal,” said Angelo Bonelli, the leader of Italy’s Green party and one of the officials to visit the camp.

“The interior ministry has known for a month about the landings from Tunisia.

“It could have planned. Instead there is a situation the local communities are rightly worried about, which is threatening to cancel out their sense of hospitality”. A group of Manduria locals said they were starting a petition to call for the migrants to be spread more evenly around different parts of Italy. Around 1,500 migrants are set to be accommodated at another big camp at Turin’s Arena Rock concert venue.

A meeting on Friday with ministers and Italy’s regions failed to generate an agreement on relocating migrants who landed on Lampedusa after governors expressed doubts about the central government’s plans for temporary camps.

Another meeting has been set for Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mass Evasion by Immigrants in Manduria, Only 400 Present

(AGI) Taranto- In the last few hours hundreds of immigrants have evaded the refugee camp in Manduria, Apulia. The mass headed for the nearby community of Oria, the surrounding countryside and also the train station in Taranto. According to estimates only 400 persons remain in the refugee camp.

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

Milan Immigrants to be Flown to Centres All Over Italy

(AGI) Milan — The 38 Tunisian and Moroccan immigrants who have arrived at Milan’s main station this morning will be moved to immigration centres all over Italy. The group was stopped by police officers as soon as they got off the trin that had left Reggio Calabria yesterday evening. They were welcomed by dozens of police officers who loaded them onto two coaches before accompanying them to Via Cagni where they were identified. The immigrants were then put on various flights leaving Linate Airport and will be taken to immigration centres in various Italian cities.

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

Tensions as Immigrants Invade Taranto Station

(AGI) Taranto- Tensions rose in Taranto station (Apulia) after hundreds of refugees arrived after leaving their camp in Manduria. The mass of immigrants arrived through local railways; the authorities were alerted and responded by sending police, traffic police and ‘carabinieri’ (military police) to the station.

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


Weird Geometry: Art Enters the Hyperbolic Realm

Hyperbolic space is a Pringle-like alternative to flat, Euclidean geometry where the normal rules don’t apply: angles of a triangle add up to less than 180 degrees and Euclid’s parallel postulate, governing the properties of parallel lines, breaks down. That fascinates mathematical artist Vi Hart, who creates hyperbolic “tilings” from a range of different materials. View our gallery to get to grips with this alternative geometry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wind and Wave Energies Are Not Renewable After All

WITNESS a howling gale or an ocean storm, and it’s hard to believe that humans could make a dent in the awesome natural forces that created them. Yet that is the provocative suggestion of one physicist who has done the sums. He concludes that it is a mistake to assume that energy sources like wind and waves are truly renewable. Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels, he says, and we could seriously deplete the energy available in the atmosphere, with consequences as dire as severe climate change.

Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, says that efforts to satisfy a large proportion of our energy needs from the wind and waves will sap a significant proportion of the usable energy available from the sun. In effect, he says, we will be depleting green energy sources. His logic rests on the laws of thermodynamics, which point inescapably to the fact that only a fraction of the solar energy reaching Earth can be exploited to generate energy we can use.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]