Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110619

Financial Crisis
»Bailed Out RBS Shuts Three Care Homes to Save £1.3m… But Boss Who Earns Five Times as Much Won’t Take Pay Cut
»Germany: Who’s Afraid of Big Bad China?
»Greece: The Serf of Europe
»Greece Survey: Half the Nation Against Austerity Package
»Greece: Premier Asks for Unity to Avoid Catastrophic Default
»Green Advocacy Groups, United Nations, Debt Payments
»Italy: UniCredit May Need to Raise 6bln Euros, Analyst Survey Says
»Italy: Trials at Risk as Police Run Out of Petrol
»Juncker Warns Euro Crisis Could Spread to Belgium, Italy
»Tens of Thousands Protest Against Cuts in Madrid
»Wilders Receives Death Threat From Greeks
»Agenda 21 Equals National Suicide
»Al-Qaida Website Publishes Hit List of Americans
»Audio: Farah Exposes Radicals’ Plan to Silence Exposé
»Bomb Threat Prompts Sweep of Plane at Washington Airport
»Diana West: Give Panetta the Pinko Slip
»FBI: No Explosives Found Onboard Plane at Washington Airport
»Last Statement Sent to Sentinel From Self-Immolation Victim
»No Telling Where to Go Next
»US Lawmaker Slams France-Russia Warship Deal
Europe and the EU
»9/11-Style Attack on Reichstag Foiled
»Alexander the Great Statue Sparks Spat
»Belgium: Police Search for Brussels Gunmen
»Britain, OIC Agree to Develop Joint Programs
»Brussels: The Muslim Capital of Europe
»Franco-Era Monument Remains Divisive for Spain
»Injured Swede in Fatal Attack in Spain ‘Lucky’
»Italy: ENI Sells Stake in Trans-Austria Gas Pipeline for €675 Mln Ending EU Dispute
»Nazi Convicts: A Visit With Two Germans Just Sentenced for 1944 Tuscany Massacre
»Pope Benedict to Get New, Greener Set of Wheels
»Scottish Eye Specialist Stumbles Upon ‘Life-Changing’ Pioneering Treatment
»Smashing! Huge Particle Collider Hits Data Milestone
»Sweden: Man Gunned Down in South Stockholm Suburb
»Switzerland: University Creates Bee Professor Post
»UK: Christopher Tappin Will be Extradited to US After ‘Trying to Sell Missile Parts to Iran’
»UK: How Lords on the EU Payroll Blocked Europe Referendum
»UK: Local Grocer Takes on Lord Sainsbury and Brian Blessed to be Cambridge Chancellor
»UK: No Mod Cons! Buyers Spark Rush for £250k House Untouched in 100 Years… Even Though it Has No Bathroom, Toilet, Drains or Heating
»UK: Shock for Army as 1,000 Officers Apply for Voluntary Redundancy Due to Low Morale and Pending Cuts
»UK: They Told Me I Had Food Poisoning… But I Was Bleeding to Death Inside
»Football: Croatia’s Football Body Fined Over Pro-Nazi, Fascist Chants
North Africa
»Egypt: ENI Oil Services Unit Lands Over €1bln of New Offshore Contracts
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood on Charm Offensive
»Libya: ‘More Than 500,000’ Have Received UN-Delivered Food
»Libya: Tripoli Hit by Another NATO Air Raid
»Libyan Insurrectionists Accuse: No Aid From the West
»Morocco’s King Pledges to Give Up Some of His Power
»Refugee Resort: As Civil War Rages in Libya, Thousands Flock to Tunisia’s Djerba Island
Middle East
»Addition of Jordan and Morocco to Gulf Cooperation Council — a New Sunni Arab Alignment Against Iran
»‘Al-Quds Al-Arabi’: Al-Zawahiri’s Test — Swift Revenge for the Killing of Bin Laden
»Al-Qaeda Leader Targets ‘Near Enemy’
»Arabian Oryx Makes History as First Species to be Upgraded From “Extinct in the Wild” To “Vulnerable”
»Interview With Noam Chomsky About the Arab Spring
»Islamist Columnist Predicts: ‘Turkey Will Become United With Kurdistan, And Syria…
»Palestinians No Longer Welcome, Says Lebanese Mufti
»Syria Violence Continues After Deadly Friday Protests
»Syrian Army Enters Villages on Turkish Border
»Syria: Assad’s Ouster Could End Middle East Christianity
»Trade Between Turkey, Iraq Hits $10b
»Turkey: Former Top Soldier Urges Respect for Independent Military
»Turkey to Demand Assad Oust Brother From Military
»Medvedev: Russian-Iranian Cooperation Promotes World Peace
»Pipeline Control Dominates Russian-Ukrainian Relations
»Russia and France Sign Deal for Mistral Helicopter Carriers
»France to Help Develop Russia’s Caucasus Ski Project
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Bomb Injures 4 Spanish ISAF Soldiers, 2 Suffer Amputation
»Bundeswehr Convoy Attacked by Taliban
»France Considering Partial Withdrawal From Afghanistan
»Indonesia: Central Java: Justice Held in Check Only One Year for Imam Who Ordered Attack on Three Churches
»Karzai Confirms US in Contact With Taliban
»Pakistani Source: Officer Accused of Aiding CIA in Bin Laden Killing Arrested
»Uzbekistan: Illegal to Own a Bible or Pray Together
Far East
»America in a Chinese Mirror
»China ‘Steals’ Alpine Village From Austria in Hope to Transform Outdated Southern City
»China’s Ghost Towns: New Satellite Pictures Show Massive Skyscraper Cities Which Are Still Completely Empty
»China Aircraft Competition Coming Fast: Boeing
»South China Sea: Beijing Sending Patrol Ship
»Steak Made From Human Excrement: Is it Safe?
»Toxic Truth About Japan’s ‘Miracle’: Post-Tsunami Harmony is a Myth and the Reality is Startlingly Different
Sub-Saharan Africa
»African Village Uses Tech to Fight Off Rape Cult
»Jolie, UNHCR Head Visit Island Swamped by Migrants
»Netherlands: Majority Backs New Integration Policy
»Polish Navy Rescues African Migrants Dingy From Mediterranean
»The Latest Illegal Immigrant to Land in Lampedusa Had Four Legs
»UK: Judges Launch Scathing Attack on the ‘Abusive’ Way Migrants Exploit Appeals and Say Most Cases Have No Merit
»UN Urges Refugee ‘Solidarity’ Within European Union
Culture Wars
»Gay Men Could be Ordained as Church of England Bishops ‘To Comply With New Equality Laws’
»Male Domination in Church “A Question of Power”
»NBC Dumps ‘Under God’ From Pledge at U.S. Open
»USDA Gay-Sensitivity Training Seeks Larger Audience
»Why Separating Church & State is a Fool’s Errand: Consider Magna Carta’s Origins
»Safe-Bet Ban Wins Backing for Second Term as UN Chief
»The Hole Picture: Growth of Black Holes and Galaxies Linked From an Early Age

Financial Crisis

Bailed Out RBS Shuts Three Care Homes to Save £1.3m… But Boss Who Earns Five Times as Much Won’t Take Pay Cut

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been criticised over plans to close all three of its charitable care homes — just months after its chief executive pocketed a £7.7 million pay package.

The bank, which was bailed out with more than £40 billion of taxpayers’ money during the financial crisis, says the homes ran up total losses of £1.3 million in the last financial year.

RBS also claims the homes are under-occupied and that the properties are no longer suitable.

But staff have warned that the trauma of moving could kill some of the 40 frail residents, the eldest of whom is 105.

And campaigners battling to save the homes say the proposals are disgraceful, especially coming so soon after RBS chief executive Stephen Hester was awarded a £2 million bonus and shares worth up to £4.5 million on top of his annual £1.2 million salary.

Campaigners dispute RBS’s claim that the properties are unsuitable. They point out that the Care Quality Commission, which inspects care homes in England, gave all three an ‘excellent’ rating last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: Who’s Afraid of Big Bad China?

Financial Times Deutschland, 15 June 2011

“China is buying up Germany’s companies”, writes the Financial Times Deutschland, noting that rarely have Chinese firms carried out so many mergers with German companies — seven so far in 2011. Experts believe that transactions totalling billions of euros will not be long in coming. China is seeking to buy up technological expertise in Europe, a market seen as less protected than the U.S. In Germany, where Chinese direct investment doubled between 2006 and 2009 to €629 billion, Beijing’s strategists are interested in “new technologies, the financial sector and the automotive industry.” But there ought to be no fear of any “yellow peril”, writes the daily from Hamburg in its editorial titled “Same rights for all”: “So far, the Chinese have not behaved like investors who emptied out companies like locusts, destroying jobs on a massive scale.” However, with a view to keeping industrial espionage and sagging competitiveness from becoming a danger to the German economy, the FTD calls for investment in innovation, to let the Germans and Chinese play the game of competition and progress.

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

Greece: The Serf of Europe

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung Frankfurt

The Greek rescue isn’t helping. It’s just harming. And with it is receding the rule of law. Europeans, once upstanding citizens, are turning into a gang of bribers and blackmailers, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in its Sunday edition.

Rainer Hank

Just last year Europe’s politicians set up a euro-rescue organisation that has done very well since then. It began with loans of 110 billion euros for Greece. Then came billions in bailouts for Ireland and Portugal. Now Greece is back in the line-up.

The politicians have flouted the harsh prohibition against solidarity in the EU Treaty [“The Union is not liable for the debts of the central governments.”], claiming that a kind of emergency is afoot. Emergency aid, indeed, is permitted if a country has been swamped by a natural disaster. The fact that Greece’s public debt now stands at almost 150 percent of the gross national product — a situation that was brought about by politicians (i.e. people) — now counts in the EU as a kind of natural destiny.

International treaties also prohibit the IMF and the ECB from such billion-dollar bailouts. The ECB’s buying up of government bonds on the so-called secondary market — that is, from creditor banks — is smoke and mirrors. The parlour trick has turned them into the biggest creditor of the Greeks, truly a “bad bank”. Economist Roland Vaubel calls it the “most obvious breach of law in the history of European integration.” Damage to the rule of law is at least as grave a matter as a creeping erosion of democracy.

Upstanding Europeans have sunk to the level of bribers and blackmailers

The autonomy of Greek politicians has been dead, de facto, for the past year. Their freedom of choice was exhausted when they had to decide which to sell first, the port of Piraeus or the port of Thessaloniki. Athens can now choose whether it prefers to cut civil service salaries by ten percent and civil servants’ pensions by 20, or vice versa. Preferably, it will go for both. “The Bundestag is setting conditions for Greece,” newspapers headlined recently, just as if it were a German “protectorate” (writes Rainer Brüderle).

“In exchange for money, Greece has gone into serfdom for the EU,” says economist Vaubel. “Like in the Middle Ages.” That country, where democracy was invented, has let democracy be bought up by supposed rescuers who act as liquidators. The path to the EU transfer union leads around the castrated body of democracy.

From the viewpoint of the donors, the billions in loans being offered at preferential interest rates are a form of bribery — the price the EU is paying to protect French and German banks. From the viewpoint at the receiving end, the Greeks are behaving like extortionists, demanding sweeter and sweeter credit terms as a condition for keeping the creditor nations and their banks from going bust. Upstanding Europeans have sunk to the level of bribers and blackmailers…

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

Greece Survey: Half the Nation Against Austerity Package

(AGI)Athens- Almost one Greek out of two is against the austerity package imposed by the EU and IMF in exchange for financial aid. According to a public opinion survey conducted on June 14 and 15 by the ‘Kapa Research’ institute with the assistance of 1,208 registered voters, the loans granted by the International Monetary Fund, necessary to avoid Greece’s bankruptcy, aren’t desired by nearly half the Greek population.

The results will be published tomorrow in the Sunday edition of the daily ‘To Vina’; 47.5 percent of the participants expressed hope that Greece’s Parliament would reject the strict measures supported by Prime Minister George Papandreu. An equal number stated they are in favour of early elections that would allow a change in government. On the other hand over one third, 34.8 percent, answered that they wished for the austerity plan to be approved so that ulterior foreign aid could arrive.

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

Greece: Premier Asks for Unity to Avoid Catastrophic Default

Greek prime minister George Papandreou on Sunday reiterated his call for national unity behind the government’s austerity measures, opening a three-day confidence vote debate that winds up at midnight Tuesday with an open roll-call vote. Papandreou called on parliament to give his newly-reshuffled government a renewed vote of confidence, noting that the country is at a critical crossroads and warning that a picture of division among the Greeks was not helping the country.

Warning that a disorderly bankruptcy would be catastrophic, Papandreou stressed that the country’s lenders, the EU and the IMF, want to see Greece standing on its own two feet, adding that the problems would not be solved if the IMF was asked to leave, and warning also that the country’s liquidity will be very soon exhausted without the disbursement of the 5th tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan. Papandreou asked for national consensus on fundamental axes, and a referendum on the major changes which, he said, will be contained in an amended Constitution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Green Advocacy Groups, United Nations, Debt Payments

The hot topic in DC these days is cutting spending. Everybody is talking about it, but Rep. Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming is doing something about it. She has introduced a bill (HR1996) to end wasteful spending that should have been stopped years ago. The Government Litigation Savings Act will put an end to some of the ridiculous payments made to GAGs (Green Advocacy Groups) for far too many years.

Here is a summary of legal fees paid to GAGs from your tax dollars: (source)

  • 2003 — 10,595 individual payments totaling $1,081,328,420.00
  • 2004 — 8,161 individual payments totaling $800,450,029.00
  • 2005 — 7,794 individual payments totaling $1,074,131,007.00
  • 2006 — 8,736 individual payments totaling $697,968,132.00
  • 2007 — (first six months only) 6,595 individual payments totaling $1,062,387,142.00
  • Grand total: 41,881 individual payments totaling $4,716,264,730.00

This outrageous total reflects only the legal fees paid to a handful of GAGs, many of which also receive grants from federal agencies now managed by people who once were executives of GAGs. What a racket. This short video (4:36) (below) barely scratches the surface of the massive “legal” thievery perpetrated by GAGs every day.


Spain has spent $32 billion in solar subsidies since 2002. For every new “green” job created, the rest of the economy lost 2.2 jobs. Spain is now ending this waste, as are Germany and France. David Kreutzer, research fellow in energy economics and climate change at The Heritage Foundation, says: “They’re [green subsidies} just so expensive. It also becomes very clear in economic tough times that this fallacy about creating green jobs with huge subsidies is just not true,” According to the Energy Information Administration, subsidies to wind and solar costs the taxpayer $24 per megawatt hour.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: UniCredit May Need to Raise 6bln Euros, Analyst Survey Says

(AKI/Bloomberg) — UniCredit, the only Italian bank facing stress tests that hasn’t announced plans to sell new shares, will need to raise 6 billion euros to meet regulators’ stricter capital requirements, analysts said.

The Milan-based lender, the country’s biggest, will probably approve a capital increase for that amount this year, according to the median estimate of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The estimates ranged from 3.9 billion euros to 8 billion euros.

While the “considerable capital generation is encouraging, concerns about a possible capital increase are unlikely to subside in the near term,” Andrea Vercellone, a London-based analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, wrote in a 16 May report. The brokerage firm estimates a capital shortfall of 7 billion euros.

Chief executive officer Federico Ghizzoni, who will present a new business plan by the end of the year, has repeatedly said that the bank has adequate capital to comply with the Basel III rules announced so far. UniCredit is reviewing its strategy to increase profitability after last year’s management shakeup led Ghizzoni to replace Alessandro Profumo at the top job.

“Basel III may create huge problems,” Ghizzoni said at a 9 June conference. “I agree with stricter rules, but the problem is that investors expect banks to have today the ratios required by regulators in 2019.” A UniCredit spokesman said the company has no new comment to make on the topic.

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision last year approved preliminary stricter rules for banks, which need to hold core capital equivalent to 7 percent of their assets by the end of 2018. The committee is also discussing forcing so-called global systemically important financial institutions, or SIFIs, to hold additional capital buffers equivalent to as much as 3 percent of risk-weighted assets, people familiar with the negotiations said in March.

“UniCredit could be considered as a SIFI and asked to keep the same level as Intesa’s common equity Tier 1 ratio,” Paola Sabbione, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a 5 May report. “This means that a capital increase between 6 billion euros and 7 billion euros might be needed.” Intesa Sanpaolo is Italy’s second-biggest bank.

CEO Ghizzoni said on 13 May his company is still waiting to see if it’s considered as a SIFI by regulators and what the requirements are for such banks.

Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi in February urged the country’s banks to raise money ahead of this year’s stress test, which should be completed in July. Intesa, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Unione di Banche Italiane and Banco Popolare SC (BP) have asked investors for a total of 10.5 billion euros this year to strengthen finances in response to the Bank of Italy’s call.

UniCredit already has raised 7 billion euros in the last three years through two capital increases, including a rights offer and a convertible-bond sale.

“It could be a problem for UniCredit to ask for money from investors for the third time in few years,” said Wolfram Mrowetz, chairman of Alisei SIM in Milan, which oversees 200 million euros and doesn’t own shares of the bank. “Investors may consider this possibility only if UniCredit presents compelling reasons.”

Banking foundations, non-profit entities which hold more than 11 percent of UniCredit, bought new shares and bonds to finance the lender after credit markets froze following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008, while renouncing the right to dividends.

“If the banks need capital, they’ll have to make do,” Dino De Poli, chairman of Fondazione Cassamarca, which owns 0.8 percent of UniCredit, said in March.

UniCredit is renegotiating 3 billion euros of convertible bonds known as CASHES so they can continue to be considered as core capital under the new Basel III rules. The company also plans to see how it can get the most value from assets including its Pioneer Global Asset Management unit.

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

Italy: Trials at Risk as Police Run Out of Petrol

Prisoners are not being taken to court because petrol stations refuse to accept prison police vouchers

ROME — Trial hearings are being cancelled because there is no petrol for the vehicles that take defendants from prison to court. It has already happened at Vibo Valentia and looks set to happen again at Santa Maria Capua Vetere. But the entire prison police transport system is facing a crisis as across-the-board budget cuts imposed by the ministry of justice have hit the fuel tanks of Italy’s armoured police vans. Petrol stations that usually accept the ministry’s “fuel cards” are starting to insist on cash because of further delays in payment (already fixed at 60-90 days) put in place in January.

STAFF SHORTAGES — The latest warning came from Calabria, where Vibo Valentia’s chief public prosecutor, Mario Spagnuolo, last week received an extremely worried phone call from the director of the local prison: “Doctor Spagnuolo, I have to tell you that they are refusing to give us petrol for our vehicles on credit. Funds ran out a long time ago”. This means that every day, hearings requiring the defendant’s presence risk cancellation because the accused is unable to attend the trial. Chief prosecutor Spagnuolo confirmed that prison police fuel tanks were empty but refused to comment further. He did, however, point out how hard it was to carry forward investigations with a permanent staff of only six — there are three newly qualified magistrates who arrived recently and two experienced public prosecutors — in a territory where ‘Ndrangheta intimidation and attacks are the order of the day. “Recently, the mayors of Tropea and Ricadi have been in the firing line and the owner of an earth-moving business has had 120 separate attacks and threats”, The chief prosecutor goes on: “In 2011, we received 20 five-litre petrol vouchers for vehicles belonging to the public prosecutor’s office, including an armoured saloon car for one magistrate who is under protection measures”…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Juncker Warns Euro Crisis Could Spread to Belgium, Italy

Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker warned Saturday that the euro crisis hitting Greece and others could affect Italy and Belgium, saying in an interview with a German daily, “we are playing with fire”. Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker, who heads the group of eurozone finance ministers, said that the problems which have forced Greece, Ireland and Portugal to seek emergency bailouts from the EU and the IMF could also hit, “due to their high levels of debt, Belgium and Italy, even before Spain,” which has been touted as the next in line for possible help.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tens of Thousands Protest Against Cuts in Madrid

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Madrid Sunday blaming bankers and politicians for causing a financial crisis that forced the country to adopt painful spending cuts. Demonstrators of all ages linked to a protest movement called the “indignants” assembled early Sunday in several neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Madrid. They then formed six columns and converged on the city centre, gathering near Spain’s parliament where they met various forms of police resistance, including 12 vans blocking several major roads. Protests over the economic crisis and soaring unemployment began in Madrid on May 15 and fanned out nationwide as word spread by Twitter and Facebook among demonstrators.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wilders Receives Death Threat From Greeks

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders says he has received a death threat following his call to expel Greece from the eurozone and stop financial aid to the debt-stricken country. MP Wilders confirmed the news to newspaper De Telegraaf, calling the threats “horrible”. The anti-Islam politician, who is under 24-hour bodyguard protection, says he is going to report the threat to the police. The death threat was made in a telephone call to the Dutch embassy in the Greek capital Athens. Mr Wilders says he has also received hate mail from disgruntled Greeks. Last week, Mr Wilders took a huge drachma note to the Greek embassy in The Hague, calling on Athens to reintroduce their former national currency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Agenda 21 Equals National Suicide

As you read this article, keep these words in mind:

“No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto law, or Law impairing the obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.” -Article 1, Section 10, The United States Constitution

That Section of the Constitution prevents membership of states, cities and counties in an organization called International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)… but I’ll bet many readers of this article live in a city, town, or county that belongs to ICLEI because ICLEI has more than 600 active members throughout the United States. Those members are cities, counties, and states, not individuals.

To see if your city, county or state is a member of ICLEI, click here.

If your state is spending your tax dollars to violate Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution to pay for membership in ICLEI, you need to do something about it. The Constitution says no state should enter into an alliance with a group devoted to supporting international policies unfriendly to America.

Many readers have not yet heard of Agenda 21, also known as Sustainable Development, though columnists Tom DeWeese and Dr. Michael Coffman, two of the nation’s journalistic experts on the topic, write of it. In a recent article, DeWeese provided some quotes of individuals involved with ICLEI. This should explain ICLEI’s philosophy quite clearly:

“Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective.” -Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chairman, ICLEI. The Wildlands Project

“We must make this place an insecure and inhospitable place for Capitalists and their projects — we must reclaim the roads and plowed lands, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness tens of millions of acres or presently settled land.” -Dave Foreman, Earth First.”

The entire DeWeese article can be found here.

If you haven’t been reading about Agenda 21, you’d better start… unless you dislike owning private property or prefer city living to a more rural country setting. Maybe you own a small farm or orchard. If you do and aren’t aware of Agenda 21, you are probably unwittingly participating in the demise of your own lifestyle.

Perhaps you’re more familiar with the name “George Soros” than with “ICLEI.” Well, guess who funds parts of ICLEI?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Al-Qaida Website Publishes Hit List of Americans

An al-Qaida-linked website has posted a potential hit list of targets that include names and photos of several U.S. officials and business leaders, calling for terrorists to target these Americans in their own homes, NBC New York has learned.


The FBI has notified those individuals who are named.


The websites contain 40 specific names, 26 of them with photos attached, and they call for posting home addresses. One jihadist called for sending package bombs to any listed address as just one possibility.


These specific postings follow calls by Adam Gadahn — al-Qaida’s American-born communication chief — for individual attacks.

Officials are concerned the list has been shared on numerous jihadist sites. “What’s scary about this is how specific the individual information is,” said former New York State Homeland Security Director Michael Balboni. “What you don’t know is, when does aspirational become operational in cases like this, involving a possible lone actor here inspired by a website.”

[See Zenster, someone does listen to you. It’s just the other side. Ha! Egghead]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Audio: Farah Exposes Radicals’ Plan to Silence Exposé

‘They want to confiscate this book for a very good reason’

Joseph Farah, chief executive officer of WND and publisher of an explosive, undercover book exposing the hidden workings of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been interviewed on air about CAIR’s newest efforts to bury the book that blows the lid off the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of America.

Farah, interviewed on “Crosstalk” with host Vic Eliason, told of CAIR’s efforts to pull from the shelves and confiscate all copies of the blockbuster book “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.”

According to Farah, the book — built on thousands of documents discovered in an undercover operation by co-author P. David Gaubatz’s son Chris Gaubatz — “exposes the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into our media, into our government, into other cultural institutions in America like I don’t think any other work has done before.”

Though unsuccessful in previous lawsuits to stop the book, and though WND Books has returned the original documents to CAIR, the Muslim advocacy group has filed a new motion to cover up the condemning paper trail exposing the group’s connections as a tentacle of the radical Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist organization Hamas.

“It wasn’t enough that we gave all the papers back to CAIR,” Farah said. “CAIR’s new filing says that they want all copies of the documents that have ever been distributed around the country. Well, what does that mean? That means the book. Because the book has the important documents in it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bomb Threat Prompts Sweep of Plane at Washington Airport

Washington (CNN) — A bomb threat made at an airport ticket counter in Dayton, Ohio, prompted a search of a US Airways flight that landed safely at Washington’s Reagan airport Sunday, authorities said.

The FBI, Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration “are investigating allegations of a bomb on board US Airways Flight 2596,” FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said.

The flight originated in Dayton and was closer to Washington when the threat was made, “prompting officials to let the plane proceed,” Godwin said.

The US Airways flight departed on time, at 11:42 a.m., but landed about 30 minutes later than scheduled at 1:36 p.m., according to the airline’s website.

The plane was preparing to land when the airport was told to hold the flight, said Courtney Mickalonis, a spokeswoman for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Upon landing, the plane was directed to a remote runway and the 44 passengers were deplaned, Mickalonis said. US Airways spokeswoman Tina Swail said three crew members also had been aboard the CRJ 200 plane.

A K-9 team alerted to a checked bag, TSA said, and local police are investigating.

Kristin Lee, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman, said Sunday afternoon that the agency is “aware of a verbal bomb threat.”

All passengers safely were taken off, and the bomb squad is “in the process of sweeping the plane,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

A bomb squad vehicle was parked near the plane, video showed, and luggage was scattered on ground around the runway just outside the aircraft. One person dressed in bomb squad gear was opening and looking at the bags, one by one.

Other aircraft could be seen taking off from the airport. But US Airways’ express flights — like the one from Dayton — are experiencing delays as a result of the incident, airline spokeswoman Tina Swail said.

The plane’s passengers, meanwhile, were being questioned by FBI investigators, Mickalonis said.

The person who made the initial threat has been arrested, Godwin said.

[Return to headlines]

Diana West: Give Panetta the Pinko Slip

What should we take away from the following story?

Once upon a time, the man who was given charge of all the secrets of the nation was then given charge of all of its soldiers and weapons. And none of the people’s representatives seemed to give a fig that this same man, once upon another time, was very close to a minion of the nation’s mortal enemy — that the man even read the minion’s praises into the Congressional Record and later spoke at his funeral.

None of the people’s representatives cared to ask why this was so. Nor did they care to ask themselves whether such a man, who also supported an organization dedicated to advancing the mortal enemy’s political interests here in Washington during a time of “cold” hostilities, is the right man to oversee, first, the nation’s secrets, and now its military. Does the man have second thoughts about his past views or associations? How might they affect the man’s current duties? Not one U.S. senator has bothered to ask.

“The man” is Leon Panetta, Barack Obama’s unconventional choice to head the CIA in 2009, now his choice to head the Pentagon. This week, Panetta was unanimously approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee for the defense post, and will be considered by the full Senate next week.

There is something troubling here. Researchers Cliff Kincaid and Trevor Loudon have dug up documentation in the archives of the University of Washington of a cordial, long-term relationship in the 1970s and 1980s between Panetta, a member of the Congress between 1977 and 1993, and Hugh DeLacy, a Communist Party USA member elected to one term in Congress pretending to be a Democrat in 1944. DeLacy later co-founded the communist-penetrated Progressive Party that nominated Henry Wallace for president in 1948. By the 1970s, DeLacy was still politically active, with connections to known Soviet agents including Victor Perlo of the infamous Perlo spy group, and Frank Coe and Solomon Adler of the equally infamous Silvermaster spy group. DeLacy is also associated with suspected Soviet agent John Stewart Service of the “Amerasia” spy case. Moreover, DeLacy was of sufficient interest to Communist China to have scored a paid junket to the People’s Republic in 1974. There, Loudon reports, DeLacy met up with Service, Coe and Adler, who was then thought to be working for Chinese intelligence.

“Within two years,” Loudon said in a recent online interview with Jerry Kenney, “DeLacy was in regular contact with Leon Panetta, grilling him and regularly asking him for military and defense and foreign-policy-related information, which Panetta heavily supplied him.”

That, once upon a time, was your CIA-director-turned Defense secretary-designate at work. Which makes this story of his completely unquestioned rise to national power and responsibility more like a nightmare.

Of course, there’s more…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

FBI: No Explosives Found Onboard Plane at Washington Airport

WASHINGTON — No explosives were found aboard a plane that landed in Washington after someone made a bomb threat at an airport ticket counter Sunday in Ohio, an FBI spokesman said.

Andrew Ames said the plane was given the all-clear and no hazards were found. The plane landed at Reagan National Airport on Sunday afternoon. When it landed, authorities swept the plane for explosives and interviewed the 44 passengers aboard. The person who made the threat at the Dayton airport was taken into custody.

The threat shut down the airport for about 20 minutes on Sunday. US Airways Flight 2596 was sent away from the gate after landing, the FBI said. Courtney Mickalonis, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the plane landed about 1 p.m.

Airport operations were back to normal Sunday afternoon, although some US Airways flights were delayed because the affected flight was taken to an area used by the airline, Mickalonis said.

The plane was closer to Reagan National at the time the threat was received, so officials allowed it to proceed to Washington, FBI spokesman Andrew Ames said.

The FBI’s National Capital Response Squad and other law enforcement isolated the plane and were interviewing the passengers Sunday afternoon. All of the passengers got off the plane safely.

[Return to headlines]

Last Statement Sent to Sentinel From Self-Immolation Victim

Editor’s note: On Thursday morning, June 16, The Sentinel received a “last statement” via mail from a man who insinuated that he planned to set himself on fire in front of the Cheshire County Court House, and an explanation of why he intended to do so. Through further reporting, The Sentinel is confident this is from the victim of Wednesday afternoon’s fire, although police have not yet received confirmation of his identity. The 15-page statement is printed in full, except for two redacted items: The names of the man’s mother and his three children. Details will be posted as they become available.

Last Statement

by Tom Ball

A man walks up to the main door of the Keene N.H. County Courthouse, douses himself with gasoline and lights a match. And everyone wants to know why.

Apparently the old general was right. Death is not the worst of evil.

I am due in court the end of the month. The ex-wife lawyer wants me jailed for back child support. The amount ranges from $2,200. to $3,000. depending on who you ask. Not big money after being separated over ten years and unemployed for the last two. But I do owe it. If I show up for court without the money and the lawyer say jail, then the judge will have the bailiff take me into custody. There really are no surprises on how the system works once you know how it actually works. And it does not work anything like they taught you in high school history or civics class.

I could have made a phone call or two and borrowed the money. But I am done being bullied for being a man. I cannot believe these people in Washington are so stupid to think they can govern Americans with an iron fist. Twenty-five years ago, the federal government declared war on men. It is time now to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.

There are two kinds of bureaucrats you need to know; the ones that say and the ones that do. The bridge between them is something I call The Second Set of Books. I have some figures of the success of their labors. You and I are in these numbers, as well as our spouses and children. But first let me tell you how I ended up in this rabbit hole.

My story starts with the infamous slapping incident of April 2001. While putting my four year old daughter to bed, she began licking my hand. After giving her three verbal warnings I slapped her. She got a cut lip. My wife asked me to leave to calm things down.

When I returned hours later, my wife said the police were by and said I could not stay there that night. The next day the police came by my work and arrested me, booked me, and then returned me to work. Later on Peter, the parts manager, asked me if I and the old lady would be able to work this out. I told him no. I could not figure out why she had called the police. And bail condition prevented me from asking her. So I no longer trusted her judgment.

After six months of me not lifting a finger to save this marriage, she filed for divorce. Almost two years after the incident, I was talking with her on the phone. She told me that night she had called a mental health provider we had for one of the kids. Wendy, the counselor told my then wife that if she did not call the police on me, then she too would be arrested.

Suddenly, everything made sense. She is the type that believes that people in authority actually know what they are talking about. If both she and I were arrested, what would happen to our three children, ages 7,4 and 1? They would end up in State custody. So my wife called the police on her husband to protect the children. And who was she protecting the kids from? Not her husband, the father of these children. She was protecting them from the State of New Hampshire.

This country is run by idiots.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

No Telling Where to Go Next

Meet Obama’s new appointee to promote religious freedom around the world.

Obama has announced the appointment of Azizah al-Hibri to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Al-Hibri (full name, Azizah Yahia Muhammad Toufiq al-Hibri) is a Muslim professor and the granddaughter of a Sheikh, who claims that the Koran inspired Thomas Jefferson and the Founders and that the Saudi criminal justice system is more moral than the American one because it accepts blood money from murderers.

How’s that for a start. But wait there’s more.

In the early days of 2001, Al-Hibri traveled to the Afghan border and criticized the Western press for “sensationalizing” Taliban atrocities and using them “as an opportunity to attack Islam”. After the attacks of September 11, she cautioned against bombing Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets during Ramadan. And that same year she defended Wahhabism as part of Islam’s “religious diversity” and its “marketplace of ideas”.

And still more…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Lawmaker Slams France-Russia Warship Deal

A top US lawmaker on Friday blasted France for agreeing to sell two warships to Russia saying Paris had ignored “the clear danger” the deal would pose to US and regional security. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced the deal under which France will transfer sensitive military technology to Russia for the first time since World War II. “It is deeply troubling that France, a NATO ally, has decided to ignore the clear danger of selling advanced warships to Russia even as Moscow is taking an increasingly hostile approach toward the US, its neighbors, and Europe itself,” she said in a statement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

9/11-Style Attack on Reichstag Foiled

An Austrian terror suspect arrested this week was plotting to crash a plane into the Reichstag building in Berlin, which houses the German parliament, a report said Saturday. Officials said a German with links to the suspect was also detained. The suspect, who has been named only as Thomas al-J. and is a 25-year-old Austrian national who converted to Islam, was arrested Wednesday in his Vienna flat on suspicion of recruiting for terror training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of financing a terrorist organization — the German Taliban Mujahideen (DTM). Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung reported on Saturday that the suspect had been plotting to crash a plane into the German parliament, the Bundestag, and had been training on a flight simulator. Austria’s interior ministry also said Saturday that a German terrorism suspect had been arrested in Austria on May 31 and had links with the alleged recruiter. The 26-year-old German, originally from Berlin, is in the process of being extradited to Germany, where he is suspected of being a member of a terrorist organization, ministry spokesman Rudolf Gollia said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Alexander the Great Statue Sparks Spat

Skopje/Athens, 15 June (AKI) — A 20-year old dispute between Skopje and Athens over Macedonia’s state name took a turn for the worse on Wednesday after Macedonian authorities decided to erect a huge monument to legendary Greek warrior Alexander the Great in the centre of Skopje.

A giant, 22 meters tall bronze statue called “Warrior on a Horse”, was being assembled in the centre of Skopje, but it clearly resembles the 4th century BC Greek warrior. Macedonia has already named its main highway and Skopje airport after Alexander.

Greek foreign ministry spokesman Dimitris Delavekouras said the move was “another provocation” by Skopje, which will further aggravate relations between the two Balkan countries.

Greece has blocked Macedonia’s entry into Nato and is obstructing its membership in the European Union, demanding that Macedonia should first change its state name, which Skopje government has refused.

Athens claims that the name “Macedonia” implies territorial pretensions to the northern Greek province with the same name.

Macedonians are Slavs, who came to the Balkans in the 7th century, and Delavekouras said the use of the name of Alexander the Great was an attempt to “steal Greek history” for political goals.

Delavekuras accused Skopje of resorting to “nationalistic policies of confrontation”, and warned it would have “unavoidable consequences for Euro-Atlantic integrations of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which is the name under which the country joined the United Nations.

Cast in Italy, the monument costs over five million euros and domestic critics have said it was an unnecessary expense for the impoverished country

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

Belgium: Police Search for Brussels Gunmen

Brussels police are searching for two youths after a 29-year-old man was shot in the city centre on Saturday night. The incident occurred near to the De Brouckereplein in the heart of the capital.

The bullet entered the man’s lower body. He was rushed to hospital, but his injuries were not found to be life-threatening. The gunman and his accomplice fled the scene and are now being sought by the police. The incident is being treated as a case of attempted murder. The shooting occurred shortly after 2am. The victim had seen that the youths were following two women. He alerted the women to the fact that they were being followed, much to the displeasure of the youths. An argument ensued and one of the youths took out a gun and shot the man.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain, OIC Agree to Develop Joint Programs

RIYADH: The British government has appointed Mohammed Shokat as the UK special envoy to the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in a major bid to boost ties between the two..

The OIC and the UK have also announced plans to develop a joint framework of dialogue and cooperation in selected areas and evinced keen interest to hold regular consultations on issues of common concerns, said a British Embassy spokesman in Riyadh Sunday.

The move to promote relations with the OIC is significant for both sides as Islam is the second largest religion in Britain, with an estimated Muslim population of 2.5 million.

The UK is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council besides being a developed country and the world’s sixth largest economy. On the other hand, the OIC, the second largest inter-governmental organization after the UN, is the collective voice of the Muslim world.

A joint draft statement released by the British Embassy Sunday said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, OIC secretary-general, held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Minister William Hague that focused on promoting OIC-UK cooperation.

The OIC chief paid a five-day official visit to London last week on the invitation of Baroness Warsi, UK Cabinet minister without portfolio.

During the visit, Ihsanoglu was also received by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt, Minister of State for International Development Alan Duncan, UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Sedwill, as well as Shokat, said the statement.

Referring to Ihsanoglu’s talks with Cameron and Hague, the statement said a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed including the further development of OIC-UK relations and cooperation, including thorough regular consultation at various levels.

They also exchanged views on the Middle East peace process, developments in some countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East, such as Libya, Syria and Yemen and the situation in Afghanistan, the statement added.

The OIC chief welcomed Shokat’s appointment and expressed his support for him in consolidating the bilateral relationship.

Ihsanoglu met selected British Muslim personalities and exchanged views about their role and activities in society. He commended the valuable and successful work conducted by the British Muslim community and expressed his strong belief that members would set a good example for Muslims in the rest of Europe.

In addition, the OIC secretary-general got together with ambassadors of OIC member states based in London and met representatives of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, during his trip.

Both sides agreed to develop a joint framework of dialogue and cooperation between the OIC and the UK on selected areas including international political issues, development aid, humanitarian assistance, science and technology, interfaith dialogue and combating intolerance.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Brussels: The Muslim Capital of Europe

More and more stories confirm that Brussels is emerging as the Muslim capital of Europe.

Moelenbeek seems to be the area worst affected by the Mohammedan presence. One prominent advertising agency, Mortierbrigade, recently announced that it was moving out of the area owing to high crime levels. Ironically, this agency was previously responsible for a campaign called “Streets Without Hate” that was directed against the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang party. Another advertising agency, BBDO, also declared that its staff faced an atmosphere of constant threat. It had put up barbed wire around its car park and reserved the parking spaces inside for female members of staff who were the most threatened outside.

The Socialist burgomeister, Philippe Moureaux, made light of these claims, insisting that “all of this debate is based on lies” and that “Moelenbeek isn’t the Bronx”. Ten members of the BBDO staff then wrote to him, insisting that every one of them had been the victim of crimes, ranging from having their handbags stolen at knifepoint to having windows broken or guns pointed at them.

Also in Moelenbeek, some police officers have complained to their trade unions that they are being told they have to “participate” in Ramadan by not eating, drinking or booking people during the day to avoid “provocations”. The trade union spokesmen admit that their members have been told this informally and that there is no paper and no proof. The local government denies that these instructions have been issued.

As Brussels adapts to its new Muslim owners, many of the city’s old monuments are no longer considered appropriate. One was recently defaced by order of the council. A number of “anti-racist” organisations, as well as the states of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, had complained about it. The monument celebrated the triumph of Leopold II over the Arab slavers in the Congo, who had exploited and enslaved the indigenous blacks before Belgium stamped out the slave trade there. An inscription read “Belgian military heroism annihilates the Arab slaver”. The word “Arab” has now been effaced from the inscription in both French and Dutch! Other Brussels monuments are also now considered suspect. Some Islam-friendly politicians are now demanding the removal of a monument to the Armenian genocide and talking about replacing a statue of the Crusader king Godfrey of Bouillon with a “symbol of religious harmony” as a “gesture of friendship to the Muslim world”.

A couple of years ago, the Green MP Luckas Vander Taelen wrote an article about his experience of living in a Muslim-colonised area of Brussels and his consequent disillusionment with the multicult…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Franco-Era Monument Remains Divisive for Spain

In Spain, a monument conceived by dictator Francisco Franco is at the center of heated debate. The government wants to turn the “Valley of the Fallen” into a place of reconciliation, but achieving that aim won’t be easy. Saturday morning at El Valle de los Caidos — the “Valley of the Fallen”. Mass is held in a basilica at the dramatic monument built to commemorate those who died in the Spanish Civil War.

Outside, towering over the building where infamous dictator Francisco Franco is also buried, an enormous cross carved out of stone reaches some 40 meters into the air. Situated in a stunning wooded valley north of Madrid, few people other than tourists ever visit here, but the Valley of the Fallen is probably Spain’s most controversial — and certainly largest — reminder of its dictatorship. Three decades after the transition to democracy that followed Franco’s death, the Socialist government intends now to turn the monument into a symbol of reconciliation between the two sides in the Civil War, which started in 1936 and ended in 1939. Ramon Jauregui, a government minister, has set up a commission of experts to decide what should be done with the Valley of the Fallen. Their report is due in five months.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Injured Swede in Fatal Attack in Spain ‘Lucky’

An 18-year-old Swedish woman who survived a knife attack in which her friend was killed in Malaga, Spain Friday night is lucky to be alive, doctors have said.

Police arrested a 30-year-old North African man with a resident permit in Spain, confirmed a spokesperson for the Spanish authorities to the TT news agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ENI Sells Stake in Trans-Austria Gas Pipeline for €675 Mln Ending EU Dispute

Rome, 10 June (AKI) — Italian energy giant Eni said on Friday it had agreed to sell its stake in the Trans-Austria Gas pipeline (TAG) in a deal worth 675 million euros that ends a long-running dispute with the European Union.

Eni said in a statement it had agreed to sell its 89 percent state in TAG to Italy’s state-owned Cassa Depostit e Prestiti for 483 million euros in cash plus repayment of a 192 million euro loan Eni made to TAG.

Italy’s largest energy company, Eni in 2010 avoided EU antitrust fines after regulators accepted its offer to settle a competition case by selling stakes in natural-gas pipelines including TAG.

The TAG pipeline crosses Austria from the Slovak border to the Italian frontier, bringing gas to Italy from Russia, and is considered strategic by the Italian government.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said in 2009 that Eni may have abused its dominant position by limiting its investment in a network that transports Russian gas.

Eni has been the target of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission since 2007.

Eni’s so-called ship-or-pay contract with TAG will remain in force after the deal is concluded, according to Eni’s statement. Under such contracts, a buyer agrees to pay for contracted transportation capacity regardless of actual volume.

TAG is managed by Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH, which owns transport rights for the Austrian section of the pipeline, and by a partnership of Eni and Austria’s OMV AG, which owns the remaining stake in the pipeline.

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

Nazi Convicts: A Visit With Two Germans Just Sentenced for 1944 Tuscany Massacre

Convicted last month for their involvement in a massacre of civilians during World War II, two former Nazi soldiers lead a peaceful life in Germany. And they don’t want to be disturbed

The former Nazi sergeant Johann Riss has a good life, living in a tidy detached house in the residential area of this town 60 miles southwest of Munich. On an average day, this 90-year old man wakes up early, and drives his wife Irene to Kaufbeuren’s grocery store. Then he will typically spend the afternoon in his garden, watering the flowers, removing weeds, and picking the vegetables that he will later cook for dinner.

He seems to be in good shape physically, even if he recently claimed poor health in order to avoid attending the trial against him in Italy. Last month, a military tribunal in Rome sentenced Riss, and two other former soldiers of the 26th division of the German Army, to life imprisonment for the August 1944 massacre of 184 civilians, including children, elderly, women and farmers in the small Tuscan town of Padule di Fucecchio.

When approached, he said he does not want to speak about his part in the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the World War II. He looks at the legal documents with his name on them, and photos of the victims, as if they pertained to someone else. “I’ve never been a Nazi. I don’t have anything to say in Rome,” he says. Riss gets angry in front of a photographer. “We went to speak in Munich,” his wife Irene says. “They told us not to tell anything to the Italians.”

The couple has been living in this farming area for the last 57 years, without legal troubles of any kind. Before he retired, Riss was a manager at the local Olympia typewriter firm. He has two sons, a doctor and a chemist, who live far away.

For decades, Riss has been hiding from his own history. “He has never spoken about his past. He is a silent fellow, spends all his time in the garden,” says a neighbor who gave her name as Ms. Haible. “ Once, he told me what his biggest regret was: no longer being able to go skiing in Saint Moritz.”

Petra Reichl, another neighbor, says that in Kaufbeuren everyone knows everyone, so news about Riss’s dark past is met with skepticism. “For 30 years, Mr. Riss was my mother’s boss at Olympia. Everyone thought very highly of him. But my father told me rumors about Mr. Reiss’s past,” says Reichel. Mrs. Skarke asked: “Was he a Nazi? That’s impossible, I can’t believe it. He is the perfect neighbor,” says Mrs. Skarke, another local resident.

In Rome, the military prosecutor Marco De Paolis explained to the court the precise role that the former sergeant played during the war. “He was a very experienced soldier. For five years, until 1944, he fought in various battles. Ever since he was young, he was a member of Nazi associations. In the army, he was the leader of an explorers’ unit.”

On May 26, the military tribunal in Rome recognized Riss as one of the perpetrators of the slaughter in the small Tuscan village. But Johann Riss continues to deny everything. “It wasn’t me. I have nothing to say about this story,” he repeats.

According to the doctors at the local hospital in Kaufbeuren (this is no ordinary hospital, but the place where the Nazis created the so-called T4 project, whose aim was to eliminate all “imperfect” children). “Riss came here last February for a routine check up,” a doctor says. So it was not his poor health that prevented him from attending the trial, an absence that the prosecutor called a “shameful silence.”

The former warrant officer Fritz Jauss — who was convicted for the slaughter too — shares this silence. He lives 120 miles away from Kaufbeuren, close to Stuttgart. “I do not have anything to say about this story,” he says. Mr. Jauss is now 93 years old. A former mechanic for Bosch, he has three children. “He is a churchgoer and a former town councilor. He has never spoken about his past,” says one neighbor. Four years ago, Jauss and his wife Johanna moved to a nursing home. When asked about the trial he looks puzzled: “The war is a closed topic for me,” he says.

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

Pope Benedict to Get New, Greener Set of Wheels

A German news report says carmaker Mercedes-Benz is designing a new hybrid four-wheel drive for Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican has confirmed the greener ‘Popemobile’ could hit the road next year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Scottish Eye Specialist Stumbles Upon ‘Life-Changing’ Pioneering Treatment

Face blindness, or prosopagnosia, afflicts about 2.5% of the population and around half the number of people who are on the autism spectrum.

Those with the condition either have damaged or underdeveloped “visual perception pathways”. This means some of the information the brain needs to make sense of what the eyes see is missing or distorted.

The condition, usually present from birth, can occur after brain trauma.

Mr Jordan’s new treatment involves lights comprising 16 million colours which can change how the eyes process information. Some colours are filtered out and others are enhanced, allowing the brain to receive all the information it needs to distinguish one face from another. Once a colour is found which normalises the patient’s sight, Mr Jordan can then prescribe suitable lenses.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Smashing! Huge Particle Collider Hits Data Milestone

We’ll have to take physicists’ word for it that “one inverse femtobarn” is a lot. That’s the milestone recently reached by the world’s largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider. Inside the circular machine, which is buried 574 feet (175 meters) underground near Geneva, Switzerland, scientists accelerate protons to speeds approaching that of light, and then crash them into each other to produce energetic wrecks that can give rise to new and exotic particles.

The Higgs boson is one of the atom smasher’s most prized targets. Physicists think this theoretical particle, also dubbed the God particle, might be responsible for giving other particles mass. Though the Higgs has long been predicted to exist, it has never been seen. Many researchers are holding out hope that LHC will finally be powerful enough to create it. “With the LHC running at much higher intensity than initially foreseen, signals of new physics might appear any moment in our data,” said CMS spokesman Guido Tonelli. “Hundreds of young researchers all over the world are actively searching for new particles such as the Higgs boson, supersymmetric particles or new exotic states of matter. If nature is kind to us, we could have major breakthroughs even before the end of this incredibly exciting year.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Man Gunned Down in South Stockholm Suburb

A 32-year-old man remains in custody after a fatal shooting Saturday night outside of Stockholm. The police have not ruled out the possibility of others being involved in the murder and continue to question the suspect.

The detainee is suspected of murder or manslaughter after a 25-year-old man was found shot to death Satruday in a stairwell in Fittja,

“He was arrested on the basis of observations made of him and his behaviour after the crime,” Stefan Färdigs, a spokesperson for Stockholm County police, told the TT news agency.

The victim, a man born in 1984 and known for past crimes, was found at about 4.30pm, according to reports.

When the ambulance arrived at the scene, rescuers immediately began working on him.

“They tried to revive him, but regarded it as useless,” said Färdigs to the TT.

Several empty shells were found in the staircase, suggesting that it was also the scene of the crime.

Authorities would not comment as to how many shots wounded the deceased nor would they provide details about the caliber of the weapon used.

Police officers followed up on witness information from people near the area of the crime scene.

Shortly before 9pm Saturday authorities arrested the 32-year-old man without incident in his Botkyrka home as a suspect for the crime.

“The suspect is known by police,” said Färdigs.

Police knocked on the doors of others in the neighbourhood, looking for witnesses.

The stairwell was cordoned off for forensic examination.

No other suspects have been identified at this time but police do not rule out that there may have been others involved.

Authorities continue to question people in the area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: University Creates Bee Professor Post

Bern University has set up a professorial post in bee health with the aim of better understanding the insect and its dwindling colonies. The post, funded with a SFr5 million ($5.89 million) donation by the Biel-based Vinetum foundation, will be attached to the university’s veterinary faculty. It aims to study the largely unexplored biology, physiology and pathology of bees, as well as in-depth research into why bee populations are dying out, according a statement by the university on Friday. It is unclear why entire bee colonies are under threat, the university says, and it’s a problem that is also impacting on the economy and ecology, as a result of less pollination by bees. The post will run for ten years initially.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Christopher Tappin Will be Extradited to US After ‘Trying to Sell Missile Parts to Iran’

A golf society president accused of trying to sell missile parts to Iran is to be sent to America to face trial after the Home Secretary signed his extradition order.

The case of millionaire Christopher Tappin, who was arrested by the Metropolitan Police last year on US instructions, has reignited the long-running row over the cross-Atlantic transfer of suspects.

Last night, MPs and lawyers said the extradition agreement between the UK and US was one-sided, unfairly serving the interests of America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: How Lords on the EU Payroll Blocked Europe Referendum

A ‘shameful’ alliance of former Eurocrat peers who get EU pensions of up to £100,000 a year — which they have not disclosed in the UK Parliament — were criticised last night for sabotaging an attempt by the Coalition to curb the power of Brussels.

An all-party clique of ‘big beast’ politicians and diplomats, many of whom have held lucrative posts in Europe, inflicted a series of defeats on the Government’s EU Bill in the Lords in the past two weeks by just a handful of votes.

The defeats to the legislation, designed to guarantee British voters a referendum on any further loss of sovereignty, have been achieved by a small but powerful group of peers with lucrative Brussels pensions and retired mandarins paid large sums to work at the EU.

Unlike other outside income, they can keep the payments secret and do not have to declare them in the Lords’ register of interests.

Moreover, under an ‘EU loyalty clause’, anyone who has worked for the institution who speaks out against Europe can be stripped of their pension.

They must abide by certain obligations ‘both during and after their term of office’ including maintaining ‘loyalty to the (EU) communities’.

If they break this obligation, they can be ‘deprived of their right to a pension or other benefits’.

Critics say it means that those in receipt of EU pensions have a vested interest in voting to defend the EU.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Local Grocer Takes on Lord Sainsbury and Brian Blessed to be Cambridge Chancellor

Throwing your hat into the ring for a post currently held by Prince Phillip could be a daunting prospect for some.

However, royal attachments are not enough to put off independent shopkeeper Abdul Arain in his ambitions to become Cambridge University chancellor.

As the Duke of Edinburgh steps down from the prestigious post there is now a contest over who will be next to wear the black and gold lace ceremonial robes and be awarded the accolade at the ancient institution.

On Friday evening, nominations for the role closed and contenders for Cambridge chancellor were announced.

Prestigious and prominent figures have made their names onto the ballot paper and include Brian Blessed and Lord Sainsbury who are joined by barrister Michael Mansfield.

Adding his name to the race is ambitious shopkeeper Abdul who owns a grocery store in Cambridge.

The Nairobi-born businessman managed to collect the 50 nominations needed to secure a slot in the bid to become the university’s 108th chancellor.

He received the nominations from a diverse group of people, ‘Academics, professors, clergy …I have double the amount required,’ he said.

The 46-year-old’s motivation for applying comes from his opposition to a new Sainsbury’s supermarket planned to be built near his Al-Amin grocery shop in Cambridge.

The businessman wants to save Cambridge from becoming a ‘clone town’ and he’d like to see the university reconnect with the local community.

The position of chancellor at the prestigious university has traditionally been held by a succession of dukes, earls and lords.

Competition for the role comes in the form of Lord Sainsbury of Turville a Labour peer, former minister and former chairman of the supermarket chain that Mr Arain is protesting against building a site in Cambridge.

Lord Sainsbury is chuffed to be nominated, he said: ‘I am very pleased and honoured to have been nominated… I have great admiration and affection for the university.’

The wealthy lord’s qualifications are considerably different to that of the shopkeeper’s.

Lord Sainsbury studied history and psychology at King’s College and owns a Buckinghamshire stately home.

Mr Arain forms part of the alumni at Anglia Polytechnic , owns a semi-detached home and a shop stocking groceries with a newsagents and post office attached.

But that hasn’t stopped the local shop owner capitalising on the opportunity to contest there being a new Sainsbury’s Local in Mill Road, Cambridge.

Critics believe the shopkeeper’s efforts are a publicity stunt, but with at least 50 nominations received from the university’s senate Mr Arain certainly has some supporters.

He is profoundly against large chains taking up residency in Cambridge and believes their presence, particularly that of the big four supermarkets, will have a compounding effect.

The local businessman who has lived in Cambridgeshire since he was 16 thinks large shops reduce streets to ‘dormitories’.

He said: ‘People who would usually invest in that area and take pride in it are gone. The consequences are antisocial behaviour, an area deprived of its soul.’

In an attempt to add more weight to his argument Mr Arain drew reference to the university’s opposition to a car-assembly plant in the 1930s.

The university petitioned for the council to reject the plant and the motor industry later went to Luton.

He faces fierce competition from Brian Blessed who is backed by a campaign initiated by Cambridge graduates.

The group used Facebook to help secure enough signatures for the actor to be nominated.

Mr Blessed, who is a keen mountaineer said, ‘Cambridge has always been the centre of the Earth, there is a brightness and light there that rivals that on Mount Everest.’

Also throwing his hat into the ring is Mr Mansfield who pledged to keep education away from the grasp of market forces.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: No Mod Cons! Buyers Spark Rush for £250k House Untouched in 100 Years… Even Though it Has No Bathroom, Toilet, Drains or Heating

It doesn’t have a bathroom, heating, drains or even a toilet, but that has not put off scores of interested buyers.

Even though the house has been virtually untouched in 100 years they reckon its a bargain at £250,000.

Its stunning location in the Yorkshire Dales, near Sedbergh, means the house is probably worth £1.5 million when it is renovated.

Buyers of Dandra Garth will get a four-bedroom manorial farmhouse dating back to the 1600s, with a huge attic once used as servants’ quarters plus a separate barn and three acres of land.

The grade II listed house in Lower Garsdale was the home of Walter Harper, whose family moved there in 1942 to farm the surrounding land.

His father died in 1968 and his mother passed away in 1972, but Mr Harper continued to farm until the early 1980s.

Now 92, he has moved to a rest home, but until recently he was quite happy living without any utilities or luxuries.

He was content to keep warm in front of his open fires and to boil water on the range to fill a tin bath in the kitchen.

Mr Harper was only persuaded to have electricity at the property 10 years ago, before that he used the gas lights connected to a Calor bottle.

A single tap in the kitchen supplied cold water from an untested spring supply and the loo was an outside earth closet.

It still has a larder and stone shelves that many luxury home owners are now demanding.

Approached up a track and hidden behind high walls, the house has south facing views over its gardens.

Estate agent Tim Brown, of George F White, said: ‘There is an incredible amount of interest but I’m not surprised.

‘This place is virtually untouched by the 20th and 21st centuries. Properties like this are very rare.

‘It needs everything doing but it is magnificent. It is in one of the most beautiful spots in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and has huge potential.

Though it looks a bargain, prospective buyers are warned to be realistic about renovation costs which are estimated at £200,000.

Mr Harper’s nephew, Roger has happy memories of visting his uncle’s house as a child.

He said:’He didn’t see anything wrong with it and was reluctant to see any change. Getting the electricity in was a revolution. It is very primitive but he liked it that way.’

The house took its name from one of the Norsemen who were once prevalent throughout Cumbria.

Its coat of arms has a lion rampart and border of thistles, which shows an association with James I, who is said to have passed through the dale and given a local clergyman the manorial rights.

It was thought to have passed from its original owner to four Yeoman farmers as settlement after a dispute in the High Chancel Court.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Shock for Army as 1,000 Officers Apply for Voluntary Redundancy Due to Low Morale and Pending Cuts

The armed forces have had an unexpected shock as the Army braces itself for a mass exodus of officers and soldiers.

One thousand of the Army’s brightest servicemen have applied for voluntary redundancy.

Army bosses originally asked for 500 servicemen to take voluntary redundancy, but have received more than 900 applications, according to figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

This number includes 52 colonels, although only 25 had been expected to offer to leave.

Low morale and the pending defence cuts are cited as the reason why so many soldiers and officers want to leave.

Colonel Bob Stewart, who was commanding officer of the British battalion in Bosnia, said that the balance in Army life has changed.

‘The state of army morale is clearly not good. Exercises and the fun of being in the Army has largely been cut down.’

‘In the old days a lot of people joined the armed forces for combat, but also travel and sport and fun. That side of things made a good balance in an armed forces that wasn’t over-stretched.

‘Now you have an army that is over-stretched and a budget that reduces the amount of money that is available. The money available has to go on operations.’

Army chiefs are so concerned by the volume of applicants that they are trying to convince some to stay.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: They Told Me I Had Food Poisoning… But I Was Bleeding to Death Inside

At first, Ivan Massow believed he was having a heart attack. It was lunchtime and he was showering at his home in Clerkenwell after a vigorous gym workout.

Without warning, a wave of intense nausea and dizziness brought him to his knees.

He gripped the walls, fighting the blackness that closed in around him.

Recalling the incident six months ago, the 43-year-old millionaire — a former head of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, who is on the Conservative Party’s Approved Candidate list — says: ‘Horrible pain spread across my chest and stomach — it felt like all the blood was being drained from my head.’

Any movement brought on more spasms of pain, sickness and fainting. It sounds terrifying, yet Ivan says: ‘I wasn’t scared — it sounds odd but I felt more embarrassed than anything. I’d been going through some kind of mid-life crisis at the time and it just seemed like such a cliched old man way to die: in the shower, of a heart attack, after exercising too hard.

‘I must have cried out or made a huge thud because all of a sudden my personal assistant and housekeeper were both standing over me, which only added to my embarrassment, as I was naked. I suppose it was a terribly English reaction to dying.’

An ambulance was called and Ivan, who counts Joan Collins and Geri Halliwell among his friends, was rushed to the accident and emergency at University College Hospital, London.

There, he was told he had not had a heart attack; instead, it was simply a very bad case of food poisoning.

‘I was left on a trolley for a few hours while they took some blood and at about 1am I was sent home in a taxi. I was still in agony every time I moved and suffering dreadful cramps. But they said it was probably bad rice that I had eaten, so I just went to bed and tried to ride it out.’

The diagnosis was badly wrong. Although he didn’t know it at the time, Ivan had suffered a rupture to the main blood vessel supplying his spleen, a condition known as a splenic artery aneurysm.

The artery was steadily pumping the contents of his circulatory system into his stomach cavity.

The cause of his pain would not be correctly diagnosed for five days — repeatedly being mistaken for food poisoning by doctors and paramedics — by which time he was close to death.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Football: Croatia’s Football Body Fined Over Pro-Nazi, Fascist Chants

(AKI) — The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has fined Croatia’s top football body 80,000 euros after fans displayed Nazi symbols a European championship qualifying match with Georgia two weeks ago, Croatian media reported on Friday.

In the Adriatic resort of Split, tens of thousands of Croatian fans on 3 June chanted fascist slogans, displayed banners, including a Nazi swastika, and glorified the Croatian Ustashes, the World War II fascist movement appointed by the Nazi’s to administer a part of occupied Yugoslavia as the puppet Independent State of Croatia.

“We are all Ustashe,” the crowd chanted, violating UEFA rules which ban using sporting events for political purposes.

Croatian media had speculated that Croatia may be fined to play several matches without in empty stadiums, but UEFA’s disciplinary commission ruled the financial fine was more appropriate.

Croatia won the game 2-1 and was a step away from qualifying for next year’s European championship to be held in Poland and Ukraine.

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

North Africa

Egypt: ENI Oil Services Unit Lands Over €1bln of New Offshore Contracts

Rome and Cairo, 13 June (AKI) — Italian energy giant Eni’s oil field services company has been awarded new offshore engineering and construction contracts in Egypt, in the North Sea and in Russia, worth in excess of $1 billion, Eni said Monday.

In Egypt, Burullus Gas Company has granted Saipem a contract for subsea developments in the area of the West Delta Deep Marine Concession, located about 90 kilometres offshore the Northwest Nile delta, at water depths between 400 and 1,000 metres.

The development encompasses the engineering, procurement, construction and installation of a total of seven seabed wellheads.

Saipem has already carried out two earlier phases of the West Delta Deep Marine Concession’s subsea development. The work will be connected to existing infrastructure, Eni said.

Saipem also won contracts to operate in the Norwegian and British sectors of the North Sea,

In Russia, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium awarded Saipem the contract for the expansion of its marine export terminal, near Yuhznaya Ozereyevka on the Black Sea coast. Saipem will also build a 5 kilometre hydrocarbon pipeline and install a new offshore mooring system for hydrocarbon exports.

Saipem will carry out the projects between mid-2012 and 2013.

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

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood on Charm Offensive

At a mass rally last week in Sohag in southern Egypt, Mohammad Badei, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, looked at ways to win over Christians.

“Egypt’s next president should not belong to any religious group. He should not be unfair to Copts or coerce them into adopting Islamic Sharia [law],” Badei said.

He said he would visit Pope Shenouda, the leader of Egyptian Christians, upon the latter’s return from medical treatment in the US.

Badei’s remarks were made as the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most influential and well-organised power, was celebrating the approval of the Freedom and Justice Party, its first officially recognised political party since it was created in 1928.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Libya: ‘More Than 500,000’ Have Received UN-Delivered Food

Tripoli, 17 June (AKI) — More than half-a-million people affected by the civil war in Libya have received food delivered by the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP).

Libya was already vulnerable to food shortages before fighting between rebels and Muammar Gaddafi’s military forces began in February.

Rome-based WFP has delivered “vital food assistance to more than 500,000 people affected by the ongoing fighting between the Government and rebels in Libya, even as concerns continue to grow about access to food inside the country,” the UN said. “The price of many food commodities has more than doubled in areas heavily affected by fighting.”

Since it began to move food supplies into Libya in early March soon after the conflict began, WFP distributed aid to over 270,000 people in eastern Libya, 136,000 people in western Libya (mainly in the Nafusa Mountain area), and an additional 125,000 people in the city of Misrata, the UN said.

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

Libya: Tripoli Hit by Another NATO Air Raid

(AGI) Tripoli — A new daytime NATO air raid appears to have it Tripoli today, according to regime TV ‘al-Jamahiriyah’. The latter claims that the al-Karama neighborhood, which was already hit by NATO jets about 10 days ago, was struck again this morning. Several explosions were also heard in the capital.

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

Libyan Insurrectionists Accuse: No Aid From the West

(AGI) Benghazi — The insurrectionists of the Transitory National Council in Benghazi denounced they are now without funds and accuse the western countries of not fulfilling their promise of economic aid. The accusation was flung by the Oil and Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni.

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

Morocco’s King Pledges to Give Up Some of His Power

The King of Morocco has moved to voluntarily limit his own powers, hoping to appease protesters following months of demonstrations demanding more democracy. But some say the planned reform does not go far enough.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Refugee Resort: As Civil War Rages in Libya, Thousands Flock to Tunisia’s Djerba Island

A popular tourist destination before the North African uprisings, Djerba Island off the coast of Tunisia is now teeming with “five-star” refugees, Gaddafi spies and exiled Libyan revolutionaries

The Tunisian island of Djerba has for all intents and purposes become a Libyan colony. Since the beginning of the civil war, almost 50,000 Libyans have escaped to Tunisia, and 5,000 of them have flocked to Djerba, a popular tourist destination before the wave of revolts began sweeping through North Africa.

Here, the rifts of the civil war are evident. On the island, Muammar Gaddafi’s supporters and rebels live dangerously side-by-side. Spies of the regime pretend to be refugees, while revolutionaries dress up as businessmen. It is a melting pot of rumors, provocations, deep misery and outrageous luxury. The enemies have something in common, though. They are all stuck, waiting to know what will happen to Gaddafi. They all watch Al Jazeera, looking for clues about when and if he will fall.

The “five-star refugees” rule Djerba’s cafes and night clubs, which they treat as their own. Djerba is a sort of Florida for rich Libyans. Until three months ago, they used to come here every weekend. Many Libyan men used to find their Dolce Vita in Djerba’s luxury hotels, restaurants, casinos and night clubs. The hypocritical Gaddafi regime frowned upon overtly public night life.

Now the rich Libyans are back on Djerba. They sit lazily at the bars. They block the streets with their white luxury cars. Even the airport’s parking lot is full of the cars of businessmen who are away in the Middle East and Europe.

“Top oil men and traffickers who were close to the regime have fled Libya with their money. They have found a safe place for their families and now they are regaining control of their businesses,” says Farhat Tanfous, the mayor of Midoun, a town on the island.

It is both a blessing and a curse for Djerba. Due to the war, bookings by Europeans have dropped by half. The millionaire refugees have picked up the slack, occupying the island’s luxury hotels and villas. The beautiful houses hidden between the olive trees are sold out.

Many of them are open supporters of Gaddafi. Two large men sitting at the restaurant El Maluf and staring at the girls on the street are among them. “Why are we here? Because NATO is killing people in Tripoli. That’s why! Libya was a paradise before the arrival of these murderers from Cyrenaica who dope themselves before the fight. Watch Libyan television to see the truth! Even in Benghazi the majority of people support Gaddafi, but they cannot protest,” they say. The men refuse to identify themselves other than to say they are oil engineers.

Among Djerba’s Libyans, there are many agents of the political police, Kataeb el Amn. They disguise themselves as refugees in order to monitor the rebels on the island. They spread rumors that Libyan women are forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children. They try to split Libyans and Tunisians. They swear that Gaddafi will forgive everyone. They smile and they threaten. Fear is spreading among the poor refugees who are afraid to be captured by Gaddafi and his police.

Some of Djerba’s refugees just sit in the middle. They wait in front of the television to see who will win. They’re eager to know when they will be able to get back to business and take advantage of their tribal relations, which will be even more useful in the future than under Gaddafi’s regime.

Finally, there are the other refugees, the poor ones, still bewildered and shocked by the bombings. Many of them haven’t made it to Djerba. Instead they are stuck in Tunisian villages close to the border with Libya. Only Tunisian generosity is saving them. Tunisians have opened their houses and stadiums to the Libyan refugees. They are even organizing classes for the children.

In the end, that is what’s keeping these refugees going: Tunisian solidarity and compassion. “With all our oil, we would have never been able to do all this,” said Ala, a Libyan refugee. These words express the final damnation of a 40-year regime.

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

Middle East

Addition of Jordan and Morocco to Gulf Cooperation Council — a New Sunni Arab Alignment Against Iran

In recent months, the conflict between the Gulf states and Iran has escalated, culminating in February-March 2011, when the Gulf states claimed that Iran was behind Shi’ite protests in Bahrain calling for the ouster of the regime there, and that it was encouraging Shi’ite protests in Saudi Arabia. Officials from the Gulf states, chiefly from Saudi Arabia, accused Iran of meddling in the affairs of the Gulf states in order to topple their Sunni regimes and to spark unrest throughout the Gulf region. Events reached a climax on March 14, when the Gulf states dispatched thousands of Peninsula Shield Force troops to Bahrain in order to assist the regime there in suppressing Shi’ite protestors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Al-Quds Al-Arabi’: Al-Zawahiri’s Test — Swift Revenge for the Killing of Bin Laden

An editorial in the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi claimed that the selection of Ayman Al-Zawahiri as leader of Al-Qaeda was drawn out for bureaucratic reasons, and not due to a disagreement regarding the choice. According to the daily, Al-Zawahiri is a man of action who hates Israel, and hates the U.S. for supporting it, so attacks on Israeli targets must be expected. It added that the decentralization in the organization will assist it in its activities and that Al-Zawahiri’s real test will be his ability to carry out a revenge attack for the killing of Bin Laden within one month, as he threatened to do.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Al-Qaeda Leader Targets ‘Near Enemy’

Editor’s note: Al-Qaeda on Thursday named Ayman al-Zawahiri as its new chief to succeed the slain Osama bin Laden, and vowed “there will be no let up in its jihad against the United States and Israel”. The group added, ““We support the uprisings of our oppressed Muslim people against the corrupt and tyrant leaders who have made our nation suffer in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya Yemen, Syria and Morocco.” The following report was written before al-Qaeda’s announcement.

By Murad Batal al-Shishani

Since the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, was killed on May 2, much analysis has appeared speculating on potential changes to the organization and its leadership. This article aims to answer the basic question of in which direction core al-Qaeda (based along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border) will go in the post-Bin Laden era according to the ideology of its remaining leaders.

These figures include Egyptian jihadi Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, who will probably emerge as the undeclared leader, as al-Qaeda members considers themselves not an organization, but rather “vanguards” of the jihadi movement. As al-Qaeda ideologue Abdul Majid Abdul Majid put it: “Al-Qaeda is no longer just a hierarchal organization [built] on specific names, but has become a jihadi mission held [in common] by all mujahideen of the umma [Islamic community].” [1]

Some indication of al-Zawahiri’s emerging role can be found in his eulogy for Bin Laden which was released on jihadi websites on June 8. [2] In the message, entitled “The Noble Knight Alighted,” al-Zawhiri announced the renewal of al-Qaeda’s Bai’a (oath of allegiance) to the Amir al-Mu’mineen (Commander of the Faithful) Taliban leader Mullah Omar, indicating that al-Zawahiri has the authority to do so on behalf of those “vanguards”.

In order to assess the future behavior of al-Qaeda this article will examine the ideology of three members of al-Qaeda’s Shura council in addition to al-Zawahiri: Abu Yahya al-Libi (aka Hassan Muhammad Qaid), Abu Abdulrahman Attiya al-Libi (aka Jamal Ibrahim Shtelwi al-Misrati) and Abdul Majid Abdul Majid. A fourth shura member, Abu Khalil al-Madani, is not included in this analysis due to a lack of information about his views.

Saif al-Adel in the al-Qaeda leadership

Although al-Zawahiri has been described as the deputy leader of al-Qaeda over the past 15 years, some recent reports have suggested that Egyptian commander Saif al-Adel would be appointed as the new al-Qaeda leader. However, al-Adel is a military professional, as can be noted from his writings, which means that his lack of ideological credentials make such reports unlikely. [3]

A retired Egyptian military officer, al-Adel is believed to be the leader of al-Qaeda’s military committee and returned to the Pakistan tribal area of Waziristan in 2010 after being released from detention in Iran. Saif al-Adel is commonly identified in reports as the alias of a retired Egyptian intelligence (or special forces) officer named Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi; however, there are reasons to question this identification. Al-Adel’s father-in-law, an Afghan jihad veteran named Abu Hamid al-Masri (aka Mustafa Hamid), has denied Makkawi is al-Adel’s real name.

In 2004, the London-based Islamic Media Observatory released a statement saying al-Adel and Makkawi are not the same person. [4] More recently, an Egyptian newspaper published a letter from an individual identifying himself as Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, a veteran of the Afghan jihad, stating that he is not Saif al-Adel and has been experiencing problems as a result of this misidentification. The author appears to also be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, but claims to have denounced al-Qaeda since 9/11.

It is important to note that killing Bin Laden does not mean the dismantlement of al-Qaeda. A June 16, 2010, video recording by Abu Yahya al-Libi, entitled “Our Leaders’ Blood Fuels Our Battle”, eulogized the former leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, who were killed in a US air strike on April 19, 2010.

Al-Libi’s eulogy indicates the mindset influencing the behavior of al-Qaeda post-Bin Laden: “There is no mujahid who has fought in bouts and stepped into battlefields, whether he is a leader or a soldier, [who] has not prepared himself for death; he is eagerly awaiting it, hour by hour, no, moment by moment … this worship [jihad], which is part of our glorious religion, cannot be stopped, disrupted or delayed by the death, killing or capture of someone, whoever he is and [whatever] his status is.” [5]

Abu Yahya escaped from the American detention centre in Bagram-Afghanistan in 2005. Since then he has appeared as one of the most prominent ideologues of Salafi-jihadism after studying Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) in Mauritania. Jihadists often refer to his writings, especially his opinions on killing civilians…

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

Arabian Oryx Makes History as First Species to be Upgraded From “Extinct in the Wild” To “Vulnerable”

The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes an all-too-rare victory: The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) has been upgraded from the Endangered category to Vulnerable. This is quite an achievement, because the species was extinct in the wild just a few decades ago. The last wild Arabian Oryx was shot in 1972. Since that time, intense conservation and re-introduction efforts have increased the species’s wild population to 1,000 individuals. This is the first time that a species once listed as Extinct in the Wild has been upgraded past the Endangered category (where the Oryx has been listed since 1986) all the way to Vulnerable. Once present throughout the Middle East, the Arabian Oryx was overhunted in the 19th and 20th centuries until the only animals that remained were in zoos. Following captive breeding, re-introductions started in Oman in 1982.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Interview With Noam Chomsky About the Arab Spring

“The West Is Terrified of Arabic Democracies”

Mr. Chomsky, many people claim that the Arab world is incompatible with democracy. Would you say that the recent developments falsify this thesis?

Noam Chomsky: The thesis never had any basis whatsoever. The Arab-Islamic world has a long history of democracy. It’s regularly crushed by western force. In 1953 Iran had a parliamentary system, the US and Britain overthrew it. There was a revolution in Iraq in 1958, we don’t know where it would have gone, but it could have been democratic. The US basically organized a coup.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamist Columnist Predicts: ‘Turkey Will Become United With Kurdistan, And Syria…

Israel Will be Eliminated; Turkey Will Replace the U.S. In the Region’

The Islamist Turkish daily Milli Gazete interviewed Mustafa Ozcan, one of its own journalists who was educated and worked in the Arab Middle East.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Palestinians No Longer Welcome, Says Lebanese Mufti

“You’re trash, you’ll never be victorious,” Sheikh Qabbani tells stunned Palestinians reps.

The mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, was quoted this week as saying that Palestinians are no longer welcome in his country. He also condemned Palestinians as “trash,” and said that he’s not afraid of their weapons. Sheikh Qabbani’s remarks were made during a meeting he held in his office in Beirut with a Palestinian delegation, representing refugees and various Palestinian factions in Lebanon. The furious mufti later kicked the Palestinian representatives out of his office.

More than 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, most of them in extremely harsh conditions in refugee camps. The meeting was called to discuss Palestinian “assaults” on state-owned and Islamic Wakf lands in Lebanon. “We’ve hosted you and no longer want you,” the mufti told stunned members of the Palestinian delegation. Accusing Palestinians of “usurping” Wakf lands to build houses, Qabbani told his visitors: “I will defend Wakf lands — even if that costs me all what I have.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria Violence Continues After Deadly Friday Protests

Syrian troops and gunmen stormed a town near the Turkish border on Saturday, one day after at least 12 people were shot dead by government forces. France and Germany have agreed to lobby for stronger sanctions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syrian Army Enters Villages on Turkish Border

Demonstrations against the Syrian regime continue, while the attempts of the latter to suppress them are now concentrated in the north of the country along the Turkish border, where the military has deployed troops, tanks, and APCs. According to various reports, military forces entered the village of Bdama, making dozens of arrests and torching homes. Relations between Syria and Turkey have deteriorated lately since the Turkish leadership criticized the Syrian regime’s violent suppression of protestors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Assad’s Ouster Could End Middle East Christianity

Sources: Islamists may be installed under cover of ‘democratic’ protests

As mass protests and violent demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa take place in the name of democracy, Christians in the region have become more fearful, leading those in Syria to throw their support behind autocratic dictator President Bashar Assad, who has protected the Christian community, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

However, regional observers say the demonstrations marking the Arab Spring of protests appear to be heading toward a Shariah-adherent Islamist standard of governance in countries where dictators previously kept hard-core Muslims at bay. In some cases, such as in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya, such radical authoritarianism even previously was outlawed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Trade Between Turkey, Iraq Hits $10b

The commercial attaché at the Turkish embassy in Baghdad announced yesterday that the trade between his country and Iraq during this calendar year will reach $10 billion while projecting the figure to rise to $20 billion in the next few years. Trade between the two countries was recorded at $6 billion in the previous year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Former Top Soldier Urges Respect for Independent Military

Turkey’s former military chief called for military autonomy on Friday, hinting at a professional military neutral to politics in the first remarks of their kind since dozens of soldiers were charged with planning to overthrow the government.

Former Chief of Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug, who said he subscribed to Samuel Huntington’s school of thought, referred to the scholar’s term of “objective civilian control” at a security conference in Ankara, urging respect for independent military profession.

“The key to objective control is the recognition of autonomous military professionalism. Interference in military affairs undermines military professionalism and so undermines objective control,” said Basbug.

“If the military is granted autonomy in its sphere, the result is a professional military that is politically neutral and voluntarily subordinate to civilian control. Of course, autonomy is not absolute,” he warned.

Elephant story to define civil-military ties

The former general explained the complexity of civil-military relations through a story of the three blind men examining an elephant.

“Since each can only sense what he is touching — that is, the trunk, a leg and the tale — and no one can conceive of the elephant as a whole, each concludes that the animal is something different from what it really is,” said Basbug. “Questions of civil-military relations are complex.”

You can view the full text to Basbug’s speech by clicking the link above..

The former top solider complained that the study of civil-military relations often suffers from an unsystematic set of assumptions, prejudices and a lack of understanding concerning some important facts related to military life. Basbug also hailed the theories in Huntington’s internationally acclaimed book, “The Solder and the State,” as one of the most influential in the area of civil military relations.

“When we are supposed to discuss the civil-military relations, we always focus on one issue: civilian control of the military. Yes, of course, this is one of the important issues, but there are other facts we should not ignore.”

Basbug listed other elements, again from Huntington’s book, as the proper role of the military, the level of military influence on society, and the ability of the military to maintain its effectiveness in protecting the interests of the state.

Civilians influenced by ‘elections’

He said the last word undoubtedly belongs to civilian authorities but added: “The military man wants civilian authorities to listen and to take into consideration his … proposals and offers.”

Basbug said military and civilian authorities occasionally find themselves adhering to different positions that could stem from differences in background, training and responsibilities, as well as shortcomings among both civilian and military authorities.

“And of course civilian authorities are subject to many influences such as elections, party policies and the media. Therefore, I believe it is important to take some necessary steps in order to decrease the possible gap between civilian and military authorities on education and expertise [at the] level of national security issues,” he said.

Politics vs military

Basbug also said now was the right time to discuss one of the most misunderstood aspects of the civil-military relations: is the strategic leadership of the military institution — meaning the top man in the military — responsible for dealing with politics?

“Yes, he is,” he said. “But politics is the task dealing with state policy and national security policy.”

Basbug said military officers must remain politically neutral. “Professional soldiers are above domestic affairs. They do not attach themselves to political parties or overtly display partisanship.”

Basbug also noted that Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, ordered his comrades after the War of Independence to choose between political and military roles. “You cannot play two roles at the same time. I think it is a very clear position. Therefore, I believe that it is vital that the civil-military structure not allow or encourage military personnel to attach themselves to political parties.”

Basbug said that though he believed the civilian-military relation was a dialogue between unequal ones, “I underline that a common sense should” should reign supreme in regard to intervention into military matters by civilian authorities.

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

Turkey to Demand Assad Oust Brother From Military

A Turkish envoy will travel to Damascus in the coming days to bring a “warning letter” to Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling him to enact reforms and to remove his brother Maher Assad from the command of Syria’s Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, Al-Arabiya reported on Saturday. Maher Assad is largely believed to be behind the three-month old violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

The Turkish envoy will ask for Assad to grant Syrians freedom to demonstrate, freedom of expression and to lift the ban on political parties, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the report.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Medvedev: Russian-Iranian Cooperation Promotes World Peace

In a meeting in Kyrgyzstan between the presidents of Iran and Russia, on the margins of the Shanghai Alliance conference, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that his country would continue to insist on its right to develop nuclear technology.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pipeline Control Dominates Russian-Ukrainian Relations

Ukraine depends on Russia for gas, while Russia relies on Ukraine’s pipelines to serve EU markets. But as Kyiv struggles financially, experts question how long it can keep key infrastructure out of Russian hands.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia and France Sign Deal for Mistral Helicopter Carriers

(AGI) St Petersburg- Russia and France have concluded a historic 1,12 billion euro deal for the supply of two Mistral class ships. Both the French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitri Medvedev have announced the sale of the two helicopter carriers during the G8 summit in Deauville. The deal marks the first time a NATO country transfers its military technology to the former Soviet Union and has been concluded after around 2 years of negotiations.

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


France to Help Develop Russia’s Caucasus Ski Project

France’s state development bank has signed a deal to help Russia develop the restive North Caucasus region into a ski haven, a French official said Saturday. Russia plans to create five resorts in the Caucasus mountain ridge along its southern border. The area is plagued by daily killings and Islamist insurgency. The $15 billion Russian plan got a boost with France’s state development bank Caisse des Depots signing a framework agreement with North Caucasus Resorts, the company developing the project.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Bomb Injures 4 Spanish ISAF Soldiers, 2 Suffer Amputation

(AGI) Madrid — Four Spanish ISAF soldiers and an Afghan interpreter have suffered serious injuries in eastern Afghanistan. A roadside explosive device detonated as they drove by onboard their ‘Lince’ armoured vehicle. News of the events in the north-western Baghdis province was reported by the Spanish defence ministry. Two of the casualties, a lieutenant and a woman soldier, suffered leg amputation.

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

Bundeswehr Convoy Attacked by Taliban

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a German army convoy in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing three Afghan civilians. The German soldiers escaped injury.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Considering Partial Withdrawal From Afghanistan

(AGI) Paris — France is considering a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Le Monde stressed that this would only be a partial withdrawal of its 4,000 strong contingent. General Philippe Ponties reported: ‘The ministers of foreign affairs and defence have told us that the goal of a partial withdrawal during the second half of 2011 is an open option under consideration.” .

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

Indonesia: Central Java: Justice Held in Check Only One Year for Imam Who Ordered Attack on Three Churches

In February Syihabudin, religious leader in Temanggung, incited 1500 Muslims against the local Christian community. Sentences of between 4 and 5 months for some accomplices. The violence triggered by an alleged case of blasphemy. Moderates see judicial system in favor of Muslims. Government and police helpless against the extremist groups.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The moderate Indonesian population is in shock after the lenient sentence of one year prison for Syihabudin, the imam responsible for the attacks against Christians that took place on February 8 in Temanggung (Central Java). Indonesian English-language newspapers published the criticisms of many readers regarding the ruling, which could be reduced, taking into account the months the religious leader has already served. 25 other people suspected of involvement, were tried and sentenced to between 4 and 5 months.

“The independence of the Indonesian court is not in question — says one reader — yet no one condemns those judges who do not respect the values of the Pancasilla (the five guiding principles of the state, which guarantees religious freedom and social justice for all — ed) and fail to take into account the equality of all citizens. “ Another citizen points out: “Syihabuddin only got one year in prison. Who says the system is tilted in favor of Muslims?”.

On February 8 Syihabudin has incited a crowd of 1,500 Muslims to protest against the sentence of five years in prison for blasphemy of Antonius Richmond Bawengan, a Christian born in Manado (North Sulawesi), claiming he deserved the death penalty. Within hours, thousands of extremists led by Syihabudin have destroyed three Roman Catholic churches, an orphanage and a Protestant church (see AsiaNews 08/02/2011 Central Java: Thousands of Muslims attack three churches, an orphanage and a Christian centre).The police, who arrived in small numbers, failed to placate the crowd, which beat and injured several Christians.

Theophilus Bela, activist and promoter of interreligious dialogue, said that “despite the religious freedom allowed Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the police forces ‘sleep’ when it comes to defending minorities against attacks by Islamic extremists.” According to him, the government and security forces so far have shown no actions severe enough to disrupt the groups that promote Islamic slogans and commit violence against Christians. “The riots that occurred in Temanggung — he says — are a clear example of how the Indonesian government is powerless in the face of these radical groups. “

Bela also adds that the mild sentence against Syihabuddin demonstrates the fragility of the judicial system, which now fears the pressures of the strongest social groups.

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

Karzai Confirms US in Contact With Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday that the US is engaged in talks with the Taliban about a possible peace settlement to the nearly decade-long war in his country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistani Source: Officer Accused of Aiding CIA in Bin Laden Killing Arrested

A security source in Pakistan confirmed to that ‘Amer Aziz, a 45-year-old officer in the Pakistani army, was arrested on suspicion that he gave the CIA information on Osama bin Laden prior to his killing, and even helped with the surveillance and operation itself.

The source added that five other Pakistanis were arrested along with the officer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Uzbekistan: Illegal to Own a Bible or Pray Together

Police beatings and threats against Christians who hold religious gatherings or even own a Bible. The long list of normal, everyday violence against Christians.

Tashkent (AsiaNews/F18) — Beatings and threats: Protestants continue to suffer persecution in Uzbekistan. Mid-May in Eastern Uzbekistan police badly beat a woman, attacking in her home, in front of her daughter, for having taken part in Christian religious activities. The news agency Forum 18 denounced the episode after learning of it from local sources, asking for anonymity. Several hospitals have also refused to treat the woman, frightened by the police.

F18 has made inquiries with the local police, who refused to discuss it.

In the country, even owning a Bible can be a serious crime. The appeals court in Tashkent ordered the Christian Baptist Galina Shemetova to a fine of 2,486,750 som (about 1,015 euros, 50 times the minimum monthly pay) for having given a children’s Bible to a colleague. For this reason she is accused of proselytizing. The woman was also beaten by the police, but that the court of appeals did not want to discuss the issue.

On April 14 the Protestant Anvar Rajapov was sentenced to a fine of 80 times the minimum wage because the police found religious books in his house. The Tashkent court did not notify him of the sentence, but the police confiscated his passport and threatened him with death if he appeals the decision. Rajapov has made a complaint directly addressing the country’s President Islam Karimov and the Supreme Court.

Also in Tashkent in April, the police and special forces carried out secret searches of Baptist Christians’ homes, confiscating thousands of religious texts.

On 26 May Tashkent police arrested the Baptists Amir Temur and Sergey Shilnikov: they had a Bible, two Gospels of John and two other religious texts. They were charged for having introduced and illegally traded improper religious literature.

In early June, the district authorities of Hamza tried to convince some Baptists to sign a statement that the pastor Konstantin Malchikovsky and Anna Portova had sold them religious texts, without paying taxes. A charge punishable by 2 years in prison. To convince them, the police arrested some of the Baptist faithful, holding them for hours without charge and even threatened some with arresting their children. The Baptists all refused, and the authorities mentioned, approached by F18, did not want to talk about it.

The Commission of the United Nations Convention against Torture has reported that violence in the country, torture and threats against religious freedom are “normal.” The law on religious freedom makes it difficult for groups to obtain recognition and the law considers illegal any activity of groups not recognized, even praying at home together.

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

Far East

America in a Chinese Mirror

Two autocratic little men staging an international event to impress their own citizens with their own greatness.

Five months ago Chinese leader Hu Jintao held a high profile state dinner with Obama. Since then Obama has premised his policy proposals on a competition with China. Yet if he learned anything from that visit, it isn’t at all obvious.

For Hu Jintao, his American visit was a chance to reaffirm China as the world’s second greatest superpower. Like Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s extended tour of America, this visit was not about diplomacy, but a way of showing all the folks back home and around the world that there are only two nations worth mentioning in the same sentence.

Even the Anti-American song was less about tweaking his host’s by the nose, than it was about showing off for the home audience. Hu Jintao did not really care what Obama might think of such a dubious number. His own experts had already told him that Obama desperately needed to maintain the image of a successful administration functioning on the world stage. And that put Hu Jintao and Obama in the same boat. Two autocratic little men staging an international event to impress their own citizens with their own greatness.

The state dinner was a meeting of two ruling oligarchies, and the Chinese version is not so different from the American version. Both are left wing ideologues using their political power to run capitalist economies in order to amass personal power. Hu brought along members of his oligarchy to meet members of our own oligarchy, exchange business cards and discuss doing business together. The difference is that we still have open elections and when the government tells us to be civil, we can still choose to opt out. For now. The average Chinese citizen doesn’t have that option. The PRC has built a prosperous life for millions on the back of hundreds of millions by making and selling cheap goods to the American market. The rising middle class which profits sees nothing wrong, the dispossessed homeowners and villagers who protest too much get a chance to become organ donors for BODIES… The Exhibition.

BODIES is perhaps China’s most gruesome export to America, consisting of flayed human corpses from the Chinese Bureau of Police, arranged in lifelike poses for the edification of Americans. And that is the difference between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. The Russians killed people and buried them in the ground. The Chinese regime figured out a way to market the corpses of its own victims to American families. Lenin predicted that we would sell them the rope with which they would hang us. We sold them the rope, and they hung themselves. China instead sells us the rope with which we are hanging ourselves. Each Chinese shipment is another strand in the rope. And when the rope is tight enough, all that the PRC leadership needs to do is kick out the chair they’ve been holding in place under us.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

China ‘Steals’ Alpine Village From Austria in Hope to Transform Outdated Southern City

China is building a replica Alpine village in a grimy industrial city.

It hopes the chalets in the southern city of Huizhou will be sought after by homesick Europeans.

The village will be a £5.7billion copy of Hallstatt in Austria, complete with artificial lake. Posing as tourists, the Chinese have been photographing every building there for three years.

The plan was discovered when a Chinese guest at Hallstatt’s hotel left behind a bundle of blueprints.

China already has Chengdu British Town, modelled on Dorchester, and Thames Town, near Shanghai.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

China’s Ghost Towns: New Satellite Pictures Show Massive Skyscraper Cities Which Are Still Completely Empty

As sprawling housing developments and skyscrapers in one of the world’s most populous countries, these tower blocks and recently-built neighbourhoods should be busy and swarming with people.

But on closer inspection these stunning pictures show elaborate public buildings and open spaces which are left completely empty.

The most recent pictures of unused housing emerged as China announced plans to build 20 cities a year for the next 20 years.

And despite pictures last year showing some of the reported 64 million empty homes, Chinese authorities have since erected masses more buildings.

Gillem Tulloch, an aanlyst for Forensic Asia Limited, described one of the areas in Chenggong, as a ‘forest of skyscrapers’.

When asked what has happened in the past six months since the ghost cities were built, he said: ‘China built more of them.

‘China consumes more steel, iron ore and cement per capita than any industrial nation in history.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

China Aircraft Competition Coming Fast: Boeing

China is fast developing its civilian aircraft industry and it will likely win its first commercial order on the world market sooner than people think, US aerospace giant Boeing said on Sunday. “They are improving all the time, (they are) … making huge investments,” said Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing’s commercial aircraft operations. It will “probably be sooner than anyone thinks … (for them) to make their first competitive sale,” Albaugh said, adding that China has made a hugh national commitment of money and intellectual resources to the industry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South China Sea: Beijing Sending Patrol Ship

Beijing plans to boost its naval presence in the area over the coming years. Tensions are growing because other stakeholders are not giving up their claims.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — China is sending its largest patrol ship to the South China Sea and plans to increase its naval patrols in the area. It also announced that it just completed a three-day naval drill.

According to the Global Times, 14 Chinese Navy vessels recently staged drills in waters near China’s southern island of Hainan, including anti-submarine manoeuvres and the beach landing of troops. The exercises were aimed at “defending atolls and protecting sea lanes”.

The China Maritime Surveillance force said it would boost its current staff of 9,000 to 15,000 personnel by 2020. The patrol fleet will have 350 vessels by 2015 and 520 by 2020.

The force falls under the State Oceanic Administration, an agency that supervises China’s coastline and territorial waters.

On Wednesday, Beijing sent its largest patrol ship, the 3,000-tonne Haixun-31, to monitor shipping and “protect maritime security”. The ship has a helicopter pad and can stay at sea for up to 40 days

Despite this display, China insists that all it wants to do is maintain “peace” in there region.

The South China Sea includes two archipelagos, the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands, which have no permanent human settlement but are a treasure-trove in energy sources and raw materials.

Their control is also important strategically in terms trade and resource development, especially oil and natural gas.

China’s claims are countered by those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Beijing’s favoured approach is bilateral talks; however, the other parties to the disputes, above all Vietnam, want a multilateral approach to offset China’s preponderance. The United States would be included given its strategic interests in the area.

Tensions are rising as the dispute turns into a major confrontation. Filipino President Benigno Aquino said he might call on Washington to establish a permanent naval presence in the area claimed by his country. Vietnam also conducted joint exercises with the United States on Monday.

Vietnam occupies more than 25 islets and reefs in the Spratly Islands, which could weigh heavily on future talks. Vietnam’s Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh warned that if any other party escalated the dispute, “we would not just stand back and watch”.

In the meantime, the show of force goes on as all parties bolster their military presence in the area.

Even Taiwan said this week it would be sending a naval fleet to Taiwan-controlled Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratly archipelago.

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

Steak Made From Human Excrement: Is it Safe?

The mere idea is stomach-churning: creating food from human feces. But researchers in Japan say they have done just that. They have synthesized meat from proteins found in human waste, according to news reports. While the concept of chowing down on steak derived from poop may not exactly be appetizing, we wondered: is this meat safe?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Toxic Truth About Japan’s ‘Miracle’: Post-Tsunami Harmony is a Myth and the Reality is Startlingly Different

Yet post-tsunami Japan is far from harmonious. The bullet trains may be running, but in the fishing villages and tiny ports that litter the jagged coastline north of Sendai, thousands are surviving on aid handouts. The emergency cash promised by the government is yet to arrive.

Take Minamisanriku, the town whose devastating fate was pictured on the front page of The Mail on Sunday. There has been no miracle here. Today, it remains a nightmare of twisted metal and fragments of First World comfort. The raging 98ft wave caused annihilation. Harmony has long disappeared from Ishinomaki, too. The port town, 30 miles from Sendai, took the full force of the tsunami. It is a ghost town shrouded in the stench of rotting fish.

There is no doubt that ‘wa’ helped Japan to deal with its monumental problems; but it also means that victims suffer in silence. In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, orderly queues snaked for miles for food, water and fuel. There was no looting and raping, which often accompanies natural disasters elsewhere.


The 254 billion yen (£1.94 billion) raised by the Japanese Red Cross for tsunami victims (including £10.5 million donated from Britain) is taking an astonishingly long time to reach the people who need it most. Just 37 billion yen has been distributed so far.

Pensions and welfare payments, too, have dried up. Mr Konno, a diabetic, can’t understand why his monthly benefits of 15,000 yen (£114) stopped the moment he moved to a shelter.

Another victim, a 78-year-old widow, Mrs Utako Saito, sleeps in a tent she has pitched in her wrecked wooden cottage. She has not received her pension for three months.

With unemployment running at 90 per cent, the needy are starting to revolt. One third of families are refusing to move to temporary housing, opting to remain in shelters to hang on to their precious food benefits. Sixty per cent of the 28,000 temporary homes remain unoccupied. A staggering 90,000 people remain in shelters.


But The Mail on Sunday spoke to sources inside the Japanese nuclear industry who knew that radiation readings spiked 155 miles south of Fukushima, immediately after the first explosion. They were told by officials to keep the findings quiet.

A survey by Fuji Television Network last month found that 81 per cent of the public no longer trusts any government information about radiation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Village Uses Tech to Fight Off Rape Cult

It was a familiar tragedy, repeated countless times across Central Africa since firebrand Christian cultist Joseph Kony created the LRA in the mid-1980s, aiming to establish a sort of voodoo theocracy in northern Uganda. Defeated in its home country, in 2005 the LRA fled westward across Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic, looting, raping, killing and mutilating as it went. Obo was just one of hundreds of communities terrorized by the LRA. Many simply wither and die afterward.

But Obo didn’t.

Instead, Obo’s surviving villagers raised their own volunteer scout force (depicted above), armed it with homemade shotguns, and began disseminating intelligence on the LRA’s movements using the village’s sole, short-range FM radio transmitter.

The results of this do-it-yourself approach were encouraging. Since the attack three years ago, Obo has not suffered another major LRA invasion. Noting Obo’s successful strategy, Invisible Children, a California-based aid group, in March traveled into Central African Republic to help another American group, Interactive Radio for Justice, upgrade the town’s radio to a much longer-range model, further boosting the community’s self-defense capability.

Invisible Children’s goal is to increase by 30 times the area the town could keep on alert, while also plugging Obo into a radio-based “early warning network” that Invisible Children has been building in Congo since last year. The network of high frequency and FM radios allows communities across the LRA-infested region to share intelligence and warn each other of impending rebel attacks.

How the people of Obo have guarded their town, and the role American humanitarians played in their success, represents a possible vision for grassroots security in a region that has long defied large-scale armed intervention.

But there’s a downside to DIY security. In arming itself and taking on intelligence tasks, Obo is essentially giving up on ever receiving help from Central African Republic’s impoverished government. That can only further undermine the government’s tenuous legitimacy — and could fuel wider instability in the future.


The Obo scouts represent a phenomenon found in many conflict zones. When government or occupying armies fail to provide security, vulnerable communities often organize their own forces. It has happened in northern Iraq’s besieged Christian communities, across Afghanistan and, most famously, in Sunni-dominated north-central Iraq, where volunteer “Sons of Iraq” groups helped turn the tide against Iraqi insurgents.

The downside of these DIY militias is the risk they pose to the long-term stability of their countries. Baghdad and the U.S. military struggled to stand down and reintegrate Sons of Iraq groups after security improved and they became unnecessary. NATO has canceled several Sons of Iraq-style initiatives in Afghanistan after sedition-minded warlords co-opted some of the militia groups.

The Obo scouts could entail a similar long-term liability to Central African Republic’s weak government. “The very act of civilians taking up arms outside of their government’s direct control is a potentially problematic issue without an easy answer,” Finck admitted.

The scouts could also find themselves at odds with the Pentagon’s efforts in Africa.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]


Jolie, UNHCR Head Visit Island Swamped by Migrants

LAMPEDUSA, Italy (AP) — The tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, which has been overwhelmed in recent months by refugees fleeing Tunisia and Libya, is getting some VIP visitors: U.N. envoy Angelina Jolie and the U.N. refugee chief.

Refugee chief Antonio Guterres arrived in Lampedusa on Sunday a few hours ahead of Jolie, who last week traveled to Turkey’s border with Syria to meet some of the thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict there.

Guterres has thanked Lampedusa residents for welcoming the migrants and urged Europe to continue keeping its doors open.

He says the debate raging in Europe about immigration “doesn’t correspond to the reality” given that the number of migrants who have actually arrived is tiny compared to the numbers who have gone elsewhere.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Majority Backs New Integration Policy

Three quarters of the Dutch support the new government policy that requires immigrants to adapt to Dutch society and values, a weekly survey finds. The policy is endorsed by most people voting for the conservative VVD and Christian Democrat CDA parties, which form the minority coalition, and supporters of the anti-Islam Freedom Party, which backs the cabinet in parliament. The policy is also welcomed by two-thirds of Socialist Party voters and half of those who vote for Labour, the democrat party D66 and the Green Left party, Maurice de Hond’s weekly opinion poll suggests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Polish Navy Rescues African Migrants Dingy From Mediterranean

The Polish navy has rescued a group floating on a dingy in the Mediterranean, who were trying to escape the social upheavals in North Africa, it was reported Friday morning.

The group was transported to shore in Spain and given over to local authorities.

On Thursday evening the German mine-hunter Datteln spotted a group of people floating on a small vessel at a distance of about 80 km from the coast of Spain.

The emigrants were in good condition, but feared that their boat may start to sink at any moment.

The rescue operation was coordinated by the ship Admiral Xawery Czernicki, in the area as part of NATO-led anti-terrorist operations in the region.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

The Latest Illegal Immigrant to Land in Lampedusa Had Four Legs

A sheep that crossed the sea from Tunisia adds a light twist to the daily human drama of immigrants landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa. But the warmth doesn’t last.

Among the cries of joy and relief from the Tunisian refugees on the dock of this tiny Italian island, a very different voice joined in: a sheep bleating — almost as if to say: “I made it too!”

Authorities had rescued the immigrants, like so many before near Lampedusa, from a 10-meter long fishing boat. The Tunisian vessel was carrying 12 men, six women, a nine-year-old boy…and yes, one sheep. It was white, curly-haired, and an illegal immigrant like all the others. The sheep had been brought along to supply fresh milk for the boy.

The boat arrived in the harbor, with a show of 19 pairs of hands raised in the “V” sign for victory, and a triumphal pair of animal ears. “There is a sheep aboard,” said one of the rescuers by radio to the harbor police station. “What..?” the operator asked. “A sheep,” the policeman replied. It can happen on this island, the crossroads between two continents, the landing place for people who leave North Africa to run away from hunger, and to find a new place for their children to live.

Since the outbreak of revolutions in North Africa, some 40,000 immigrants have landed on Lampedusa. The stories on the island seem to be inspired from Aesop’s fables or biblical tales. “This is an island for travellers of life,” says Paolo La Rosa, a lawyer from Palermo. Young people in search of luck, women about to give birth, an 80-year-old blind man, and even a small dog have passed by this dock. This is the first sheep.

For a moment, the rescuers thought it was a joke. But the sheep was a treasure these immigrants could not afford to leave at home. “They brought the sheep along to feed the boy with its milk during the days spent at sea. In Africa, it is a valuable asset,” said a rescuer.

Bad luck, and worse

This was just a small group compared with the many others who arrive every day from Libya. On Tuesday, around 290 Libyans landed on Lampedusa. On this day, the humans were pushed into a van to go for identification. One had been sent back from Lampedusa to Tunisia just last week. Some people try up to six, seven or eight times.

They would wind up being unlucky again this time. But the sheep was the most unlucky of the group. The men, the women and the boy were put on a list to be sent back home, in accordance with treaties made between Italy and Tunisia. The ovine — as it was called in the bureaucratic documents — was sent to its death. “The law states that illegally imported animals must be put down. We have no choice. We cannot send it back home or keep it.” said Piero Bartolo, director of the Lampedusa emergency center.

Over recent months Dr. Bartolo has helped woman give birth, saved Tunisians who had swallowed razor blades to protest against the repatriation, and shut the eyes of the dead. And the other day, he found himself face-to-face with an illegally immigrant sheep.

A vet, who was by chance on the island, provided the solution. He took the sheep away. If sheep had feelings, maybe the animal thought for a moment that she would be safe at last. The vet gently took a blood sample to check if she had foot and mouth disease.

The analysis was not to make the sheep feel better, but to decide if pest control was necessary. The boat was sealed up as a precaution. The immigrants were sanitized, and kept in confinement. The sheep’s end was death, as for many humans who left their homes and never reached Lampedusa.

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

UK: Judges Launch Scathing Attack on the ‘Abusive’ Way Migrants Exploit Appeals and Say Most Cases Have No Merit

Judges have made an unprecedented attack on the ‘wholly abusive’ way that immigrants are exploiting the British legal system.

The Judges Council said that, for some types of appeal, a staggering 85 per cent of cases did not have any ‘merit’.

They have either been ‘dreamt up’ by lawyers seeking to line their own pockets, or are a blatant last-ditch attempt to stop deportations taking place.

Many — including appeals made by foreign criminals — are brought under the controversial Article 8 of Labour’s Human Rights Act — the ‘right to a family and private life’.

And despite the rampant exploitation of the system, the taxpayer is writing legal cheques worth £12million a year for immigration cases. Effectively — and farcically — the British Government is picking up the bill for the thwarting of its own attempts to control immigration.

In a single year, the public funded a staggering 37,300 immigration appeals, according to Ministry of Justice figures seen by the Mail. It is the equivalent of more than 100 cases every day.

Justice officials say the legal aid is being spent on ‘advice on how to get a visa to enter the UK, or how to avoid being deported once they’re here’.

It includes advice to immigrants from Europe looking to work in Britain, and migrants from outside Europe who want to study, get work experience or join their families who have emigrated to the UK.

In a devastating letter to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, the Judges Council of England and Wales — which speaks for the judiciary — paints a picture of appalling abuse. The judges say that, out of 12,500 judicial review claim forms issued in the Administrative Court in 2010, about 7,500 concerned asylum or immigration.

The claims have been considered — and dismissed — by the Secretary of State and at least one immigration tribunal, making the judicial review a ‘second or sometimes the third or fourth bite of the cherry’.

The judges’ letter to Mr Clarke goes on: ‘Most claims fail, most of the claims which fail are without merit, and many are wholly abusive of the court’s process.

‘When the claim itself is publicly funded, two sets of publicly funded costs will be incurred — all irrecoverable. No-one derives any legitimate benefit from this litigation.

‘The intervention of publicly funded lawyers does not reduce the number of unmeritorious claims of this type to the extent that might be expected. Bad claims are advanced by publicly funded lawyers as well as by litigants in person — albeit litigants in person are responsible for a greater proportion of hopeless cases. Often, bad claims are advanced by lawyers which an individual would not have thought of for himself.’

One senior immigration judge, Sir Anthony May, said most claims he heard were the third or fourth time a person had been to a tribunal. They are brought by failed asylum seekers trying to block their removal at the last minute.

Sir Anthony said: ‘Sometimes we have to deal with 20 or even more such applications every day when there is a chartered flight going out of Gatwick, Stansted or wherever it is. Let us say that 85 per cent of them — that is a figure I rather pluck out of the air but it is of that order — are of no merit.’

Last week, the Mail revealed how the Human Rights Act was having a huge negative impact on the immigration system. Thousands of foreign criminals, failed asylum seekers and EU ‘benefit tourists’ are using the legislation to thwart Home Office attempts to enforce the rules.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, they are using the controversial Article 8. Cases included hundreds of EU citizens who had no intention of working — but were permitted to stay here to potentially enjoy a life on benefits.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘This is not just the right to family life. It is the right to family life at the expense of the hard-pressed taxpayer.

‘It brings the whole concept of human rights into disrepute. It is high time we took a critical look at the European Convention on Human Rights which is being exploited by lawyers in ways never remotely envisaged by its authors.’

‘Bond with daughter’ that allowed a thug to stay

Violent criminal Asim Parris beat deportation under human rights laws guaranteeing his ‘right to a family life — despite having little interest in his daughter and a string of convictions.

The 23-year-old convinced immigration judges and the Appeal Court that his ‘close bond’ with his daughter meant he should stay in Britain.

It thwarted an attempt by the Home Office to have him deported to Trinidad after a conviction for drug dealing.

Parris told an immigration tribunal and three Appeal Court judges that he was remorseful for his crimes and that his deportation would hurt his relationship with his daughter.

The Appeal Court ruled that the impact on members of Parris’s family would be ‘disproportionate, especially since he has a child who has a strong bond with him’.

But Naomi Chambers, Parris’s former girlfriend and the mother of his daughter Reinaya, said: ‘It’s not fair for him to use her as an excuse for staying. He’s only started to see her more regularly since the court case started, to prove he’s got family ties.

‘It was ridiculous that he told the court he is so close to her because he never saw her when he was out of prison.’

Parris came to Britain aged three to join his mother, who had remained here illegally after attending a niece’s engagement party.

She gained leave to stay and got British passports for Parris’s older brother and two sisters. However, she failed to obtain one for him.

After Reinaya’s birth in June 2007, Miss Chambers left Parris. Two months later, he attacked her while trying to snatch the child.

Parris was found guilty of battery and destruction. A string of offences followed, including possession of drugs, but an immigration tribunal found ‘there is no evidence at all that he has resorted back to drug taking, pushing or possessing’.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

UN Urges Refugee ‘Solidarity’ Within European Union

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has called for “solidarity” within the EU to deal with an influx of migrants to the bloc.

Mr Guterres was speaking on Italy’s island of Lampedusa, where thousands of north African migrants, including many Libyans, have arrived recently.

But he said that “for Europe as a whole it is a drop in the ocean”, saying that many migrants had gone elsewhere.

Actress Angelina Jolie is also visiting Lampedusa as a UN goodwill ambassador.

‘Huge pressure’

Mr Guterres’s visit to Lampedusa — a tiny island in the Mediterranean — is to see for himself the crowded conditions faced by the migrants.

More than 40,000 refugees, including a large number of Libyans, have descended on the tiny island, often making the crossing in crowded, unsafe boats.

Some have been escaping the violence in north Africa, whilst many have seen an opportunity to get into the EU.

“When one looks at the situation in Libya, about one million people left Libya after the conflict started and less than 2% came to Europe. So, sometimes the debate in Europe is — in my opinion — a debate that doesn’t correspond to the reality,” Mr Guterres said.

He admitted that “for a small island like Lampedusa, to have such a large number of people coming is a huge pressure”.

But he stressed: “I believe that with adequate forms of solidarity this challenge can be overcome.”

Thousands of migrants have been sent to camps on mainland Italy, leading to a political row with other EU countries which fear the migrants may cross their borders.

Others have been sent back to Tunisia.

In her role as the UN goodwill ambassador, Ms Jolie will also be present on Lampedusa, just as the UN celebrates World Refugee Day on Monday.

It is the 60th anniversary of the UN’s refugee convention, and the agency will present its annual report at a conference in Rome.

Refugees will also be taking part in the meeting but it comes at a time when the host nation is making it tougher for migrants to stay.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government is under pressure to keep down the number of refugees arriving in the country.

Italy has just issued a new decree increasing the amount of time an illegal migrant can be held from six months to a year and a half.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay Men Could be Ordained as Church of England Bishops ‘To Comply With New Equality Laws’

Celibate gay men in civil partnerships could be ordained as Church of England bishops, it emerged tonight.

A guidance paper was sent out yesterday ahead of a meeting of the General Synod next month, laying out advice in light of the Equality Act, which came into force between October 2010 and April this year.

It provides pointers for those who nominate bishops when dealing with candidates who are openly gay.

The legislation means employers cannot discriminate against someone on the grounds of sexual orientation, but provides for a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ to be imposed.

This effectively allows the Church to exclude someone in a sexually active civil partnership, or to impose a requirement relating to sexual orientation to ‘avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’.

Therefore while the note says ‘a person’s sexual orientation is, in itself, irrelevant to their suitability for episcopal office or indeed ordained ministry more generally’, candidates can be required to be celibate.

The guidance says that someone in a sexual relationship outside marriage cannot be ordained, but there is no such rule for a celibate person in a civil partnership.

‘Someone in a sexually active relationship outside marriage is not eligible for the episcopate or other ordained ministry,’ the paper reads.

‘There is, by contrast, no corresponding statement of the position of the Church of England that declares that a celibate person in a civil partnership cannot be considered for appointment as a bishop.’

As reported on The Sunday Telegraph website, the guidance also states that: ‘A person’s sexual orientation is, in itself, irrelevant to their suitability for episcopal office or indeed ordained ministry more generally.

‘It would, therefore, be wrong if, during a CNC [Crown Nominations Commission] or a selection process for a suffragan see, account were taken of the fact that a candidate had identified himself as of gay sexual orientation.’

The issue of whether openly gay men should be ordained is highly contentious in the Church of England.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has described divisions over the topic as ‘a wound in the whole ministry’.

Gay, celibate cleric Jeffrey John was blocked from becoming Bishop of Reading because of his sexuality, and instead was appointed Dean of St Albans.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Dr Giles Fraser, canon chancellor of St Paul’s cathedral supports the issue being raised, but is angry with the double standards on the way the church treats straight and homosexual clergy.

‘It is important that the church has made such a clear statement that gay bishops are acceptable,’ he said.

‘But I don’t see why gay people have to remain celibate to be bishops.

‘To go on to insist that what a gay person might have got up to at in their past is significant, but not that of a straight person, is an obvious double standard. And just more of the same old institutionally homophobic C of E.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Male Domination in Church “A Question of Power”

The insistence of the Roman Catholic Church that priests have to be male reflects the power of men and not Christian theology, says Swiss theologian Doris Strahm.

Strahm is co-author of a recent study into women in leadership roles in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.

We may all be equal before God, but the study by the Inter-religious Think-Tank shows that this is not the case in certain religious communities.

The study looks at three branches of Judaism, the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches and the Islamic community in Switzerland. In liberal Jewish communities and in the Protestant church, women can hold leading clerical roles.

Doris Strahm: The Catholic Church justifies this on the grounds that Jesus only called men as his apostles and on Catholic tradition. But this is an untenable argument, as Jesus was a Jew and he did not found a church. The office of priest only goes back to the fifth century.

Even the papal Bible commission, when it debated this issue in 1976, came to the conclusion that the Bible could not be understood to exempt women from the office of priest.

Until the 1980s the ban on women’s ordination was justified by reference to the sacramental character of the office of priest: the priest in his priestly functions represented Christ, who was a man, and therefore the priest had to be male.

D.S.: There are no other special criteria apart from gender. The priests have the same theological training as women theologians.

The fact that the male sex is so important is, in my view, to do with the patriarchal nature of our culture and in particular of Christian theology, with its male images of God as father, lord, creator, judge and a redeemer who was a man.

The man was seen as the standard form of humankind and as the image of God and there was the idea that woman was subservient to man as a created being — these things helped consolidate the view that men are closer than women to God. The church leaders, who have the last word, seem to see it still in the same way. It’s simply a question of power.

D.S.: The discrimination against women in the Roman Catholic Church is based on the patriarchal understanding of the ritual uncleanness of women, the image of sexual allure and the view of women as being made less in God’s image, which the Church has still to overcome…

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

NBC Dumps ‘Under God’ From Pledge at U.S. Open

Outrage: ‘I changed the channel, despite really wishing to watch history possibly being made’

NBC’s opening of the U.S. Open Golf Championship today included two readings of the Pledge of Allegiance, but omitted the phrase “under God” both times.

The program commenced with children standing in a classroom setting, as they recited the “abbreviated” version of the Pledge, saying: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, with liberty and justice for all.”

The real version of the pledge has the phrase “under God” following “one nation.”

NBC’s version of the Pledge got even more abbreviated moments later during the same opening, as the children stated, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, with liberty and justice for all.”

The omission did not go unnoticed by viewers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USDA Gay-Sensitivity Training Seeks Larger Audience

U.S. Department of Agriculture activists want to impose their intense brand of homosexual sensitivity training government-wide, including a discussion that compares “heterosexism” — believing marriage can only can be between one man and one woman — to racism.

If accepted by the Obama administration, that move could mean more sessions for military service members already undergoing gay-sensitivity indoctrination. Critics fear additional gay-oriented training would be an unnecessary added burden for combat troops and encourage some to leave.

USDA officials have asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which oversees all federal worker policies, to impose its gay-awareness programs on all federal departments, according to an internal newsletter.

The push for the training is coming from Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, former Democratic governor of Iowa. He has launched a department-wide “Cultural Transformation” that includes the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender [LGBT] Special Emphasis Program.”

The USDA’s senior training coordinator, Bill Scaggs, has developed a sensitivity program far more extensive than the Pentagon’s training for the anticipated lifting of the ban on open homosexuals in the ranks. His training program, which OPM calls “groundbreaking [and a] model for other agencies,” delves more into gay issues and terminology. It also justifies pro-homosexual political positions.

Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness and opposes the repeal of the military’s gay ban, said it would be a mistake for the Obama administration to impose the USDA sensitivity-training program on the Pentagon.

“There are disturbing implications for national defense in the USDA’s development of a ‘groundbreaking’ training program that is to become a model for other federal agencies,” she told The Washington Times.

She predicted that, once the ban is lifted, “training programs similar to the USDA’s LGBT Special Emphasis Program will become a growth industry within the Department of Defense.”

“This would drive out thousands of experienced troops, starting with chaplains and people of faith who do not support LGBT ideology and activism,” she said…

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

Why Separating Church & State is a Fool’s Errand: Consider Magna Carta’s Origins

It’s the default theory of modern western pop culture that church and state must be completely separated for the good of mankind. Talk-show blowhards (read Bill Maher) make disreputable livings off such anti-intellectual bilge. Yet, both common sense and the historical record reveal this goal is a dangerous mirage. The record shows the West has led the globe in innovation for the last millennium. Further, that the West could not have arisen without Christian ideas and practices. Finally, logic reveals without continuing guidance from the unique perspective of the Church, the West is destined to fall.

An example of Christianity’s irreplaceable role in development of the modern world is the creation of the document known as Magna Carta. This piece, born of a royal concession from King John to his barons, has a similar legal and emotional place in English history as America to our Constitution. This document did not materialize out of thin air, of course. It was the result of tireless efforts by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury—who also placed the verse breaks still used in modern Bibles. Langton’s brave work authoring Magna Carta paved the way for future generations to become bearers of legal doctrines, later encapsulated in America’s Bill of Rights. This brief essay concerns these things.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Safe-Bet Ban Wins Backing for Second Term as UN Chief

After the official recommendation by the UN Security Council, the reelection of Ban Ki-moon is a done deal. How did the Korean diplomat once dubbed the invisible man win a second term so easily?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Hole Picture: Growth of Black Holes and Galaxies Linked From an Early Age

By one billion years after the big bang, galaxies and their resident black holes were already growing in tandem

“This chicken-and-egg problem of what was there first, the galaxy or the black hole, has been pushed all the way to the edge of the universe,” Yale University astrophysicist Kevin Schawinski said in a June 15 press conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]