Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110524

Financial Crisis
»Financial Crisis ‘Set Italy Back 10 Years’
»Greece: Government Program Eyes Taxes, Pensions
»Greece Unveils Fire-Sale of Government Assets
»Greek Opposition Rejects EU Pressure for Cross-Party Consensus
»One in Four Italians ‘Facing Poverty’ As Result of Recession
»The Hidden Cost of Saving the Euro
»UK Attacks Ashton Over ‘Ludicrous’ Budget Proposal
»Understanding America’s Financial Crises, Part 3
»Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat in Closely Watched Upstate New York Race, A.P. Reports
»Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Next War
»Muslims Hope for New Mosque in Boynton Beach Area
»Netanyahu Heckler Tied to Obama
»Progressives Urge Obama to Dump Israel
»Teens Riot in Manhattan Businesses
»The President Who Dreams of Being King
»Watchdog: Islamic Sharia Law 0-4 in Fla. Courts Since ‘78
Europe and the EU
»Belgium: Escalator Sabotage Costs Brussels Metro Dear
»Britain Censors Political Protest on YouTube
»Football: New American Roma Owner Intends to Acquire Player From US
»France: Lawyers Challenge Police ID Checks
»Germany: ‘A New Level of Escalation’: Left-Wing Extremists Behind Berlin Arson Attack
»Italy Backs French Finance Minister as Candidate to Lead IMF
»Italy: Nord: Ministries’ Devolution Mark End of Rome’s Rule
»Italy: Current TV: “Sky is Ditching US. Murdoch Wants to Do Berlusconi a Favour”
»Italy: Sofia Coppola to Wed in Great-Grandfather’s Ancestral Home
»‘Millions of Spaniards Have Lost Faith in Politics’
»Muslims Replacing Jews as Europe’s Scapegoat, Says Academic
»Netherlands: Senate Elections: Fundamentalist Role Dominates the Editorials
»New Ash Cloud Disrupts European Flights
»Scotland: Boycott Israeli Books, Writers Angry
»Spain: Just How Far Can the Angry Ones Go?
»Spain: 24 Arrested in Barcelona After Posing as Policemen to Rob Tourists
»Spain’s Socialists Suffer Spectacular Election Rout
»UK: ‘Possessed’ Teenager Who Stabbed Her Mother Five Times is Allowed to Walk Free Because ‘Beliefs in the Occult Led Her to Do it’
»UK: Anjem Choudary: Obama is Legitimate Target for Extremists
»UK: Burglar Claims He Should be Released From Prison — Because Locking Him Up Violates His Children’s Human Rights
»UK: Codename ‘Smart Alec’: British Police Label Obama With ‘Mildly Offensive’ Punjabi Word for Visit to UK
»Bosnia: International Envoy and Chief Mufti Clash Over Religious Education
Mediterranean Union
»Installations by Jordanian Artists in Rome Campidoglio
North Africa
»Algeria: Clampdown on Protestants, 7 Churches Closed
»Analysis: No End in Sight for NATO in Libya
»Libya: NATO Intensifies Tripoli Airstrikes
»Muslims Surround Church in Egypt, Prevent Its Reopening
»NATO Bombs Libyan Capital in Heaviest Strikes Yet
»‘Shariah in Egypt is Enough for Us, ‘ Muslim Brotherhood Leader Says
»UK Joins France in Deploying Attack Helicopters in Libya
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Obama’s Diversionary Tactics
»EU Backs Obama’s Mideast Offensive: ‘Netanyahu’s Rejection is Self-Important and Arrogant’
»Obama’s Betrayal of Israel Even Worse That You Thought
Middle East
»Al-Qaida Bomber Leaves Behind a Fingerprint
»Ankara Concerned Over Rise of Racism in Bulgaria
»Blast During Ahmadinejad Opening of Refinery Kills 2
»In September, Obama’s Middle East Policy Will Collapse
»Istanbul Family Consultant Suggests Allowing Polygamy
»Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Bogus Liberation & Resistance Day
»Syria: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Companies
»Syria: Hamas Considers Transfer HQ to Other Mideast Country
»How the Left Went Wrong on Islam
South Asia
»Captured Al Qaeda: Foreign Fighters ‘Converging’ In Pakistan
»Cautious Optimism: Germany Mediates Secret US-Taliban Talks
»Pakistan: Cable Show US Was Concerned Karachi Could Hurt Interests in UN
»Pakistan: The Alarm of a Priest, “The Country is in the Hands of the Taliban”
»Austria: Turkish Debate Set to Intensify Over New Immigration Figures
»Boatload of African Migrants Caught Off Almería Coast
»EU to Allow for Temporary Suspension of Visa-Free Regime
»European Commission Issues N. Africa Migration Package
»France: Gueant: Builders and Waiters Not Needed
»Italy: Habescia: Eritrean Drama in Sinai Continues
»U.S. Group Gives Mexico Smugglers GPS Emergency Beacons
Culture Wars
»Netherlands: Harassed Gay Couple Taking Police to Court
»Are Climate Models Lying About Food Too?
»Time-Lapse Tuesday: Orbiting the Earth

Financial Crisis

Financial Crisis ‘Set Italy Back 10 Years’

Quarter of households facing poverty says Istat

(ANSA) — Rome, May 23 — The international financial crisis set Italy back almost 10 years and recovery is yet to get up steam, Istat said in a report Monday.

Between 2001 and 2010, the statistics agency said, Italy had the worst GDP growth of the European Union countries, with an average 0.2% compared to 1.3%.

To keep up spending, households have been forced to eat into their savings and the propensity to set something aside is down to a 20-year-low at 9.1%.

The crisis has hit employment hard with the number of those in work down more than half a million in 2009-2010, Istat said.

The hardest hit have been the under-30s, with 501,000 out of a job.

The job crisis has been worst in the poorer south of Italy but the north has not been spared, Istat said.

Technically the recession is “over” but consequences on social harmony are still “strong”.

“About a quarter of Italians are facing the threat of poverty or marginalisation,” Istat said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Government Program Eyes Taxes, Pensions

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 24 — Greek government’s midterm fiscal program, which was discussed on Monday during a tense cabinet meeting and is to be debated further on Tuesday between Prime Minister George Papandreou and his political rivals, aims to raise 6.4 billion euros through the imposition of additional direct and indirect taxes, it emerged yesterday. Of these, as daily Kathimerini reports, 4.8 billion euros’ worth have been approved by the Cabinet, while the remainder are still under discussion. Among the measures to be implemented, assuming they are voted through Parliament later this week, is the transfer of several goods and services from the medium 13% value-added tax (VAT) bracket to the higher 23% bracket as well as the abolition of tax breaks, the imposition of taxes on natural gas and on soft drinks and an increase in road tax. Other reforms foresee the introduction of a levy on high pensions exceeding 1,700 euros per month. Also private firms will also be obliged to pay an additional 1% in social security contributions with the aim of boosting unemployment benefits. Many measures remained subject to approval on Monday at the end of a cabinet meeting in which internal rifts that have been festering within PASOK came to the surface. According to sources, the most vehement criticism was voiced by Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who reportedly accused Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou of “arrogance” in his stance opposite the rest of the Cabinet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Unveils Fire-Sale of Government Assets

The Greek government has announced a speed up of its plans for a public-asset firesale, aiming to convince both markets and other European governments of its commitment to tame its debts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Opposition Rejects EU Pressure for Cross-Party Consensus

Brussels may have acquired a taste for pressuring domestic political forces in EU member states to drop their traditional antagonisms for the sake of the eurozone, but that does not mean the parties like it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

One in Four Italians ‘Facing Poverty’ As Result of Recession

Rome, 23 May (AKI) — One Italian in four currently faces poverty as a result of the global financial crisis and their country’s chronically low growth, the national statistics institute Isat said on Monday in a report.

“In Italy, almost a quarter of the population — 24.7 percent — is facing the threat of poverty and marginalisation, compared with a European Union average of 23.1 percent,” the report said.

Istat described the past decade as “a lost one” in which the Italian economy showed “overall weakness”.

“The Italian economy’s growth rate is wholly unsatisfactory and the current signs of recovery and a pickup in demand for workers do not seem sufficiently strong and widespread to reabsorb unemployment and inactivity and boost incomes and consumption,” said Istat president Enrico Giovannini, presenting the report in Rome.

Italian households had been hard hit by Italy’s average GDP growth of just 0.2 percent between 2001 and 2010, compared to 1.3 percent for the EU as whole, according to Istat.

Italy has been the only advanced economy to see a contraction of per-capita GDP, and Italians’ real purchasing power has fallen by 4 percent, impacting households’ ability to save.

The propensity to save in Italy reached a 20-year low of 9.1 percent, Istat said.

Despite the social safety net provided by the family, young people have been hardest hit by the recession and the economy’s underlying structural problems.

Of Italians under 30 years of age, 501,000 lost their jobs in 2009-2010, according to Istat.

The jobs crisis has more pronounced in the poorer Italian south, but the north has also been affected by the crisis and women have also been hit, Istat said.

“Italy has paid a high price for the recession in terms of industrial production and employment, although the social impact of the crisis has been limited compared with other countries,” Giovannini stated.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s over the weekend announced it was downgrading the outlook for Europe’s third largest economy to “negative” from “stable,” while maintaining its A+ rating. The agency cited as reasons Italy’s slowing economic growth and “diminished” prospects for a reduction of government debt.

Another reason for the lowered its credit-rating outlook was the fragility of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative coalition government which meant “the political commitment for productivity-enhancing reforms appears to be faltering,” S&P said.

Italy’s public debt stood at a massive119 percent of GDP at the end of 2010 — second only to Greece in the euro zone — and it is expected to soon hit 120 percent.

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

The Hidden Cost of Saving the Euro

ECB’s Balance Sheet Contains Massive Risks

While Europe is preoccupied with a possible restructuring of Greece’s debt, huge risks lurk elsewhere — in the balance sheet of the European Central Bank. The guardian of the single currency has taken on billions of euros worth of risky securities as collateral for loans to shore up the banks of struggling nations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK Attacks Ashton Over ‘Ludicrous’ Budget Proposal

The UK has publicly attacked EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton for seeking too much money and too much power for her European External Action Service.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Understanding America’s Financial Crises, Part 3

Globalists have been actively working for decades to create a single financial system and currency for the world. But first, they had to create economic chaos in order for the citizens of various nations, especially the United States, to be willing to abandon their national currencies. Has that day arrived?

Like falling dominos, the states within the European Union (EU) are failing financially, one by one. The economies of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal have already been bailed out by the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Spain is teetering on the edge. Because of its size, analysts have concluded that Spain is too big to be saved by outside intervention. Spain’s failure would cause an unstoppable domino effect; first within the EU, then the U.S. and the world.

At the same time that Europe has been facing financial disaster, the spending policies of Presidents G.W. Bush and Obama have more than doubled the U.S. national debt from $5.7 trillion in 2000 to $14.3 trillion in mid-2011. Why? Interest on the National Debt is expected to top $430 billion for 2011. State unfunded liabilities for public sector pension plans could reach $3 trillion. Social Security, Medicare and Prescription Drug unfunded liabilities total $113.6 trillion by April 2011. It is simply unsustainable.

In the two and a half years he has been in office, Obama has racked up a deficit that nearly equals the combined debt created by all the presidents up to G.W. Bush. His initial 2012 budget continues piling up debt at rates that will double the debt to $26 trillion in 10 years. Along with this debt, the Federal Reserve (Fed) is printing trillions of dollars out of thin air (QE1 & QE2). This is not only irresponsible, it is insanely irresponsible.

The great concern is that this will result in high inflation, perhaps even hyperinflation. It is already happening. We are being told that the rate of inflation only is only 2.5 percent. Yet, every day as we walk into the supermarket or gas station we get hit again with skyrocketing prices. If you think something is wrong, it is. The way of calculating the inflation rate, or Consumer Price Index, was changed in 1980 and again in 1990. It no longer includes such mundane things as food or gasoline prices.

If the rate of inflation was calculated like it was before 1980, it would be a whopping 10.2 percent! That means anything less than a 10.2 percent raise in wages is a pay cut—except the average person doesn’t know it. Social Security recipients will lose 10.2 percent of their benefits this year because they got no cost of living adjustment at all. The U.S. dollar is being devalued before our eyes, yet it is being obscured by smoke and mirrors. At least a part of the skyrocketing gas prices is due to the devaluing of the dollar because of inflation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat in Closely Watched Upstate New York Race, A.P. Reports

The Associated Press has declared Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, the winner in a closely watched Congressional race in upstate New York that is being seen as a test of a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare.

[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Next War

Barack Obama’s tenure as Commander-in-Chief has not exactly been characterized by success. What comes next, however, may make his record to date look like the good old days.

To be sure, on his watch, an extraordinary intelligence-special forces team liquidated Osama bin Laden and drones have dispatched a number of other “high value targets” in what the President calls our “war on al Qaeda.” These are morale-boosting tactical achievements, but in the great scheme of things are more like whack-a-mole than strategic victories.

Much more important is the fact that Mr. Obama is in the process of losing the two wars he inherited, and making a hash-up of the one he initiated in Libya.

Worse, Mr. Obama is actively encouraging trends that threaten to unleash the next, horrific regional war in the Mideast -a war that may well embroil nations far beyond, including ours.

The President’s mishandling of the present conflicts has set the stage for such dangers…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Muslims Hope for New Mosque in Boynton Beach Area

NEAR BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — South Florida Muslims may soon have a new place to worship.

A Boynton Beach congregation has its sights set on Military Trail between Hypoluxo Road and Gateway Boulevard in suburban Boynton Beach.

Right worshippers are using a rented space near U.S. 441.

The land for the proposed mosque has already been approved for a religious institution.

A nearby neighborhood association says a mosque would be a good “neighbor.”

If built, the building would join about 7 other mosques in Palm Beach County.

Our news partners at the Sun Sentinel say about 10-thousand Muslims live in Palm Beach County — and the population is growing.

An informational meeting will be held on June 7 at the Lantana library.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Netanyahu Heckler Tied to Obama

Disrupted speech to Congress shouting, ‘stop Israeli war crimes’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress was disrupted today by a protester from an antiwar group tied to President Obama, WND has learned.

The heckler was identified as Rae Abileah, a 28-year-old Jewish-American activist who works as the national organizer for Code Pink. She coordinates Code Pink’s Middle East campaigns.

While Netanyahu was congratulating the U.S. for eliminating Osama bin Laden, Abileah stood up from the gallery and shouted: “stop Israeli war crimes.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Progressives Urge Obama to Dump Israel

Unofficial Obama adviser Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink, organized a small demonstration in Washington, D.C. this week to demand that the U.S. terminate military aid to Israel. “Not one nickel. Not one dime. We won’t pay for Israel’s crimes,” Benjamin led the demonstration in the anti-Israel chants. One protester from the Washington, D.C. Green Party said the U.S. and Israel were terrorist governments.

Benjamin, a member of the International Solidarity Movement which is allied with enemies of the U.S. and Israel, is known for her pink outfits. She announced in 2009 that she was going to deliver a letter to Obama from the deputy foreign minister of Hamas. “In the letter,” reported Benjamin, “Hamas urged Obama to visit ‘our ground Zero’ in Gaza and bring about a ‘paradigm shift’ in the Israel-Palestine conflict based on enlightened world opinion and international law.”

This appears to be what Obama did in his Thursday speech urging Israel to return to its vulnerable 1967 borders with the Arab states.

The occasion of the protest was the launching of an advertising campaign on the Washington, D.C. subway system calling for an end to aid for Israel, a development that would lead to the demise of the Jewish state. The ads are being posted inside Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail trains for the next 4 weeks. The demonstration took place on May 16, just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and attracted several television cameras.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Teens Riot in Manhattan Businesses

MYFOXNY.COM — It’s like a flash mob gone bad. Security footage from a Manhattan Dunkin’ Donuts shows a group of youths climbing on counters, throwing chairs and throwing tables in a violent attack on workers.

It happened at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. A $2,000 hot chocolate machine was reportedly destroyed in the attack.

Similar attacks have targeted other stores in the neighborhood in the previous weeks.

The video shows one of the teens throwing a chair and then running up to grab a donut.

A few of the attackers also grabbed drinks out of a refrigerator near the door, and they all quickly ran from the store.

Some businesses and even residents recently have complained about violence in the area. Most of the business owners didn’t want to give their names for fear of retribution.

One store owner told Fox 5’s Lisa Evers that some kids did something similar at his business about a week earlier than the incident at Dunkin’ Donuts.

He said, “It’s not safe around her.”

The NYPD said it was examining the Dunkin’ Donuts security footage but has not made any arrests.

In a statement to, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s spokesperson, Jamie McShane says, “We will continue to work with the NYPD to make sure Christopher Street is a safe place especially as the weather gets nicer and more people flock to the area.”

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

The President Who Dreams of Being King

One of the great powers of being a king is the ability to award staunch supporters and friends positions of power and wealth within the king’s domain. Once a subject is raised to one of these lofty positions he is allowed to remain there at the pleasure of the king, and as long as he does the kings bidding the endowed subject is allowed to remain in his position of power.

Currently in the Senate is bill S.679 entitled “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011.” This bill, introduced by Senator Schumer and a whole list of communist want-to-bees, including Harry Reid, desires to give the President the power to appoint many high level executive office positions from “advice and consent of the Senate” to positions that are appointed by the President and are retained in those positions “at his pleasure.”

Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 in the U.S. Constitution states that the executive shall: “He shall have power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate… shall appoint … all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law; but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”

The rationale behind having such checks and balances was to ensure that people being placed in positions of power within government would be above all qualified for such positions and second that they were not being placed there as a puppet for an agenda driven executive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Watchdog: Islamic Sharia Law 0-4 in Fla. Courts Since ‘78

A study released Friday by the conservative Center for Security Policy warns that issues involving Islamic Sharia law have popped up in legal cases across the country, including four in Florida trial and appellate courts. Muslims, after all, have grown to represent 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, and Sharia customs include codes for resolving disputes as well as standards for prayer and worship.

The critical 600-page report by the Center for Security Policy portrays any consideration of Sharia in Florida courts — including pleadings by plaintiffs or defendants — as a threat to the U.S. Constitution. Its legal research identified four such cases in Florida from the past 33 years, so we reviewed them to understand the threat.

“With an increased presence of Sharia-adherent Muslims in the United States, and the rapid rise of political and militant Islam globally, the conflict between Shariah law and the Constitution requires a new level of debate among policymakers, media, the legal community, and most importantly, the American public,” the report says.

Fortunately, no conflict has yet emerged in Florida’s courts.

Our review of the Florida cases cited by the center found that in all of them, judges have upheld state and U.S. statutes, U.S. Constitutional provisions and American case and contract law. They so regardless of the religious or “foreign” nature of contracts or other issues.

In two cases, from 1978 and 1996, Florida appeals judges determined that prenuptial agreements between spouses are a binding contracts that must be honored, as long as the terms are legal. In both cases, Muslim women seeking divorces prevailed over men, protecting their share of property. Although the prenups were fashioned after Islamic custom, the judges cited precedent from U.S. cases and affirmed American contract law. In one case, a trial judge refused the Muslim husband special access to his wife’s private psychiatric evaluations.

In a third case, a 2010 paternity and “partition” action, appeals judges ruled that couples can only be considered legally married in Florida if they enter official, state-sanctioned unions. A divorcing couple had been married in an Islamic ceremony, but never sanctioned it with a state marriage license. The courts ordered the husband to pay child support, but not alimony.

In the fourth case — the ongoing Trustees vs. Islamic Education Center of Tampa Inc. — the trial judge so far has ruled that a contract is a contract. If a contract calls for plaintiffs to first take their disputes to mediation, the parties and the courts must respect that contract, even if the contract calls for a faith-based mediator such as a priest, rabbi or imam. Case law in Florida and from the U.S. Supreme Court allows ecclesiastical law to control certain relations between members of religious organizations, including mosques.

Nevertheless, conservatives have blasted the judge, who wrote, “The court will require further testimony to determine whether the Islamic dispute resolution procedures have been followed in this matter.”

To address cases such as these, the Center for Security Policy has drafted “model legislation” for the Florida Legislature and others to pass. Its proposed bill would invalidate any contract “based on any law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and (Florida) Constitutions.”

Meanwhile, here’s what Dr. Muzaffar Shaikh, an imam and spokesman for the Brevard Islamic Society, told Columnist Matt Reed in response to another center’s criticism of Sharia law and Muslims in general.

(see video at link)

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: Escalator Sabotage Costs Brussels Metro Dear

According to a report in Saturday’s edition of the Francophone daily ‘La Capitale’ engineers are called out to deal with an average of 200 cases of escalator sabotage every day. Sabotage is the cause of around 90% of the 220 reports of faulty escalators that are made every day. The escalators are often brought to a halt by people activating their alarm system as a “joke”. Cans and other rubbish are also used to deliberately block the escalators. Repair work to the escalators cost the Brussels public transport company MIVB almost 4.7 million Euro each year. However, some of this is used pay for replacements for some of the oldest escalators.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain Censors Political Protest on YouTube

The site manages to convey in its URL a grim view of what it sees happening in the world and what it opposes. A Prison Planet article by Paul Joseph Watson reports on censorship in Britain via YouTube. The British government got YouTube to block a video of a political protest for viewers from Britain. (thanks Lou Pagnucco)

In a frightening example of how the state is tightening its grip around the free Internet, it has emerged that You Tube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.

The latest example is You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.

It is amazing just how petty the British government can be when it tries to prevent people from seeing something. What’s the great threat to the state here?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Football: New American Roma Owner Intends to Acquire Player From US

Rome, 18 May (AKI) — AS Roma’s new American owner may bring a top US player to the Italian capital to play for the club he recently acquired.

Thomas DiBenedetto told American soccer website that he intends to purchase an American player in this summer’s transfer market.

“We are obviously scouting players everywhere and we are obviously interested in the American products, both in MLS (Major League Soccer) and abroad,” DiBenedetto has told from Rome. “I obviously can’t tell you any names, but we want only the best for our team.”

DiBenedetto’s Roma acquisition is due to be approved at the end of the month. He will become the club’s president on 10 June.

An investor group led by DiBenedetto — part owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team — in March became the first American owner of a team in Italy’s storied top Serie A league when it agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Roma.

Roma founded in 1927, last won the Serie A title in 2001.

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

France: Lawyers Challenge Police ID Checks

LAWYERS have launched a legal challenge against police identity checks, claiming too many of them are arbitrary and anti-constitutional. Some fifty members of the Syndicat des Avocats de France union are behind the campaign to demand that France’s top constitutional judges re-examine the rules. They claim the French penal code is too vague in defining when an ID check is appropriate — and that people are being singled out based on their race. It is impossible to obtain figures on this because data on ethnic origin cannot be gathered under French law. The lawyers are using a relatively new measure that allows anyone to challenge a French law that they feel does not respect the rights guaranteed in the constitution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘A New Level of Escalation’: Left-Wing Extremists Behind Berlin Arson Attack

Political activists have claimed responsibility for a cable fire that caused major disruption to Berlin commuter train traffic and mobile phone service this week. Police say the attack signals a new escalation in left-wing terrorism in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Backs French Finance Minister as Candidate to Lead IMF

Frattini joins chorus to keep IMF reins in hands of a European

(ANSA) — Milan, May 23 — Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini in a statement Monday strongly backed French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C.

His endorsement came on the day the IMF received nominations for the post. With it, Italy joins a growing chorus of European officials calling for Lagarde to succeed her French colleague, Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last week in the wake of his arrest for attempted rape and sexual assault of a hotel maid in New York.

“Lagarde is an excellent candidate,” Frattini said in Brussels, “It seems indispensible to me that leadership of the Fund remain in the hands of a European of the highest quality”.

The continent has kept the helm of the IMF for more than 40 years, and European officials have rallied to keep it against growing voices of discontent from other parts of the world.

Australia and South Africa issued a joint statement Sunday in an effort to prevent the IMF from simply handing the post to another European.

“In order to maintain trust, credibility and legitimacy, there must be an open and transparent selection process which results in the most competent person being appointed as managing director, regardless of their nationality,” the statement read.

Lagarde’s name was floated on the heels of Strauss-Kahn’s resignation last week, and quickly gathered momentum as Europe’s favorite.

On Saturday, she received a key endorsement from Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who called her “an outstanding candidate” and said he thought it would be “a very good thing to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60- year history”.

His statement effectively quashed the candidacy of British ex- prime minister Gordon Brown, whose name had also been raised for the post.

The top spot at the IMF suddenly became vacant last week after Strauss-Kahn’s dramatic fall from grace.

Strauss-Kahn was highly regarded for his management of the IMF and had been favored to become president of France in upcoming elections until his arrest May 14.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is currently under house arrest in New York.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Nord: Ministries’ Devolution Mark End of Rome’s Rule

(AGI) Milan — Minister Calderoli said tax federalism and the devolution of ministries have spelt the end of Rome’s rule.

“Tax federalism spelt the end of ‘Thieving Rome’, and the devolution of ministries will mark the end of ‘Bossy Rome’“ the Minister for Legislative Simplification, Roberto Calderoli, said during an off-the-cuff speech at a Lega Nord gazebo in Milan where signatures are being collected in favour of the devolution process. Calderoli also said that the Lega Nord is not against the proposal of relocating one ministry to Naples.

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

Italy: Current TV: “Sky is Ditching US. Murdoch Wants to Do Berlusconi a Favour”

Al Gore tells Beppe Severgnini: “News Corp is interested in digital terrestrial TV and needs premier’s approval”

MILAN — “SKY is going back on its decision to carry Al Gore’s channel and is set to eliminate Italy’s only independent news channel”. The warning comes from Current TV, the channel that since 2008 has been transmitted free-to-air with the SKY bouquet (channel 130). Current TV claims to have received notification from the Rupert Murdoch-owned SKY Italia that its Italian channel will be cancelled, perhaps as early as this summer. The news comes as the channel set up by Al Gore six years ago is adding a new programme by Luca Telese (Fuoriluogo) and Giuseppe Cruciani’s Tritacarne to a schedule that already includes Marco Travaglio’s Passaparola.

“FAVOUR TO BERLUSCONI” — Al Gore himself discussed the matter in depth in the course of an interview with Beppe Severgnini for The former American vice president said the decision was not made by SKY Italia but came from a directive issued by Mr Murdoch’s US headquarters at News Corp, which wants to do Silvio Berlusconi a favour by removing from the bouquet a voice that has questioned the head of the Italian government’s policies on more than one occasion. “We are a genuinely independent television”, Mr Gore stressed. “That’s why were the first to broadcast Citizen Berlusconi and documentaries showing that the garbage in Naples is still there. But News Corp is trying to break into the digital terrestrial business and to do that, it needs Berlusconi’s approval”.

“BUT WE ARE NOT AGAINST THE PREMIER” — When pressed by Severgnini, Mr Gore repeated his charge: “They are trying to penetrate this profitable new market and they need Berlusconi. So they don’t feel comfortable being in conflict with him. The people at SKY Italia are fantastic. They were stunned, too, when they got the order from SKY headquarters, from the US”. It was pointed out to Mr Gore that relations between SKY and the premier have never been particularly idyllic since SKY is actually a competitor for Mediaset. What reason could there be for changing tack now? Mr Gore pointed out: “The change wasn’t implemented by the Berlusconi government, partly because we aren’t opposed to him. We have only, always, kept on telling the truth, regardless of who is in power. That’s what independent journalism is. SKY Italia wanted to continue the relationship but when headquarters in America called, they were blocked”. The decision from New York was prompted by the angry reaction of Rupert Murdoch, according to Mr Gore’s information from sources close to the Australian-born magnate, who was less than pleased at the move to the network of Keith Olberman, a popular presenter in the US but politically very distant from Fox News. Olberman openly criticised the policies of President Bush and attacked the Republican candidate, John McCain, who was supported by the Murdoch group.

SKY ITALIA’S TAKE — While Mr Gore was speaking on, SKY Italia issued a note saying it had offered to renew Current TV’s broadcasting contract “in line with the market, the economic context and Current TV’s performance”, but management had not responded to this offer “demanding an increase in SKY’s payment, double the present rate”. SKY added that “the contract with Current TV had reached its natural expiry”, adding that Current TV’s financial demands for renewal represented “a level of increase that no other broadcaster has demanded from SKY in recent years”, hence the decision “not to renew the relationship”. The News Corp group broadcaster, led in Italy by Tom Mockridge, claims credit for having “believed in 2008 in Current TV’s potential”, pointing out that audience ratings for Al Gore’s broadcaster “are not growing”. According to SKY, the average daily audience for Current TV in 2011 has so far been 2,952, a loss of 20 over the 2010 audience of 3,600. Sadly, Current TV’s prime time audience decline from 2010 to 2011 is around 40%.

SLANTED NEWS — Mr Gore replied by noting that at least 14 other channels have lower viewing figures than Current TV, also pointing the finger at Fox News, News Corp’s all-news American channel and noting that political bias runs counter to freedom of information. “Fox News helped to convince people that Saddam Hussein was mainly to blame for 9/11 and that he would use nuclear weapons against us”, said Mr Gore. “Many Americans voted for Bush thinking that this was true. Now Fox is trying to persuade people that global warming isn’t an issue”…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Sofia Coppola to Wed in Great-Grandfather’s Ancestral Home

Rome, 24 May (AKI) — Film director Sofia Coppola and her French pop singer boyfriend Thomas Mars plan to get married in the ancestral southern Italian town of the filmmaker’s great grandfather.

The couple will wed in August in the town of Bernalda, in the Basilicata region. The wedding will take place in the 19th century villa Coppola’s father, the director Francis Ford Coppola, restructured, transforming it into a luxury inn.

Bernalda is located in the province of Matera where the poverty was so dire that into the mid-20th century many of its residents lived in a maze of caves — some dating back to Roman times -carved from yellowish tufa.

Agostino Coppola, Sofia’s great grandfather, in 1926 invented a machine that synchronised sound and images, contributing to sound movies. His invention was purchased by Hollywood giant Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

It will be Coppola’s second marriage. She divorced director Spike Jonze in 2003 after four years of marriage.

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

‘Millions of Spaniards Have Lost Faith in Politics’

The ruling Socialists in Spain have suffered a historic defeat in local and regional elections amid discontent at the government’s handing of the economic crisis. But German commentators point out that there is no way around painful reforms, no matter which party is in power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslims Replacing Jews as Europe’s Scapegoat, Says Academic

Muslims in Europe have replaced the continent’s Jews of yesteryear as the largest target of discrimination and prejudice, according to a prominent Swiss academic and Islamic expert. “There are new alliances in Europe against the Muslim presence, and people who were against Judaism are now against the Muslim presence in Europe,” Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford professor and grandson of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, said Friday at a seminar at Istanbul Bilgi University.

“[These discriminatory European attitudes] are not only about Islamism; they are about a power struggle. It is not integrated into people’s minds that Islam is also a Western religion,” Ramadan said, criticizing the attitudes of some Europeans he described as “Islamophobic.” “People like the head of France’s far-right National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, and Dutch politician Geert Wilders are imposing the politics of fear against Islam and this is very dangerous,” the academic said. He added that what lies beneath the growing anti-Islamism in Europe is the changing demographics of the continent’s Muslim population. “The more Muslims become European, the more Islam becomes a problem for Europeans,” Ramadan said.

The academic also said the Muslim Brotherhood, which has emerged as one of Egypt’s key political players with the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, was attempting to implement a modern understanding of Islam.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Senate Elections: Fundamentalist Role Dominates the Editorials

The papers all emphasis that the results of Monday’s senate election mean the minority government needs the help of the fundamentalist Christian SGP as well as the anti-Islam PVV to pass controversial legislation.

The ruling alliance of the VVD and Christian Democrats, together with the PVV, fell one seat short of an overall majority, forcing it to look elsewhere for support.

And this weekend’s decision to pull out of legislation which would end the ban on blasphemy shows the VVD is looking straight at the staunchly Christian party — a fringe group which does not believe in votes for women and says homosexuality is a sin.


‘Dependent on one black stocking’ is the headline in NRC Next, alongside a drawing of a black sock hanging from a washing line. The headline refers to the sober attire of the men and women of the staunchly Protestant SGP, and whose party now effectively holds the balance of power in the senate.

‘The Liberals are depending on a party which sees Liberalism as the biggest threat to society’ is the paper’s headline on the inside pages.

It points out that both the Liberal democrats D66 and the youth wing of the VVD have raised questions about the party’s Liberal principles.

The party has already agreed not to expand Sunday shopping as a concession to the SGP, and agreed not to ban blasphemy. ‘How many more Liberal principles are to be abandoned over the next few years?’ the paper asks.


In its editorial, the Telegraaf says the opposition parties have lost and the cabinet can continue to operate as normal. And an alliance with the SGP is the price the coalition must pay for running a poor election campaign [for the provincial councils in March].

In particular immigration minister Gerd Leers can press ahead with measures to restrict immigration, with SGP support, the paper states.

Nevertheless, there is broad agreement the system for electing the senate is incomprehensible and the touting for left-over votes should not happen again. The system has its charm and the national interest has not been damaged, the paper says. ‘But it does not deserve a beauty prize.’


The Volkskrant says in its editorial there is nothing wrong with the cabinet depending on the SGP but calls on the prime minister to put his cards on the table.

Rutte can make whatever deals with the SGP he likes, and has already made several, but he must also be open about what he is up to, the paper says. At the moment, there is a strong smell of behind-the-scenes trading hanging round the cabinet.

Everyone can see the government needs the SGP but voters are being left guessing at the deals which have been struck.


‘The cabinet can continue, on a day to day basis’, is the headline in Trouw, which argues the minority government will have to find different partners in the senate to ensure some legislation is passed.

The paper carries a short interview with Marleen Barth, who will lead the 14-strong PvdA (Labour) delegation in the senate. She accuses the VVD of selling out its principles by becoming dependent on the SGP.

But Loek Hermans, who leads the VVD in the senate, says the SGP is close to the ruling alliance in terms of finances and public safety. ‘But there are areas in which we are diametrically opposed’ and may need the support of other parties,’ he said.


The AD carries an interview with the sole SGP representative in the senate, with the headline ‘Don’t put pressure on me’.

Gerrit Holdijk shrugs his shoulders when accused of being a hostage taker. ‘I don’t think in terms of power but in terms of responsibility,’ he says. The senator, who has been in the upper house for over 20 years, will continue to examine legislation from both sides ‘as I have always done’, the AD reports.

But political editor Hans van Soest says in an editorial the role of the SGP is bigger than prime minister Mark Rutte admits. The prime minister is not being straight when he says the decision to continue the ban on blasphemy is unconnected to the need for support in the senate.

And, Van Soest continues, the way this informal alliance is has come together is rightly making voters more cynical about politics in general.

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

New Ash Cloud Disrupts European Flights

Flights from and to Scotland have been cancelled due to a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland moving towards other parts of Europe, a year after another Icelandic volcano caused the largest air traffic shutdown since World War II.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Boycott Israeli Books, Writers Angry

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 24 — Israeli writers feel offended by the decision made by a provincial council in Scotland, West Dunbartonshire (100 thousand inhabitants), to keep texts printed in Israel out of its public libraries, as part of a series of initiatives taken to support the Palestinian cause. The news was reported in the past days by the British press and is underlined today by the much-read newspaper Yediot Ahronot in an article with the headline ‘A Tale of Darkness’ (referring to a novel by Amos Oz). A spokesperson of West Dunbartonshire told the newspaper that the local authorities “will not boycott Israeli books printed in Britain, only those printed in Israel” as part of a wider boycott of all Israeli products that has been approved in several Scottish regions. The decision is not retroactive, the spokesperson specified. In response to the journalist who asked if also Iran, Libya or Syria have been the object of similar boycotts in the region, the spokesperson admitted that Israeli is the only country against which the measure has been taken. The newspaper adds that municipal authorities in the Scottish city of Dundee have “advised” the population not to buy any Israeli products. But they have not proclaimed a formal boycott due to legal considerations. According to Amos Oz, the decision made by West Dunbartonshire is “shameful”. Novelist Allon Hilu — writer of the novel ‘The House of Rajani’ (in which he shows understanding for the Palestinian cause) — believes that the boycott is completely out of place, also because writers in Israel “express the more balanced side” of the community. Hilu wonders if it will be possible for him to participate in the next cultural festival in Edinburg. The Israeli embassy in London responded in harsh words.

“Where books are boycotted now, they may be burned in future” said ambassador Ron Prossor, referring to the burning of Jewish books ordered by the Nazi Joseph Goebbels in 1933.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Just How Far Can the Angry Ones Go?

Público Madrid

On 22 May, the Spanish electorate severely reprimanded the ruling Socialist party at the local and regional elections, while throughout the country demonstrations and sit-ins are taking place calling for more political democracy. But perhaps the movement isn’t structured enough to last.

Carolina Martin

The spark struck by the platform of Real Democracy Now (DRY) has caught. And in such an unexpected and powerful way that few dare to gauge just how far the grassroots movement towards democratic regeneration, pursued by thousands of young people who have been camping out in various city squares around Spain for seven days now, will burn.

01. The causes: the economic crisis, but not just that

“One of my best students from a few years back was there at the Puerta del Sol on May 15. He’s working as an intern at a law firm for 300 euros a month,” says Professor Irene Martín, a political scientist from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). This case is hardly exceptional. Rather, it typifies the problem of Spanish youth, who know job insecurity all too well now that youth unemployment in Spain is hitting 43 percent.

“Their situation is the worst in all Europe, even worse than in Greece,” Martín stresses. Pointing to youth as the most important group of the 15-M Movement, she highlights two features: “They belong to organisations that are little known and they are people who were not particularly politicised.” In fact, they share a situation that “is, objectively, dire, and that will probably get worse.”

Although the economic conditions are crucial in explaining the phenomenon, they are not the sole explanation. For Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca, a professor of sociology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the despair at the crisis is evident: “The conditions have been clear since May 2010, when Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero made the debt crisis U-turn in economic policy and cut social spending.” The trigger, however, was “the perception shared by many people that the government is powerless to deal with the situation.”

While DRY’s platform is critical of the way citizens are viewed as “commodities for the politicians and bankers,” Sánchez-Cuenca’s believes the 15-M Movement is placing too much emphasis on the political class. In reality, he believes, they have their hands tied. “Governments can’t respond autonomously to the crisis,” he explains. “The responses are all dictated by the EU or by Germany.”

02. The goals: a better democracy

One criticism from the 15-M Movement is levelled squarely against the current democratic system. “They don’t represent us!” is one of the slogans heard most. Fernando Vallespín, professor of political science and former president of the CIS (Centre of Sociological Investigations), highlights the symbolic nature of the movement and stresses that “what matters most is that it has occurred because there are some deficiencies in the way democracy is working and in the relationship between politics and society.”

These faults are picked up in surveys. For more than a year, politicians and parties have been seen by citizens as the third problem of the country. The 15-M Movement feels that “the blank cheque that politicians used to get for four years after an election is over and done with,” states political scientist Juan Carlos Monedero, who adds that in the fall-out from the 22nd of May politicians will have to start delivering on “horizontal accountability” (state agencies inspecting other state agencies for abuses).

03 The example: Contagion from the south

The winds of revolution in the Arab world have blown across to Spain. There are some differences, though: “The newest approaches” may be “coming from the south,” says Monedero, but for political scientist Ignacio Criado at the Autonomous University of Madrid, the only point in common between the two movements is the use of social networks.

“These have let highly diverse groups and individuals get together,” he maintains. Irene Martin, a researcher of the political culture of youth, clearly distinguishes between the situations: “Here there is democracy, and in North Africa there isn’t.” She does, however, see links. “It’s easier for us to come out and protest,” she observes, “when the rest of the world is in an even greater upheaval.”

04 The consequences: lessons for politicians

Some experts draw attention to the possible changes that the traditional parties will be forced to come to grips with. For Vallespín, there are two modifications that will come up in the near future as a result of the “democratic fatigue” that seems to be afoot. On the one hand, he points to a “reform of the electoral system by expanding the Congress to the 400 deputies allowed under the Constitution”. On the other, he expects an “opening up of the electoral lists” of the political parties.

The professor notes a danger in the current situation. “It can lead to populism on the left,” he says, recognising three parallels: the distrust of political elites, the appeal to the people, and the simplification or generalisation of the problems, the politicians and the parties. Pablo Oñate, professor of political science at the University of Valencia, is more sceptical. “It’s easy to mobilise people, but hard to keep them active.” Even so, he expects the traditional political formations not to turn a deaf ear: “They would do well to respond and open up the channels to citizen participation,” he believes.

05. The future: How to win changes?

In view of the patchwork of proposals from the different groups that have shaped this movement, experts doubt it will continue. According to Ismael Peña, professor of political science at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), “either a party is created, or it will be very difficult for the traditional institutions to change things.” For now, some of the DRY spokespersons are remaining cautious on the matter, insisting it is still early. Given the strength that the camp-ins and gatherings are achieving, Vallespín argues that the spirit of this movement will “return and still be there in the next general election.” This does not mean, he explains, “that there will be a continuous camp-in, but that there will be protests at the right times.”

Translated from the Spanish by Anton Baer

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

Spain: 24 Arrested in Barcelona After Posing as Policemen to Rob Tourists

The Mossos d’Esquadra have detained 24 people suspected of being members of an organised group responsible for robbing American and Asian tourists in Barcelona in over 80 separate incidents, by passing themselves off as police officers and demanding fines. According to the press statment given by the police, the thieves had made off with at least 80,000 euros in cash and credit card fraud. As well as the 24 detainees, of whom all but one have been released on bail, a further 14, all of Rumanian nationality, are being sought by the police.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain’s Socialists Suffer Spectacular Election Rout

Spain’s ruling Socialists reeled Monday from an unprecedented mauling in local elections as protesters vented their anger over the highest jobless rate in the developed world. The drubbing was a grim omen for the party ahead of general elections due next year, when the conservative Popular Party of Mariano Rajoy is expected to romp into office after eight years in opposition. Support for the government collapsed on Sunday in the face of the beleaguered economy, soaring unemployment and massive week-long street protests. “The tsunami of May 22 drowns the Socialists,” said the centre-left El Pais, Spain’s leading daily.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Possessed’ Teenager Who Stabbed Her Mother Five Times is Allowed to Walk Free Because ‘Beliefs in the Occult Led Her to Do it’

A student who stabbed her mother five times because she was ‘possessed’ by her grandmother has walked free from court.

Lorraine Mbulawa was convicted of unlawful wounding after stabbing her mother as she slept in Braunstone Firth, Leicester.

The 19-year-old was released when Mr Justice Keith accepted her arguments that her beliefs in witchcraft and evil led her to carry out the act.

Despite being stabbed five times, Mbulawa’s mother, Sisbsisiwe, did not blame her for what she did because they both believe in the occult.

She said her daughter had appeared in a trance during the attack.

In delivering his sentence at Leeds Crown Court, the judge said: ‘She believed spirits can enter the body and make you do things that otherwise you would not have done.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Anjem Choudary: Obama is Legitimate Target for Extremists

Muslim activists descended on Downing Street today in protest at Barack Obama’s state visit to London.

As the president met David Cameron in Whitehall, an angry crowd of burka clad women as well as protesters from Muslims Against Crusades gathered on the streets outside.

They were joined by a number of prominent campaigners, including Anjem Choudary.The radical cleric said that President Obama has made himself a ‘legitimate target’ for Muslim extremists after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

He called for Mr Obama to be dragged before a sharia court over his role in the war in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Burglar Claims He Should be Released From Prison — Because Locking Him Up Violates His Children’s Human Rights

A burglar has claimed his eight-month jail term violates his human right to ‘respect’ for family life.

Wayne Bishop, from Clifton, Nottingham, says he is the sole carer for his five children — aged between five and 12 — for five nights of the week and they are bereft without him.

His lawyer Ian Wise QC has won permission to take the case to the Court of Appeal. Bishop will be granted legal aid to fund his case.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Codename ‘Smart Alec’: British Police Label Obama With ‘Mildly Offensive’ Punjabi Word for Visit to UK

More than one person has wanted to call Barack Obama a ‘smart alec’, and now British police will get the chance to do so without getting reprimanded.

That’s because Scotland Yard has tapped the codename ‘Chalaque’ to refer to the U.S. president for security reasons during his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom May 24-26.

Indarjit Singh, a Punjabi speaker in the UK who is director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, told the Sunday Times the word ‘is sometimes used when we want to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good’.

Another Punjabi speaker told the paper the word Chalaque is ‘not considered rude’, but could be ‘mildly offensive’.

It is also said to mean ‘cheeky, crafty and cunning’.

With his leadership of the recent successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, the president certainly showed himself to be the latter two.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: International Envoy and Chief Mufti Clash Over Religious Education

Sarajevo, 24 May (AKI) — The top international envoy in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, and Muslim spiritual leader Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric have been plunged into row over religious education with each accusing the other of intolerance and religious incitement, local media reported on Tuesday.

The controversy was sparked by the resignation last week of Sarajevo canton minister for education Emir Suljagic after his proposal that religious education should be optional and not included in overall rating of students’ success was rejected.

Ceric accused Suljagic, himself a Muslim, of “hating Muslims and Islam”. The cleric called on Suljagic to resign and warned a “Sarajevo summer could happen” similar to the violent unrest that topped Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak in February.

Inzko, who has broad powers in Bosnia, said in a statement he was “personally disappointed by such a statement from a person obliged to promote peace and understanding”.

Ceric’s statement was “contrary to human dignity”, he added

“Such rhetoric can have only negative consequences for peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Inzko said.

“If this country can’t find the humanity to reject hatred and mistrust, then it can’t offer a future for its children,” Inzko was quotee as saying by Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz.

The Austrian diplomat’s remarks drew a sharp reaction from Ceric. “I’m deeply disappointed at the biased and inflammatory statement by high representative Valentin Inzko,” he stated.

He accused Inzko of “anti-Islamist phobia and rhetoric to which nothing is sacred, including the will of parents and their children to have religious education in schools”.

Sixteen years after the 1992-1995 war, Bosnia is still under a sort of international protectorate and animosities between majority Muslims and the other two groups, Serbs and Croats, continue to run high.

The country is facing its worst crisis since the end of the war because of Serb secessionist policies aimed at paralysing the country, Inzko warned in an April interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

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

Mediterranean Union

Installations by Jordanian Artists in Rome Campidoglio

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 24 — Islamic Culture Week kicked off in Rome yesterday evening with the inauguration of two works by the Jordanian artists Wijdan and Khreis. The two cubes have been installed in the Arce Capitolina and on the Belvedere Caffarelli, under the Campidoglio. The cubic structures, which evoke the Kaaba in the centre of Mecca’s Sacred Mosque, contain canvases featuring incisions in Islamic calligraphy and drawings, and can be visited over the coming days.

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, who was joined by the Jordanian ambassador to Italy, Wijdan Al Hashemi, explained that “this exhibition is the best way in which to begin Islamic Culture Week in Rome. We believe that we must do everything to show people the richness and complexity of this culture in the West and in our city, which is not monolithic and aggressive”. Alemanno added that “Rome is the capital of culture and is therefore capable of comparing itself to and welcoming culture in all its forms”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Clampdown on Protestants, 7 Churches Closed

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, MAY 24 — A new clampdown on Christian protestants in Algeria. The Algerian ‘wilaya’ (province) of Bejaia has ordered 7 places of worship of this religious group to be closed. The measure, el Watan reports on its website, was issued on May 8. It was made executive on the 22nd and announced yesterday. Sources in the Vatican nunciature in Algiers have told ANSAmed that Catholic churches are not affected by the measure, and that the measure does not regard national territory. Mustapha Krim, president of the Protestant Church in Algeria, has appealed against the measure, which speaks in general terms of the closing of places of worship “for religious worship other than the Islam”. Krim has said that he has visited the Ministry of Religious Affairs in an attempt to postpone the implementation of the measure. He underlined that he has not been informed about it in time. Protestants, a rapidly growing movement in Algeria, has been targeted for several years by the Islamic religious authorities and civilians. The government accuses the Protestants of proselytism, a serious crime in a country where Islam is the State religion and Muslims are not allowed to convert to other religions. In Algeria, other religions than the Islam can register and obtain an official status, provided they will not try to recruit new followers among the local population. The small Catholic community in fact counts nearly only foreign members, with a few Algerians from the time of French colonialism. The attitude of the Protestants is different: in 2001 some North American Protestant ministers started preaching in the Berber region Kabylie. According to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, today there are around 50 thousand Protestants in the country, with 10 thousand observant Protestants divided in 33 communities. In 2006, the Algerian government passed a law that punishes anyone who tries to convert a Muslim to Christianity, punishable with two to five years in prison and fines ranging from five to ten thousand euros. Several Protestant churches have been closed in the past. Early in 2010 a Protestant place of worship in Tizi-Ouzou, around 60 km east of Algiers, was attacked and set on fire by groups of Muslim extremists; the police did not intervene.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Analysis: No End in Sight for NATO in Libya

BRUSSELS (AP) — The military campaign in Libya began with what seemed a narrowly defined mission: to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from attack.

Two months later, the campaign has evolved into a ferocious pounding of the country’s capital, Tripoli, in what appears an all-out effort to oust Moammar Gadhafi. But that goal remains elusive, raising the prospect of a quagmire in the desert. And the political will of the countries involved is being sorely tested.

The Libyan opposition remains weak. NATO, the North Atlantic military alliance which took over command of the campaign from the U.S. on March 31, appears to have no clear exit strategy. Two of the allies, Britain and France, have descended into public squabbling over bringing the fight closer to Gadhafi with attack helicopters. And the French foreign minister said Tuesday his country’s willingness to continue the campaign was not endless.

Part of the challenge lies in the original U.N. resolution: It authorized the use of air power but forbade ground troops, even as it authorized “all necessary means” to protect civilians following Gadhafi’s brutal suppression of the popular uprising against his rule.

From Yugoslavia to Iraq, recent history has shown that ousting a regime through air power alone is, at best, exceedingly difficult.

In Libya, it is not for lack of trying. What seemed at first to be limited strikes on military targets — tanks heading for the city of Benghazi here, some anti-aircraft batteries there — has now expanded to the point that early Tuesday saw the biggest bombardment of the capital since the conflict began.

The targets have come to include, for example, Gadhafi’s presidential compound; one of the leader’s sons was killed April 30. NATO’s official line is that the compound was a command-and-control center and it was not trying to kill Gadhafi. But clearly no one in the alliance would have shed a tear had the Libyan leader died.

There are signs of frustration, or perhaps desperation, among the allies. To avoid anti-aircraft fire, the campaign at first relied largely on high-altitude precision bombing, generally from above 15,000 feet — nearly three miles high. But France said Monday that it now plans to deploy helicopter gunships to hit targets more precisely in urban areas while risking the lives of fewer civilians.

So far, no allied servicemen or women have be killed in the campaign. But by using helicopters and flying far lower, the French would be putting their pilots at greater risk, underscoring their intense desire to finish the Libyan operation sooner rather than later.

“I can assure you that our will is to ensure that the mission in Libya does not last longer than a few months,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said during a question-and-answer session at the French parliament Tuesday.

He said the action “may take days, weeks in my opinion (but) certainly not months.”

[Return to headlines]

Libya: NATO Intensifies Tripoli Airstrikes

Tripoli, 24, May(AKI) — Nato warplanes early Tuesday stepped up bombing strikes on Libyan capital Tripoli in what may be the coalition’s most intense strikes yet during its two-month campaign against leader Muammar Gaddafi.

About 20 explosions were launched with smoke reportedly rising from Gaddafi’s compound.

A spokesman for the Libyan government said three people were killed and 150 wounded in the bombings.

In a statement posted in its website, Nato said it fired precision-guided weapons on a storage facility for vehicles used to supply military forces.

Nato’s stated UN-mandated mission is to protect civilians from Libyan forces as rebels seek to put an end to Gaddafi’s more-than-40-years of autocratic rule. However, strikes on Gaddafi’s compound have led to speculation that the coalition is directly targeting the Libyan leader.

Rebels control a large part of Libya’s east, while forces loyal to Gaddafi hold most of the Libya’s west.

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

Muslims Surround Church in Egypt, Prevent Its Reopening

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — On the morning of May 19 two Coptic priests went to St. Mary and St. Abraham Church in Ain Shams and opened it together with some of the Coptic residents, but later in the day thousands of Muslims surrounded the church to protest its opening, hurled stones at the church building and the Copts, who responded by throwing stones. The army and the police stood there watching and did not intervene (video).

Unable to secure the church, the army and police closed it and arranged for a “reconciliation” meeting between the Coptic priest and the Salafi sheikhs. They also arrested eight Copts, one of them 13-years old, and three Muslims. They were all charged with rioting, violence and causing injury to citizens. Three Copts were also charged with having cartridges but no guns and one 15-year-old boy with possessing two knives. The 3 Muslims were charged with throwing stones at the army.

Father Filopateer Gameel, one of the organizers of the Maspero sit-in, said that during a meeting with the Minister of Interior he was told he cannot choose the churches to be reopened because it was all “planned with the Salafis and the security authorities so that when we go, there will be no problems.” He confirmed the minister had himself suggested the names of the three churches to be reopened.

The “reconciliation” session was held in a tent by the Islamist imam Kerdassi, the main opponent of the reopening of the church, who also recently built a mosque facing the church. Next to the tent was another one hosting Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi sheikhs, among them the renowned Salafi sheikh Hassan and over 3000 guests all chanting “Islamic, Islamic.”

The session lasted for 5-hour, and was attended by sheikhs, imams, priests, lawyers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in which the Muslims insisted the church was a factory and the Christians explained that it was a church, although it has no dome or bell, and has been used as a place for worship and has a consecrated alter.

The Coptic diocese bought the building, which used to be a clothes factory, in 2004 and used it for worship until November 22, 2008, when it was closed by State Security after nearly 3000 Muslims surrounded the church, pelting it with stones and terrorizing thousands of parishioners inside.

“The atmosphere of the meeting was belligerent,” said attorney Ashraf Edward, “and one of the sheikhs threatened us by saying that should the church be opened without their permission it would end up like the church in Soul which was demolished by Muslims.” He said the church was offered a larger place to relocate to away from the Muslim families as the imams said. “They presented us with a petition from the Muslim families against the opening of the church.”

The representative of the Ministry of Endowment suggested the church be closed until permission is granted for its opening from the relevant authorities, to which all sides agreed.

At the end of the session a joint statement was read by the Imam Kerdassi, which said “It was decided to close the place and no Christian prayers is to take place there until permission is granted. If there is permission then we should respect it and since there is no permit at present then all parties agreed to close the place permanently, no one to approach it and no one of us to harm it until the authorities have issued a ruling. We all have to love each other, so that Egypt would remain strong and secure as Allah wanted it to be.”

The Muslims demanded that should the church be reopened, it should be without cross and dome.

Coptic attorney Dr. Ihab Ramzy said the army and the police did not participate in the “reconciliation” meeting. “This shows the government is ignoring the problem. Am I there to get the Salafis’ permission to open the church? If they say no, does this mean I should not open the church?”

“The joint statement linked the opening of the church with the consent of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” said activist Mark Ebeid, “so the military council has to know that if the church is not opened, this means the dignity of the State has been lost in front of the Salafis. Everyone believes the government should have carried out its decision to open the church whatever the outcome. The big question now is will the government give us a written permission or not?”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

NATO Bombs Libyan Capital in Heaviest Strikes Yet

TRIPOLI, Libya — In the heaviest attack yet on the capital since the start of the two-month-old NATO bombing campaign, alliance aircraft struck at least 15 targets in central Tripoli early Tuesday, with most of the airstrikes concentrated on an area around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s command compound.

The strikes, within a 30-minute period around 1 a.m., caused thunderous explosions and fireballs that leapt high into the night sky, causing people in neighborhoods a mile or more away to cry out in alarm.

Just as one strike ended, the sound of jet engines from low-flying aircraft in the stormy skies above the capital signaled the imminence of another. Huge plumes of black smoke rose and converged over the darkened cityscape.

“We thought it was the day of judgment,” one enraged Libyan said.

The intensity of the attacks, and their focus on the area of the Bab al-Aziziya command compound in central Tripoli, appeared to reflect a NATO decision to step up the tempo of the air war over the Libyan capital, perhaps with a view to breaking the stalemate that has threatened to settle over the three-month-old Libyan conflict.

As NATO intensified its airstrikes, the American State Department’s highest-ranking Middle East official, Jeffrey D. Feltman, was in Benghazi on Tuesday on a visit aimed at providing fresh impetus to the rebel cause. Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Feltman said that the Obama administration had invited the Libyan opposition to open an office in Washington, but stopped short of offering the formal recognition the rebels have been seeking.

“This step marks an important milestone in our relationship with the Transitional Council,” Mr. Feltman said, referring to the rebel governing body, who he said had accepted the American invitation.

Several countries, including France and Gambia, have recognized the rebel council, but the United States and Britain have not, instead sending diplomatic envoys.

[Return to headlines]

‘Shariah in Egypt is Enough for Us, ‘ Muslim Brotherhood Leader Says

Fears that the Muslim Brotherhood might bring an Islamic regime to Egypt are unfounded, one of the leaders of the recently legalized group said Monday, explaining that shariah is already in the Egyptian constitution.

“If you go to any court in Egypt, they implement shariah [Islamic law] first. This is more than enough for us,” Dr. Ashraf Abdel Ghaffar, one of the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview.

If the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, however, it would only support tourism that does not come “at the cost of the beliefs of the Egyptian people,” he said.

“Egyptian people are religious people, whether Muslim or Christian; we cannot let things happen like people hanging around without clothes in a village or gambling in casinos,” Abdel Ghaffar said. “But anyone who would like to come to Egypt in order to visit the pyramids or Alexandria is more than welcome.”

There will be a complete separation between the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the organization itself, Abdel Ghaffar said, noting that the Freedom and Justice Party also has Christian deputy candidates and party Vice President Dr. Rafik Habib is a Christian.

“The Freedom and Justice Party will work without any interference from the movement,” he said.

Egypt will sell gas to Israel ‘if the price is right’

If the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in Egypt, it will sell the country’s natural gas at a much higher price than did the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Ghaffar signaled in his comments.

“Egypt is a rich and big country, but Mubarak made it small. We have lots of resources, including natural gas and oil. If we sell the natural gas at the normal international rate we will get an extra $3 billion every year,” he said.

Asked if they would continue to sell natural gas to Israel, he replied: “It depends on the price they will offer. You have to sell it to the one who pays the most.”

Abdel Ghaffar also said the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has had good relations for a long time with people from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, ever since they were members of the former Welfare Party led by the late Necmettin Erbakan.

“Turkey is a good model for us, but with some changes. The community here is different from the Egyptian community. For example you don’t have shariah in your Constitution, and no one can put it there, but in Egypt we have shariah and it will remain in our constitution,” he said.

Asked whether his group would try to engage any European institutions, such as the Council of Europe, he said: “Egypt will try to attend everything that will improve the country’s condition. Some people think if the Islamic people come to power, they will cut the relations of Egypt with the whole world, [but] this is not true at all.”

Abdel Ghaffar was arrested by the Mubarak regime in 2009 and spent one year in prison before being released in 2010. He has been living in London since that time.

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

UK Joins France in Deploying Attack Helicopters in Libya

(AGI) Brussels — The UK has joined France in deploying and using attack helicopter in Libya to break the stalemate in fighting. French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said that, now that the Libyan air force has been defeated, helicopters represent the best tool to enforce the no-fly zone and target Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Obama’s Diversionary Tactics

As the Washington Post pointed out on Friday, US President Barack Obama purposely provoked the current fight with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He knew full well that Netanyahu does not back the Palestinian formulation that negotiations with Israel must be based on the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, or what are wrongly referred to as the 1967 lines. In the days leading up to Obama’s speech last Thursday, Israel registered explicit, repeated requests that he not adopt the Palestinian position that negotiations should be based on those lines…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

EU Backs Obama’s Mideast Offensive: ‘Netanyahu’s Rejection is Self-Important and Arrogant’

The European Union is backing US President Obama’s call for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn says in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. He also argues that, if the Israelis remain stubborn, the EU must consider taking political action.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Betrayal of Israel Even Worse That You Thought

See what president expects Jewish state to surrender next

While President Obama last week outlined an Israeli retreat as part of a deal with the Palestinian Authority, the U.S. in recent weeks also quietly has been leading talks aimed at an Israeli surrender of the strategic Golan Heights, WND has learned.

Dennis Ross, Obama’s Middle East envoy, has exchanged messages the past few weeks between Israel and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to informed Israeli and Arab officials.

The Israeli officials said that in the course of the discussions, the U.S. concluded Syria is in possession of a chemical weapons arsenal. The officials said the weapons were taken into consideration by the U.S. in its assessment of Assad’s regime.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Al-Qaida Bomber Leaves Behind a Fingerprint

WASHINGTON — The FBI has a fingerprint and forensic evidence linking al-Qaida’s top bomb maker in Yemen to a trio of explosive devices used in recent attacks on the United States, tangible reminders that Osama bin Laden’s death has not eliminated the threat from the group’s most active and dangerous franchise.

Investigators have pulled a fingerprint of Ibrahim al-Asiri off the bomb hidden in the underwear of a Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, U.S. counterterrorism officials said. Investigators also determined that the explosives used in that bomb are chemically identical to those hidden inside two printers that were shipped from Yemen last year, bound for Chicago and Philadelphia.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the cases remain under investigation.

Bin Laden’s death leaves al-Qaida’s core in Pakistan with a leadership vacuum, one that could make the Yemeni branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula even more prominent. The Yemeni franchise already had eclipsed bin Laden’s central organization to become al-Qaida’s leading fundraising, propaganda and operational arm. In a eulogy to bin Laden posted online earlier this month, the group’s leader promised more violence.

“What is coming is greater and worse, and what is awaiting you is more intense and harmful,” said Nasser al-Wahishi, who once was bin Laden’s personal secretary.

Al-Qaida’s Yemen branch has become so well-known in the United States that some commentators speculated in the days after bin Laden’s death that the radical U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki would succeed him. But U.S. officials and counterterrorism experts say that’s extremely unlikely, given his American citizenship, his relative newcomer status, his 1997 arrest in San Diego on solicitation of prostitution and the fact that he’s not even the operational leader in Yemen.

The FBI has been building cases against a number of high-profile terrorists, including al-Asiri and al-Awlaki. For now, though, there is no guarantee those cases will ever make it to a courtroom. President Barack Obama has not indicated what he would do if a major terrorist suspect was captured abroad. It’s a politically sensitive issue because, even though civilian courts have been used for years to prosecute terrorism cases, Republicans have portrayed Obama as weak on terrorism whenever he discusses that option.

Intelligence officials long have believed al-Asiri helped build the Christmas and cargo bombs but have never disclosed how they were able to directly link him to the failed attacks. The fingerprint also would help establish al-Asiri’s identity if he ever were apprehended, possibly allowing the Justice Department to extradite him to the U.S. for prosecution.

It’s not clear who provided the FBI with the original fingerprint used to match the one lifted from the underwear bomb. But it probably came from Saudi Arabia, where al-Asiri and his brother were arrested for their involvement in an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist cell. They were released and later fled to Yemen in 2006.

In March, the State Department designated al-Asiri a terrorist and banned Americans from doing business with him. The U.S. said he was also involved in planning to bomb Saudi oil facilities.

He’s also implicated in the 2009 attack on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the country’s top anti-terrorism official. Intelligence officials say al-Asiri strapped a bomb on his younger brother, who volunteered for the suicide mission. The attack killed the younger brother but only managed to injure Nayef.

Though the device was dubbed the “butt bomb,” explosives experts believe the younger brother had actually held the bomb between his legs.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Ankara Concerned Over Rise of Racism in Bulgaria

Following a physical attack by the leader of the Bulgarian far-right, nationalist Ataka party, Volen Siderov, against an ethnic Turkish politician on Sunday, the Turkish capital voiced “concern” on Monday over rising racist attacks on ethnic Turks in neighboring Bulgaria. “We are naturally concerned, and we are closely following the incidents,” a Turkish diplomat, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity, told Today’s Zaman on Monday, in response to a question on the attack by Siderov.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Blast During Ahmadinejad Opening of Refinery Kills 2

TEHRAN — A deadly blast during the inauguration of a major oil refinery by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad killed 2 and injured 20, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.

Authorities ruled out any form of sabotage and instead spoke of an industrial incident caused by a gas leak at the Abadan oil refinery, one of the largest and oldest industrial complexes in Iran.

According to Mehr, a ‘testing machine’ exploded almost directly after it was placed in the area where Ahmadinejad was preparing to give a speech.

“Immediately after this explosion all those present left the scene and the president then delivered his speech in Golestan Club” on the refinery site, the news agency said.

The explosion caused a deadly fire and released poisonous gases choking an unknown of workers at the complex, Mehr reported. The fire is still raging and there is the risk of further explosions, the news agency said. Security forces have sealed off the site and planes have been dispatched from Tehran to help evacuate some of the wounded.

A worker at the complex said that at least 30 people had been killed, the Khabar Online Web site said, adding that German engineers who had been working on the site had refused to come to the inauguration after there had been problems there on Monday.

Pro-government media, the Islamic Republic News Agency — headed by an ally of the president — did mention the explosion but stressed it was insignificant. “Due to a gas leakage there was a minor fire which was immediately put out by operational forces. The damaged section will return into production in coming days,” IRNA quoted Mohammad Reza Zahiri, chairman of the Abadan refinery managing board, as saying.

In recent months Iran has been hit by a string of accidents, including several explosions of gas transportation lines that officials said were caused by “terrorists.”

Lawmakers said sabotage was not in play in the Abadan incidents and instead accused Ahmadinejad of ignoring “well-known technical problems” in what they described as the hasty opening of the refinery.

“This incident was not an act of intentional sabotage,” said Hamid-Reza Katouzian, head of Iran’s parliamentary energy committee, who is known for his criticism of Ahmadinejad.

“Experts had warned that the refinery was not ready to be inaugurated,” he told reporters.

Ahmadinejad is currently under heavy criticism from politicians, clerics and commanders for ignoring orders by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his refusal to fire his closest aide who is accused of mingling with sorcerers and fortune tellers. Last week, after merging several ministries, Ahmadinejad appointed himself the caretaker of Iran’s oil ministry, a move labeled illegal by his opponents.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

In September, Obama’s Middle East Policy Will Collapse

by Barry Rubin

1979. Radical regime takes power in Iran. U.S. policy makes a mess in dealing with the revolutionary crisis. Americans taken hostage, revolutionary Islamism flourishes, thirty plus years of violence, September 11, Islamist movement still growing. By the way, why does not one of the hundreds of “experts” on television and in the mass media remember that the Iranian revolution began after President Jimmy Carter urged reform on the shah and ended with the United States calling on the shah to go away? Remind you of anything?

September 2011 will be another of those moments. Mark that on your calendar. On the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the United States will be watching the triumph of the ideology and movement—not Usama bin Ladin, of course, but his smarter counterparts—in much of the Middle East.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Istanbul Family Consultant Suggests Allowing Polygamy

A family consultant and life coach who conducts seminars on inter-family communication for Istanbul municipalities has suggested legalizing polygamy, citing both secular and religious arguments in support of her position.

“A man looks for friendship, sexuality, motherhood and good housekeeping qualities in a woman. Unless you possess these attributes, you ought to be ready for being cheated upon. This is a righteous search for a man,” said 35-year-old Sibel Üresin, who has worked for the largely conservative municipalities of Fatih, Ümraniye, Bahçelievler and Eyüp, among others. “A healthy woman who analyzes what she will have to go through in the case of a divorce should, in my opinion, consider polygamy as a form of salvation.”

Polygamy is already a fact of life because 85 percent of men already cheat anyway, according to Üresin. In conservative sections of Turkish society, this is referred to as an “imam-wed wife” and is called a mistress by other parts of society, Üresin said.

“Rich men with solid careers and lots of sexual power can sometimes choose polygamy. No woman would ever become the second wife of a poor man. Men go after women who are more flirtatious, laugh more and who can satisfy them sexually. If I were a man, I would have been polygamous,” said Üresin, arguing that legalizing polygamy would empower women who are already engaged in polygamous marriages.

Men can have up to four wives according to many interpretations of Islam, yet these wives have no legal rights in Turkey, according to Üresin, who added that legalizing polygamy would entitle such wives to their husband’s property.

“Polygamy exists in our religion. Not everyone can do it, but you cannot ask someone why they did it; that amounts to polytheism. It is written in the Quran,” Üresin said.

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

Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Bogus Liberation & Resistance Day

Believe it or not, on May 25 each year since 2000 Lebanon has been celebrating a so-called “Liberation & Resistance Day.” Sadly, this celebration commemorates a bogus event, and a phony heroism that did not actually take place.

On May 22, 2000 the Israeli Army unilaterally and for solely Israeli domestic reasons withdrew from the security zone of South Lebanon in accordance with UN Resolution 425. The withdrawal was a fatal Israeli decision that has inspired the Hamas terrorism acts and the on-going havoc in the Palestinian Gaza strip.

During the last 11 years, many Israeli officials and politicians from all parties openly and harshly criticized Barak’s Government (Barak was PM at that time) hasty and unwise decision through which Israel’ abandoned its ally the South Lebanon Army (SLA) and gave Hezbollah all south Lebanon on a plate of sliver.

The unilateral Israeli withdrawal created a security vacuum in south Lebanon. The Syrians who were occupying Lebanon at that time and fully controlling its government, did not allow the Lebanese Army to deploy in the south and fill this vacuum after the Israeli withdrawal. Instead Syria helped the Hezbollah militia to militarily control the whole southern region, and even patrol the Israeli-Lebanese border.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria: U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Companies

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, MAY 24 — The US Administration has announced that it will impose sanctions on the Syrian President and high-ranking government officials, as well as three top level Syrian companies, Cham Holding , Bena Properties and Al Mashreq Investment fund, explained the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Beirut. The Italian Trade Commission added that Bena Properties is the structure of Cham Holding, the biggest Syrian conglomerate in the private sector, that operates on the real estate market, while Al Mashreq is the investment fund of the Makhlof Group.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Hamas Considers Transfer HQ to Other Mideast Country

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, MAY 24 — Hamas, the Palestinian fundamentalist faction that is in charge in the Gaza Strip, “is considering” a transfer of its general headquarters from Syria to another country in the Middle East. This was confirmed today, for the first time in such explicit terms, by one of the movement’s most representative leaders, Mahmud a-Zahar, in statements made from Gaza to the local media. Zahar denied the suggestion that the possible transfer has to do with the unstable situation of the Syrian regime, put under pressure by the popular protests. But he gave no alternative plausible reasons. A spokesman of the de facto government in Gaza refused to comment the issue when asked about it directly by ANSA. He confirmed nor denied the statements attributed to Zahar. The idea of moving the Hamas general headquarters from Damascus to Egypt or Qatar — initially played down in Gaza — was also suggested in the past days by several Arab television channels. These channels reported that the Syrian authorities — the main source of support for the Palestinian faction in the past years, together with Iran — are less and less willing to host Hamas. This has also to do with the fact that several Palestinians living in Syria have given their contribution to the demonstrations staged in the past weeks, which have been repressed in a bloody way by the regime. The entire summit of the Hamas politburo has been situated in Damascus for years, starting with the movement’s current number one, Khaled Meshaal.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


How the Left Went Wrong on Islam

What makes the creeping political correctness on Islam so startling is its very newness. It wasn’t so long ago that the right and the left both agreed that as a religion and a political movement, it was dangerously backward and violent.

From Winston Churchill, “Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance” to Karl Marx, “Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever”, leading figures on the right and the left held a realistic understanding of Islam. They dismissed it as violent, barbaric, ignorant and dangerous. The right saw Islam as a threat to the Western Christian hegemony. The left viewed it as a reactionary movement of superstitious fanatics. They might praise Arab generals or scientists, but not the creed itself.

Where then did that lost consensus on Islam go? One answer can be found in the Soviet Union.

Unlike Western Europe, the Russian Empire had a large Muslim population. While Western socialists focused on a mostly Christian population, taking over the Russian Empire was nearly impossible without winning the allegiance of its Eastern Muslims. That difference would shape the socialist approach to Islam.

While the Communists disdained Christianity and Judaism as backward superstitions, they took a different approach to Islam. Lenin promised Muslims that their mosques would be protected under the revolution and emphasized an approach of cultural sensitivity that respected Muslim traditions. Female Communist activists donned veils or covered their hair to work with the locals. Most shockingly, while the Communists were dismantling the Orthodox Church and Jewish synagogues—Sharia courts of Islamic law were being administered under a Soviet Commissariat of Justice.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Captured Al Qaeda: Foreign Fighters ‘Converging’ In Pakistan

A Moroccan al Qaeda operative captured in Afghanistan told coalition forces earlier this month that foreign fighters were “converging” in Pakistan in hopes of carrying out attacks across the border in Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force said late Monday.

The unnamed captive, who is described as a “Germany-based Moroccan al Qaeda foreign fighter facilitator,” was captured by coalition and Afghan forces on May 8 in southeast Afghanistan.

“After his capture the facilitator provided details about his personal travel from Germany,” a statement from the ISAF said. “He also observed foreigners from many countries converging in Pakistan to conduct attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

In the same operation in Afghanistan in which the facilitator was captured, the ISAF said they recovered passports and identification cards from France, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia among 10 killed insurgents.

The U.S. military estimates there are approximately 100 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan at any moment, most from Arab countries and Pakistan, although European fighters have been spotted in increasing numbers in recent years. Almost all of them enter through the Pakistani tribal areas, according to U.S., Afghan, and Pakistani officials.

“The Afghanistan-Pakistan region seems to be a revolving door for extremists,” said an April 2011 report from the Army. “The foreign fighter flow in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region seems to flow strongly both in and out of the region.”

Two days after the facilitator’s capture, ISAF U.S. Maj. Gen. John Campbell told reporters the ISAF had received reports of an influx of foreign fighters joining al Qaeda’s cause in Afghanistan following the Navy SEAL raid that killed the terror group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, on May 2. However, he said his men had yet to encounter them.

“I have not seen a large number of foreign fighters come through since bin Laden’s death,” Campbell said. “I will tell you, over the course of the year — if I was to put a guesstimate on the percentage — it’s really around 80 percent are from Afghanistan, and it’s probably 15 [percent] to 20 percent foreign fighters… I don’t think that’s gone up or gone down here over the last several months.”

The captured Moroccan is also apparently providing intelligence about how foreign fighters move into Afghanistan from around the world and described his own journey to the front lines from Germany. The ISAF said it hoped that information will “support targeting the network of facilitators who bring global terrorism to bear on coalition forces and civilians in Afghanistan.”

Though the ISAF declined to provide details on the Moroccan’s personal travels, it did say that the facilitator said that when his travel was delayed in Iran, he was approached and asked to become a suicide bomber.

“However, he declined because of his goal to take part in the Global Jihad,” the ISAF statement said.

The facilitator is not the first to successfully travel from Germany to the Middle East in hopes of joining the jihad there. In the fall of 2010, U.S. forces captured German national Ahmed Siddiqui who described a “multi-city” terror plot against Europe. Siddiqui said the plan had been personally blessed by bin Laden.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Cautious Optimism: Germany Mediates Secret US-Taliban Talks

The German government is mediating secret talks between the US government and representatives of the Taliban on German soil. Berlin is cautiously optimistic that the negotiations will deliver progress, but observers warn that the insurgents’ morale remains high.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Cable Show US Was Concerned Karachi Could Hurt Interests in UN

Karachi, 24 May (AKI/Dawn) — US officials expressed grave reservations over the trend of Pakistan’s positions at the United Nations becoming increasingly divergent from those of the Americans and American interests, according to a previously unpublished American diplomatic cable.

According to the cable dated 6 June 2006 and written by John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN under president George W. Bush and considered a hardliner, Pakistan was “one of a handful of countries…that routinely oppose the United States in multilateral debates despite strong bilateral ties to the US.”

“While much of its behaviour in New York may reflect Pakistan’s rivalry with India…the positions Pakistan adopts to curry favour with other member states often put it in direct opposition to US policies,” wrote Bolton. “A statistical analysis of Pakistan’s voting record at the UNGA [UN General Assembly] illustrates this point. Pakistan’s voting correlation with the US… has been on a downward trend since 1996 and reached a record low of 17.4 percent last year.”

Bolton reserved special censure in the secret cable for Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, saying he “personified” Pakistan’s cultivation of “a false image of constructive engagement among other delegations in New York…even while working to block key US priorities.”

Critical of Pakistan’s opposition to US positions on counterterrorism, Bolton states that “Pakistan, which undoubtedly sees counterterrorism at the UN through the prism of Kashmir…has long been a leader among the OIC in opposing US CT [counter-terrorism] positions through indirect criticism of US policies.”

Bolton also notes that by “arguing that attacks perpetrated by peoples living under foreign occupation are not terrorism”, Pakistan has joined Egypt, Venezuela and other NAM (non aligned movement) states “in emphasizing the need to confront the ‘root causes’ of terrorism.” Speaking of counterterrorism, the cable also brings up a UN session during which insisting on references to “state terrorism”, a “Pakistani delegate” argued that “militaries engaging in foreign occupation often carry out ‘wanton violence against innocent civilians and other non-combatants.’“

Bolton moreover refers to Pakistan’s attempts to persuade the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly “to adopt positions on development, trade, and social issues at odds with the interests of the US and other like-minded nations.” Criticising Akram for being a behind-the-scenes force “promoting positions inimical to US interests”, Bolton says the Pakistani envoy was actively promoting Islamabad’s “drive to link (unhelpfully, in our view) development assistance into every aspect of the UN’s activities.”

Taking issue with Pakistan’s approaches during the negotiations to establish a Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Bolton says “Pakistan generally focused on buttressing the influence of the GA and the Asian Group at the expense of the SC [Security Council] and Western interests…rather than engage in constructive efforts to create an effective institution.” He adds that “the Pakistani delegation often resorted to power plays and posturing.”

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

Pakistan: The Alarm of a Priest, “The Country is in the Hands of the Taliban”

Rome (Agenzia Fides) — “Pakistan is now in the hands of the Taliban. They have become even stronger, even after the death of Bin Laden. And enjoy the consensus of large segments of the population: the ordinary citizen, the average Muslim Pakistani, is very angry with the government, the United States and NATO, and this is why they look favorably on the actions of the Taliban groups “: it is the alarm launched by Fides on behalf of Fr. Bonnie Mendes, a Catholic priest from Faisalabad, the outgoing head of the Asia section of Caritas Internationalis. Fr. Mendes speaks to Fides the day after the serious attack in Karachi, where Taliban groups attacked a military base, with a “siege” that lasted 12 hours, killing at least 11 people and capturing several hostages. This is the third attack on Pakistani military targets within a month, and this, observes Fr. Medes, “shows that the Taliban groups, after the death of Bin Laden, have not been discouraged or disheartened, but instead, they have given proof of their strength and firmness.”

Faced with a weak government and institutions that fail to react, “the Taliban are finding more and more space in society. Citizens criticize the government’s attitude towards the U.S., NATO, towards intervention in Afghanistan, saying that the strategy has failed. The country, among other things, is shifting on a geopolitical and geostrategic level, seeking the alliance of China and Russia, and the axis with the U.S. could be under discussion, “he says.

In this delicate phase in the history of the country, “extremism takes hold without any forces capable of stopping it.” Religious minorities, including Christians, are “annihilated and reduced to silence” but “at the moment they are not the preferred or significant target : the military, the government headquarters, the Nato offices instead are the targets” explains Fr. Mendes.

The impression, says the priest is that “we will not be able to stop them if the popular consensus they have grows. We must try instead, at this point, to talk with them. “ “We will see what happens — he concludes — while many observers once again raise the specter of a new military coup to bring back order and prevent chaos.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/05/2011)

           — Hat tip: LAW Wells[Return to headlines]


Austria: Turkish Debate Set to Intensify Over New Immigration Figures

More than one out of five residents of Vienna are foreigners, statistics have shown.

Federal agency Statistik Austria said today (Fri) the capital’s percentage of foreigners was 21.5 per cent while only 11 per cent of Austria’s populace have other nationalities than Austrian. The authority also explained that, with more than 368,000, around 40 per cent of all foreigners living in Austria reside in Vienna.

Germans were identified as the largest group of foreigners in Austria with 146,000, followed by people from Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo (136,000). Around 113,000 inhabitants are Turks, while more than 70,000 Austrians have a Turkish migratory background.

The share of students and gastronomy sector staff among Germans is traditionally high and comparably few frictions are reported about their coexistence with Austrians in Austria. The situation is somewhat different considering the country’s Turkish community as some politicians and some media keep campaigning against them.

Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache and other right-wingers have claimed that many Turks living in Austria show no interest in integrating with society. Representatives of his party have called for a stop to migration from Islam-dominated countries to Austria. Latest polls show that the FPÖ currently has good chances to become the strongest political force in Austria after its third place (17.5 per cent) in the general election of 2008.

New People’s Party (ÖVP) leader Michael Spindelegger recently introduced a state secretary for integration issues in what is seen as an attempt to stop his own party’s downward spiral in favour of the FPÖ.

Sebastian Kurz, deputy head of the ÖVP’s Vienna department, agreed to become the country’s first integration state secretary last month. His nomination was met with widespread criticism from political rivals of the ÖVP as well as from non-government organisations (NGO) and independent integration and asylum policies experts. While some said he lacked experience due to his young age of 24, others were angered by the nomination since Kurz suggested women should not be allowed to wear burka headscarves in public. He also made headlines by suggesting that imams should use German only when speaking to Muslims in mosques in Austria.

Polls show that many Austrians doubt that Kurz has the ability to improve the heated climate regarding integration issues. The politician called for a chance for himself, the office and the topic as well as for a serious debate. Kurz told magazine News: “I want to achieve that more migrants are proud of Austria. (…) All of us will have to take many small steps.”

Kurz warned of a “huge problem ahead” if nothing is done about Austria’s demographic development. Long-term figures show that the birth rate of Austrian women is in decline while statistics for foreign women living in Austria stand in stark contrast to this development. “Previous generations of politicians didn’t show any effort in ensuring the social peace in Austria. We need to tackle demographic issues now,” he said.

However, Kurz also admitted that the decision to have a child and thereby start a family was a “personal matter.”

Asked how he wanted to raise the birth rate among Austrians, he added: “The state can only try to create the best possible living conditions. It should not — and cannot — interfere in people’s private lives.”

The new state secretary for integration said he wanted to position himself between the agitation of the FPÖ — which has also been creating connections between more integration and rising crime figures — and “unrealistic” suggestions of left-wing politicians. Referring to the FPÖ leader’s tendency of labelling himself as a proud Austrian who loves his country, Kurz said: “Strache should know that no one who loves Austria tries to create a split among its citizens.”

Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gül appealed to Austria’s Turkish community to learn both German and Turkish. The politician told the Kurier newspaper that Turks living in Austria should try to have fluent German and Turkish “to be more successful for themselves, their families and Austria.”

Gül also claimed Austrian education authorities must create better conditions to encourage such developments. Statistics show that many foreigners attend special needs schools because their difficulties in getting along with classmates which are also a result of their lack of speaking any language perfectly. Some experts have said that the second and third generation of Turkish migrants in Austria are better integrated and more interested in a good coexistence with Austrians and in a career than those who settled in the country decades ago.

The climate of debating integration aspects worsened dramatically last November after Kadri Ecvet Tezcan, the Turkish ambassador in Vienna, said he would relocate the United Nations (UN) from the Austrian capital were he the secretary-general of the international organisation due to some Austrians’ attitude towards Turks. He also accused Austrians of being only interested in other cultures when on holiday.

The government coalition of Social Democrats and the ÖVP reacted with outrage to the remarks, while the FPÖ felt confirmed in their critical approach to the issue.

The Turkish government decided not to remove Teczan from his position after his disputed statements made in an interview with Viennese newspaper Die Presse.

Only a few weeks after the interview was published, pollster Karmasin found that 61 per cent of Austrians oppose a Turkish accession to the European Union (EU). Around 59 per cent of citizens said the same in May 2009.

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

Boatload of African Migrants Caught Off Almería Coast

A MOTORBOAT heading from Morocco carrying 40 would-be migrants attempting to enter Spain via the ‘back door’ has been intercepted near Punta Sabinar (Almería). The coastguard service detected the boat at around 22 miles south of the shore. They say there were seven women and two children amongst the passengers, but that all appeared to be in a good state of health. All passengers have been taken to Motril (Granada) where they are receiving first aid, food, water and clean, dry clothes from rescuers. Coastguard officials set out to the scene by air and sea after being alerted of a boat leaving a northern port in Morocco. It is not known what nationality the passengers are, since they may have travelled to Morocco from countries further south.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU to Allow for Temporary Suspension of Visa-Free Regime

Travellers from 41 countries and territories around the world enjoying a visa-free regime with the EU may suddenly have to go through cumbersome visa procedures if their nation is temporarily suspended from the list, due a sudden increase in asylum applications or illegal stays.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Commission Issues N. Africa Migration Package

(AGI) Brussels — The European Commission has approved a new set of measures addressing migratory flows from North Africa. The package looks to establish greater solidarity and cooperation in respect of Members most affected by migrant inflow.

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

France: Gueant: Builders and Waiters Not Needed

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 23 — France “does not need [immigrant] builders and waiters” because the country “already has the necessary resources”. These are the uncompromising words of the French Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, who has reignited the debate on immigration in the country after announcing that he wanted to reduce the so-called illegal flow of migrants. “Contrary to the popular myth, it is not true that we need skills and competence” from migrants, Gueant said in an interview with the radio station Europe 1. “Although for this reason around 2,000 people arrive every year, France does not need either builders or restaurant waiters because it already has the resources necessary,” the minister said.

With a year until the presidential elections, the French government, the French government has made immigration its core issue. It has already been established that the number of regular immigrants with residency permits will drop from 200,000 to 180,000 per year. Last April, in a move that caused uproar from trade unions, the government also announced that it would be cutting the list of professions in which employers can hire immigrants, faced with a lack if suitable candidates and profiles in employment lists. The jobs in question are often poorly paid (builders, waiters, cleaners), whose hiring is often difficult (they represent 37% of employment offers, according to a recent study by the national employment office). Annual work-related immigration in France concerns 20,000 people every year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Habescia: Eritrean Drama in Sinai Continues

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 23 — The drama of the Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants who are trying to illegally access Israel by crossing the border with Egypt in the Sinai is continuing. They often fall into the hands of raiders who seize and then hold them for months until a ransom is paid. The report was made by don Mose’ Zerai (an Eritrean priest who is the president of the Habeshia agency, which from Rome works with refugees and asylum seekers), who asked for “a greater effort by international authorities”, and especially by those in Egypt and Sudan, “to wipe out the trafficking of human beings from their lands”.

In a statement he reported that “This morning I spoke with a group of Eritrean and Ethiopian hostages, nine people including a 15-year-old boy. They told me that in 11 months they lost 12 companions, who died being tortured with electric discharges.

The last to die, a week ago, was a 24-year-old Ethiopian male named Tesfaldet Aregawi”.

Zerai added that the group said that they were located in a fruit orchard next to homes owned by the trafficker who is holding them hostage, so close to the border with Israel that at night they can see the blinking red lights.

Don Zerai reported that they were sold to the raiders by an Eritrean man known as Yohannes, who can be found in Sudan, is in good relations with traffickers of the Rashiaida ethnic group, and who “pretends to offer hospitality to his lost or poor countrymen to help them on their way”. He pointed out that allegedly he was the man who sold the 15-year-old to the traffickers, just like he sold a 62-year-old man who arrived in Sudan to look for one of his sons.

Don Zerai confirmed that to date some 400 migrants are still being held hostage by raiders in the Sinai, they are being subjected to violence and torture in order to receive the ransom money from their families. Habeshia received confirmation of approximately 25 deaths over six months.

Don Zerai also reported that, as for the fate of those who manage to escape or are set free by their captors, and make it into Israel, at the end of a procedure they should be granted authorisation to stay in the Country, though he pointed out that “Even though they are all asylum seekers, they receive neither a work permit nor means to survive”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

U.S. Group Gives Mexico Smugglers GPS Emergency Beacons

(Reuters) — A humanitarian group said on Tuesday it has given emergency GPS location devices to Mexican human smugglers in a controversial bid to save immigrants’ lives as they break into increasingly remote desert stretches of the U.S. border this summer.

Rev. Robin Hoover, founder of Tucson-based Humane Borders, said he gave five cell-phone sized location beacons to a church group in Mexico’s northern Sonora state earlier this month to distribute to human smugglers, known as “coyotes.”

The aim is for the coyotes to use the devices to summon rescue if they get into trouble as they guide migrants on the dangerous trek through remote desert terrain, where summer temperatures can top 115 F, he said.

“Migrants are getting into greater danger as they go further out across the border to avoid detection, and they need help,” Hoover told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“They … are dying at a higher rate, so we’ve got to do something different,” he said.

Previous initiatives by the group include setting up water stations in the desert and giving out posters warning potentials migrants of the dangers of trekking north through the bleak wilderness, where deaths from exposure are common.

Last year 249 border crossers perished in Arizona, according to a database compiled by the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, drawing on figures tallied by medical examiners in counties flanking the border.

The deaths have risen over the past decade as security has tightened along the border and coincide with a decline in the overall number of arrests made by the U.S. Border Patrol, suggesting that the journey has become more hazardous.

But a spokeswoman for the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson sector warned that the devices would put immigrants at greater risk by giving them a “false sense of security right out in the desert.”

“We are concerned that people can get themselves in a very precarious situation if they are relying on this device,” said agent Colleen Agle. “Unfortunately there’s no guarantee that it’s going to work.”

Agle added that smugglers are “very unscrupulous” and care about the “dollar in their pocket,” not the safety of those they guide.

Hoover said the device, a McMurdo Fast Find Personal Location Beacon Model 210, has a five-year battery life. When activated it uses GPS technology to determine its location and sends an emergency signal to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite.

When a distress signal is received, local search and rescue personnel are notified.

Hoover said it was not clear if the devices had yet been given to coyotes guiding groups over the border.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Netherlands: Harassed Gay Couple Taking Police to Court

UTRECHT — A homosexual couple is demanding damages from the government because the police allegedly refused to take action against Moroccan youths who systematically threatened them.

The men suffered multiple harassments. For example, their car windows were broken, ‘homo’ was scratched on the car and a brick and fireworks were thrown at their window. The couple made a police report for all these matters, but the police never took any action, says their lawyer Yehudi Moszkowicz.

On a certain day, the couple were crashed into in their car. This was done deliberately by the group of Moroccans. The police came along and asked the Moroccans if this was true; they denied it. “On this, the police concluded that there was no evidence for a deliberate collision,” according to the lawyer.

Moszkowicz notes that the police were aware of the earlier reports by the gay couple against the Moroccans at the time of the collision. “Nonetheless, the officers concluded that they could find no witnesses who could tell them which of the two versions of the story was the right one.”

On Friday, an appeal court in Arnhem will hear the couple’s case. They are demanding that the judges order the police to arrest the suspects and that the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) prosecute them. In a civil case against the municipality, the police and the State, they are also demanding damages of 40,000 euros.

The gay couple moved out of the neighbourhood, Terwijde in Utrecht, due to the harassment They say they have suffered substantial damages, among other things because they had to sell their house at below its valuation.

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


Are Climate Models Lying About Food Too?

Computer models at Stanford University have just “told” us that man-made global warming has already sapped some of the yield potential from our food crops. They say wheat yields would have been 5.5 percent higher since 1980 without the earthly warming; corn yields would have been 3.8 percent higher.

Stanford’s computers apparently didn’t tell their programmers that U.S. corn yields have actually risen by more than 60 percent since 1980—during a period when they were supposedly hampered by too much heat. Wheat yields rose 14 percent, aided by higher levels of CO2, which act like fertilizer for plants.


Drought, not temperature, has been the real enemy of food production, around the world and over time. The big droughts have come more often during the “little ice ages” than during the predominantly good weather of the global warmings. The warmings have been the good times, for humans, crops, and wildlife.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Time-Lapse Tuesday: Orbiting the Earth

Seeing the Earth from space is an experience few of us will ever have first-hand. But thanks to a time-lapse captured by astronaut Don Pettit during a NASA mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008, we can get an impression of what a day on Earth looks like from above, complete with a sunset, a moonrise and the northern lights. From the ISS, the Earth appears to move much faster than from the vantage point of an airplane. Since it orbits our planet once every 90 minutes, astronauts would expect to see about 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]