Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110613

Financial Crisis
»12 Injured as Police: Protesters Clash in Spain
»Complaints Against Rescue Fund: Germany’s Top Court May Attach Strings to Euro Bailout
»EU: Italy’s Draghi Warns Against Restructuring Greek Debt
»Free Trade Harms America
»Iceland Told to Repay British, Dutch Governments on Icesave
»Minster Details Dutch Culture Cuts
»Police Disperse Anti-Crisis Protesters at Madrid City Hall
»Spain: Brussels Turns Spotlight on Regional Deficits
»Stock Prices Have Fallen for Six Weeks in a Row
»Stocks: ‘In for a Nervous Week’
»Ex-ACORN Organizer Launches Reincarnation
»Flood Fears: Ferocious Alien Fish Will Spread Into New Areas
»Frank Gaffney: Gates’ Choice: His Damage to the All-Volunteer Force
»Gaffney: 81% of US Mosques Promote Jihad
»Maryland: McLean Woman Committed in Red Line Bomb Threat
»Missing Iraq Money May Have Been Stolen, Auditors Say
»Redistributing Freedom to Tyranny
»The Ministry of Love
Europe and the EU
»Denmark: Explosives and Weapons Found in Car
»European Demographic Suicide
»German Police Probe Ikea Blast Links
»Germany’s Nuclear Phaseout
»Italy: Referendums Test Berlusconi’s Popularity
»Italy: Berlusconi Says Referendum Spells End to Nuclear Power
»Lithuania Gets EU Backing for Confrontation With Communist Past
»No Violence at Sweden-Israel Handball Game
»Pope: Celibacy Could be Abolished
»Sarkozy Polls Low Despite Rivals’ Scandal
»Sweden: Gruesome Details Emerge in ‘Honour Killing’ Retrial
»Tony Blair Reads Koran Every Day
»Turkey PM Warns of Dutch Radicalism
»UK: Spooks Unmask Burka Death Squads
»Concern Over Role of Swiss Troops in Kosovo
»Kosovo: Special EU Task Force to Probe Human Organs Trafficking Claims
»Serbia: Second Witness at Seselj’s UN Trial Testifies in His Favour
North Africa
»Clinton Asks African Union to Abandon Gaddafi
»Egypt: Freedom is Islamic Fundamentalism’s Greatest Enemy
»Egypt: The Future of the “Arab Spring”, Held Back by Poverty and Fundamentalism
»Italy Leading More Than 30 Per Cent of Military Operations in Libya
»Just 26% Favor Continued Military Action in Libya
»Libya: UN: Already 15 Thousand War Victims
»Libya: Gates: Mission at Risk Due to NATO Shortcomings
»Libya: Mgr Martinelli Calls for Diplomatic Steps, Says He is Not Hiding Gaddafi in Church
»Libyan War: How Much Longer?
»Tourism: Egyptian Minister to Italy, Don’t Abandon Us
»Tunisia: Ben Ali Relative Flees on Yacht, Skipper Convicted
»Tunisia: Armed Escort for Students After Tribal Clashes
Israel and the Palestinians
»Hamas Must Recognise Israel, Says Berlusconi
»Italy Against the Jews
»Report: US Gives Netanyahu Ultimatum on Resuming Talks
Middle East
»Anatolia: Bronze Age Brain Surgeons
»Clashes in Southern Yemen Between the Army and Al Qaeda
»Italy to Offer Aid to Christians Under Threat in Iraq
»The AKP’s Disappointing Victory: Erdogan Falls Short of Goal in Turkish Elections
»The Jordan King’s Convoy Attacked, But the Government Deny
»Turkey: West’s Concerns About Erdogan Growing
»Dagestan: Dean of an Islamic University Killed. Remembered by Russian Church
South Asia
»Arabs: Indonesia Back Lagarde for IMF Top Job
Far East
»Migrant Workers in China Attack Police in Third Day of Riots
Australia — Pacific
»Greenhouse Gas Pains: Shoot the Farting Camels?
Latin America
»Battisti in Hotel With Girlfriend, 26
»42,000 Migrant Landings in Italy in First 5 Months of 2011
»74 Irregular Migrants Deported From Italy
»Life for Refugees in Rome
»Mexico Finds 210 Migrants Crammed in Truck
Culture Wars
»Gay Pride March ‘Too Noisy’, Complain Chueca Residents
»UK: The Classes Where Children as Young as Three Learn to Pole Dance
»2011 Set to be Worst Year Ever for Security Breaches
»Computer Security: Is This the Start of Cyberwarfare?
»First ‘Living’ Laser Made From Kidney Cell
»Nano-Foam Could Plug Underground CO2 Leaks
»When Astronomy Met Computer Science

Financial Crisis

12 Injured as Police: Protesters Clash in Spain

Spanish police and anti-corruption protesters clashed in the Spanish city of Valencia Thursday, injuring 12 people and leading to five arrests, officials said. Hundreds of demonstrators decrying political corruption, the economic crisis and soaring unemployment had gathered Wednesday night outside the regional parliament, which was to elect its president on Thursday after regional elections on May 22.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Complaints Against Rescue Fund: Germany’s Top Court May Attach Strings to Euro Bailout

Germany’s top court will soon hear a complaint filed against the Greek bailout and euro rescue fund. A recent remark by the court’s president suggests it may attach strings to its approval of the bailouts — and thereby reinforce the country’s reputation for obstructionism in the fight to save the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: Italy’s Draghi Warns Against Restructuring Greek Debt

Brussels, 8 June (AKI) — Bank of Italy head Mario Draghi on Wednesday cautioned against restructuring Greece’s 340 billion euro debt, warning it “contains a strong risk of destabilising the financial system with serious consequences for growth prospects in the eurozone.”

“It is an option in which the costs are greater than the benefits,” he said.

Draghi, the only official candidate to head the European Central Bank and a member of its governing council, also said the ECB was scrutinising risks which could lead to higher inflation.

“At the current juncture, the ECB very closely monitors all developments with respect to upside risks to price stability,” Draghi said in a written response to questions posed by members of the European Parliament.

The ECB oversees monetary policy in the eurozone for the 17 EU countries that have adopted euro currency.

Draghi’s comments were part of the vetting process to replace ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet when he retires in October.

His warning over Greek debt restructuring came as Germany and France are at odds over the issue.

France has consistently rejected a restructuring of Greece’s massive debt, while Germany has been more open to the move, which many economists now say is highly likely to prevent a default.

EU leaders are expected to agree on a bailout package for Greece at a summit on 23-24 June.

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

Free Trade Harms America

One of the more onerous aspects of being a superintelligence is the way in which many critics have a tendency to erroneously assume one is operating at the same level of near ignorance that they are. In response to the inaugural Voxic Shock podcast, in which I interviewed economist Ian Fletcher about his book, “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” a number of free-trade champions actually attempted to appeal to David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, which utilizes an example of trade between two countries in two products to argue that trade is intrinsically beneficial to a national economy.


In “Free Trade Doesn’t Work,” Ian Fletcher methodically exposes Ricardo’s simplifying assumptions one after another. He finds seven false assumptions, which he examines in a chapter entitled “Ye Olde Theory of Comparative Advantage.” The seven assumptions are as follows:

1) The comparative advantage is sustainable.

2) There are no externalities.

3) Production factors move easily between domestic industries.

4) The trade does not change the ratio of income inequality.

5) Capital is not internationally mobile.

6) Short-term efficiency causes long-term growth.

7) The trade does not improve foreign productivity.

While Fletcher is far from the first to demolish the theory of comparative advantage on sound Schumpeterian grounds, he is perhaps the most accessible. And yet, there are not many free-trade advocates who will find his comprehensive refutation to be convincing because so few of them actually understand the logical mechanics of the theory to which they adhere.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Iceland Told to Repay British, Dutch Governments on Icesave

European trading watchdogs on Friday gave Iceland three months to repay the British and Dutch governments for compensation they gave to depositors in failed bank Icesave. “Iceland is obliged to ensure payment of the minimum compensation to Icesave depositors in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” said a statement on the website of the Belgium-based European Free Trade Area (EFTA) surveillance authority. According to a legal requirement under the treaty governing relations across the European Economic Area, which adds Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein to the 27-state European Union single market, Reykjavik cannot escape minimum compensation payments.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Minster Details Dutch Culture Cuts

Deputy Culture Minister Halbe Zijlstra plans to impose as few cuts as possible on top cultural institutions as part of the Dutch government’s current austerity programme. The culture sector is facing cuts in government subsidies to the tune of 200 million euros, leaving 700 million to go round in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Police Disperse Anti-Crisis Protesters at Madrid City Hall

Scuffles erupted between police and demonstrators outside Madrid’s city hall Saturday as the rightist mayor began a new term in office, in the latest of a wave of protests against the country’ economic crisis and soaring unemployment. “Get the corrupt out of the city hall,” shouted hundreds of demonstrators who gathered outside a vast police cordon set up around the 17th century Casa de la Villa in the city’s historic centre where Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon was sworn into office. Others cried “Gallardon thief,” “We won’t pay for this crisis,” and “Ali Baba’s Cave,” as they blocked streets, kept at a distance by helmeted riot police.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Brussels Turns Spotlight on Regional Deficits

El Periódico de Catalunya, 7 June 2011

“Europe to examine regional deficits,” headlines El Periódico, pointing out that “the Commission [which now evaluates the socio-economic and budgetary plans of member states] will be asking Spain to introduce further budgetary restrictions to reduce its deficit in 2012.” At a time when several regional governments including the administration in Catalonia are “rebelling strongly” against the drive to cut back the public deficit to 6% of GDP by 2012, El Periódico notes that “doubts about the central government’s ability to impose discipline on defiant regions have emerged in Europe” while “the PP [right-wing opposition party] and the PSOE [ ruling socialist party] are trading allegations that [regional] public accounts have been falsified.” For the Barcelona daily, the seriousness of the situation has also been highlighted by Moody´s rating agency which has announced that the central government has no effective instruments to ensure the achievement of objectives demanded by Brussels and the markets.

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

Stock Prices Have Fallen for Six Weeks in a Row

Well, it’s official. U.S. stock prices have fallen for six weeks in a row. So will next week make it seven? The last time stocks declined for seven weeks in a row was back in May 2001 when the “dot-com” bubble was bursting. At this point, the Dow has declined by approximately 5 percent since the beginning of June. Things don’t look good. So exactly what is going on here? Well, it is undeniable that the recent mini-bubble in stocks has been too good to be true. The S&P 500 had surged nearly 30 percent since last September. Much of this has been fueled by the Federal Reserve’s latest round of quantitative easing, but now that is coming to an end in a few weeks and investors are a bit spooked. Meanwhile, wars and revolutions are sweeping the Middle East, Japan is dealing with the damage caused by the tsunami and by Fukushima, Europe is trying to figure out how to bail out Greece again and the U.S. debt crisis is continually getting worse. In addition, wave after wave of bad economic news is certainly not helping the mood on Wall Street. In many ways, a “perfect storm” is developing and many are now extremely concerned about what the rest of 2011 is going to bring for Wall Street.

QE2 is slated to conclude at the end of June, and many investors are deeply disappointed that it does not appear that we are not going to see QE3 right away. Many fear that the end of quantitative easing will pop the current mini-bubble in stocks and commodities. At the moment, financial markets are more jittery than they have been in a long time.


How is the U.S. government going to respond when the next financial crash happens?

Back in 2008, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government took unprecedented steps to prop up Wall Street.

But can they really do that again if we see another major crash in 2011 or 2012?

Many believe that things will be totally different this time around. Just check out what Jim Rogers recently told CNBC…

“The debts that are in this country are skyrocketing,” he said. “In the last three years the government has spent staggering amounts of money and the Federal Reserve is taking on staggering amounts of debt.

“When the problems arise next time…what are they going to do? They can’t quadruple the debt again. They cannot print that much more money. It’s gonna be worse the next time around.”

Jim Rogers is right about that.

The next time we see a collapse on the scale of 2008 it is going to be a much bigger mess.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Stocks: ‘In for a Nervous Week’

U.S. stocks were headed for a modestly higher open Monday, following a six-week losing streak that’s been led by fears of an economic slowdown. Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were up slightly ahead of the opening bell. Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance. U.S. stocks tumbled Friday, with each of the three key indexes falling more than 1%, and the Dow ending below 12,000 for the first time in months. Overall, the Dow has fallen 3.7% since the beginning of June and the Nasdaq erased all of its gains for the year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Ex-ACORN Organizer Launches Reincarnation

Lewis starts Black Institute with agenda nearly identical to disgraced association

The former national chief organizer of the advocacy group ACORN has launched a new left-wing group aimed at carrying on ACORN’s radical un-American agenda, as predicted by WND author Matthew Vadum.

Bertha Lewis, who last year called the tea party a “bowel movement,” has launched the New York-based Black Leadership Institute. The group’s agenda is almost identical to that of ACORN, which filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November, but with a focus on African-Americans.

Lewis helped to execute ACORN’s 40-year plan to transform America into a socialist country, according to a stunning new book, “Subversion Inc.,” by award-winning investigative journalist Matthew Vadum.

Vadum, senior editor at Capital Research Center, a think tank that studies left-wing advocacy groups and their funders, has assembled the information from nearly three years of research and hundreds of interviews.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Flood Fears: Ferocious Alien Fish Will Spread Into New Areas

The flooding in the south last month may be just what a ferocious fish ordered, as scientists say the overflowing Mississippi River may lead to a surge in the giant invasive fish called the Asian carp in new areas of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. The flooding stretched from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico covering 6.5 million acres of land. This water could serve as a throughway connecting the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to other lakes, bayous and marshes in the basin. The young fish, which float downstream before making their homes in a quiet “nursery,” could ride these waters to other, not normally connected bodies of water.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Gates’ Choice: His Damage to the All-Volunteer Force

In this space a few weeks ago, we discussed the peculiar case of outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He has spent the past month warning about where the U.S. security posture is headed if President Obama has his way on further budget cuts, if forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan prematurely and if many of the NATO allies continue to shirk their responsibilities towards the common defense. “Headed south” would be a charitable characterization of his assessment of that direction.

Mr. Gates could not be more right, of course. It is deeply regrettable that all those in the executive branch, the Congress and the press who have, over the years, professed such admiration for him now seem so indifferent to his alarms. That is especially true of the Washington hands who so heartily welcomed the retention of the Bush administration’s secretary of defense on the grounds that he was a “centrist,” “non-partisan” and technocrat-turned-statesman. Bob Gates, we were assured, would serve as a brake on an untested new president with a record of problematic leftist proclivities. His own words now suggest that the brake was insufficient to the task…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Gaffney: 81% of US Mosques Promote Jihad

Frank Gaffney discusses on FNC a new survey out that found based on a random but representative selection of mosques in America that 81% of them advocate or promote violence and that almost 60% of them have invited imams who are known to promote Jihad.

But there’s no problem here. Just go back to sleep and hope that you’ll never be an infidel in your own country:

[video at link]

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Maryland: McLean Woman Committed in Red Line Bomb Threat

By Dana Hedgpeth and Amy Orndorff

2:33 p.m. Update: The 51-year-old Mclean woman has been “involuntarily committed” at a facility that “has better resources to handle mental issues,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

— Dana Hedgpeth

1:50 p.m. Update:

The bomb scare at Rockville happened at 7:45 a.m. when an eight-car train bound for Twinbrook was leaving the station, according to Metro Transit Deputy Police Chief Ron Pavlik.

A 51-year-old woman who lives in McLean dropped to her knees and said, “You killed my family. Now I’m going to kill you all,” Pavlik said

Passengers on the train alerted the operator over the intercom, and the operator stopped the train, Metro said. The suspect got off the train with other passengers and did not resist when she was apprehended in the Kiss & Ride area by a Federal Protective Security officer, Pavlik said. The woman was pointed out to police by customers, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

Stessel said the woman is undergoing a mental health evaluation at a local hospital, which can take four to six hours. About 35 passengers exited the stopped train and began walking in the track bed to Twinbrook, Stessel said. Once operators realized passengers were in the rail bed the power was immediately shut down, he said, and remained suspended for two hours.

Stessel said the woman is a not U.S. citizen but she is a permanent resident. Her name is being withheld because charges are pending depending on her mental health evaluation, he said.

“During a mental health evaluation, police are not permitted to talk to the individual,” Stessel wrote in an e-mail. “As a result, we have been unable to get additional information about what the woman meant when she said ‘You killed my family…’“

There were between 250 to 300 customers aboard the inbound train at Rockville when the incident happened, Stessel said. There were a “handful” of customers who were going to Shady Grove on the other track, he said.

— Dana Hedgpeth

Original post: [This post has been updated, 12:15 p.m.]

A woman who allegedly made a bomb threat aboard a Red Line train Monday morning has been transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation, a Metro official said.

Metro and emergency officials said there was no evidence that there was an explosive device, but the threat shut down rail service at Rockville Station. The station reopened about 9:45 a.m., according to reports from Metro.

Trains were temporarily stopped between Shady Grove and Grosvenor. Shuttle bus service was established to transport passengers. Dan Stessel, a Metro spokesman, said a passenger made “a claim of a bomb threat” around 7:30 a.m. at Rockville Station. Passengers were evacuated, and Metro Transit Police were summoned.

“At this point we have no evidence of an explosive device at Rockville,” Stessel said.

Passengers who were on the train described a chaotic scene.

Tarek Nasser, a commuter, said the woman who allegedly caused the disturbance boarded the train at Shady Grove. The woman dropped to her knees and appeared to start praying. Later, the woman, who wore a hijab, began ranting about Muslim Americans on a cellphone, Nasser said.

Nasser recounted that the woman said, “‘I’m going to destroy the office.’“ At another point, Nasser said the woman said “‘I’m going to visit the tomb at Rockville station.’“

Before the train left the Rockville Station, Nasser said the woman said, “‘God bless you all’“ and got off the train. The doors closed and the train began moving. At that point, a passenger called the driver on an intercom, Nasser said. The train stopped and riders began panicking, Nasser said.

Commuters attempted to flee from the car where the threat was made. Passengers moved toward the front of the train, passing between the doors that connect the cars, several passengers said.

“I’ve never seen such panic before,” said Scott Brooks, a passenger. [The people at the front of the group] didn’t stop to explain. You could see they were really scared.”

Robin Ratliff, who lives in Rockville and works downtown as a staff assistant for a human resources firm, said she was on the first car of the train headed to downtown this morning when the incident occurred.

Ratliff said people started “pouring in” from the third car of the train, where the woman who made the alleged threat was.

“They were pounding on the trian operator’s door saying let us off; stop the train.” But Ratliff said some passengers opened the door of the train and managed to get out on the track bed.

“The operator was telling central [command] she couldn’t move the train because ‘there’s people on my track.’“

“People were panicked and running, trying to get off,” Ratcliff said.

Ratcliff said she did not see the woman who made the alleged threat, but heard other passengers running into the first car where Ratcliff was, saying the woman said “Praise Allah. I’m going to kill the world,” before throwing a backpack onto the train and exiting.

Ratcliff said she and others were evacuated from the train and the station before the station was shut down for several hours. Ratcliff said she went back home to let things settle down before returning around 10 and heading to work.

As service returned to normal along the Red Line, a few customers said they were relieved it wasn’t a serious incident but expressed concern about safety on Metro.

Kathy Josephson, was was waiting at Rockville Station for a bus, said she would like to see more police and security in the transit system.

“Every time you go on Metro you’re taking a chance when you ride with your safety and security,” she said. Josephson said she hoped the woman would be charged with making a threat so it would deter others.

“You don’t play around and make threats like that,” she said. “It makes me nervous. They’re playing with my life and they should be in jail. There’s too many people doing crazy stuff.”

Denise Brown, the station manager on duty at Rockville, said she arrived at 4:40 this morning. She received a call about the bomb threat around 7:30.

Brown said said she went up to the platform to help people disembark from the stopped train.

“It was busy and crazy because people wanted to get off,” she said. She said the platform and station were evacuated in about 40 minutes, as authorities took over the scene.

She said most people were calm.

“I just wanted everybody to get out of here so nothing would happen to them,” Brown said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Missing Iraq Money May Have Been Stolen, Auditors Say

U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion, sent by the planeload in cash and intended for Iraq’s reconstruction after the start of the war.

Reporting from Washington— After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born. Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things. For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Redistributing Freedom to Tyranny

There are frayed nerves in Silicon Valley at the prospect of the United Nations asserting a growing role in internet governance. But why indeed should that be? The United Nations is generally beloved the further left of center you go by people who agree that American power, wealth, productivity and decision making should be turned over to international bodies, most notably the UN. And if the UN is so wonderful and so much better than any government chosen by the American people could ever be, why not turn over the internet to it?

The paradox of internationalization is that left of the center there is wide agreement that American power must be redistributed, along with widespread denial that the only people available to redistribute it to happen to be dictators. Most of the world does not consist of democracies. It consists of horrifyingly brutal dictatorships. Not just the ones we know about. The ones that show up in the news all the time, North Korea, Iran or Zimbabwe. Not even the second stringers like Cuba, Burma or Syria. Most of the world.

Close your eyes and point a finger at a map. Then open your eyes. The odds are that you’re pointing at a dictatorship. (No, Washington D.C. doesn’t count.) Go down a list of countries, and the majority of that list will have limited political and civil freedoms. Most of them will have leaders who are not chosen in open elections. Many of them will have repressive state security apparatuses and political prisoners. And yet almost all of them will be signatories to dozens of UN conventions on human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights and rights without end. Conventions that the United States is typically criticized for not signing on to.

Squash together China, the Middle East, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan and you have between 1/3 and 1/4 of the world’s population living in horrible poverty with few legal rights. You can’t redistribute power to them, because they’re not free agents. They’re prisoners of their political power structures. And what’s worse is that in many cases they like it that way. Or rather it’s the only way they know.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Ministry of Love

When is “love” NOT love? One example would be the horrors that occurred in the “Ministry of Love” under Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984.

The title of Orwell’s book was based upon the centenary of the founding of the Fabian Socialist Society about whom Orwell was familiar and trying to warn people. He indicated that a World Socialist Government under Big Brother would represent neither the failed Nazis nor the Communists who would fail (he wrote 1984 in 1949), but would rather be “priests of power” controlling men’s minds. According to Big Brother’s agent, O’Brien: “We are not content with negative obedience, nor even with the most abject submission. When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us… We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.” [emphasis added]

Another word for “reshape” is “remould,” which was part of the Fabians’ motto: “Remould it nearer to the heart’s desire,” the heart signifying “love,” as O’Brien said that the masses would come to “love” Big Brother. Coincidentally, Hillary Clinton talked periodically about “remoulding” society, and very influential with her, according to The New York Times Magazine was Michael Lerner who authored the New Socialist Revolution.


One would have thought that with the ensuing horrors of that day perpetrated under Adolph Hitler during the 1930s and early 1940s, the Fabians would have had second thoughts about their “Grand Design.” However, after World War II, Fabian Socialist Bertrand Russell authored The Impact of Science Upon Society, in which he declared: “I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology… The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen… There are, however, two powerful forces opposed to such a policy: one is religion; the other is nationalism… Population can be kept from increasing… Perhaps bacteriological war may prove effective. If Black Death could be spread throughout the world once in every generation survivors could procreate freely without making the world too full… [The world] authority should deal out the world’s food to the various nations in proportion to their population at the time of the establishment of the authority. If any nation subsequently increased its population, it should not on that account receive any more food.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Explosives and Weapons Found in Car

Driver has prior record but police still seeking possible motive

A routine stop last night by police on Copenhagen’s Åboulevard revealed a stash of explosives and weapons. A kilo and a half of plastic explosives, detonators, three shotguns, three rifles, ammunition and parts of police uniforms were found in a bag in the trunk of the car. The driver, a 27-year-old, from Brøndby, has a prior record though for not for offenses this serious. Police say the weapons may have been intended for use by motorcycle gangs, but the man has no known connection with gang activity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Demographic Suicide

A recent interview with Neagu Djuvara, brought to the forefront the sad issue of cultural suicide by Europeans in the last thirty years. Statistical demographics prove that most western nations are not replacing their population at a rate higher than death rates and are thus galloping in the direction of self-extinction. The birth rate in various countries has dropped dramatically for Europeans while the birth rates of groups such as gypsies and immigrants from Africa and the Middle East are sky rocketing.

The explosion of immigrant birth rate is aided by generous welfare programs in nations like Sweden, Finland, Norway, U.K., France, Belgium, Denmark, and the creation of ghettos where immigrants reject integration, creating sub-cultures that clash with western civilization in every way. Refusing to learn the language, the immigrants promise the destruction of the very country they are occupying. They receive welfare and free housing while vowing to remake Europe into a new world order Caliphate.

Muslim takeover of many European countries enabled by appeasement, self-censorship, apologies, and bans on “Islamophobia”.

Bruce Bawer aptly named his book, “While Europe Slept,” describing the Muslim takeover of many European countries enabled by appeasement, self-censorship, apologies, and bans on “Islamophobia.” It is forbidden to criticize anything connected to the religion of peace.


Djuvara likens the European demise to countries entering into a new Middle Age, similar to the end of the Roman Empire when wars were waged on the outskirts of the Empire, while the rest collapsed from within. Hundreds of years of darkness and strife followed when Europe fought the advancement of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

German Police Probe Ikea Blast Links

German investigators said Sunday they were probing a possible link between a blast at an Ikea store in Dresden and explosions at other stores on May 30th in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany’s Nuclear Phaseout

Irate Power Companies to Sue Berlin For Damages

Germany’s power companies are preparing to take legal action against the government’s decision to shut down their nuclear power plants. They say the new closure plan is too rigid and will prove more costly to them than the previous nuclear phaseout agreed by a center-left government in 2000.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Referendums Test Berlusconi’s Popularity

Rome, 13 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s political future and billions of euros of private investment by Acea, Veolia Environnement and other utilities may be threatened by the outcome of Italian referendums that end today.

In one referendum, Italians are voting on whether to overturn a law that allows Berlusconi to use official commitments to avoid attending his corruption trials. Voters are also being asked whether Italy should overturn legislation forcing the privatization of local water services, and if nuclear power should be permanently banned. Voting in the two- day referendum ends at 3 pm local time.

All the referendums are aimed at overturning legislation promoted by Berlusconi and will test public backing for the premier less than a month after his ruling bloc was defeated in local elections across the country. A rejection of water-service privatization would also leave the state struggling to fund an estimated 60 billion euros in infrastructure investments at a time when concern over the euro-region’s second-largest debt has pushed up Italy’s financing costs.

Voting against privatization “would be a step backwards by 20 years,” said Antonio Massarutto, an economics professor at Udine University, who writes about water. “This is a country that still hasn’t completed depuration systems, where sewers aren’t connected to all homes, and where losses in the water transportation network, while a misleading indicator, demonstrate the increasing degree of degradation.”

For the results of the vote to be binding, at least half plus one of an estimated 50 million eligible voters must cast a ballot. While Italians have used referendums to advance key legislation in the past, including votes to allow divorce and abortion in the 1970s, a quorum has not been reached on any referendum since 1995.

Still, with Berlusconi’s popularity plunging and emotions running high over both the nuclear and water-privatization issues, referendum supporters have organized demonstrations across the country to bring out the voters. Berlusconi and his allies have encouraged their supporters to stay home, in a bid to avoid a quorum.

In addition to serving as a rejection of key pieces of the prime minister’s platform, a “yes” vote could also speed up the four current corruption trials involving Berlusconi, by preventing him from using state business as a reason to delay court appearances.

“If referendums reach a quorum, it’s almost certain that the ‘yes’ side will prevail, and therefore the so-called shield would be rejected and in that case Berlusconi would be in serious trouble,” said Federigo Argentieri, a professor at John Cabot University in Rome, in an interview.

Backers of the water referendum cite examples, both in Italy and abroad, of municipalities that have sold water- management bodies to private companies that then raised rates and failed to boost investment or service quality.

The Italian Forum of Movements for Water has run a television campaign saying, “multinational companies are solely concerned with profit, not with the quality of our water.”

Under the government plan, potential investors such as Acea or France’s Veolia would pay to upgrade Italy’s network and in exchange receive a guaranteed 7 percent return on their investment. A “yes” result from the referendum would jeopardize plans by Rome-based Acea, which is ready to increase investments in Italian waterworks, Andrea Bossola, who heads the company’s water division, said in an interview.

“We currently invest 450 million euros a year in water and are ready to double that number if they allow us to go ahead,” Bossola said.

Opponents of the referendum say that the privatization is needed to fix the country’s ageing network. Italy’s pipelines lose about 38 percent of the water they carry, according to Federutility, an association of Italian water-service companies.

The Treasury will be stuck with “all the necessary investments” if the referendum passes, Federutility President Roberto Bazzano told daily Il Sole 24 Ore in an April 28 interview.

Italy, struggling with a debt burden of almost 120 percent of gross domestic product, second-highest in the euro-region, spends about 10 euros to 15 euros per capita annually on water- system investments, compared with about 85 euros annually in northern European countries, said Udine University’s Massarutto. Existing legislation aims to raise Italian investment to about 35 euros per person a year, he said.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Says Referendum Spells End to Nuclear Power

(AGI) Rome — Silvio Berlusconi has said goodbye to nuclear power and committed to energy from renewable sources. At a joint press conference with Israeli prime minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, he explained: “Following a decision that the Italian people is currently taking, we will have to say goodbye to the option of nuclear power stations and commit ourselves to renewable energies.” ..

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

Lithuania Gets EU Backing for Confrontation With Communist Past

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — A strong promoter of shedding light on the crimes against humanity committed under the Soviet occupation, Lithuania on Friday managed to get the political backing of the other 26 EU member states for measures aimed at educating the public about all totalitarian regimes in Europe. “We were active in promoting the question of crimes of totalitarian regimes, because it is also important for us to know what has happened in other countries,” Lithuanian justice minister Remigijus Simasius told this website on Friday (10 June).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

No Violence at Sweden-Israel Handball Game

Some 150 pro-Palestinian protesters and some 60 pro-Israel protestors demonstrated peacefully on the sidelines of a Sweden-Israel handball match in southeastern Sweden Sunday, police said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pope: Celibacy Could be Abolished

Celibacy, which is required of Catholic priests, might one day be abolished, Pope Benedict XVI told Dutch bishops in 2004. The Dutch bishops, who met Cardinal Ratzinger, as he then was still called, shortly before his election as Pope, were astounded, the former bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, has told a television programme. When the Dutch bishops asked the cardinal, then one of the most powerful men in Vatican, about the propect of introducing marriage for priests, he answered: “I don’t see that happening in the coming ten years”, according to Bishop Muskens. “We expected him to be against married priests on principle. This, however, meant he was open to discussing the possibility”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Polls Low Despite Rivals’ Scandal

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election hopes have failed to improve despite the sex scandal that felled his main challenger Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a new poll showed Sunday. The IFOP poll published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche showed Sarkozy winning 22 percent of first-round voting intentions, trailing behind the leading opposition Socialist contender Francois Hollande with 26 percent. Until mid-May, the favourite to win the 2012 French election was Dominique Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK, the Socialist who led the IMF until New York police arrested him on sexual assault and attempted rape charges. Sunday’s poll showed that Hollande, a former leader of the Socialist Party, had gained three points since IFOP’s last survey and moved firmly into the lead. It showed the right-wing president was still facing a threat from Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Gruesome Details Emerge in ‘Honour Killing’ Retrial

The re-trial of the so-called Högsby ‘honour killing’ opened in southern Sweden on Monday with the parents of the man previously convicted for brutally stabbing, beating, and scalding the 20-year-old victim to death now also under suspicion.

The case stems from the killing of 20-year-old Abbas Rezai, who was found dead in an apartment in Högsby in southern Sweden in November 2005. Police revealed at the time that Rezai had been scalded with hot oil, hit with a variety of objects, and repeatedly stabbed in the back and chest, with the majority of the wounds sustained after his death. He was also almost entirely scalped and one of his fingers had been partially chopped off. The man was allegedly killed because of his relationship with a 16-year-old girl.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tony Blair Reads Koran Every Day

The former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was famously reluctant to discuss his faith during his time in office, has declared that he reads the Koran every day.

Mr Blair said it was “crucial” to be “faith-literate” in the 21st Century.

“I read the Bible every day. I read the Qur’an every day,” he told The Observer. “Partly to understand some of the things happening in the world, but mainly just because it is immensely instructive.”

While giving an interview as Prime Minister, Mr Blair was famously interrupted by his spin doctor Alastair Campbell who told the journalist: “We don’t do God.”

Since leaving Number 10, Mr Blair has set up the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, to promote respect and understanding between the major religions.

In The Observer interview he talked about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying: “People still ask me if military decisions in Iraq or Afghanistan were based on some kind of divine instruction.

“It’s rubbish. Of course not. Just as I couldn’t go into a corner and pray to ask God what the minimum wage should be.”

The 58-year-old ex-Labour leader also admitted that although he realised how important social media was for revealing injustice he had no idea how it worked and had never used Twitter.

He insisted he did not mind not being invited to the recent royal wedding, adding: “They have their protocols and it didn’t trouble me in the least that I wasn’t there. I was absolutely fine about it. Really. And that’s the honest truth.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Turkey PM Warns of Dutch Radicalism

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is worried by the “radical” turn Dutch politics is taking. “In politics I strongly oppose radicalism. The right way is a middle course”, Mr Erdogan told Dutch media on the eve of Sunday’s general elections in Turkey. “Radicalism only causes problems, for people and the country”, he went on to say, without mentioning Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. “Our party, as you know, steers a middle course in politics. We are neither left nor right wing. We are far removed from the extremes. We are far removed from the radicals. We only work with those who are close to everybody. “

“Erdogan is the worst kind of Islamist”, Mr Wilders says in a reaction. “If he wins the elections, Turkey will turn its back on Europe for good. We don’t want them in the EU anyway, but with him even normal relations will become more complicated. He is, therefore, a dangerous man who is a radical Islamist himself.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Spooks Unmask Burka Death Squads

BRIT spooks have stopped SIXTY terror plots involving Black Widow bombers.

Many of the Muslim women who were pulled in were carrying explosives, we can reveal.

Other radicals as young as 17 had bomb materials stashed in their homes across the country.

The operation started when a dozen women in the London and Greater Manchester areas were picked up in security sweeps but allowed to go free.

They were put under surveillance and led the spooks to more than 30 terror group leaders.

But it is feared there are at least 20 of the Black Widow bombers still at large and ready to carry out their deadly missions.

A senior security source said: “The terrorists rely on a woman in a black flowing dress not being stopped. They can’t be searched easily because of their strict rules and it’s hard to see what they are hiding under their robes.

“A lot of people would think twice about searching them for fear of offending religious rules or being accused of sexual harassment or indecency.

“We have broken up a number of attacks with women involved. This is not anti-Muslim, it is a fact that women are being used as bombers and so they have to be stopped.

“By following them and seeing who they met and who these people associated with, we were led to people higher up the chain, the explosives handlers and Mr Bigs.”

But spy chiefs believe there are even more women being recruited by male relatives to take their places.

A senior security source has revealed that in the past year between 50 and 60 attacks have been averted after spies infiltrated Muslim terror cells.

It is estimated there are 2,200 people under surveillance in this country, including girls and women.

They are usually recruited by fathers or brothers as many are restricted from talking to men outside the family.

It’s not the first time terrorists have used the cover of burkas.

One of the male leaders of the failed 21/7 suicide bombings wore one to escape the capital after the 2005 bid.

Yassin Omar, 30, was one of the team who tried to massacre passengers by detonating rucksacks filled with explosives. He was jailed for life in 2007.

Female suicide bombers have been used by the Taliban and rebels in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and by groups including the Tamil Tigers and Hamas to target civilians and soldiers.

Last year, two women bombed two Moscow subway stations killing at least 38 people and injuring over 60.

Chechen “shahidkas” or Black Widows attacked Russian troops in Chechnya and were among a group that took 850 hostages in the Moscow theatre siege in 2002.

The stand-off lasted two-and-a-half days. Russian forces killed 38 attackers and at least 129 hostages.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “If we get any intelligence about suspicious activity related to terrorism we will investigate that and use whatever means at our disposal to do so.

“Both men and women are involved.”

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “We don’t know whether women are involved or not. If women are being recruited as terrorists they might be and we might not know.

“If we have operations running where they are being recruited as teams we would not disclose that.

“Women in the past have been arrested and charged on terrorism offences.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Concern Over Role of Swiss Troops in Kosovo

Switzerland’s largest ever peacekeeping operation, the Swisscoy mission in Kosovo, has been extended for another three years. But the mission is not without critics.

Swiss soldiers have been on the ground in Kosovo for 12 years and the new mandate approved by parliament on Monday includes the possibility of boosting the 220-strong contingent at short notice by 80 additional troops for 12 months.

The move has raised timeworn questions about Swiss neutrality, the justification for the mission and how best to deal with Kosovo, whose independence Switzerland recognised promptly in 2008.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said the presence of an international peacekeeping force was key for political stability in the region. His support for Swisscoy is at odds with the position of his party, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

In military terms, Switzerland has certainly gained by participating in the Nato-led K-for peacekeeping force. The engagement has enhanced the experience and visibility of the army.

But at an annual cost of SFr37.5 million ($45 million), is the mission worth it? Two of the five main political parties — the centre-left Greens and the Swiss People’s Party think not, partly on the grounds that the deployment breaches Swiss neutrality.

“Swisscoy is a mission without end or result and it should be stopped on December 31. It has done nothing to slow Kosovan immigration,” Ulrich Schlüer of the People’s Party told the House of Representatives during Monday’s debate.


Other commentators argue that the mission has outlived its usefulness. Military expert Albert Stahel from Zurich University told that the presence of Swiss troops in Kosovo was problematic because they had little to do with protecting the Serbian minority.

“At the beginning in 1999 it was of course useful for Nato to have troops in Kosovo because there was still a threat from Serbia, but since that situation has changed, the troops are now engaged in internal security problems and protecting the Serbian minority in particular.”

Except that there is little or no Serbian population where the Swiss contingent is based, Stahel points out. Some 140 soldiers are based in the Swiss camp, known as Casablanca, near Suva Reka in the South.

So what are the Swiss army volunteers actually doing in Kosovo? They have a range of tasks, according to Walter Frik, spokesman for the Swiss Armed Forces International Command (Swissint), including two liaison teams on the ground near the Serb border in the north.

“The main idea is to help K-for ensure a safe environment for civilians and to fulfil the tasks received from K-for. These are mainly logistical tasks but there are also four LMTs [Liaison Monitoring Teams] who live in the community and act as an early warning system in detecting problems for K-for,” Frik explained.


The situation in the north is volatile, according to Frik. “The main concern of K-for is that this area stays calm. You will not see much media coverage about it because it is hard to move around freely and report from there.”

Apart from instability, there is the added problem of organised crime high up in the Kosovan administration, Stahel said.

“The [recently leaked] Nato intelligence report spelt it out clearly that organised crime was deeply embedded in Kosovo. There is a strong link between people acting as criminals in Switzerland and leaders in Kosovo,” he said.

In this context, Stahel argues that Swisscoy’s presence in Kosovo is not in Switzerland’s interest. “Rather than protecting civilians they are supporting organised crime,” he said.

Providing a safe environment for ordinary people to go about their daily lives in Kosovo is in Switzerland’s interest, Frik insists. He points out that the 3,000-strong European Rule of Law mission (Eulex) works with the local authorities, judiciary and police and that crime comes under its domain.

“But when Eulex has problems moving around, it is K-for that protects their vehicles, clears roadblocks etc.,” he added.

Twelve years on, Frik is proud of the Swiss contribution to peace in Kosovo. “We can say that we also participated, we didn’t just send money and let the others do this job. Our guys are serving there voluntarily.”…

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

Kosovo: Special EU Task Force to Probe Human Organs Trafficking Claims

Belgrade, 10 June (AKI) — The European Union has decided to form a special task force to probe alleged human organs trafficking by former members and senior officials of the Kosovo Liberation Army including Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci, Serbian media reported on Friday.

Quoting unnamed EU officials, Serbia’s Beta news agency said that a seven-member international team including investigators and prosecutors will be formed to probe claims that the KLA was involved in organs trafficking during the 1999 Kosovo rebellion and afterwards.

The allegations against the KLA were made in December 2010 by Dick Marty, an investigator from Europe’s top human rights watchdog, The Council of Europe.

The investigating team will work within the framework of the European mission in Kosovo (EULEX), but will be partly stationed in Brussels for security reasons, Beta said.

In a report to the European Council last December, Marty said that KLA officials, including Thaci were responsible for transporting to Albania some 300 Serb prisoners whose organs were harvested and later sold on the international black market.

Kosovo and Albanian officials have refuted the claims as “Serbian propaganda”, but said they would cooperate in the probe.

According to media reports, the task force will develop a system for the protection of witnesses, which Marty said was a key for the success of the investigation.

Serbia has demanded that the probe be carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council. Western powers have blocked the move, however, saying the EU played a key role in Kosovo and EULEX was equipped to investigate the claims.

Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, which has been recognised by 76 countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 EU members.

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

Serbia: Second Witness at Seselj’s UN Trial Testifies in His Favour

The Hague, 7 June (AKI) — A second witness at Serbian ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj’s war crimes trial in the Hague testified in his favour on Tuesday, accusing prosecutors of forcing him to give evidence against Seselj.

Defence witness Hadzi Zoran Drazilovic told the United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes court in the Hague that he was forced by the prosecutors to testify against Seselj or face prosecution himself.

Like a protected witness DS-1, who testified on Monday, Drazilovic said he was forced by the tribunal investigator Paolo Pastore Stoki to testify against Seselj, which he refused, saying he could be only defence witness.

He claimed Pastore had even offered him even “women” in return for testifying against Seselj, and said former prosecutor Christine Dahl offered him money, offers he refused.

Drazilovic testified that he authorized Seselj to reveal his name in one of his books, because “it was an honour to be mentioned by Dr Seselj in his book”.

In 1991 Drazilovic was deputy chief of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS)’s “war staff”, which recruited volunteers who allegedly committed crimes in Bosnia and Croatia.

Seselj, the SRS’s leader has been charged with atrocities against Muslims and Croats in the 1991-1995 war that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. He surrendered to the Hague tribunal in February 2003.

The Hague court has charged Seselj is with 15 counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs or war.

During his trial, Seselj was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court, for allegedly revealing the names of 11 protected witnesses who were due to testify against him. His trial was in 2009 suspended due to alleged witness intimidation.

A verdict is expected from the Hague by the end of 2011 but Seselj said the court had no option but to acquit him and was resorting to contempt charges to keep him in jail as long as possible.

Seselj has suffered ill health and has undergone heart surgery while in detention at the Hague.

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

North Africa

Clinton Asks African Union to Abandon Gaddafi

(AGI) Addis Ababa — Hillary Clinton has asked the leaders of the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa to abandon Muammar Gaddafi to his destiny. “It is now clear that Gaddafi cannot stay in power,” said the American Secretary of State to the African Union’s 53 heads of state. The head of USA’s diplomacy acknowledged she was now asking all African states to apply pressure to obtain a real ceasefire and ask Gaddafi to stand down.

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

Egypt: Freedom is Islamic Fundamentalism’s Greatest Enemy

For Wael Farouq, a Muslim scholar at the Arabic Language Institute of the American University in Cairo, it is legitimate for the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in politics. The desire for freedom shown during the uprising on Tahrir Square is changing the Islamist movement.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — “Freedom is fundamentalism’s greatest enemy;” hence “I support the right of the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in political life. To exclude them would go against the ideals of civilisation for which we fought during the revolution in the Square,” Wael Farouq told AsiaNews. The Muslim scholar teaches at the Arabic Language Institute of the American University in Cairo. He was deputy chairman of the Cairo meeting, an interfaith event organised in October in cooperation with Comunione e Liberazione. He was interviewed by AsiaNews on the current situation in his country and the risk of a fundamentalist turn after the fall of Mubarak and the entry of the Muslim Brotherhood into politics. For him, the events in Tahrir Square are a revolution of faith and morality by the Egyptian people. In his view, the desire of freedom and justice shown by the young demonstrators is changing the Muslim Brotherhood.

A moral, not an angry revolution

For Wael Farouq, events in Tahrir Square are evidence of a moral and spiritual change in the Egyptian people. “People,” he said, “have come to realise that it is possible to change things in our own country by voicing our demands and expressing our desires. Demonstrators were not stage-managed by anyone; they did not follow any party or ideology, but believed in the ideals of freedom and justice”.

According to the professor, this marks something quite new in the uprising, something unique along with that of Tunisia, in the Arab world. “The square scared Mubarak because this type of unrest is not part of our tradition. He was unable to crush the uprising because he was unable to cope with changes in consciousness.”

Young Christians and Muslims organised the demonstrations, Wael Farouq noted. They worked together during and after the revolution, irrespective of their religious differences, only considering their demands and wishes.

“During the revolution, there was not a single attack against a church,” he said. “I saw with my own eyes Muslims protect Christians and vice versa during the clashes.”

According to the scholar, after almost six months of uprising, this union persists, despite attempts by men of the regime to stop the change. This is clear in the recent attacks against Coptic churches by Salafis.

“These extremist elements get money from abroad and are led by men from the old establishment,” he said. “For this reason, the battle is not between Christians and Muslims but between Egyptians of either religion and elements tied to the old regime who do not want a democratic and civilian-controlled state.

Freedom, the real weapon against Islamic extremism

The ideals of the revolution are influencing the Muslim Brotherhood as well, Wael Farouq noted. The Brotherhood, one of Egypt’s oldest Islamist groups, has been accused of trying to fill the gap left by Mubarak and turn Egypt into an Islamic state.

“It is reasonable to fear an extremist drift in Egypt,” Wael said. “Many factors point in that direction. However, in the new reality, the Muslim Brotherhood does not scare me.”

For the scholar, the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood has undergone profound changes since the revolution in Tahrir Square. It is right for them to take part in the political life of the country.

“After the revolution, the movement split in four parties, and the division continues. One is more liberal, and had joined the revolution. It has antagonised the movement’s leadership by asking for greater transparency, and has moved away from fundamentalist positions. Other leaders want to separate politics from religion and for this reason have split from the more radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood”.

One part of the movement realises that people want a secular not an Islamic state, Wael explained. The platform of Justice and Freedom, a party linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and allowed to run in the elections, explicitly speaks of a civilian-controlled state based on Islamic tradition, not Sharia. They also accept the possibility that a Christian might be elected president.

“Since the 1950s, fundamentalist groups have lived under authoritarian regimes, which persecuted and banned them. They have never been under truly democratic regimes. Freedom is fundamentalism’s greatest enemy. For this reason, I support the right of the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in political life. This way more radical fringes can be isolated.”

The young people of Tahrir Square and building the new Egypt

After the meeting in Cairo in October last year, and following events in Tahrir Square, several working groups have been set up by young Christians and Muslims, under the guidance of scholars and university professors.

“These people are not political activists,” Wael said, “but are helping various liberal parties to coordinate their political agenda ahead of September’s parliamentary elections. Many of them worked as volunteers at the meeting in Cairo, and underwent training courses with me.”

Out of these activities came an international committee in which to discuss and understand how liberal movements can coordinate their action, starting from the ideals that emerged out of Tahrir Square. The goal is to set up a liberal front for the coming parliamentary elections. “We are struggling to obtain a new constitution that protects minorities as Egyptian citizens,” Prof Wael said.

However, in his view, the economic crisis due to political instability is the real problem troubling Egyptians. “After the revolution, we can divide the population in three groups; those who got rich under Mubarak’s regime, the liberal activists and the millions of Egyptians who backed the revolution, but did not participate directly, following events on TV.”

All these people have responded to the great hopes raised by the revolution, but the country’s economic crisis could stifle their desire for change. In his view, Western nations, in addition to supporting the ideals of the revolution, could provide concrete help to the Egyptian economy, by investing in the country and supporting its tourist sector, Egypt’s main economic engine.

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

Egypt: The Future of the “Arab Spring”, Held Back by Poverty and Fundamentalism

In Egypt and elsewhere, the new attempts at democracy risk failure because of the enormous poverty, ignorance, fundamentalism. The West can not just sit back and watch or take on policing duties. It should intervene in the economy, education, joint projects between Christians and Muslims to show that coexistence is possible

Rome (AsiaNews) — Many media outlets are expressing real concern and a certain pessimism regarding the Arab revolution, highlighting the dangers that Christians are running in these countries. There is concern that Salafist groups and Islamic fundamentalists are taking power or influencing politics, thus jeopardizing the lives of Christians. The Arab Spring is challenging the East but also the West.

A “spring” with an ideal, but without a party

My impression, looking especially to Egypt, is that this spring is real, and shows that the desire for change towards democracy and freedom is widespread in the population.

In Syria and Libya we even see that there are people ready to lay down their lives for this ideal. It is undeniable that these movements have a local base, they are not manipulated from abroad.

But there is another aspect: because the movements are not an organized party, rather an ideal of life, once they have given voice to their desire, they are not able to turn it into a political project.

As a result, the opposing movement intervenes, those who do not want a radical change or no change at all.

The first risk that Arab Spring runs is of organized parties winning the elections: the party that was in power under Mubarak, or Islamic parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which have changed names and have been approved, or the new recognised Salafist party, the most extremist Islamic movement.

The Tahrir Square revolt is real: Christians and Muslims worked hand in hand and this is the wish of the majority of the population. But how to turn this desire into a state policy?

Wael Farouk, in an article published last week on AsiaNews (see Freedom is Islamic fundamentalism’s greatest enemy) clearly emphasizes that the first problem is an economic one, and it is true. Moreover, the primary motivation of the youth movement was exactly that: the economy. If we want to encourage the democratic movement, then other countries — the Arab Gulf and Western — need to invest in Egypt, to encourage an economic recovery, support for investments and tourism (the primary source of income in Egypt)

Learning true freedom, without radical or religious fanaticism

The other problem the movement must face is fundamentalism. It is also true that freedom is the enemy of fundamentalism, provided that it is widespread in all aspects: freedom to depart from the rules (without going against the law), freedom to live one’s faith as one understands it, to express opinions without being manipulated. But I fear that for some years we will have to go through a crisis, because there is no experience or custom of living in respect of freedom in Egypt.

On the contrary, there is a strong radical movement, supported from outside. Every decision that has be taken in Egypt in the direction of radical Islam, was supported, financed, encouraged by countries like Saudi Arabia or fundamentalist personalities. The same Salafist movement extends well beyond Egypt: it is present in Syria, Jordan, Tunisia, right from the beginning of the Arab revolution. They take advantage of the problems experienced by people to gather strength. They were oppressed by dictatorial governments, but have now re-appeared. Often they re-emerge in opposing Christians. Where there are Christians, they reappear in the Islamist fight against liberal or secularist tendencies. In Egypt, the Salafis have not only attacked Christian churches, but also Sufi (mystical Islam) centres, or moderate Islamic figures.

For several years now , it has become increasingly easy to excite the sentiments of radical Muslims against Christians in the country. In recent decades one topic that always works is alleged conversion to Islam. When they attack a church often this excuse is used, saying: “A woman who has become Muslim is being held captive in this church. The monks, the clergy prevent her from living her life. “

For months and months great commotion has raised over two women in Egypt, Wafa ‘Constantine and Camelia Shehata, whom the Salafists claim have converted to Islam and are being held captive by Christians in two monasteries [1]. But in the above case, they have declared themselves Christian, yet despite this, the Salafists continue to accuse the Christians of keeping them captive. Now they have found a third woman whom they claim has converted and is being held “captive” in the church of Imbaba in Cairo … and they attacked the church!

In fact, they are all excuses that fuel religious fanaticism in the population. And I fear that this radicalism will not disappear too soon. Perhaps it will always be a minority, in the meantime the Christians suffer, a lot.

True freedom takes time and effort

There is no easy or immediate solution. What’s needed is for Muslims to intervene and say: enough, everyone has the right to follow the religion he wants, change when he wants to change and no one has the right to turn it into a political issue.

Unfortunately, the role of Imams in educating the population is too weak. As long as there was an authoritarian regime, it had the opportunity to order an end to trouble, forcing compliance to the point of controlling the Friday sermons of imams in the mosque. But freedom has its risks and presupposes a path to be followed.

A Muslim friend — a cultured person from Lebanon — pointed out to me that there were revolutions even in Europe and America which cost many lives. “We — he said — are now carrying out our revolution, more than two centuries later, and it will also cost us many lives.”

The tragedy in the last 50 years is that people have not learned to live democracy. This generation does not have a model of a country that knows how to live in freedom with equality and openness to all. In this situation, those who usually pay the price are minorities.

And Egypt is not the most difficult case : Syria is experiencing very serious problems, although so far these problems have not affected Christians.

It must be said that the Christian minority in Egypt also suffers fundamentalism at times, even if it is not used to reacting with violence. But there is an invitation to martyrdom: a traditional song is often sung in the community that goes “We are a martyr church “ …

But luckily there is also a strong tradition in the country that affirms “we are one people”, Muslims and Christians. According to this tradition, Muslims are seen as Copts who have changed religion. All this reinforces the sense of identity as a people, because Egypt (unlike other Arab countries) is not an amalgam of different peoples and tribes, but it one people of both religions. But that sentiment is opposed by fanatical movements.

The reasons for recourse to religion: poverty and ignorance

If this is your situation, I believe that to ensure a future for the Arab Spring, the root causes that generated it must be addressed.

The first is the economy, of which I have already spoken.

The second cause is ignorance, which makes extremist arguments, and religious discourses of the imams more sensitive, because they offer a security linked to religion. The more one is educated, the more one understands that religion is not everything, that religion must also include living together, that it also includes freedom of choice, even if that choice is an error. These are difficult concepts to admit, unless one has a certain freedom of thought and reflection.

In Egypt there is a part of the population that is well educated, but the majority have no education at all, and in recent decades there has been a further regression of education.

The spread of education has not kept pace with its depth. Also because the whole system since the revolution [of Nasser — ed], went in the direction of accepting a low level of education: anyone who achieves up to 50% in their final exam, it is acceptable to be a professor or teacher [2].

The other source of education are churches and mosques. But here the level is no better, as there is fundamentalism both among Christians and Muslims. The point is that in the churches, the “Christian fundamentalism” does not result in violent attacks. Instead, in the Islamic tradition it can lead to violence in the name of God, to defend the true religion.

There is an Islamic site named “True Religion”. Every so often I visit it and it is an incredible example of fanaticism, anti-Gospel, against Christ as perceived by Christians, a sort of apologetic against Christianity. I have tried to talk with them sometimes, pointing out that each has his own dogmas, which are improvable, but unfortunately all education in Egypt is based on the principle “I have the truth and I have to do everything possible to bend you to my truth.” Among Christians, however, this does not lead to the constriction of the other. Among Muslims, instead the path of violence to force what I believe to be the truth is possible, accusing the other of being an “unbeliever (kafir)”.

First verbal violence, then it turns physical.

The importance of Education

In conclusion, an education to the rules of democratic life, with the right to dissent, must be implemented. It should be noted that all our revolutions have been a military nature, for which we have forgotten the respect for the opinion of others. A Muslim intellectual Tarek Heggy, said it will take at least two decades to re-learn democracy. We should be patient, but we must also fight for change.

The youth movement is clear on all of these values and needs, but it should focus in order to combat these causes: employment for all, a higher level of education for all, learning to practice democracy in the family, church, mosque [3] in politics …

This also touches on the West: in the way it has acted, is it responding to these needs? I think not, not in the slightest. The West has not even consider education as a factor, instead they should help to raise the level. Neither do I think they are helping with regards the economy. A project that is also based on generosity is needed to rebuild the economy. Instead rich countries are working very hard for their profits, are being far from generous. Their investments are all for the benefit of a small part, the ruling or business class. But the fruits do not reach the people.

This is one of the reasons that sparked the revolt: in our country there is a class that has become very rich. Why? How is it possible that the gap between rich and poor is calculated up to 100 times? In a European country, the difference between rich and poor is perhaps 1 to 20. This enormous distance that we see is due to corruption.

The West and other countries need to realise that it is in their interest to support equality, democracy, education: these are values that do not bear fruit immediately, but in the long term, maybe in 20 years. Moreover, helping the poor will have a positive impact on the economy because it allows more consumption. If everyone is poor, there is nothing to buy. If people are poor, there will be no incentive to send their children to school, to get them to work immediately.

For all of these reasons, the West can not simply just take on policing duties in Syria, Libya, Bahrain, it must find ways to support the economy, education, democracy.

Likewise, peace is the road to well being. Egypt, long ago chose the path of peace with Israel, because it is more convenient for the good of the population. In other Arab countries the desire for war is still too great, the pride of wanting to “avenge” the enemy. And then, what profit is there in revenge? No peace without justice, said Pope John Paul, but he added, however: There is no justice without forgiveness!

Joint projects for Muslims and Christians

The concern of Christians is how to defuse religious fanaticism. It is true that here and a new way of thinking is emerging. Imam Usama al-Qusi, who led the youth on Tahrir Square, has made dozens of speeches saying it is not necessary to have an Islamic system. Instead there are precise rules on the economy, participation, diplomacy, etc.. He concludes that it is not necessary to be Muslim to lead a country. This type of calm, quiet, real reasoning, that’s what it takes to educate ourselves to coexistence.

Another important element is to launch joint projects between Christians and Muslims. An example: hospitals in Egypt are avoided because of the low quality of healthcare. On the other hand, the nurses are paid so little, that for every treatment — though their duty — they ask for money. From this point of view, any attempt to launch healthcare projects in favour of the population is a very important path of education: this is what makes the Muslim Brotherhood very welcome in some neighbourhoods of Cairo. But even the Christian nuns are highly respected because of their involvement in schools and hospitals.

Creating joint projects between Christians and Muslims, is the way to experience that coexistence is pleasant and helpful for everyone.

[1] There is an in re basis to the issue: the two women, wanting to leave their husbands, became Muslim. This because Shenouda III has made it impossible for Coptic Christian couples to divorce, which is instead allowed in the Orthodox Churches

[2] The Egyptian system, for 50 years or more, has imposed a uniform system of final examination to enter university. Those who obtain the highest level have to study medicine; then comes pharmacy, followed by physics… the lowest level is between teachers and traders. These low level people are also the least paid. In this way, the education system has been destroyed

[3] The Coptic Church is strongly hierarchical, more so then the Catholic Church and a lacks dialogue. An example of this stifling hierarchical structure is the question of pilgrimages to Jerusalem. For several years the Patriarch Shenouda III forbade the faithful to go to Jerusalem. The decision is a political one, to express their criticism of Israel. The problem is that anyone who dares to go to Jerusalem — and there are many who go there for religious reasons — can be excommunicated! As a result the faithful invent ways to get around the measure: changing their name, on their return they publish requests for forgiveness in the newspapers, etc … All this shows that we have no formation in freedom and dialogue

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

Italy Leading More Than 30 Per Cent of Military Operations in Libya

For Libya expert, historian Angelo Del Boca, the war continues amid widespread disinterest and unwillingness to pursue a diplomatic solution. Since the start of the operation, Italy has spent a billion Euros. NATO and Arab countries are planning the post-Gaddafi phase, but are leaving out the part of the population still loyal to the Tripoli government. The crisis will not be solved just when the strongman is removed.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) — Even though Italy entered the war providing only limited military and logistical support, it now leads 30 per cent of the operations against Libya, on par with France and Great Britain, journalist and historian Angelo Del Boca told AsiaNews. For the Libya expert, “the war goes one amid widespread disinterest, especially in Italy, despite the huge costs and the unwillingness to find a diplomatic solution.”

Italy’s military operation began on 22 March. According to government statements, the intervention was supposed to be limited to letting NATO use Italian air bases and providing fighters to maintain the No Fly Zone over Libya as part of the alliance’s Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) operation. The initial engagement did not include attacks against Libyan troops, convoys and military installation.

For Del Boca, the high costs of the operation will force Italy to abandon its Libya mission. According to Italy’s Interior Ministry, the operation has already cost 1 billion Euros (US$ 1.3 billion)

Meanwhile NATO, Arab league and Western powers are already preparing the post-Gaddafi phase as the number of countries that back the Benghazi rebels grows with pledges of weapons and weapons.

Today, the United Arab Emirates recognised the National Transitional Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, announcing the opening soon of a diplomatic office in Benghazi.

However, local sources say that residents in area still held by the Libyan strongman want their say, calling for an immediate end to air strikes and a stop to the war.

“The NATO action not only violates UN Resolution 1973 but also the articles that prevent foreign powers from intervening in civil wars,” Del Boca said.

Still, despite the huge costs, NATO is still hoping to kill Gaddafi. But even if he is taken out, the crisis will continue.

“The countries that started this war are convinced that with Gaddafi out of the way, everything will be settled,” the historian said. “In reality, according to my sources, hundreds of thousands of people still support the Libyan government. What will happen to them once the offensive is over?”

“NATO continues its raids against the capital and its immediate vicinity,” Mgr Martinelli said from Tripoli. “Fighters fly over our heads day and night.”

“Three months since the start of the mission in Libya, bombs have not solved anything,” the prelate said. “There are still no solutions to end this war and appeals for a truce have gone unheeded.” (S.C.)

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

Just 26% Favor Continued Military Action in Libya

A plurality of voters now opposes further U.S. military action in Libya, and most say President Obama needs congressional approval to continue those operations.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters feel the United States should continue its military actions in Libya. Forty-two percent (42%) are opposed and 32% are undecided.

But 59% agree the president should get the approval of Congress if he wants to continue U.S. military action in Libya. Twenty-one percent (21%) say congressional approval is not needed. Another 20% are not sure.

This marks a jump in support for congressional authorization from mid-March just after the president committed U.S. military forces to helping anti-government rebels in Libya. At that time, 47% said the president should have gotten congressional approval before ordering the military into action in Libya. Thirty-four percent (34%) said the prior approval of Congress was not necessary, but 19% were undecided.

Most voters remain skeptical of how soon U.S. military involvement in Libya will end. Just 32% think it is at least somewhat likely that U.S. military operations in Libya will be over by the end of the year, with 10% who say it is Very Likely. Fifty-four percent (54%), however, think it is unlikely those operations will be done by the close of the year, including 14% who say it is Not At All Likely. Another 14% are not sure.

This is comparable to findings in late April.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 10-11, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

The House of Representatives last week passed a measure requiring the president to come back with a full report on military actions in Libya by the end of the month. A second measure with bipartisan support calling for an end to the Libyan mission was defeated.

The president insists that NATO allies like Great Britain and France are now taking leading military operations in Libya, with the United States taking a back seat since the early weeks of the campaign. U.S. voters arenâ€(tm)t so sure: 38% believe the military operations in Libya are being handled primarily by U.S. allies like England and France, but 32% think the United States is primarily in charge.

Fifty percent (50%) of Republicans and a plurality (46%) of voters not affiliated with either major party believe the United States should end its military action in Libya. Democrats are more narrowly divided, but 41% of those in the presidentâ€(tm)s party are undecided.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of GOP voters and 68% of unaffiliateds feel the president should get the approval of Congress if he wants to continue military action in Libya. A plurality (47%) of Democrats agrees.

Most Republican and unaffiliated voters think an end to U.S. military action in Libya is unlikely by the end of the year. Democrats are evenly divided on the question.

The majority (54%) of Political Class voters, on the other hand, think U.S. military involvement in Libya is likely to be over by the end of the year. Sixty percent (60%) of Mainstream voters say itâ€(tm)s unlikely..

While 48% of Political Class voters support continued military action in Libya, 49% of those in the Mainstream do not. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Mainstream voters believe the president needs congressional approval to continue operations in Libya, but the Political Class is closely divided.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Libya: UN: Already 15 Thousand War Victims

(ANSAmed) — GENEVA, JUNE 10 — Between ten and fifteen thousand people on both sides have already died in the war in Libya: this statement was made by Sherif Bassiouni, who led a mission of the United Nations Human Rights Council in April to Tripoli and the rebel strongholds.

The UN commission has found evidence of war crimes committed by Gaddafi’s troops, including attacks on civilians, rescue workers and medical units. Aircrafts, tanks, artillery, Grad missiles and snipers have been used in the attacks. The commission has also found evidence of crimes committed by the opposition forces. Libya has denied the charges and has accused the rebels of carrying out massacres and of cannibalism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Gates: Mission at Risk Due to NATO Shortcomings

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 10 — The material or political “shortcomings” of NATO could “compromise” the effectiveness of the alliance’s missions in Libya, according to US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

Gates said in his “final political address” before his retirement, stepping aside for his successor Leon Panetta, that it is “painfully clear that the shortcomings in investments and broad political consensus” have “the potential to compromise the possibilities of conducting an integrated, effective and enduring military campaign”. Gates also mentioned a possible “two-speed alliance” formed by countries that want to make political and economic investments in favour of “crucial European interests” and those that prefer to “support only humanitarian operations”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Mgr Martinelli Calls for Diplomatic Steps, Says He is Not Hiding Gaddafi in Church

The Libya Contact Group is meeting in Abu Dhabi to discuss the country’s post-Gaddafi future. For the apostolic vicar to Tripoli, the West’s inflexibility vis-à-vis its Libyan counterpart could prolong the war beyond the three months anticipated by NATO.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) — Mgr Giovanni Martinelli, apostolic vicar to Tripoli, said he was saddened by the ways the media was covering the war against Gaddafi. Speaking about the Italian press, the prelate denied claims that appeared in some papers that he was hiding the Libyan strongman inside the vicariate. “These people have no respect even for a place of worship like a church,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Libya Contact Group met for the third time in Abu Dhabi. The foreign ministers of Italy, Great Britain, France as well as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and representatives of the Arab League discussed ways to fund the rebel-led National Transitional Council as well as what to do after the removal of Gaddafi, who, for the time being, is not planning to accommodate them.

“I have said several times that a diplomatic approach is needed to end this war,” Mgr Martinelli said, “but no one wants to try” this path. “The various diplomats who have travelled to Tripoli have not solved anything or have not been heeded. The West prefers to hit with weapons.”

The bishop said that such an approach could prolong the war beyond the three months anticipated by NATO. This will have serious consequences for the population, which continues to suffer from air strikes.

In recent raids, NATO has dropped 80 bombs and missiles. According to the Libyan press, about 70 people have been wounded, a claim that is impossible to verify.

“Today the situation is calm but on Monday air strikes were intense,” Mgr Martinelli said. “Bombs were dropped around the city and against Gaddafi’s bunker for 24 hours. They did give us any let-up; it felt like the world was going to collapse.” (S.C.)

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

Libyan War: How Much Longer?

De Volkskrant, 9 June 2011

“The West should realise that Libya is not Kosovo,” runs the front page headline in Dutch daily De Volksrant following a NATO meeting on the issue, held on June 8. The paper points out that the “the difficult war in Libya” has lasted for 82 days while the war in Kosovo in 1999 ended after 78 days of bombings. “The question is becoming more and more painful for the West and its allies: how much longer?” the paper notes at a time when the General Secretary of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says he’s “optimistic” about the mission and persuaded that the Gadhafi era is soon to be in the past, yet government forces are still bombing the rebel town of Misrata and NATO bombed 40 targets in broad daylight. But “pumping up the pressure” doesn’t seem to have impressed Gadhafi who declared on Libya television on June 7 that he had but “a single choice; go all the way”.

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

Tourism: Egyptian Minister to Italy, Don’t Abandon Us

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 10 — Tourism must take off again at any price, because without this important sector Egypt’s GDP would collapse. The Egyptian government continues its efforts in this direction and last night in Rome, in front of a large audience of travel agents and reporters, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abd El Nour repeated the concept: “Don’t abandon Egypt”.

“I have met many of you in these hours”, the Minister told the audience, “I have heard requests and suggestions and I am ready to do all I can to make your work in Egypt easier”. “We are closely linked”, he pointed out. “We are partners, and if things go wrong in Egypt your business will feel the impact. So it is in our common interest to leave this crisis behind us”, said Abd El Nour. The April figures, he continued, “tell us that the decline in visitors compared with the same month in 2010 is still high (-35%), but we hope to see a return to normal levels in September and to see a further recovery this summer, thanks to Italian and Arab tourists, who traditionally visit the Red Sea.

The Minister announced that next week a very aggressive campaign will be started in the media, and particularly on Italian and overseas television. “There will also be advertisements on CNN and Euronews”. Yesterday the Egyptian Minister also had a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, with whom he has signed a written understanding. “The document”, he explains, “should facilitate an exchange of information on the sustainability of investments in the tourism sector and the transfer of know-how from Italy to Egypt to improve the level of accommodations in our country”.

Diversification will be another way of promoting tourism in the land of the Pharaohs, because Egypt is more than sea and archaeology. “We also want to develop ecotourism and Italian investments in this sector are welcome”, said Abd El Nour.

The tour operators on the other hand have asked the Minister for decisive interventions. “We have asked Minister Abd El Nour to make heavy investments in communication. The Italian market must be reassured”, said Mario Roci, director of Settemari Spa, a tour operator present on the Egyptian market and manager of three hotels on the Red Sea. “We must make people understand that Egypt is still a country of sun and sea”. Currently the recovery is slow, the entrepreneur complains. “Between March and April”, he said, “we recorded a 60% drop in bookings for Sharm El Sheikh and a 50% decline for Marsa Alam”.

Meanwhile Minister Abd El Nour has invited his counterpart Brambilla to visit Egypt, in an attempt to send an even clearer message. “This visit would make a strong impact”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ben Ali Relative Flees on Yacht, Skipper Convicted

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 10 — The skipper who has been charged with helping Belhassen Trabelsi — one of the brothers-in-law of former President Ben Ali — flee Tunisia has been sentenced to one month in prison (which he has already served in detention).

Trabelsi fled the country on January 14, the day the regime fell. Business News reports that the skipper has claimed that he has been put under heavy pressure by the former dictator’s brother-in-law, whom he took to the Italian coast on a yacht.

The man confessed that he has received 5,000 dinars (just under 2,500 euros) for his assistance. After his voluntary return to Tunisia, the man went to the police and confessed everything.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Armed Escort for Students After Tribal Clashes

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 9 — The 700 students who were meant to hold their secondary school exams in the city of Metlaoui (in the Gafsa governorate, southern Tunisia) were escorted today by police and Army forces on the road they took, on school busses, to reach their exam premises. The measure was adopted after that the city experienced, in recent days, the revival of frictions between tribes that lead to 12 casualties and 100 wounded, accompanied by assaults and lootings on public buildings and shops. Circumstances which induced security authorities to impose a curfew.

Farid Sadraoui, director of one of the exam centres in Metlaoui, told Tap that none of the students skipped their exam date. The governor of Gafsa, Taoufik Khalfallah, attended the opening of the exam session.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas Must Recognise Israel, Says Berlusconi

Rome, 13 June (AKI) — Israel’s recognition by radical Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is a “priority objective” for peace between the Palestian people and the Jewish state, Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday in Rome.

“I believe that peace can only be achieved through a shared initiative, that is through negotiations. So I therefore reject unilateral solutions,” Berlusconi said.

He was speaking at a press conference with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after talks between the two leaders and ahead of a United Nations vote in September that could recognise an independent Palestinian state.

Netanyahu is seeking international support for Israel after Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he will seek recognition for a new Palestinian state at the UN’s General Assembly meeting in September if peace negotiations with Israel remain stalemated.

“Peace is only possible through negotiations,” Berlusconi said, reiterating earlier comments opposing a UN vote recognising Palestine as a fully independent state.

Asked by journalists asked if Israel intends to stop its controversial building of new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Netanyahu claimed the problem was a failure to recognise the Jewish State.

“Many people think the settlements are the root of the conflict, but this is not so. The root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist,” Netanyahu stated.

“If PA president Mahmoud Abbas recognises Israel, there will be peace,” said Netanyahu, adding that a UN vote recognising a new Palestinian state would harm the prospects for successful peace negotiations.

Hamas in May signed a landmark agreement in Cairo to form a unity government with the more moderate Palestinian faction Fatah, but Hamas’ charter remains sworn to the destruction of Israel.

Israel had “no better friend” than Berlusconi, Netanyahu claimed.

“He is a great friend of the Jewish people and of Israel,” Netanyahu stated adding that the Rome summit had “strengthened this important friendship”.

Berlusconi during a three-day visit to Israel in February 2010 called for the Jewish state to be brought into the European Union.

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

Italy Against the Jews

Special: Murky wave of anti-Israel zeal, demonization of Jews growing at alarming rate in Italy

The first months of 2011 have confirmed Italy’s status as one of Iran’s biggest European trade partners, all while the ayatollahs pursue the means to perpetuate a second Holocaust. Rome is doing business as usual with the greatest totalitarian threat to international peace and security since the defeats of Soviet communism and Nazi fascism, providing a lifeline to an Iranian regime that is cruel at home, sponsors terror abroad and preaches anti-Jewish revolt.

Meanwhile, a murky wave of anti-Israel zeal is also growing at an alarming rate in Italy. “The old anti-Jewish libels are now aimed at the State of Israel”, says Stefano Gatti, one of the top researchers at the Center for Documentation in Milan.

Pro-Palestinian activists are threatening to “ignite” Milan, the financial capital of Italy where an Israeli exhibit is going displayed in a central square. Meanwhile, the city of Turin hosted a “cultural festival” where the image of Shimon Peres was used as a shoe-throwing target. For one euro, Italian students had the chance to hit the face of Israel’s president, who was fitted with a Nazi-style Jewish nose.

An Israeli student at the University of Genoa has been harassed and threatened with death by Arab students. Muslim students shouted at him “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and “Itbach el Yahud” (slaughter the Jews.) Another Israeli student at the University of Turin, Amit Peer, confessed that “the Jews here are hiding their own identity because they risk becoming a target.”

Meanwhile, demonization of the Jews is spreading in the liberal media. Leftist newspaper “Il Manifesto” published a caricature of a Jewish candidate for parliament, Fiamma Nirenstein, with Fascist insignia, a campaign button and a Star of David. The cartoon “Electoral Monsters” was dubbed “Fiamma Frankenstein.”

L’Unità, the official newspaper of the leftist Democratic Party, published an interview with anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, where she claimed that Israel is a world leader in organ trafficking. The accusation resembled that of the Middle Ages blood libel whereby Jews were accused of kidnapping Christian and Muslim children before Passover in order to murder them and use their blood for matza.

Lists of boycotted Israeli products

Ucoii, the largest Islamic organization in Italy, published an ad in many mainstream newspapers entitled “Nazi Bloodshed Yesterday, Israeli Bloodshed Today.” An Italian court ruled that the Nazification of Israel came under “freedom of expression” and was not a case of incitement to hatred.

In 2009, Italy sent the largest European delegation of artists to an Iranian cartoonist festival on the Holocaust. The cartoons presented the Holocaust as an invention of Jews with hooked noses typical of Nazi propaganda.

Pisa, Rome and Bologna are among the most prestigious Italian universities that annually host anti-Zionist conferences and pro-Intifada speakers. Israeli attaché Shai Cohen was prevented from speaking at Pisa University after a violent attack by students, who called out “butcher, fascist, assassin.” The Israeli ambassador, Ehud Gol, fled Florence University after a similar “protest.”

Meanwhile, the Riccione city council sponsored a meeting against “the militarism of Israel,” explaining that “Israeli governments don’t represent the Jewish people.” The Coop and Conad, two of the largest supermarket chains in Italy, for some weeks last year removed Israeli products from their shelves in the name of a boycott of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Lists of boycotted Israeli products have been launched also by local Christian communities and leftist groups, targeting L’Oreal, Ahava and other firms.

Flaica, a trade union with 8,000 members working in large-scale retail, promoted the boycott of “all Rome shops managed by Jews” and drew up lists of Jewish-owned shops to be avoided, because of “what is happening in Gaza.” In Rome, a new pro-Hamas Freedom Flotilla has just been presented in the official buildings of the Professional Order of the Journalists, a body financed by the Italian government. Some members of Turkish terror group IHH were also on hand.

Anti-Semitism becoming fashionable

The Foreign Press Association in Rome, a state-funded institution, suspended two journalists, both Jews: Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent Menachem Gantz and French journalist Ariel Dumont. Iranian journalist Masoumi Nejad, who has been arrested for a arms trading involving Italy and Iran, has never been expelled by the association.

Anti-Semitism is becoming fashionable also among the “chattering classes”, intellectuals and academicians. Actress Sabina Guzzanti attacked the “Jewish race” in a primetime television program. Literary guru Alberto Asor Rosa wrote in a book on the transformation of the Jews from “a persecuted race” to “a warrior persecutor race.” Renowned leftist philosopher Gianni Vattimo declared that he had “re-evaluated” “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and now felt they largely reflect the truth about the Jews.

The slandering of Israel is also growing among the most important Catholic journalists. Vittorio Messori, who conducted the first book-length interview with Pope John Paul II, recently wrote an editorial for the Italian daily “Il Corriere della sera” where he stated: “All governments of all Muslim nations are under the tsunami of the violent intrusion of Zionism that has come to put its capital in Jerusalem.”…

[Return to headlines]

Report: US Gives Netanyahu Ultimatum on Resuming Talks

The United States gave Netanyahu an ultimatum on renewing negotiations with the Palestinians, according to reports cited by Israel Radio Sunday morning.

According to the ultimatum, Netanyahu has to decide within a month whether he agrees to accept US President Barack Obama’s platform and resume talks based on 1967 lines.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu was expected to travel to Italy on Sunday where he will meet his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Findalis[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Anatolia: Bronze Age Brain Surgeons

5,000 years ago, people living in Turkey were surprisingly good at what seems like a purely modern practice.

You might shudder at the mere thought of ancient brain surgery, but recent studies of the practice at Bronze Age sites in Turkey suggest that early neurosurgeons were surprisingly precise and that a majority of their patients may have survived.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Clashes in Southern Yemen Between the Army and Al Qaeda

(AGI) Sanaa — At least 140 people have died in two weeks of clashes in Zinjibar between the Yemeni army and al Qaeda insurgents. A military source gave the estimate, saying that “at least 80 members of the security forces, including soldiers, have been killed and over 200 wounded.” The extremists have lost more than “60 militants, including local leaders” of the terror network and “at least 90 others have been wounded.” .

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

Italy to Offer Aid to Christians Under Threat in Iraq

Frattini says more should be done to stop exodus

(ANSA) — Baghdad, June 8 — Italy will offer aid to Christians under threat in Iraq to help them stay in the country, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on an official visit to Baghdad on Wednesday.

Following a meeting with Christian leaders at the Italian embassy, Frattini said Christians were fleeing their homeland primarily because they were under threat.

“The situation of Christians in Iraq is unsatisfactory, not only because of their security but their difficulty in being part of the social fabric,” Frattini said.

“They are isolated in the workplace, in access to schools and in their search for a home. “Because of this I have proposed (Catholic charity) Caritas look at projects where Italian co-operation could help works aimed at the Christian minority, like lodging and schools”.

In January Frattini called for concerted action from the European Union after an exodus of besieged Christians from Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries and the New Year’s Eve bombing in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, where 23 Coptic Christians were killed.

Frattini has condemned attacks on Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere saying violence or threats against religious minorities were unacceptable.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The AKP’s Disappointing Victory: Erdogan Falls Short of Goal in Turkish Elections

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won a third term in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Turkey. But he fell short of his stated goal of a two-thirds majority, which would have allowed him to unilaterally change the constitution. His AKP was hampered by a strong showing by the Kurds and ultra-nationalists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Jordan King’s Convoy Attacked, But the Government Deny

(AGI) Amman — The Jordan king Abdullah II car convoy was attacked with stones and empty bottles by a group of young demonstrators, during the royal visit to Tafileh, a city in the southern part of the kingdom. According to security sources, no one was hurt and the car convoy changed route. However, Taher Adwan, the Jordan government spokesperson, denied the news.

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

Turkey: West’s Concerns About Erdogan Growing

For a long time the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was seen as something of a “Godsend” for Turkey by the West. It’s embracing of Turkey’s European Union bid, as well as new approach to the Cyprus problem shortly after it was elected in 2002 helped to dispel any fears in the post 9/11 period that “Islamists had taken over Turkey.”

As the AKP went into democratic struggle with the politically intrusive military, and developed a new line of argumentation on the Kurdish issue over time, its prestige grew further in the West. Erdogan’s remark that he was not elected to support the status quo also enhanced his standing in Western eyes.

Here was the party that would bring down the ossified castles of the “anti-reformist” and “politically reactionary Kemalists,” represented at the time by the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, led by Deniz Baykal and his cronies.

Certain remarks and actions by Mr. Erdogan, for example his intolerance towards the media, which reflected his Islamist origins were also conveniently overlooked in the West then as he was given the benefit of the doubt since he was considered ultimately to be a reformist.

It also took time for the West to question the legal irregularities involved in the Ergenekon case, which was seen more in the light of the AKP’s drive to clip the political wings of the Turkish armed forces. The AKP’s “zero problem” policy in foreign affairs, spearheaded by it’s the peripatetic Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, was also much admired and helped elevate Ankara to the league of “key international players.”

Doubts of course emerged, especially after Erdogan’s open campaign against Israel, and his embracing of Iran and countries like Sudan, that Turkey was shifting its foreign policy axis from its traditional Western orientation, towards a more “Eastern” and “Islamic” orientation.

The gradual loss of enthusiasm over the EU bid, mainly due to the “Sarkozy-Merkel Factor” also fueled this perception. Still there were many in Turkey and in the West who argued that this was not Ankara shifting ground but expanding its options in the foreign policy domain, something considered to be normal in the case of a country whose economy was visibly growing in leaps and bounds.

There were also those who welcomed the expansion into the Middle East as a consummation of Turkey’s role as a “bridge between the West and the Islamic worlds,” given that it has a foot in both, and seen as a factor that would help diffuse the emerging “clash of civilizations.”

Commentary in the Western media, in the lead-up to the elections on the June 12, the most prominent one being the one in last week’s Economist, which angered Erdogan no end, indicate however that the wind may be turning.

Today it is Erdogan’s “intolerance” of his opponents and the media, his having reverted to a nationalist line on the Kurdish issue, and his visibly Islamist animosity towards Israel that is being highlighted even if some tribute is still being paid to the reforms achieved by his government.

International commentators, as in the case of the Economist, have also started calling on Turkish voters to vote for the CHP, which is a changed party under its new leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, in order that the AKP does not get the majority in the elections, which will enable it to change the constitution single handedly and according to its own view of the world.

As an aside here it must be said such “interference” from the outside, especially if they come from the West, usually have the opposite result to what is desired since Turks are prone to see these as representing “wily Western designs aimed at undermining the country to realize age old desires.”

It is not for nothing that Erdogan is now accusing those coming up with such commentary as being the external wings of the domestic gangs trying to undermine the will of the people and hence Turkey’s democratic environment.

Given Erdogan has effectively turned against the West, thanks largely as we said to the Sarkozy-Merkel factor, and he is not stepping down in terms of Israel, an issue of high sensitivity to Europe and the United States, there is every indication he is about to take on where Malaysia’s Muhammad Mahathir left off.

What undoubtedly increases the concern here is that Erdogan, who feels very strong politically both at home and in the Islamic world, shows in so many ways he could care less for what the West says about him and his party. In addition to this it is clear his natural constituents do not have an overbearing desire to be part of the West anyway.

To the contrary they have serious doubts not just about the EU and what they consider to be its maltreatment of Turkey, but also about NATO, which they consider to be the West’s principle devise for visiting violence on Islamic people from Afghanistan to Libya, overlooking what it did for the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo.

There is also a perception among many Turks that while Europe is in decline at the moment Turkey is on the ascendant economically and strategically and this is helping Erdogan. This is also fuelling the notion that Ankara’s relations with Europe should be based more on economic self-interest, rather than on an effort aimed at integrating with a continent that has little love for Turkey anyway.

The short of all this is that unless a new “modus vivendi” and an new narrative is established between Turkey and Europe, the chances are the AKP that comes out of next weekend’s elections stronger and reenergized will have even less patience for the West.

In this sense those who are worrying now that Turkey will shift axis away from the West even more after the elections seem to be justified. It is clear the West will certainly have a very abrasive Erdogan to deal with if the election results return his party with a landslide, as some polls indicated it might.

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


Dagestan: Dean of an Islamic University Killed. Remembered by Russian Church

He was a Sufi Muslim. Moscow Patriarchate: Sadikov was a “good friend” now the state and the nation will help the Muslim Ummah to reject extremism.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — The Russian Orthodox Church has joined the condemnation of political and Islamic authorities of the recent murder of a prominent Muslim community leader in Dagestan. At the same time it offers its cooperation to combat religious extremism in the Caucasus republic.

The murder of Maksud I. Sadikov, rector of the Institute of Theology and international relations, last June 7 in the city of Makhachkala, has continued to stir controversy in Russia. Of Sufi orientation, Sadikov led the university since 2003 promoting moderate education, with financial support from the Kremlin; he had launched a program of introduction of Sufism in the schools in the region in order to fight terrorism by supporting this form of mystical and more tolerant Islam. Shot, while in his car with a relative, Sadikov had been the target of threats from guerrillas of the North Caucasus for several months. For now, however, the police have not identified a culprit, while the authorities in Dagestan have promised to bring the murderers to justice.

Some Muslim spiritual leaders have already called the dean a “martyr of the faith.” “Maksud I. Sadikov argued that the best weapon against political and religious extremism was a sound education in religion — said the Muftis of All Russia in a statement to, one of the organizations representing Muslims in the Federation — which is why he supported all the forces who opposed the rise of Wahhabism in the North Caucasus. “

The Moscow Patriarchate has commemorated a person they considered a “good friend of our Church”. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, head of the department for relations between the Church and society affirmed: the assassination of Sadikov shows that “Muslims who respect the historical traditions of their people and encourage the faithful of Islam to opt for peace and dialogue continue to be victims of terrorists who seek to justify their crimes with religious matters”.

According to Chaplin, it’s time that “the State and the entire nation help the Islamic umma in Russia to decidedly reject those arguments that do not favor peace, the creation of fraternal cooperation with other nations and religions in the country.”

Like other members of the moderate Islamic community already killed the past few months, Sadikov was a target for Islamic terrorists, whose strategy in the North Caucasus includes symbolic actions rather than targeted killings in public places. Last year, for example, in Kabardino-Balkaria the following were assassinated: first the famous ethnographer Tipinov Arsen, a professor of philological sciences and promoter of Circassian culture, accused of paganism by the extremists, then the Mufti Anas Pshikhachev, killed Dec. 15, ‘guilty’ of having fought “against Islam.”

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

South Asia

Arabs: Indonesia Back Lagarde for IMF Top Job

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who has been on a whirlwind tour touting her credentials to head the International Monetary Fund, on Sunday won the backing of Egypt, Indonesia and the UAE. In Cairo, Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi announced Egypt’s support for Lagarde, who is running against Mexico’s central bank chief Agustin Carstens and dark horse candidate Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel. “The Egyptian government supports the candidacy of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the post of managing director of the IMF,” the official MENA news agency quoted Arabi as saying, after he met Lagarde in Cairo.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Migrant Workers in China Attack Police in Third Day of Riots

Angry migrant workers in China have attacked police and burned dozens of cars and buses during three days of rioting near the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou, in the latest of a series of recent incidents of social unrest to sweep the country.

The three days of violence flared in the town Xintang — a centre for garment factories — after reports circulated that a pregnant street vendor had been pushed to the ground by municipal police, sending more than 1,000 workers onto the streets.

Online videos of the clashes showed buses on fire while protesters blocked traffic, attacked cars and defied a cordon of Chinese police.

Apparently trivial incidents frequently trigger unrest in China where they are seen as a symbol of the larger problems of endemic local corruption and heavy handedness that pits ordinary people against the state.

In a separate incident further north, in Lichuan city in Hubei province, several hundred protesters laid siege to government offices last week after a reports that a local official who was trying to resolve a land dispute died as a result a beating received while in police custody.

Local people used microblogging sites to publish pictures of the streets filled with riot police as China’s massive security apparatus moved to restore order.

Land disputes, where officials use their powers to requisition land for highly profitable development while paying low-levels of compensation, are another common source of resentment that often sparks violent protest.

Last month a businessman killed four people and wounded nine others after setting off three bombs in the southern city of Fuzhou, an act of despair reportedly caused by another property confiscation dispute.

Last Friday a bomb was also detonated in the northeastern port city of Tianjin by a disgruntled man, Chinese state media reported, while last month Inner Mongolia saw its biggest demonstrations in 20 years after a protest against mining interests in the province.

China leaders are constantly on their guard to maintain what they term “social stability”, using a combination of forceful policing, social investment and propaganda controls.

In recent months the Jasmine revolutions sweeping the Middle East have provoked a widespread tightening of media controls and the arrest of many dissidents, lawyers, artists and activists considered a potential threat to maintaining order.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Greenhouse Gas Pains: Shoot the Farting Camels?

Australian officials are hoping to curb carbon emissions by killing off feral camels in the outback, but U.S. researchers say the cows are the country’s main carbon-emitting animals, and lowering the camel population isn’t enough.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Battisti in Hotel With Girlfriend, 26

Cesare Battisti leaves prison with antidepressant addiction, awaiting arrival of daughters from France

BRASILIA — Shut up in a Brasilia hotel, hounded by the press and bereft of any documents that would enable him to slip onto a plane, Cesare Battisti waits as the efficient team of lawyers and lobbyists that saved him from life imprisonment in Italy continues to beaver away. His first day as a free man is also his last as a fugitive from Italian justice, a flight that began with his escape from Frosinone prison in 1981. Precisely thirty years ago. Battisti needs a residence permit so as not to fall foul of the law again in Brazil, “my new homeland” as he called it yesterday evening as he breathed in Brasilia’s cool, dry tableland air. “Problems? I don’t think so”, preened Battisti’s lawyer Luis Roberto Barroso. “Battisti had the word of the president of Brazil. The rest is merely red tape”.

The former terrorist left Papuda prison a few minutes after midnight, three hours after the supreme court ruled to turn down Italy’s requests. Battisti was his usual defiant self in a freshly ironed white shirt, his hair uncombed but with no trace of white at the age of 56, a look cultivated in more than four years of imprisonment. In the end, he was saved by a legal and political lobby that knows how to pull strings in Brasilia. Significantly, there to meet him was his most influential lawyer, Luiz Eduardo Greenhalgh, a personal friend of Lula from his days as a militant trade unionist. Greenhalgh’s long-term but effective strategy was to rebrand the former small-town criminal, and subsequently multiple political assassin, as a victim, convincing the Brazilian government that he was a romantic, star-crossed revolutionary now being pursued by a vengeful justice, to use some of the phrases from his addresses to the court. Greenhalgh took Battisti first to an apartment on the outskirts of Brasilia, and then at dawn to the Manhattan Plaza Hotel, where he is waiting for his new documents, his daughters Valentina and Charlene coming from France and for writer Fred Vargas, a friend and long-time campaigner for his release. In the next fortnight, the former terrorist should receive a permanent work visa from the ministry of justice, as the application submitted yesterday explains. Battisti made no statement but he may publicly thank Brazil at some time in the next few days. He is unlikely to talk about Italy or his victims’ families. He has never referred to them in the past and neither has he admitted any responsibility for the four murders of which he was convicted…

English translation by Giles Watson

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


42,000 Migrant Landings in Italy in First 5 Months of 2011

Italian officials report that 42,807 migrants landed in Italy during the first five months of 2011. The arrivals involved 507 separate landings. This number contrasts with 4,406 arrivals in all of 2010 involving 159 separate landings.

Most of the migrants in 2011 have been Tunisian nationals (24,356) whereas Afghans (1699) were the largest group in 2010. Most migrants crossed the Adriatic in 2010 whereas the central Mediterranean is now the location of most migrant voyages.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

74 Irregular Migrants Deported From Italy

Last week 74 non-EU irregular immigrants were deported from Italy using different flights, Ministry of Home Affairs has said. They were mainly Tunisians, Moroccans and Nigerians.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Life for Refugees in Rome

Even when they receive official status, life can be tough for refugees in Rome and many have to rely on religious organisations for help

On a sunny April morning in Rome, crowds are bustling past the fashionable shops on Via Nazionale. Few notice the side-entrance to St Paul’s Within the Walls, the striking pink and cream American Episcopal church, or the people who slip in and out discreetly. But descending the narrow steps to the church’s crypt, you feel as though you are entering another world.

In the basement more than 100 young men — there is just one female refugee at the centre that morning — mill about, some playing ping-pong, others sitting about in their ethnic groups chatting. Half of them are sitting quietly in front of a television screen at one end of the crypt. Bizarrely, these young African, Middle Eastern and Asian men in their 20s and 30s are completely engrossed in the British royal wedding being broadcast live.

The crypt doubles as the Joel Nafuma Refugee Centre and it receives up to 250 political refugees a day, most of them from Afghanistan and Somalia. Not to be confused with other immigrant groups such as economic migrants, the people who use the centre have fled political persecution and wars in their homelands and are in the process of claiming political asylum in Italy.

The centre is an important social hub for them to meet others who speak their language. It provides meals, classes and basic provisions such as second-hand clothing.

Akbatan Abdulla, known by all as Tuana, is the coordinator of refugee services at the centre. He first came to Italy himself a refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan, but his grasp of five languages enabled him to take on this multi-tasking and frenetic role. In between answering questions in Arabic and Farsi from the young men who surround him, registering their personal details and smoothing over minor disputes, Tuana explains some of the problems faced by refugees in Rome.

“It’s very difficult. To get a bed in one of the city’s hostels, they need to show documents, and even so there’s a waiting list. So most people who come here are sleeping on the streets.”

The centre receives those who have been granted political asylum or subsidiary protection as well as those whose asylum application has been refused pending an appeal hearing.

Most of the young men at the centre don’t want to stay in Italy — their ambition is to go to other European countries. Many have spent time in the UK — hence their interest in British events — but the UK authorities have sent them back to the first country in Europe in which they arrived: Italy.

Tuana explains with great regret that there is nothing for them here: “For them, Italy is no better than Afghanistan. Here they are sleeping rough in the street. There at least they have homes.” He believes that the European Union should be doing more to address the issue of political refugees and that all EU countries should share the burden of providing services for asylum seekers.

According to figures from Eurosat, the EU’s statistics body, 11,325 decisions were made on asylum requests in Italy in 2010 and 4,305 — or 38 per cent — of these received a positive decision, i.e. they were granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or permission to stay for humanitarian reasons. The average percentage of positive asylum decisions for EU member states is 25 per cent. The main groups of asylum applicants in Italy in 2010 were from Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

So what are the prospects for a political refugee in Italy? Tuana believes they are bleak. He says: “Most of these people [at the centre] don’t have a future in Italy. The situation is very difficult and now there is the economic crisis too. Many people who come here don’t have high school education, they don’t speak Italian. Female refugees can at least find jobs as domestic helps, but many men will not find work.”

The difficulties are confirmed by Vincent and Sam*, two refugees in their mid-30s from Sierra Leone, who fled their country before the end of the civil war there in 2002. Even though they have subsidiary protection status in Italy, they are now eager to get back to their homeland.

The reason? After years in Italy and despite being physically fit and able to speak English and Italian, both men are still homeless and relying on food hand-outs.

They have stories of racism and intimidation from the police, bureaucratic difficulties and lack of integration with the community. “Do you know how many Italian friends I have here?” Vincent remarks with ironic amusement. These two men are not alone in having come to Italy looking for sanctuary from a war-torn country, only to find that the welfare services needed to support political refugees are not in place.

It is a story familiar to Donatella Parisi, communications officer at the Centro Astalli Foundation a few steps from Piazza Venezia, which provides 300 meals to political refugees in Rome every day. She is now seeing refugees asking for assistance over a much longer time-frame. “We are seeing people continuing to ask for meals after six months because they don’t have an alternative. There is no social assistance for them.”

Centro Astalli, the Italian arm of the Jesuit Refugee Service, is in the front line of refugee assistance in Italy. It offers support, advice, food or beds to 26,000 people each year, 16,000 of them in Rome. Stricter border controls meant that fewer new asylum seekers came to Centro Astalli last year — in the first ten months of 2010 some 8,800 people reached Europe by sea (arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta), compared with 32,000 in the same period of 2009. Parisi adds: “We have seen a drop in the number of people asking us for assistance, but we are seeing people in worse conditions.”

Parisi explains that many of the refugees have endured the most gruelling and horrific traumas, ranging from torture in their homelands and at the hands of human traffickers, dangerous overland journeys hidden in and under haulage trucks, or hazardous sea crossings (many cannot swim). Traffickers can demand US$5,000-€6,000 for a voyage to Europe and people are made to work — or are abused — to pay the traffickers before reaching their destination.

According to Father Giovanni La Manna, president of Centro Astalli, the Italian government needs to do much more to provide international protection to refugees. He writes in the association’s 2011 report: “The national system of assistance [for refugees] is seriously insufficient (in 2010 it provided about 3,000 places). The right to asylum therefore becomes a tragic game of roulette, in which there are the lucky few and many who are excluded.”

*not their real names

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Mexico Finds 210 Migrants Crammed in Truck

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico — Mexican police on Sunday discovered 210 mainly Central and South American migrants crammed inside a truck near the country’s southern border, an immigration official said.

The dehydrated and hungry migrants were found when the truck was searched at a highway checkpoint, said the immigration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk on the record.

Police detained the truck’s driver and his assistant, both of whom will be transferred to a maximum-security prison, the official said.

The migrants were mainly from Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua, but also from India. They were packed so tightly into the truck that they had to remain standing, official said.

The official said the migrants had not eaten in 24 hours and were now being given food and water. They are being held at a Chiapas federal police station awaiting deportation.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants cross Mexico’s southern border on their way to the United States. They are often smuggled in brutal conditions, packed tightly inside tractor trailers on long journeys. They are subject to robbery, extortion and kidnapping along the way.

Loa, a 23-year-old from El Salvador, was among the migrants detained Sunday. He was prohibited by immigration authorities from giving his last name.

Visibly haggard, Loa was buying a meat-filled sandwich passed to him through prison bars from a street vendor.

“It was very hot and we had no water,” he told The Associated Press about his trek, which began Friday. His plan had been to reach Los Angeles.

The United Nations estimates that smuggling migrants into the United States is a $6.6 billion business annually. That doesn’t include another $1 billion paid by thousands of non-Mexicans to cross from Guatemala into Mexico and then travel north toward the U.S. border, according to a 2010 U.N. report on transnational crime.

In May, 513 people were apprehended in two trailers in Chiapas, bordering Guatemala. They represented a cargo worth at least $3.5 million. Another trailer filled with 219 people was discovered in January.

William, 43, one of the 210 migrants picked up Sunday, said he paid $3,000 to smugglers to truck him from Guatemala to the United States to work. He knew that once he was caught there would be no refund.

“There’s no work back home,” said William, who would not reveal his last name.

The truck was traveling on a highway bordering Veracruz state when it was stopped by authorities.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay Pride March ‘Too Noisy’, Complain Chueca Residents

RESIDENTS and traders in Madrid’s Chueca district have called for the city council to stop this summer’s Gay Pride march from going ahead. But this has nothing to do with discriminating against the event per se, stresses Esteban Benito, head of the residents’ association — it is purely about noise levels. He says there are two nursing homes in the area and the din caused by the march prevents the elderly inhabitants from sleeping. Benito claims the racket and volume of people also means shopkeepers do not do any trade on the day of the march.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: The Classes Where Children as Young as Three Learn to Pole Dance

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

To the tiny students at this dance studio, the moves are totally innocent.

In fact, they are being instructed in the sleazy art of pole dancing. And their age? As young as three. Child protection groups yesterday labelled these images from the classes ‘deeply disturbing’.

Parents pay £5 an hour for their daughters to learn pole dancing at the Little Spinners classes. Instructor Carly Wilford insists it helps youngsters keep fit and boosts their self-esteem.

But charity Kidscape warned it was another indication of the growing sexualisation of children, which has prompted Government-backed proposals to protect their innocence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


2011 Set to be Worst Year Ever for Security Breaches

Sony, the data-security firm RSA, Lockheed Martin, the email wholesaler Epsilon, the Fox broadcast network, NASA, PBS, the European Space Agency, the FBI, the British and French treasuries — and, just this morning, the banking and insurance giant Citigroup. What do all these organizations have in common? Along with dozens of other companies and government agencies, they were victims of massive network security breaches in the first six months of this year. “In the last 10 years, I don’t think we’ve seen breaches that have affected consumers at this scale,” said Ondrej Krehel, information security officer for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Identity Theft 911. “It’s been the worst year in a decade.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Computer Security: Is This the Start of Cyberwarfare?

Last year’s Stuxnet virus attack represented a new kind of threat to critical infrastructure.

Just over a year ago, a computer in Iran started repeatedly rebooting itself, seemingly without reason. Suspecting some kind of malicious software (malware), analysts at VirusBlokAda, an antivirus-software company in Minsk, examined the misbehaving machine over the Internet, and soon found that they were right. Disturbingly so: the code they extracted from the Iranian machine proved to be a previously unknown computer virus of unprecedented size and complexity.

“It was the first time we’d analysed a threat that could cause real-world damage, that could actually cause some machine to break, that might be able to cause an explosion,” says Liam O Murchu, chief of security response for the world’s largest computer-security firm, Symantec in Mountain View, California.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

First ‘Living’ Laser Made From Kidney Cell

It’s not quite Cyclops, the sci-fi superhero from the X-Men franchise whose eyes produce destructive blasts of light, but for the first time a laser has been created using a biological cell. The human kidney cell that was used to make the laser survived the experience. In future such “living lasers” might be created inside live animals, which could potentially allow internal tissues to be imaged in unprecedented detail.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nano-Foam Could Plug Underground CO2 Leaks

BURYING carbon dioxide deep underground is an attractive solution to climate change, but keeping the gas from bubbling to the surface may prove difficult. Injecting nanoparticles into underground reservoirs before they are filled with CO2 could make any leaks self-sealing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

When Astronomy Met Computer Science

Digital sky surveys and real-time telescopic observations are unleashing an unprecedented flood of information. Astronomers have recently created new tools to sift through all that data, which could contain answers to some of the greatest questions in cosmology.

The data deluge is already overwhelming astronomers, who in the past endured fierce competition to get just a little observing time at a major observatory. “For the first time in history, we cannot examine all our data,” says George Djorgovski, an astronomy professor and codirector of the Center for Advanced Computing Research at Caltech. “It’s not just data volume. It’s also the quality and complexity. A major sky survey might detect millions or even billions of objects, and for each object we might measure thousands of attributes in a thousand dimensions. You can get a data-mining package off the shelf, but if you want to deal with a billion data vectors in a thousand dimensions, you’re out of luck even if you own the world’s biggest supercomputer. The challenge is to develop a new scientific methodology for the 21st century.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]