Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110622

Financial Crisis
»Allied Irish Bank Has ‘Defaulted’ Says Derivatives Body
»Athens Wins Confidence Vote, Amid Yawning Political Instability Concerns
»Confidence Vote in Greece
»Fed to End Stimulus Measures as Planned
»If the Euro Fails, Germany Will be Responsible
»Jim Rogers: Obama Should Resign Before Inflation Sparks Unrest
»One in 20 EU Officials Could Lose Jobs in ‘Solidarity’ Cuts
»DARPA Seeks Business Model for Interstellar Travel
»Ground Zero Mosque $$ Push
»US Charges Man Over Frankfurt Airport Shooting
»Universe’s Highest Electric Current Found
Europe and the EU
»Bulgaria: Left Wing Mayor Candidate Endorses 2nd Mosque in Sofia
»Facebook Exposing Children to Online Threats: EU Survey
»Germany: Going Buggy for Insect Delicacies
»Gunfire and Bricks: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland
»Poland Blocks Climate Efforts in ‘Dark Day’ For Europe
»Sweden: Foreign Students Grapple With New Fingerprint Rule
»Swedish Teen Denied Place in School Over Piercing
»‘World’s Longest TV Show’: Norway Captivated by Ship’s Journey
North Africa
»Spain: Asylum to Algerian Victim of Abuse in Home Country
Middle East
»‘They Can Only Kill and Hope’: Journey Through a Divided Syria
»Thousands of Soldiers at Fort Carson (CO) Get Islamic Cultural Lessons
»Russia Eliminates Challenge From Liberal Opposition Party
South Asia
»Arrest of Pakistani Officer Revives Fears of Extremism Within Military
»Border Controls Spread in EU
»Largest Cosmic Structures ‘Too Big’ For Theories

Financial Crisis

Allied Irish Bank Has ‘Defaulted’ Says Derivatives Body

Banks that sold insurance on the debt of Allied Irish Banks will have to pay out to investors in the nationalised lender’s debt despite complex legal manoeuvres by the Irish authorities to avoid putting the lender into default.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Athens Wins Confidence Vote, Amid Yawning Political Instability Concerns

The freshly reshuffled Greek government has won a vote of confidence by the country’s parliament in an attempt to show strength days before a possible national default. Meanwhile, according to the latest Failed State Index, out this week, Greece was ‘by far the poorest performer’ in political deterioration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Confidence Vote in Greece

Papandreou Allowed to Continue from Frying Pan to Fire

Greek Prime Minister Giorgios Papandreou survived a confidence vote on Tuesday night. But the battle against national bankruptcy will get no easier in the coming weeks. Protests indicate that opposition to his austerity path is growing and he faces a crucial vote next week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fed to End Stimulus Measures as Planned

The nation’s central bank said Wednesday that it would complete the planned purchase of $600 billion in Treasury securities next week as scheduled, and then suspend its three-year-old economic rescue campaign, leaving in place the aid it already is providing but doing nothing more, for now, to boost growth.

“The economic recovery is continuing at a moderate pace, though somewhat more slowly than the committee had expected,” the Fed said in a statement. “The committee expects the pace of recovery to pick up over coming quarters and the unemployment rate to resume its gradual decline.”

The Fed’s policy board, the Federal Open Market Committee, voted unanimously to maintain its two-year-old commitment to hold a benchmark interest rate near zero “for an extended period.”

[Return to headlines]

If the Euro Fails, Germany Will be Responsible

Given that Germany is shouldering risk to the tune of hundreds of billions for a life-threatening euro crisis, it may seem absurd that Berlin is perceived abroad as ‘euro Nazis’ rather than as a benevolent leader. But should the common currency fail, Berlin will be to blame.

It is a surreal scenario. Gigantic risks. Staggering sums of money. The degree to which the political debate has become polarized is likewise unbelievable — both among European Union member states and within those societies themselves.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jim Rogers: Obama Should Resign Before Inflation Sparks Unrest

Investment guru Jim Rogers says President Barack Obama should resign — and warns that inflation will only continue to soar, putting the United States at risk of the same civil unrest that has struck Greece.

Rogers says that what Obama “should do is take an ax — no, not an ax — take a chain saw to spending in the U.S.”

Rogers tells Bloomberg Business Week that “we have got to balance the budget. We have got to pay off the debt, somehow, someday.”

Nonetheless, Rogers — considered by many to be “the ultimate dollar bear” — is simultaneously long the U.S. dollar.

Why? “Because everybody’s bearish, including me. I read something like 97 percent of people are bearish on the dollar,” the Rogers Holdings chairman said.

“I am one of those 97, so I bought dollars.”

Meanwhile, Rogers has dim hopes for a quick resolution to the European debt crisis.

“Why should a good, honest German taxpayer, a guy who saved his money, suddenly get a bill from the German government saying you have got to pay for some Greeks sitting on the beach drinking Ouzo?” asks Rogers. “That’s absurd.”

German voters have already voiced their displeasure with that scenario by staging protests. In Greece, there have been more than three weeks of demonstrations over austerity measures needed to avoid a national debt default. Many such protests erupted into violence last week.

Rogers expects there will similar protests in the United States.

“We are going to have social unrest in the U.S., too,” Rogers says. “We are going to have much higher prices. We are having serious inflation, which is going to get worse, and we have a government that is sitting down there spending staggering amounts of money, getting us deeper into debt.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

One in 20 EU Officials Could Lose Jobs in ‘Solidarity’ Cuts

The European Commission is to propose cutting five percent of jobs in the EU institutions in line with austerity measures in member states. But EU countries may want more. A high ranking EU official told EUobserver the commission will propose the cut on 29 or 30 June as part of its plans for the next seven-year-long EU budget covering 2014 to 2020 and a related white paper on staff regulations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


DARPA Seeks Business Model for Interstellar Travel

WANTED: A real life starship in the next 100 years. Anyone with an idea on how to make this happen — or a religious or ethical objection — has until 8 July to submit their idea for presentation at a public symposium this year. The 100 Year Starship Study is the brainchild of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The aim is to explore and research “all the issues surrounding long-duration, long-distance spaceflight”. Science-fiction authors, engineers and biologists swapped ideas at a workshop in January, in which geneticist Craig Venter reportedly suggested sending up fragmented human DNA for reassembly on another planet.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ground Zero Mosque $$ Push

The controversial mosque and Islamic community center near Ground Zero launched a public fund-raising drive yesterday in a bid to open its doors to the public with an art exhibit that would debut just 10 days after the Sept. 11 anniversary, The Post has learned.

Park51 is using the social media Web site to help raise $70,000 to convert 4,000 square feet of space inside its building at 41 Park Place into a gallery to showcase the work of Brooklyn artist Danny Goldfield.

The group plans to open the three-month exhibit on Sept. 21, which the United Nations has declared the International Day of Peace. The exhibit would feature portraits of the city’s immigrant kids representing at least 171 different countries.

“NYChildren Exhibit: Let’s open Park51’s doors to the World!” the fund-raising solicitation says. By early last night, Park51 had raised $867 from 14 donors, according to Kickstarter.

“While our critics know us as the Ground Zero Mosque, we are the Park51 Community Center,” Park51 says in the appeal. “This exhibition is about finding the courage to meet and get to know neighbors to build trust and friendship.”

But 9/11 families opposed to the Islamic center near Ground Zero complained that the group has dug in its heels to remain at the current site rather than relocate farther away from what they consider hallowed ground.

“They talk about being inclusive. They haven’t been inclusive with the 9/11 families,” said James Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief whose firefighter son, James Jr., died at Ground Zero.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

US Charges Man Over Frankfurt Airport Shooting

A US court has charged a Kosovo man with murder and attempted murder after he allegedly opened fire on a bus of US airman at Frankfurt airport in March. The 21-year-old is accused of killing two and injuring two others.

United States prosecutors have charged a Kosovo man with murder and attempted murder over the fatal shooting of American airman at Frankfurt International Airport in March. Arid Uka, 21, stands accused of opening fire on a bus of US soldiers, killing two and injuring two others in what has been described as the first Islamic extremist attack on German soil. “As Uka fired his gun, he repeated aloud an Arabic expression that means ‘God is great,’ and continued shooting until his gun did not fire,” said a statement issued by federal prosecutors in New York.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Universe’s Highest Electric Current Found

A COSMIC jet 2 billion light years away is carrying the highest electric current ever seen: 1018 amps, equivalent to a trillion bolts of lightning. Philipp Kronberg of the University of Toronto in Canada and colleagues measured the alignment of radio waves around a galaxy called 3C303, which has a giant jet of matter shooting from its core. They saw a sudden change in the waves’ alignment coinciding with the jet. “This is an unambiguous signature of a current,” says Kronberg.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bulgaria: Left Wing Mayor Candidate Endorses 2nd Mosque in Sofia

Georgi Kadiev, the leftist Bulgarian Socialist Party’s runner for Mayor of the capital Sofia, has stated he has “nothing against” the possible construction of a second Mosque in the city.

If necessary, even a third and a fourth Mosque may be built, as well as a Synagogue or an Armenian temple.

However, Kadiev, who on Wednesday met the Chief Mufti of the Bulgarian Muslim Community, has set a restriction for the potential future mosque — it should not have loudspeakers, as their sound may be found too aggressive by the rest of the citizens.

Kadiev pointed out that most of Sofia’s Muslim community, between 30 000 and 50 000 people, are foreigners and do not have the right to vote, stating his endorsement is not populism.

At the beginning of June, Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, demanded to have a second mosque built in the capital Sofia.

On May 20, supporters of the far-right, nationalist Ataka party, led by party Chair, Volen Siderov, shocked Bulgaria as its rally protesting against the use of loudspeakers by the mosque got out of hand, and activists of Ataka assaulted praying Muslims in front of the mosque.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Facebook Exposing Children to Online Threats: EU Survey

Social networking sites such as Facebook are not doing enough to protect children from potential dangers such as grooming by paedophiles or online bullying, European authorities said Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Going Buggy for Insect Delicacies

A man in Berlin is trying to get his fellow Germans to eat fresh bugs and other creepy-crawly creatures. Moises Mendoza puts the vitamin and protein-rich insect treats to the taste test.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gunfire and Bricks: Sectarian Tensions Flare in Northern Ireland

Despite ongoing sectarian tension in Northern Ireland, violence has recently seemed a thing of the past. Until Monday night, when a group of Protestants began attacking homes belonging to Catholics. Two nights of rioting have left several wounded and many wondering what is next.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Poland Blocks Climate Efforts in ‘Dark Day’ For Europe

Poland has scuppered an attempt to tighten European Union carbon emission targets, sparking widespread concern just days before Warsaw is set to take over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency. EU environment ministers met in Luxembourg on Tuesday (21 June) to discuss the European Commission’s ‘2050 Roadmap’ towards a greener economy, with all-but-one member states agreeing on the need to do more.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Foreign Students Grapple With New Fingerprint Rule

New rules requiring biometric information from non-Europeans wishing to study in Sweden is causing problems for would-be foreign students, according to Swedish universities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Teen Denied Place in School Over Piercing

A 13-year-old girl with a pierced nose has been told she’s not welcome at a Swedish school, prompting her mother to file a complaint with the country’s education authorities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘World’s Longest TV Show’: Norway Captivated by Ship’s Journey

Norwegians finally dragged themselves off their sofas on Wednesday as the country’s latest reality television craze came to a close. Viewers were glued to their screens for nearly six days, but it wasn’t typical reality-show antics that held their gaze — it was a cruise ship gliding through the fjords.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Spain: Asylum to Algerian Victim of Abuse in Home Country

Spain’s Supreme Court has for the first time recognised refugee status with the right to asylum for an Algerian woman, victim of “continuous physical and psychological abuse” by her husband in her home country, where the authorities did not offer her adequate protection. In the sentence, quoted today by the press, the Supreme Court did not consider the Interior Ministry’s decision sufficient to simply authorise the woman to stay in Spain for humanitarian reasons and has granted her the right to asylum.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

‘They Can Only Kill and Hope’: Journey Through a Divided Syria

Violence committed by thugs loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad has prompted thousands of Syrians to flee to Lebanon and Turkey. Sources in the country describe growing opposition to a system based on nepotism and secret police. Meanwhile, pockets of rebellion are continuing unchecked.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Thousands of Soldiers at Fort Carson (CO) Get Islamic Cultural Lessons

Posted on August 5, 2009 by creeping A major general in the U.S. Army, commanding the 4th Infantry Division, believes Islam is a “beautiful religion”. One can only guess how the rest of the training went. hat tip infidels unite

Representatives of the Islamic Society of Colorado Springs met Thursday with Fort Carson military leaders at the Army base to discuss ways to improve cultural awareness and an understanding of Islam among deploying soldiers.

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division, initiated the meeting in hopes of developing a better cultural-awareness program for the thousands of soldiers already at Fort Carson and the hundreds expected to arrive this summer.

“We want to talk to (soldiers) about this beautiful religion,” Hammond said at the one-hour meeting, attended by local Islamic leaders Arshad

Yousufi, Farouk Abushaban and Dawud Salaam; 4th Infantry Division cultural adviser Al Azim; and four other Army leaders.

Yousufi, who has participated in previous cultural awareness programs at Fort Carson, told the general those programs weren’t taken seriously enough.

“The weakness of those programs was that they were informal and occasional,” Yousufi said.

Yousufi also brought up what he sees as a tendency among some military leaders to turn the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq into a holy war between Christianity and Islam.

“If you approach this as a crusade, you will stir up trouble,” he told Hammond.

Hammond agreed with the Muslim leaders that greater cultural sensitivity is needed, and he said he wants the Army and Muslim leaders to continue working together to teach soldiers about Islam.

He hopes to have a revised cultural-awareness program in place in about a month.

“The soldiers go off (to Iraq) with a common mission, to protect the people,” Hammond said, “But you can’t protect the people without understanding the people.”

Abushaban praised Hammond for his efforts.

“This is a great step forward,” he told Hammond. “We have more in common than we know.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday (August 8), about 125 miles north of Fort Collins, a group of Americans will be protesting AGAINST sharia law at the site of recent Islamic controversy and submission to Islamic sharia law — the JBS Swift meatpacking plant.

           — Hat tip: JL[Return to headlines]


Russia Eliminates Challenge From Liberal Opposition Party

The Russian Justice Ministry has refused to register the liberal opposition as a political party, a spokesman has said. The decision means they will be unable to challenge the Kremlin in the forthcoming elections.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Arrest of Pakistani Officer Revives Fears of Extremism Within Military

Brigadier General Ali Khan was close to retiring at the end of a distinguished career in the Pakistani Army when he was detained early in May — and accused of links with an outlawed Islamist group.

His arrest, which became public Tuesday, shocked fellow officers at army headquarters and again raises the specter that senior ranks of the Pakistani officer corps may be infiltrated by Islamist militants.

Brigadier Khan is the most senior officer to face such allegations since 1995, according to a CNN analysis of previous cases.

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said Khan was believed linked to Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation). He said efforts were underway to arrest members of the group who had been in contact with Khan.

“The military has zero tolerance for any such activity and strict disciplinary action will be taken against those involved,” said Major General Abbas.

Pakistani officials say Brigadier General Khan, who is 59, had an administrative role at army headquarters in Rawalpindi. His work did not involve counterterrorism and he did not command any unit. But he would have seen plenty of sensitive information.

Khan comes from a military family stretching back three generations, and has a son in the armed forces. Pakistani media report that one of his brothers is a colonel with the intelligence service.

Reuters news agency quoted Khan’s wife as dismissing the allegations as “rubbish,” saying her husband was “an intellectual, an honest, patriotic and ideological person.”

“It’s a fashion here that whosoever offers prayers and practices religion is dubbed as Taliban and militant,” Reuters quoted her as saying.

One of his brothers, Bashir Khan, told the Pakistani television network Aaj that the brigadier had been in the army for 25 years — serving with UN peacekeepers in Bosnia and spending time in the United States. In 2008, Khan received the highest honor available to soldiers of his rank.

Khan’s detention comes amid heightened concern about religious extremism within Pakistan’s armed forces.

Hizb ut-Tahrir says it is committed to non-violence but has urged soldiers to rebel against the military hierarchy and its goal it to establish a global Islamic Caliphate.

Pakistani sources tell CNN that in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, it produced pamphlets urging soldiers to turn against their commanders.

The group was outlawed by General Pervez Musharraf in 2004 but a Pakistani court subsequently overturned the ban. It is also active in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Simon Valentine, a British researcher who has studied extremism in the Pakistani armed forces, said that while Hizb ut-Tahrir doesn’t advocate violence “a cardinal element of its ideology and modus operandi is to infilitrate the armed forces and, once gaining sufficient support, cause a military coup.”

“Despite claims of zero tolerance of HuT within the Army,” he said, “militant Islam, including the HuT, has much support from the grass roots to the highest level within all branches of the armed forces.”

Valentine, who has researched Hizb ut-Tahrir in depth, said its views enjoy widespread support throughout Pakistani society.

“Such militancy as seen in the HuT is fuelled by an increasing anti-Americanism which is rife throughout Pakistan,” he told CNN.

Hassan Abbas, a scholar at Columbia University who has written extensively about Pakistani military intelligence, the ISI, told CNN he suspected there was more to the case than any alleged contacts with Hizb ul-Tahrir.

“Association with such a group would not be enough to hold him for six weeks,” especially as Khan was weeks away from retirement, he said.

Abbas, author of “Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America’s War on Terror,” said there is an alarming trend that includes Pakistani pilots refusing to bomb militant strongholds, and units surrendering to militant groups rather than fire on them.

Last month, Pakistani Taliban insurgents stormed the Naval Air Station in Karachi, apparently armed with inside information on its layout and security. They destroyed two U.S. supplied surveillance aircraft.

Days before he was abducted and murdered, Pakistani journalist Syed Shahzad described that attack as “the violent beginning of an internal ideological struggle between Islamist elements in the Pakistani armed forces and their secular and liberal top brass.”

He went on to quote unnamed sources in the ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, as saying: “It was shown several months ago that the Pakistan navy is vulnerable to Islamists when a marine commando unit official was arrested…..Now, they (intelligence) realize how the organization (navy) is riddled and vulnerable to the influence of militant organizations.”

Last year two serving officers — including a colonel — and two former officers were indicted in a court martial for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on the Shamsi airbase.

Shamsi — in Balochistan province — is a remote base reportedly used by the United States drone program. The four were alleged to have been in contact with Hizb ut-Tahrir. They have pled not guilty.

And in 2004, several lower-ranking air force personnel were convicted in connection with assassination attempts against Pakistan’s leader at the time, General Pervez Musharraf.

One of them, Abdul Islam Siddiqui, was hanged but maintained he was innocent of involvement. Other soldiers said they had been tortured into implicating him.

Valentine, who is a regular visitor to Pakistan, said Khan’s arrest may be “part of an attempt to bolster the army’s reputation amid accusations that it is pro-militant,” in the wake of the raid by U.S. special forces that killed bin Laden.

But Hassan Abbas believes the military had no desire for the Khan case to become public. “The military is in deep crisis in the aftermath of Abbottabad,” he says. “They would have preferred to hush this up.”

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]


Border Controls Spread in EU

French nationalist party paints Denmark as model for how to keep migrants out, while Germany quietly plans new toll gate on border with Denmark

‘Denmark patrols its borders … why don’t we?’ the Front National is asking French votersFrance’s right-wing nationalist party, Front National, has taken inspiration from Denmark.

“Denmark patrols its borders … why don’t we?” the party’s newest campaign posters read.

The posters are being distributed to party members throughout France, reports public broadcaster DR.

Front National’s leader Marine Le Pen applauded the Danish government — and its right-wing support party, the Danish People’s Party — for reinstating permanent border controls.

On the poster Le Pen details how France is under even greater threat than Denmark of being overrun by refugees and migrants from non-EU countries — especially unstable north African countries.

Front National’s new border control campaign may be the first in a trend that Germany’s vice foreign affairs minister Werner Hoyer warned against earlier this month. “Nationalists in every country will get the same idea. They will model themselves on Denmark,” Hoyer told Politiken newspaper.

In related news, an internal memo obtained by Berlingske newspaper on Monday revealed that the German transportation authority plans to put toll gates on its side of the coming Fehmarn Belt Tunnel that will eventually connect Rødby in southern Denmark with Puttgarden in northern Germany.

“The necessary signs and gates will be erected to ensure traffic controls and spot checks,” the memo states.

The timing of the memo — if not its content — was surprising, as German politicians and the German public have loudly protested Denmark’s plans to instate permanent border controls with an increased number of customs officers and spot checks.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Largest Cosmic Structures ‘Too Big’ For Theories

Space is festooned with vast “hyperclusters” of galaxies, a new cosmic map suggests. It could mean that gravity or dark energy — or perhaps something completely unknown — is behaving very strangely indeed. We know that the universe was smooth just after its birth. Measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), the light emitted 370,000 years after the big bang, reveal only very slight variations in density from place to place. Gravity then took hold and amplified these variations into today’s galaxies and galaxy clusters, which in turn are arranged into big strings and knots called superclusters, with relatively empty voids in between.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]