Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110628

Financial Crisis
»Athens Burns in Riots: Protests Explode as Greek MPs Debate EU’s Call for £25bn in Cuts
»Brussels Demands an Extra £2billion a Year From UK in ‘Outrageous’ 12 Per Cent Rise
»European Bankers Mull French Plan for Greek Rollover
»Financial Crisis Saw Massive Drop in EU Investment
»Greece: Papandreou Free Falling in Polls
»Greece: General Strike Today and Tomorrow Against Austerity
»Greece Hit by 48-Hour General Strike
»How Capitalism Went on a Brief Sabbatical Which Became a Permanent Vacation: Rosenberg Explains “The Artificial Recovery”
»Italy: Thousands in Rome ‘Struggle to Feed Themselves’
»Spanish Government to Propose Limits on Regional Budgets: PM
»Unpopular Austerity Measures: Europe Anxiously Awaits Greek Vote
»Back in Iowa: Obama Says USA Must Up Its Game
»Billionaire George Soros Trying to Stack the Courts, Critics Say
»Embracing Realism: Obama Turns to Rebuilding America
»Muslim Woman Suing Abercrombie & Fitch After She Was ‘Fired for Wearing Headscarf at Work’
»No Budget Senate to “Streamline” Appointments
»Principal Criticized for Delivering Graduation Speech in Spanish
»The School From Hell (Video)
»The White Working Class: The Group That Will Likely Decide Obama’s Fate
»U.S. Soccer Team Booed in Their Own Country as Mexican Fans Turn LA Into an ‘Away’ Game
»Woman’s Leg Broken, Others Hurt in Spring Garden Mob Attack
Europe and the EU
»Bulgaria Gets Eur 73.8m Aid for Shut Nuclear Units
»Could Shakespeare’s Bones Tell Us if He Smoked Pot?
»Dutch Vote to Ban Religious Slaughter of Animals
»EU Ready to Apply Sanctions Over Naples Garbage Problem
»Flanders Sees “Mini Baby Boom”
»Germany: Dresden Police Chief Steps Down Over Phone Sweep Scandal
»Germany Pledges to Dramatically Boost Trade With China
»Italy: Burqa: Sbai: Law Presented in Commission by End of Summer
»Italy: President Calls on Government to Save Naples From Rubbish
»Italy: Moroccan Immigrant Murders Wife for Being ‘Too Western’
»Oldest Beer From Shipwreck Yields Dead Yeast, Sour Bacteria
»Spain: Franco’s Daughter, Not Moving Body From Valle Caido
»UK: Victim’s Mum Reveals Full Horror of Hearts Star Craig Thomson’s Depravity
North Africa
»Algeria: Housing Protests Spread, Some Resort to Suicide
»Drugs: Algeria: 5% of Population Are Users
»Egypt’s Business Mogul Sawiris Under Fire for Islamic Cartoons
»Germany to Supply Bombs for Libya Mission
»International Arrest Warrant for Gaddafi Will Not Change the Situation in Libya, Del Boca Says
»Libya: Who Controls Kufra and Desert? “Black Hole” Of War
»Libya: A Non-Hostile War
»Request From NATO: Berlin Willing to Supply Weapons for Libyan War
»Tunisia: Islamic Fundamentalists Raid Film Festival
»United in the Face of Adversity
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: The Invisible Palestinians
»Gaza Flotilla Begins Mission Despite EU Warning
»Gaza Flotilla Ship ‘Sabotaged by Divers’
»Israel Backtracks on Threat to Journalists
»Mideast: Activists of Flotilla 2 Want to Kill Troops, Press
»Swedish Gaza Flotilla Ship Sabotaged: Report
Middle East
»7-Months Pregnant After Delivery!
»Kidnapped French Aid Workers ‘Located’ And ‘Alive’: Yemen
»Pope Calls on Leaders to Support Middle East Christians
»Saudi Law Approves Marriage With Foreigners
»Student Goes Into Labour During Exam
»Syria: Blogger: Alawites Have Lost Their Identity
»Syria: Arms Market Proliferating in North Lebanon, Press
»Turkey: Daily: 34 Generals Imprisoned for Coup Plans
»Metals, Hydrocarbons Hold Russia’s FT Rank
»Russia Resumes Vegetable Imports From Two EU Countries
South Asia
»Governor of Central Bank of Afghanistan Flees to USA
»Indonesia: “Obedient Wives Club”, Pretext for Legalizing Polygamy in Indonesia
»NATO Says Helicopters Kill Three Attackers on Kabul Hotel Roof
»Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb
»Suicide Bombers and Gunmen Attack Kabul Hotel
»Two More Explosions Rock Kabul Hotel
»United Nations Praises Terrorist-Sponsoring Iran
Australia — Pacific
»Firebomb, Shooting Fuels Gang War Fears
Latin America
»Brazil to Grant Permanent Visa to Battisti
»Asian-Born Australians May Soon Outnumber Whites, Says Government Study
»Switzerland: Row Over Foreign Criminals Goes Into New Round
»The Joke of ‘Secure Britain’: Vile Banned Militant Extremist Strolls Through Heathrow Immigration as 200 Somalian Criminals Are Allowed to Stay Due to Human Rights
»White House Revives Push for Dream Act
Culture Wars
»Feds Find Fix Was in on ‘Study’ Of Homosexuality in Ranks
»Hillary, State Dept. ‘Instrumental in Sealing Deal’ For Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride Gig in Rome
»Asteroid Protoplanet May Hold Clues to Earth Formation
»Irradiating Organic Food Would Save Lives
»Space Junk Forces Astronauts to Take Shelter in Russian Spaceships

Financial Crisis

Athens Burns in Riots: Protests Explode as Greek MPs Debate EU’s Call for £25bn in Cuts

Riot police fought running battles with hooded youths in Athens yesterday as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets against tough austerity measures.

Parts of the Greek capital were ablaze and dozens were injured as youths hurled rocks, bricks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with baton charges and tear gas.

Last night protesters, taking part in a two-day national strike, were on the streets again.

Hundreds of terrified tourists ran for safety from cafes and restaurants as youths, many wearing gas masks and scarves covering their faces, rampaged in front of luxury hotels in Syntagma Square.

Five thousand police patrolled the streets, but shops, banks, trucks and bins were set on fire.

The rioting came as the Greek parliament debated a £25billion austerity package demanded by the European Union.

Parliament is due to vote today and tomorrow on spending cuts, tax increases and privatisations agreed as part of a massive bailout — the second granted to Greece — aimed at averting the eurozone’s first debt default.

EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn warned that if Greece did not vote for more austerity, there would be no more bailout money.

‘I trust that Greek political leaders are fully aware of the responsibility that lies on their shoulders to avoid default: the only way to avoid immediate default is for parliament to endorse the revised economic programme,’ he said.

The reforms are expected to scrape through parliament.

Without a new plan in place, the EU and International Monetary Fund say they will withhold around £10billion in euro loans that Greece needs to repay debts in mid-July.

However, polls suggest up to 80 per cent of Greeks oppose the measures, which Prime Minister George Papandreou says are the only way to put the country ‘back on its feet’.

The government’s opponents say the measures will place taxes on minimum-wage earners and other struggling Greeks, already hit by an earlier austerity package and facing unemployment levels of more than 16 per cent.

‘The situation the workers are going through is tragic and we are near poverty levels,’ said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blockading the port of Piraeus.

‘The government has declared war and to this we will answer back with war.’

Everyone from doctors and ambulance drivers to casino workers and even actors at a state-funded theatre stopped work yesterday to join the strikers or held stoppages for several hours.

The general strike halted public services, closed banks, devastated train, bus and ferry networks, shut airports and blocked ports. At the same time, an ongoing strike by electricity workers has resulted in rolling blackouts.

[Return to headlines]

Brussels Demands an Extra £2billion a Year From UK in ‘Outrageous’ 12 Per Cent Rise

Eurocrats are about to demand an ‘outrageous’ budget increase of up to 12 per cent — three times the rate of inflation.

This means Britain’s contribution to running the EU — already £15.3billion a year — will rise by another £2billion.

The budget, being finalised by the European Commission, is a clear rebuff to David Cameron’s calls for belt-tightening in Brussels.

It will leave every family here handing over a total of nearly £700 a year to Europe just as they face an income squeeze.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also wants to raid Britain’s budget rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher, which saves taxpayers £3billion a year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

European Bankers Mull French Plan for Greek Rollover

European lenders are considering the ‘first draft’ of a plan put forward by French banks for a rollover of some 70 percent of the institutions’ holdings of Greek debt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Financial Crisis Saw Massive Drop in EU Investment

The worldwide financial crisis, which erupted in late 2008, saw foreign investors massively cut their flow of money to the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Papandreou Free Falling in Polls

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 27 — For the second time in less than a week, Greece’s main opposition party, Nea Dimocratia (ND, centre-right, led by Antonis Samaras) was ranked first in the voting polls in Greece over the governing party, socialist PASOK led by Premier Giorgio Papandreou. According to a poll conducted by Marc and published by centre-left daily “Ethnos tis Kiriakis” (The People of Sunday), PASOK’s free fall in the polls is continuing following the austerity plan passed in agreement with the troika to rescue the country from bankruptcy.

Based on the poll, 21.4% of the people polled were in favour of Nea Dimocratia, compared to 20% who were in favour of PASOK. The Greek Communist Party stood at 7.5%, small right-wing party Laos had 5.8% and Syriza, Greece’s other left-wing party, came in with 3.6% in the poll. The survey also showed that Greeks are not satisfied by the recent government reshuffled by the premier. A total of 65.7% of the people interviewed said that they do not believe that the new government will adopt a fairer economic policy (compared to 26.7% who believe the opposite), while 59.5% believe that the new government will not be more effective than the previous one.

The overwhelming majority of Greeks (68.2%) are against early elections (28.2% are in favour), while 60.3% are in favour of collaboration between the parties (33.7% are opposed). A total of 54.9% believe that Nea Dimocratia would win early elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: General Strike Today and Tomorrow Against Austerity

All public transport except for the Athens Metro, will grind to a halt on Tuesday and Wednesday all over Greece, and public services will be thrown into disarray as workers join a 48-hour strike called by the country’s two main unions to coincide with a Parliamentary debate and vote on the government’s new austerity measures. There will be no service on buses, trolley buses, the tram, trains, the suburban railway and the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway though the Metro will be running. Air traffic controllers are to join the strike with two four-hour stoppages — from 8 a.m. to noon today and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Hit by 48-Hour General Strike

Greece ground to a halt Tuesday as a 48-hour general strike began to bite while the bankruptcy-threatened government attempted to push through sweeping austerity cuts.

Apart from the metro, no public transport was operating in Athens and the streets were relatively empty, with many people deciding to stay away from work to join the fourth general strike called this year by the country’s two biggest unions. Subway employees decided not to strike so as to allow Athenians to join planned protests in the capital. But banks were closed and hospitals were functioning on reduced staffing while at airports, dozens of domestic flights by Greek airlines Olympic Air and Aegean were cancelled as air traffic controllers went on strike.

In the port of Pireus, near Athens, which links most Greek islands with the mainland, the main seamen’s union was not officially on strike, as the tourist season is just getting under way. Nevertheless around 200 militants from a communist union and a port employees’ union picketed to prevent ferries from leaving the port. A string of rallies are planned for Tuesday, focused on Syntagma Square — home to the Greek parliament and a magnet for tens of thousands of protesters who see the international community as imposing tough conditions for their bailouts.

“We think these measures and government policy are bad for workers in general. They are cutting salaries, they are cutting pensions and cutting social services. In fact they are taking money off workers to give it to banks and big business,” a port employee and unionist told AFP. Parliament is scheduled to vote Wednesday and Thursday a package of austerity measures aimed at slicing 28.6 billion euros from government spending by 2015, and raising what international partners hope can reach 50 billion in privatisation receipts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How Capitalism Went on a Brief Sabbatical Which Became a Permanent Vacation: Rosenberg Explains “The Artificial Recovery”

Indeed, this 2009-2011 recovery and cyclical bull market has been as artificial as the 2003-07 expansion. That last one was fuelled by financial engineering in the financial sector. This one is being underpinned by unprecedented government intrusion in the credit markets. As of this quarter, your government has replaced the private sector as the largest source of outstanding mortgage market and consumer-related credit (see front page of the Investor’s Business Daily). So not only is the U.S.A. turning Japanese in many respects, it is also now resembling China where the government also redirects the flow of private sector credit. When we said capitalism went on a sabbatical three years ago, we didn’t expect this to be a permanent vacation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Thousands in Rome ‘Struggle to Feed Themselves’

The economic crisis has hit Rome and its vicinity hard making it difficult for almost 7 percent of the people living the Lazio region that includes Italy’s capital to manage to eat an “adequate meal’ at least every two days,” according to a new report by Rome-based Catholic charity Sant’ Egidio. In the capital itself, in the shadow of the Vatican, 100,000 people out of a population if 2.7 million are living in “absolute poverty,” according to Sant’ Egidio’s “First Report on Poverty in Rome and Lazio” released on Monday. The populous Lazio region has 5 million inhabitants. More than 8 percent of Italians were without work in April, but that number hits almost 30 percent for young people between 15 and 24 years of age. Unemployment isn’t expected to decline any time soon as Italy’s weak economy and one of the world’s highest debt loads creates worries among companies that might otherwise hire new staff.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Government to Propose Limits on Regional Budgets: PM

Spain’s central government will propose setting a limit on the budgets of the the country’s powerful regional governments, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Tuesday. The measure, which aims to “guarantee fiscal sustainability in the mid-term,” will be proposed next month and it will be similar to a limit on spending in place for the central government, Zapatero he told parliament during an annual state of the nation debate.

Last week, Zapatero’s cabinet approved a 3.8 percent reduction in central government spending for next year as it fights to retain the trust of markets rocked by Greece’s sovereign debt crisis. Spain’s regional government debt is a major concern for the markets which fear it could compromise the central government’s goal to cut the annual public deficit down to 6.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year and to a eurozone limit of 3.0 percent in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Unpopular Austerity Measures: Europe Anxiously Awaits Greek Vote

Some 20,000 Greeks have taken to the streets in protest of crucial but unpopular austerity measures up for parliamentary vote on Wednesday. But if the embattled government fails to approve the plan, it will fail to qualify for the next tranche of its EU bailout package, leading to insolvency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Back in Iowa: Obama Says USA Must Up Its Game

BETTENDORF, Iowa — President Barack Obama on Tuesday brought a made-in-America pitch to this politically vital state, saying innovation and adaptation will help the manufacturing sector and the entire U.S. economy rebound with more gusto. He admonished a divided Washington to stop bickering and rally together like a team.

Here in the home of the first presidential caucuses, Obama made a quick but unmistakable nod to his own re-election bid. Fondly recalling his win here in 2008, Obama said to Iowa: “We’ve got some history together. And together we’re going to make some more history for years to come.”

The president, under steady pressure to bolster a sluggish economy, is showering attention on manufacturing as an American story of adaptation. He chose the setting of Alcoa Davenport Works, an aluminum factory whose products are exported around the world and used for such high-tech applications as the wings for the presidential jet Air Force One.

The plant has re-hired the workers it laid off during the recent recession and is eying an expansion, said Obama, who pushed a broader theme of American resilience.

“You had to up your game,” Obama said to the workers. “And that’s what we’ve got to do as a country as a whole. I want the cars and planes and wind turbines of the future to bear the proud stamp that says ‘Made in America.’“

Obama’s victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses catapulted his presidential campaign, and the state is now being flooded with Republicans seeking their party’s presidential nomination and criticizing his economic leadership.

The president said that the country has the workers, companies and industries to mount a stronger economic recovery: “We are still the United States of America.”

The stop is part of Obama’s effort to promote job creation in the midst of an economic slowdown that has reduced hiring and weakened his job approval standing with the public. After last month’s weak unemployment report showed an uptick in the jobless rate to 9.1 percent, the White House is warily eyeing the release of more up-to-date numbers on July 8.

The White House sees a recovery in the U.S. manufacturing industry as one way to create jobs and stay competitive in the global marketplace. Last week, Obama announced a $500 million joint effort by industry, universities and the federal government to help reposition the United States as a leader in cutting-edge manufacturing.

Back in Washington, Obama is in a high-stakes stalemate with Republicans over a deal that could cut some $2 trillion from the nation’s debt and perhaps clear the way for Congress to extend the nation’s borrowing limit. The administration says that debt limit must be raised by Aug. 2 or the government will face a catastrophic default on its obligations.

Obama made no direct reference to that fight but called on the country and its leaders to start “thinking like a team, instead of turning on each other.”

“I promise you,” he said, “if you we continue to adapt and we continue to innovate and we work together to compete around the world, America will come back stronger than before.”

The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party said it comes as no surprise that Obama showed up in the traditional political battleground.

“There’s a famous political saying that ‘no politician comes to Iowa by accident.’ I’m sure part of this is a political calculation,” Matt Strawn said.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has not said whether she will run for president, was in Iowa on Tuesday for the screening of a documentary about her.

Obama made time in Iowa to relax with the locals. His first stop was Ross’ 24-Hour Restaurant, a Bettendorf diner. Among the president’s orders was a “Magic Mountain,” a house specialty that includes Texas toast and mounds of ground beef.

“I hope he brought his antacids,” quipped Cynthia Freidhof, the daughter of the restaurant’s founder.

[Return to headlines]

Billionaire George Soros Trying to Stack the Courts, Critics Say

Billionaire George Soros spends tens of millions each year supporting a range of liberal social and political causes, from drug legalization to immigration reform to gay marriage to abolishing the death penalty.

But a less well-known Soros priority — replacing elections for judges with selection-by-committee — now has critics accusing him of trying to stack the courts.

Most non-federal judges around the country are selected by voters in elections. But some states use a process called “merit selection” in which a committee — often made up of lawyers — appoints judges to the bench instead.

Soros has spent several million dollars in the past decade in an attempt to get more states to scrap elections and adopt the merit method. Supporters say it would allow judges to focus on interpreting the law rather than on raising campaign funds and winning elections.


“The left can’t get their agenda through the legislatures anymore … so they think they can get their agenda through by taking over the courts,” attorney Colleen Pero, author of a new report titled “Hijacking Justice,” told

Pero’s report found that Soros, through his Open Society Institute fund, has given $45 million over the last decade to “a campaign to reshape the judiciary.” But that number is hotly contested by Justice at Stake, the group that got the most Soros money.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Embracing Realism: Obama Turns to Rebuilding America

Roads for Kentucky instead of Kabul: With the US still deep in the economic doldrums, President Barack Obama has begun to shift priorities away from expensive involvement in foreign wars and toward development back home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslim Woman Suing Abercrombie & Fitch After She Was ‘Fired for Wearing Headscarf at Work’

Abercrombie & Fitch is being sued by a stockroom worker who claims she was fired for refusing to take off her Muslim headscarf while at work.

Hani Khan, 20, said a manager asked if she could remove the hijab while working — and when she refused she was suspended, and then sacked.

It is the second time in as many years the clothes retailer has been charged with discriminating against Muslim women over the wearing of the garment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

No Budget Senate to “Streamline” Appointments

What would you say if I told you that a Senate which hasn’t passed a budget in 800 days and seemingly does nothing but model ties and cut ribbons is about to “streamline” presidential appointments by abdicating authority to the executive branch?

It’s true. This do nothing Senate is so overworked that it has decided unilaterally to gut the system of checks-and-balances conceived in liberty by America’s Founders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Principal Criticized for Delivering Graduation Speech in Spanish

He congratulated the graduating class of 2011, but one but one principal’s commencement speech actually offended some in the crowd.

The graduating class at Whittell High School has only 30 students. Just a few weeks ago during graduation their principal gave an encouraging speech congratulating his students and their parents.

“Class of 2011, I want to congratulate you for all your accomplishments this year,” said Principal Crespin Esquivel.

He then said the same thing in Spanish, making sure his commencement speech could also be understood by his Spanish speaking parents and students who make up the second largest group of the school.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The School From Hell (Video)

Teachers fear for lives as students run amok

Kids hoot and yammer so loudly that their ruckus drowns out the teacher. A trash can is overturned in class and dumped. Grimy floors are littered with sunflower-seed shells, spit out by the hundreds. Books and supplies fly out the windows. Mouse droppings are everywhere, even on the computers. MS 344, the Academy of Collaborative Education in Harlem, is a hellhole where teachers should get combat pay — they are cursed, assaulted and sometimes groped. “It was literally war,” said a teacher who once found a sticky used condom in her purse. “I was pushed, shoved, scratched, thrown against the wall, spit on and pickpocketed. I just wanted peace.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The White Working Class: The Group That Will Likely Decide Obama’s Fate

Each election cycle there occurs a tired ritual, in which pundits and reporters rediscover that yes, indeed, there are still a lot of white working class voters in America, and they represent a serious vulnerability for the Democrats. But just this once, let’s skip the period where everyone initially ignores this group and cut straight to the chase: There will be a lot of white working class voters showing up at the polls next November, and the degree to which they support (or abandon) President Obama could very well make or break his reelection. In 2008, during his otherwise-solid election victory, Obama lost the white working class vote by 18 points. In 2010, however, things got much worse: Congressional Democrats’ experienced a catastrophic 30 point deficit among the same group. While the first number is a figure Obama could live with repeating, the second could very well prove fatal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.S. Soccer Team Booed in Their Own Country as Mexican Fans Turn LA Into an ‘Away’ Game

If the U.S. soccer team were hoping for the home advantage during Saturday’s Gold Cup final then they were in for a nasty surprise. Despite being the ‘home’ side in California’s Rose Bowl stadium, the majority of fans — most of them American born of naturalized Mexicans — booed and jeered the U.S. team. The surprising scenes were followed by angry outbursts from U.S. team goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was visibly shaken after the entire post match ceremony was conducted in Spanish.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Woman’s Leg Broken, Others Hurt in Spring Garden Mob Attack

A WOMAN’S leg was broken and several other people were injured Saturday night when a large group of teens accosted pedestrians in Spring Garden, police and witnesses said. Philadelphia police responded to two reports of pedestrians being assaulted by a large group of young people along Broad Street about 9:30 p.m.

One of those reports came from Emily Guendelsberger, 27, city editor for local arts and entertainment content for the Onion, the satirical newspaper and website. She was walking with seven friends on Green Street near Broad when they were accosted, she said. Guendelsberger, who remained hospitalized with a broken leg yesterday, declined to comment further.

According to the police report of the incident, Guendelsberger was “jumped” by 30 to 40 men who punched and kicked her numerous times. Police said they checked the area for surveillance but had no luck. Shortly before Guendelsberger’s assault, police said, they responded to another assault, about five blocks away at Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue, of a 20-year-old man who said that he was attacked by a large group of men and women. Police said that he was treated for a bruise and abrasion under his right eye. Twitter users said that the mob ranged from 50 to 100 people and that participants not only assaulted people but also threw trash cans and lit fireworks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bulgaria Gets Eur 73.8m Aid for Shut Nuclear Units

Bulgaria signed grant agreements on Tuesday to receive 73.8 million euros ($105.3 million) for energy projects as compensation for shutting down four units at its Kozloduy nuclear plant ahead of joining the EU in 2007. The Balkan country had already received a total of 575 million euros as compensation from an EBRD-operated international decommissioning support fund for Kozloduy as the plant’s partial closure cost the country its position as a top electricity exporter in the region.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Could Shakespeare’s Bones Tell Us if He Smoked Pot?

A South African anthropologist has asked permission to open the graves of William Shakespeare and his family to determine, among other things, what killed the Bard and whether his poems and plays may have been composed under the influence of marijuana. But while Shakespeare’s skeleton could reveal clues about his health and death, the question of the man’s drug use depends on the presence of hair, fingernails or toenails in the grave, said Francis Thackeray, the director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who floated the proposal to the Church of England. Thackeray conducted a study in 2001, which found evidence of marijuana residueon pipe fragments found in Shakespeare’s garden. Cannabis was grown in England at the time and was used to make textiles and rope. Some Shakespearian allusions, including a mention of a “noted weed” in Sonnet 76, spurred Thackeray’s inquiry into whether Shakespeare may have used the mind-altering drug for inspiration.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dutch Vote to Ban Religious Slaughter of Animals

“This is absolutely impossible to prove,” Jacobs said. “You can’t ask the animal how it feels afterwards.”

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks visited the Netherlands last week to lobby against the law, arguing that pre-stunning failed in up to 10 percent of cases and that caused more pain than the swift cutting of the throat by a razor-sharp knife.

Philip Carmel, International Relations Director for the Conference of European Rabbis in Brussels, stressed the upper house of parliament could still reject the law. “We believe the Dutch parliament and people, who have a history of tolerance, will see sense and make the right decision,” he said.

Dutch Muslims, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin, have complained they felt stigmatized by the planned ban, debated amid growing support for anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders.

A court cleared Wilders last week of charges of hate speech against Muslims. His Freedom Party has supported the ban.

“There was no reason for passing this law,” said Imam Mahmut of the El Tawheed mosque in Amsterdam. “This is a political decision. Who has the authority to determine whether the way of killing animals is good or not?”

European Restrictions

European Union regulations require animals to be stunned before killing but allow exceptions for ritual slaughter, which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled is a religious right. Animal rights activists insisit this is inhuman.

Carmel said the European Parliament last week rejected a bid by animal rights advocates to have kosher and halal meat specially labeled as coming from unstunned animals.

Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland ban ritual slaughter. Swiss animal rights groups and far-right politicians have called for a ban on imported halal and kosher meat.

Of the 500 million animals slaughtered annually for food in the Netherlands, only 1.2 million animals are slaughtered according to Muslim or Jewish traditions, Dutch statistics show.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

EU Ready to Apply Sanctions Over Naples Garbage Problem

(AGI) Brussels — The EU may start procedures against Italy due to the unresolved problem of waste in Naples, since “the problem has not been solved and if anything the problem has increased in the last few years.” At this point, explained the spokesman for the Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the only thing Brussels can do is “open a procedure for “non-compliance” following the first sentence passed by the Court of Justice in March 2010, issuing a warning to Italy envisaging the possibility of fines.

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

Flanders Sees “Mini Baby Boom”

Last year, 69,924 babies were born in Flanders. That’s according to statistics published by the medical journal Artsenkrant. The number of new-born babies is the highest the Flemish region has seen in 24 years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Dresden Police Chief Steps Down Over Phone Sweep Scandal

Dresden’s police chief has been forced out of his job after it emerged that police collected a massive amount of data from mobile phones during February anti-fascist demonstrations that left more than 100 officers injured.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany Pledges to Dramatically Boost Trade With China

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans for a major increase in trade with China, as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao concludes his European tour in Berlin. Multibillion euro business deals have also been secured.

As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrapped up his European visit in Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany intended to boost trade with China to at least 200 billion euros ($283.8 billion) in the next five years. Trade between the world’s number two economy, China, and Germany, at number four, currently stands at 130 billion euros annually.

The Chinese premier followed Merkel’s announcement by asserting China’s confidence in the eurozone. “It’s true that right now some European Union countries are encountering economic problems. These are, however, of a temporary nature,” he told the business forum. The European Union is “strong enough to master the current challenges,” he added. Dozens of people demonstrated in Berlin against China’s human rights policies

Wen was in Germany for the third and final leg of his European tour. He arrived in Berlin on Monday evening, having already secured a trade deal worth almost 1.6 billion euros with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Burqa: Sbai: Law Presented in Commission by End of Summer

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 23 — Pdl MP Souad Sbai relies on the approval before the end of the summer of the law that prohibits the burqa and the niqab in the Constitutional Affairs Commission. The MP spoke today during a convention on “Women, Islam and freedom” set up by the Averroé and La Martinella cultural centres, and explained that “We are putting the finishing touches on a body of law that I hope may reach the commission hearing as of next week. Only some lexical details still have to be dealt with”. In Italy the number of women forced to wear the full veil are still relatively few, the MP of Moroccan descent admitted, “but we need to act right now, before their numbers increase” as a result of an growing hold of more conservative trends within the immigrant communities. She pointed out that only two years ago talking about the veil meant talking about the hijab, in other words the one that only covers hair, “which now has become the norm”. She emphasised that the problem is not the veil in itself, but “the mentality” and “the oppression of women” it relates to. Today’s convention, dedicated in particular to the law against the full veil that has been in force in France since April, saw a speech, among others, by Alexandre Del Valle, an Italian/French geopolitics researcher and the promoter of a new current, Free Right, he announced, in Sarkozy’s Ump. He reported that “There is an alliance between Islamic fundamentalism and the Marxist and ‘politically correct’ culture that reigns everywhere” and which would see the use of the veil as a right.

He added that it is also thanks to this alliance that “most of the representation of European Islam is assigned to the fundamentalists, from the Muslim Brothers to the Salafites”.

And he announced the proposal of a Charter for Islam in France capable of guaranteeing the rights of those who want to be Muslim in a different manner. He emphasised that “True anti-racism is to also guarantee to a Muslim the right not to believe”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: President Calls on Government to Save Naples From Rubbish

Foreign minister considers sending trash abroad

(ANSA) — Naples, June 24 — The central government must step in to solve the worsening Naples trash crisis, said Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in a written statement Friday.

“An intervention is absolutely indispensable and urgent,” he said, adding that the situation had reached “acute and alarming” proportions.

Armed police escorts have begun accompanying garbage trucks as exasperated protesters have resorted to tipping over dumpsters, blocking traffic and setting flames to the growing piles of waste that choke the daily flow of city life.

Firefighters put out 55 separate trash fires in the city by early morning as others blazed in Naples province.

Napolitano went on to mention the government’s inability to pass emergency measures after two days of deliberation, largely due to Northern League opposition to a proposal to transfer thousands of tonnes of rubbish outside the province to other Italian regions.

One possible course of action is to move the trash outside Italy.

In a telephone conversation Friday between Campania Governor Stefano Caldoro and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, the foreign minister discussed the option of “international agreements with countries that have offered the use of their facilities.” Approximately 2,400 tonnes of trash lie uncollected in the city and province of Naples after an escalation of the problem in recent months.

Naples and the surrounding region of Campania have suffered similar crises periodically for a number of years.

The previous public outcry occurred last November when weeks of clashes and rising trash piles brought Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to the city.

It was then that the premier, who won plaudits by sorting out a similar emergency in 2008, made a vow to clear the streets in three days.

But the problems have returned partly because of technical failures in local incinerators and the lack of investment in other landfill sites.

The issue is further complicated by the role of the local mafia, or Camorra, and claims that they have infiltrated waste management in Naples and dumped toxic waste on sites near residential areas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Moroccan Immigrant Murders Wife for Being ‘Too Western’

Padua, 28 June (AKI) — A Moroccan carpenter living in northern Italy is suspected of stabbing his wife to death because she wanted to leave him and begin a more liberated and western life with another man.

Police suspect 36-year old Zrhaida Hammadi of killing his 33-year-old wife Fatima Chabani at their apartment in the city of Padua near Venice by stabbing her repeatedly in the neck and shoulder, severing her jugular vein.

Neighbours telephoned the police after hearing blood-curdling screams from the apartment late Sunday, but the police said they found Chabani already dead and Hammadi awaiting their arrival, sitting motionless in a chair with his head bowed.

The couple were married in 2002 and had a six-year-old son. The family moved to Padua in January from the surrounding province in Italy’s northeast. Members of the local Moroccan community described Hammadi as “a quiet, decent and hard-working” man.

The couple reportedly had frequent rows and police are probing Hammadi’s’ claims that his wife was seeing another man.

On Tuesday, a cultural mediator in Padua, 30-year-old Tunisian Muslim immigrant Maher Selmi sparked controversy by claiming that it was right to stone “adulteresses” to death.

Moroccan women’s activist and member of Italy’s parliament Souad Sbai deplored Chabani’s “chilling” slaying and the remarks by Selmi, who is a graduate in Italian language and literature.

“This is the latest outrage against an innocent young woman whose only crime was her desire to live peacefully,” said Sbai.

Sbai is a member of parliament for the ruling conservative People of Freedom party and president of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy.

Her group made an unsuccessful application to form the civil plaintiff in the murder trial of three male relatives of a twenty-year-old Pakistani woman, Hina Saleem found buried in the garden of her family home with her throat slit and her head facing Mecca in August 2006.

Hina had ‘dishonoured’ the family by dressing in western clothes, working in a pizzeria in the northern town of Sarezzo and living with her Italian boyfriend and refusing and arranged marriage

In February, 2010, Italy’s Supreme Court said Hina’s father Mohammed Saleem must serve the entire 30-year prison sentence handed to him for her murder, ruling that he acted “out of a distorted, pathological sense of parental possession” rather than for religious and cultural reasons.

Hina Saleem’s shocking murder is one of several “honour” crimes which have brought the issue of Muslim cultural integration in Italy into stark relief in recent years.

El Ketaoui Dafani a Moroccan immigrant cook is currently standing trial for the murder of Sanaa Dafani in northeastern Italy in September 2009 after he discovered she had a relationship with an older Italian man.

Italy’s equal opportunities ministry, the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and the Province of Pordenone and forming the plaintiff in that trial.

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

Oldest Beer From Shipwreck Yields Dead Yeast, Sour Bacteria

Finnish scientists have cracked open a cold one … a 170-year-old cold one, that is. The bottle of beer, salvaged last summer from the wreckage of a ship that sank near the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea, was thought to be the oldest drinkable beer ever found. Unfortunately, the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) reported June 27, the first bottle opened did not withstand the stresses of time. Seawater made it into the bottle, contaminating the brew. Nonetheless, the researchers were able to analyze the chemistry of the pale golden liquid. They found malt sugars, aromatic compounds and hops typical of what you’d expect to find in a bottle of beer today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Franco’s Daughter, Not Moving Body From Valle Caido

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 15 — The Spanish government wants to convert ‘Valle de los Caidos’, the monastery ordered by Francisco Franco in San Lorenzo del Escorial, into a “place of reconciled memory”, but the dictator’s daughter is against exhuming and moving her father’s remains to another place. In statements reported by El Pais, Carmen Polo, the daughter of the ‘caudillo’, commented that “The family believes that they should stay where they are, in the basilica”. In recent days the minister of the presidency, Ramon Jaregui, asked a panel of experts, comprising jurists, historians, philosophers and a Benedictine monk to reach a decision on the potential transfer of Franco’s remains, which are held in the basilica along with those of the founder of the Falange, Primo de Rivera. The socialist government wants to turn the mausoleum into a place of reconciled memory, “a democratic monument rather than one for dictatorship”, as Jaregui explained to the media. The mausoleum was built between 1948 and 1950 following the orders of the generalissimo, who moved there the remains of thousands of the victims of his regime, without asking for the approval of their relatives. The experts will have to report their decision to the government within five months. They will have to decide whether Valle de Los Caidos can become a place of worship for the republican victims as well and, in the event, move the remains of the military coup general. Only then, according to the minister of the presidency, the executive will officially contact Franco’s family. But during informal meetings held to date Franco’s relatives have been against a potential transfer of the body, for example to the Mingorrubio cemetery, located in the Pardo, to be buried next to the remains of his wife.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Victim’s Mum Reveals Full Horror of Hearts Star Craig Thomson’s Depravity

THE mum of a schoolgirl groomed by footballer Craig Thomson called on his club to sack him yesterday and asked: “Have you no shame?”

Breaking her silence, she condemned the sex-shame player and his bosses at Hearts after they announced he would be kept on at the club despite his conviction for targeting her 12-year-old daughter and another young girl online.

She revealed the defender — who was a close family friend and had known his victim for years — bombarded her girl with obscene messages over nine months from January 2010.

The shattered mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told how Thomson, 20, begged the youngster not to tell anyone about him.

He made filthy comments about her appearance, tried to take her on drives and even sent naked photographs of himself.

Speaking to the Sunday Mail at the family home near Edinburgh, the 47-year-old woman said Scotland under-21 international Thomson had known exactly how old her daughter was.

He was put on the sex offenders’ register for five years and fined £4000 after admitting lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour earlier this month.

The mum-of-three said: “Hearts are not taking this seriously enough. As far as we are concerned, Thomson has got off with this. He needs to be sacked.

“The only thing that will teach him a lesson is if he goes. Football is all he cares about.

“Hearts are a family club and if he continues in football, he is obviously going to be around children. But who would take their kids to a game when they know he is on the pitch?

“They obviously don’t want to lose him because he is a decent player and could make them money.

“They should be taking notice and investigating this. But there doesn’t seem to have been anything of the sort — we haven’t even heard a word from Hearts about it.

“To us, he has been let off really lightly. By the time he is 25 he won’t even be on the sex offenders’ register anymore. And a £4000 fine is nothing to him.

“He’s meant to be a role model for kids and yet he has used his celebrity status to get at young girls.”

The horrified mum, a support worker, said she had known nothing about Thomson’s vile chats with her youngest child, now aged 13, until the police got in touch with her.

And when she heard how the player — who had been a friend of the family through the girl’s older sister for around six years — had been grooming the girl, she was at first stunned then furious.

The mum said: “He was somebody we knew and trusted. It’s not that my daughter was in awe of him because he was a footballer. He was a family friend she had known since she was about six.

“He went to school with my older daughter and he used to come about the house quite often. He knew the whole family from a young age.

“This was someone my older daughter was very close with. But while she was attending Hearts events that Thomson had invited her to, he was also grooming her little sister.”

Thomson began chatting to the 12-year-old at a party they were both invited to and the next day he added her as a friend on Facebook, then began chatting to her on MSN Messenger.

The girl’s mum said: “She would mention that she had been chatting to him and I thought nothing of it. I worry that I didn’t pick up on that.

“I wonder if she was trying to tell us something but didn’t know how to.

“He had asked her if she had told her big sister they were chatting. He told her he didn’t think she should and that he didn’t imagine she’d be too happy about it.

“A couple of days in, he had pushed her into speaking to him in front of the webcam.

“When I heard the things he was saying to her after the police became involved I was shocked and disgusted. He was commenting on her figure, saying he liked her big chest, what she was wearing and would turn up in places that he knew she was going to be.

“Nearly every time he was in contact with her he asked her to take her top off.

“He moved on to sending her pictures of himself naked and asking her if she thought he was big. She was a 12-year-old girl, it’s disgusting.”

The sickened mum added: “He was well aware of how young she was. At one point he asked her how old she was now and when she told him she had turned 13, he said to her ‘I knew that’ before saying what he wanted to do to her. It is disgusting.

“He also invited her to come to his house for a sleepover, as long as she promised to walk around in her underwear. He tried to take her on drives and I’m just so relieved she didn’t go with him. I dread to think what might have happened.

“I feel a bit stupid for letting this happen to my daughter. The worst of it is that if even if I had’ve known he was offering to take her out to McDonald’s and that kind of thing, I would have just thought what a nice laddie he was. I wouldn’t have thought he had any other motive than being nice to his friend’s little sister.

“He disgusts me. If he was a total stranger who had come on and said that type of thing, then she would have deleted him straight away. But because she knew him, she thought there was a wee bit of protection.

“And it went on so long because she was frightened to say because he was a friend of the family.”

The family are unsure how Thomson came to be investigated but the mum told how when her daughter went to the police station about it, there were four other girls there too and she knew three of them.

She said: “He has been found guilty of two, but there is probably lots more. This is a 20 year old footballer who could probably have any girl he wanted, yet he chooses to hang around at schoolgirls’ parties.”

I Shook When I Saw Him

The Victim

Thomson’s young victim yesterday said the player’s unwanted attention gave her the creeps.

The girl, now 13, said: “I used to see him around all the time, he was everywhere.

“I would always put my head down or put sunglasses on to try and avoid him. I just hated seeing him.

“I used to shake when I did. He was always commenting on what I was wearing if I saw him. One time he drove past and waved and then later he asked if I was still wearing the leggings I had on earlier.

“So I’d wear things that wouldn’t get his attention.

“I was scared to tell my mum and sisters in case they thought I had done something wrong. I was relieved once it all came out.

“When I look back I think ‘How did I ever think that was okay?’ but I think I thought to myself that he was a friend of my family, and also a footballer, so surely he wouldn’t do something that was wrong.

“Surely he wouldn’t risk everything by doing something bad.

“Even when I see him now, he doesn’t try and hide, he just stares right at me.”

Putting Money Before Morals

The Agent

A top football agent yesterday accused Hearts of putting money before morality.

The players’ rep, who asked not to be named, said: “The reason they have kept Thomson is quite simple.

“He’s an asset to the club and is somebody they will feel they can sell for upwards of £500,000 or maybe seven figures in a year or two.

“They have invested a lot of time training him and they aren’t about to discard him now.

“This is a financial decision, pure and simple. If he was an ordinary 20-year-old they’d be delighted to get shot of him. He stays because he has talent.

“Football is littered with bad boys being given another chance and, as long as Thomson is doing the business on the grass, there will always be be a taker.

“Of course, there may be clubs who take the moral high ground and won’t want anything to do with it, but there will be plenty clubs who won’t care.”

The agent, who has done business with Vladimir Romanov’s club, said: “This whole thing isn’t surprising to me. I have had a few dealings with the people at Hearts.

“They are unpredictable, to say the least, and are tough negotiators when it comes to money.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Housing Protests Spread, Some Resort to Suicide

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JUNE 23 — A clear idea of the heights to which emotions have escalated over Algeria’s housing problem is given by the headline on the font page of today’s Le Temps d’Algeria: “The Lists of Fear”. These are the lists being drawn up by local authorities to announce the names of those fortunate enough to have been assigned a council home — and triggering the anger of those who feel they have been shut out.

And the issue has been taking on a tragic face; those who find themselves excluded and don’t have the strength to protest have been that cruelest of short-cuts: suicide,”preferably in the most spectacular way possible, with self immolations and people blowing themselves to pieces. The phenomenon has taken an alarming turn and is involving the whole of the country. The numbers who have committed suicide over the past months run into dozens (many of them women and family breadwinners), even though there has been no official admission of the fact, only including the off-hand mention that the person concerned came from a deprived background”.

The Algerian ‘powder-keg” is ready to explode, from the capital to the most distant and deprived towns where homes are not a status simbol, but the only way out of marginalization and degradation after a life spent in a shanty. The measure being taken by the authorities — that of delaying publication of the lists in the hope of calming the anger, is backfiring, making the sense of exasperation even worse and fuelling people’s readiness to come out onto the streets to vent their anger at any one — mostly those who have nothing to do with the problem. So government officials, who are simply following instructions from above, are now hate figures among the populace.

The latest to protest in Algiers were the residents of the Hussein-Dey area who, when the lists were released started a demonstration that was quelled by police anti-riot squads. One of many similar events, staged by those who feel excluded and who accuse the state of favouritism. The number of demonstrations has increased as has their level of protest, with vital traffic streets and motorways being blocked.

Barricades include burning tyres, attacks have been made on council and local government offices with some mayors under a state of siege, waiting for a rescue party to arrive. Post offices and police stations have also been ransacked.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Drugs: Algeria: 5% of Population Are Users

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JUNE 27 — Five percent of the population in Algeria uses drugs, according to the figures provided during a press conference for the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, reports El Watan. Abdelmalek Sayah, the Director General of the National Office for the Fight Against Drugs, said that in recent years, 42,000 Algerians have successfully went through detox treatment at specialised centres established by the Health Ministry. Today, according to figures released by the centres, there are about 302,000 Algerians who are habitual drug users. Of these, 180,000 are between the ages of 20 and 39, while another 94,000 are over 40 years old. According to statistics, 5% of drug users are women. The percentage of Algerians who consume psychotropic substances is low (0.38%). By the end of the year, the network of support structures in the fight against drugs will be expanded, with another 15 detox centres and 185 listening centres for drug users.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt’s Business Mogul Sawiris Under Fire for Islamic Cartoons

Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris may be summoned by the prosecutor general for tweeting cartoons that were deemed defamatory to the Islamic faith

Islamic lawyer Mamdouh Ismael and 14 lawyers submitted a complaint to the general prosecutor’s office against Naguib Sawiris after he posted a cartoon of popular cartoon characters Mickey Mouse with an Islamic beard and dressed in a Jilbab and Minnie Mouse wearing a full Muslim veil on twitter. The post was accompanied with the comment: “Mickey and Minnie after” Ismael said that the images were defamatory and ridiculed the Islamic faith. However, Ismael stressed that he is not going after Sawiris because he is a Copt.

Ahmed Mahmoud Kareema, Professor of Islamic Shariaa at Al-Azhar University, said that insulting religion is criminalized by the Islamic faith and Sawiris would not like it if the tables were turned and people mocked the clothes worn by Christian clerics, and, furthermore, had he mocked the clothes of Jewish rabbis, he would have been accused of being an anti-Semitic. Following the incident, Sawiris who was attacked on social networking sites, insisted that he meant no harm and simply thought the images were funny. However, “Boycott Sawiris,” groups were launched on both Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook group titled, “We were also joking Sawiris,” urged people to boycott his products saying that “if you are really a Muslim, boycott his (Sawiris) products if you love your faith. Spread the message, we have to cut the tongues of those who defame our faith.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany to Supply Bombs for Libya Mission

Germany will supply bombs and weapons technology to NATO for the military intervention into Libya despite its stated opposition to the mission, according to a media report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

International Arrest Warrant for Gaddafi Will Not Change the Situation in Libya, Del Boca Says

For the historian, the Libyan leader would rather be killed than give up power. Few hopes for a diplomatic solution persist before September.

Roma (AsiaNews) — “The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court will not have any repercussions on the current situation in Libya. NATO will not stop its strikes and Gaddafi will not go away. If he does flee, he’ll go to a country that won’t extradite him,” Prof Angelo Del Boca told AsiaNews. A journalist and university scholar, Del Boca has studied Libya and its leader for 30 years.

“Gaddafi has built up his myth for more than 42 years,” Del Boca said. “He’s rather be killed than lose and give up power.”

The same thing is true for France, Great Britain and Italy, which continue to bomb, in spite of domestic criticism, the high costs and the US pulling back.

A peaceful solution to the conflict can be excluded before NATO’s official operation ends in September, the historian said.

All attempts made so far have failed. Yesterday, the Libyan leader walked out of talks organised by members of the African Union, the only international organisation that is still willing to deal with him.

“Gaddafi does not see himself as a head of state, but rather as a revolutionary leader, one that has no specific function,” Del Boca explained. “He uses this to prevent agreements and hide his weakness.”

“However, given Gaddafi’s peculiar traits, no one can exclude some dramatic turn of events. As long as he is alive, he still holds all the cards.”

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

Libya: Who Controls Kufra and Desert? “Black Hole” Of War

(ANSAmed) — ROME — If everything, or almost, is known about the battles raging in Tripoli, Benghazi and the other major Libyan coastal cities, there is very little information on the goings-on in the vast areas of desert in the country, where coverage from journalists is rare and often risky. No-one, not even the rebels, is able to say for sure who is in control of the Kufra area.

While the mass media concentrate on clashes between warring faction between Benghazi and Ajdabiya, along a tarmacked coastal road where the weather is mild, many experts admit that the situation south of Ajdabiya is unknown.

In the Kufra oasis in particular, where the roads leading to Chad and to the Sudanese region of Darfur cross over, the situation is unstable. On western observer quoted by the Al Arabiyya website said that the events in these areas are a “black hole”. No-one can really be sure of the situation there, the observer added. Journalists in Benghazi cannot travel towards these remote parts for fear of being captured by forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.

“The vastness of the area of Kufra makes it impossible to say who is controlling the area,” Mustafa Gheriani, the spokesperson for the National Transitional Council, told Al Arabiyya. “Is it our rebels or Gaddafi’s troops?”.

Towns in the Libyan desert have very small populations and the tribes inhabiting the areas are completely isolated from the rest of the country, where the revolution that begun in the middle of February has degenerated into civil war.

The desert area of Kufra is inhabited by two tribes: the Arab Azzawia tribe and the Tobo tribe, which resides in the border areas between Libya, Niger and Chad. In November 2008, there were a number of clashes between the two tribes, with many Tobo families chased out of Kufra. The rebels claim that they have the support of the Azzawia tribe, while Colonel Gaddafi is suspected to have hired a number of mercenaries from the Tobo tribe in Chad.

Many of the pro-Gaddafi soldiers captured by rebels in Benghazi say that they are from Sabha, the biggest Libyan desert town, some 500 kilometres south of Tripoli. Although Gaddafi was born in the city of Sirt, Sabha remains the stronghold of Ghathathifa tribe, which is home to the elite 32nd battalion, which is led by the Colonel’s son Khamis.

“Sabha remains Gaddafi’s stronghold but we have many supporters in the small towns surrounding the area,” Gheriani explains.

Ibraheem Al Thalathini, a resident of Benghazi, says that his family lives in southern Sabha. “Before, I could speak to them over the telephone,” he says. “Even though they were very scared, my relatives kept saying that all was well. Now, I am no longer able to contact them and no-one knows what is going on there”. Libya has been covered by two telecommunications networks since the beginning of the uprising. The rebels have set up a network called Libiana in the east of the country, while Libiana and Madar continue to operate in western areas. Many Libiana users in rebel-controlled areas have complained that they are unable to communicate with the rest of the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: A Non-Hostile War

by Srdja Trifkovic

On balance, the most harmful consequence of our “engagement” with Libya, from the standpoint of the American interest, is the brazen manner Obama and his legal team have deployed in evading the strictures of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The White House claims not only that U.S. action in Libya is made legitimate by the United Nations, but that such UN authorization per se makes Congressional approval unnecessary. This is some light years from candidate Obama declaring, in 2008, that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

The claim that a war involving the United States can be “legitimated” by a multinational agency-the UN, or NATO, or the Arab League-is legally absurd. It is also immoral and potentially treasonous. It opens the way to any number of future “engagements” which bear no relevance to American interests, security, or welfare…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Request From NATO: Berlin Willing to Supply Weapons for Libyan War

NATO is running out of munitions to use in the Libya conflict. Now the German government is willing to supply weapons to its allies, despite its fundamental opposition to the war, SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned. The defense minister has already approved a NATO request.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Islamic Fundamentalists Raid Film Festival

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 27 — Last night a group of Islamic extremists raided a movie theatre in the centre of Tunis where a film show on documentaries is taking place, interrupting screenings with cries of “Allah is great”. One hundred men, many wearing hoods, gathered in front of the movie theatre. With no police presence, they condemned the event, accusing it of being atheistic, writes TAP. Then about twenty of the men, all “bearded”, entered the theatre, breaking windows and ripping posters for the event, and then attacked the ushers. The extremists threatened the lives of the spectators, saying that the film being screened, “Neither God nor Master” by Nadia El Feni, is “blasphemous”. The public, stricken by panic, tried to exit the theatre, but found the security exits blocked by the fundamentalists. Only then, reports TAP, did police intervene to bring order back to the movie theatre and surrounding area.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

United in the Face of Adversity

After centuries of voluntary segregation in the Libyan mountains, Arabs and Berbers are forced today to live together in refugee camps in the Tunisian desert. The fight against Gadhafi could bring them closer together.

Harraz pointed to the ancient enmity between Arabs and Berbers of Libya. The latter hardly amount to 4 percent of the war-torn country’s population. Berbers barely differ physically from their Arab neighbors, but they have their own language which the call “Amazigh” and follow a branch of Islam which diverges from the hegemonic Sunni orthodoxy in Libya. Accordingly, their mosques in the mountains might be the only ones in the whole Muslim world that are not oriented toward Mecca. “All our mountain villages are built from a defensive angle, in Nafusa’s most rugged and inaccessible spots. Nalut, Jadu, Qalaa, Kabaw Yefren are Berber villages, while Arabs live in Zintan, Rayaina and Rushba,” Waheed, a native of Nalut, told Deutsche Welle. “We have lived apart for centuries because that was the only way to survive, and not to vanish among the ever-growing Arab population. In Tunisia there is hardly anyone who speaks the Amazigh and in Libya it has only been preserved in the mountains of Nafusa,” added this Berber from the TV tent. Unsurprisingly, nobody here wants to miss the latest information coming from the front through the Al Jazeera news network.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: The Invisible Palestinians

Sunday was the first day of Sgt. Gilad Schalit’s sixth year in captivity. Schalit was kidnapped on June 26, 2006 and has been held hostage by Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Hamas in Gaza ever since.

For five years, Schalit has been held incognito. His terrorist captors have permitted him to send but one letter to his family and released but one video of Schalit over this entire period. He has been denied visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross. He was clearly emaciated in the video…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Gaza Flotilla Begins Mission Despite EU Warning

Organisers say one ship is already at sea and 10 are to sail from Greek ports on Wednesday or Thursday, after EU countries warned the group not to go ahead.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gaza Flotilla Ship ‘Sabotaged by Divers’

Activists say Swedish ship due to join attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been damaged in Greek port.

Ten ships bound for Gaza are expected to set sail from Greece in the coming days [Photo: Ship to Gaza Sweden]

A Swedish ship due to join an upcoming Gaza-bound aid flotilla has been sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus, organisers say.

In a statement, they said “hostile divers had destroyed the propeller house and cut the propeller shaft” of the vessel Juliano on Monday.

The ship is part of the 10-vessel Freedom Flotilla II that is expected to set sail from Greece and elsewhere for the Gaza Strip in the coming days in a bid to break Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.

About 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries are likely to participate.

Israel insists the latest flotilla is a “dangerous provocation” and has vowed to intercept it.

Determined organisers

Organisers of the flotilla, however, remain defiant and said the Juliano would be ready to sail within one or two days after being repaired. They said they had documented the sabotage with their own camera-equipped divers.

“We are sad that people are doing such things but we are determined to continue to Gaza,” Dror Feiler, one of the organisers, told Al Jazeera from aboard the Juliano.

“We will not be frightened by Israel, and we are going to continue. Our friends from all around the world are with us, and we are all going to Gaza.”

Mattias Gardell, a spokesperson for Ship to Gaza Sweden, also condemned the act of sabotage.

“It’s one thing for a foreign power to press the Greek government to delay our voyage with red tape. It is quite another thing for enemy agents to operate on Greek territory.

“It is high time for the international community to put their foot down and say: Enough!”

Israeli allegation

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that “radical elements” among the flotilla activists had stated an intention to “spill the blood of Israeli soldiers”.

According to Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Aharonoth, military sources said participants of the flotilla were planning to pour chemicals, such as sulfur, on Israeli soldiers.

But according to activist Feiler, the goal of the flotilla is to “come in peace” to Gaza.

“We are shocked by the Israeli actions, and their propaganda that we have weapons and acid and are going to attack Israeli soldiers, when we are all dedicated to peace,” Feiler said. “We will not throw objects or attack them in any way.”

The flotilla comes a year after another aid shipment was intercepted by Israeli commandos. At least nine activists were killed when commandos stormed Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-owned lead aid ship.

Besides the Juliano — named after Juliano Mer-Khamis, the Arab-Israeli actor, director and political activist who was shot dead in the West Bank town of Jenin in April — boats from Greece, France, Italy and Spain are also among those joining Freedom Flotilla II. Two cargo vessels will carry medicines, a fully equipped ambulance car, and cement.

A number of journalists are among those taking part in the bid to break Israel’s five-year naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is home to 1.5 million Palestinians.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, and several international leaders have urged the flotilla not to set sail, and the US has warned its nationals not to join the attempt to break the embargo.

The border has remained largely shut since June 2006, when Israel imposed a tight blockade on the coastal territory after Palestinian fighters snatched Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held.

The UN has called the blockade illegal and repeatedly demanded it be lifted. A ban on civilian goods and foodstuffs was eased last year but many restrictions remain in place.

[Return to headlines]

Israel Backtracks on Threat to Journalists

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has intervened to defuse a brewing international furore over his government’s efforts to deter journalists from boarding a protest flotilla sailing for the blockaded Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, international media representatives based in Israel received a letter from Government Press Office director Oren Helman warning that anyone who boarded the flotilla faced a 10-year ban on re-entering the country.

About 30 international reporters are believed to be on a number of ships set to join the flotilla, as well as Pulitzer prize-winning US author Alice Walker.

Advertisement: Story continues below In the letter, Mr Helman described the flotilla as a provocation organised by “Western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas”, the militant Palestinian movement that controls Gaza.

After the letter was widely condemned, Mr Netanyahu’s office issued a statement ordering the “responsible authorities to formulate” special procedures for foreign journalists covering the flotilla.

“When the matter was brought to his attention, the Prime Minister directed that the regular policy against infiltrators and those who enter Israel illegally not be implemented,” said the statement from Mr Netanyahu’s office.

“It has also been agreed that members of the Israeli and international media will be attached to Israel Navy vessels in order to create transparency and credible coverage of the events,” the statement added.

The Israeli Foreign Press Association welcomed Mr Netanyahu’s decision. “We are pleased to see that Israel has recognised the value of allowing reporters to cover an important news event, and understands that journalists should be treated differently from political activists,” the press association said.

Organisers of the flotilla of at least eight ships, which are anchored at several ports around the Mediterranean, were last night preparing to set sail for Gaza as part of an effort to draw attention to Israel’s continuing maritime blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Last year, Israeli naval commandos shot dead nine passengers on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, which was leading another protest flotilla.

One Israeli military official quoted by the newspaper Maariv said intelligence indicated that activists had threatened that “a lot of Israeli Defence Forces soldiers will be killed in this flotilla”.

Israeli intelligence officials also allege that organisers have loaded the ships with sulphuric acid and other dangerous chemicals to throw at troops trying to board the vessels.

Israeli dissident Dror Feiler, one of the flotilla’s organisers, strenuously denied reports that activists planned to harm Israeli troops.

[Return to headlines]

Mideast: Activists of Flotilla 2 Want to Kill Troops, Press

Israel recently received information that pro-Palestinian activists who will be on board of the Flotilla headed for Gaza want to kill Israeli soldiers, several Israeli media report today. A Flotilla spokesman has already denied the accusations. Based on the information, also reported by military radio, bags filled with chemicals — including sulphuric acid — have been taken on board of some ships. The acid is reportedly meant to be thrown at Israeli troops in case they intercept the convoy, and then to be set on fire. ‘They come to kill’ is the dramatic headline in newspaper Maariv. The newspaper specifies that the pro-Palestinian activists headed for Gaza include members of Hamas and of the Turkish NGO Ihh, which staged an active resistance last year when the passenger ship Marmara was boarded by the Israeli Navy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Gaza Flotilla Ship Sabotaged: Report

The ship scheduled to carry the Swedish activists in the Ship to Gaza aid flotilla at the end of the week has been sabotaged in its berth in Greece, the organisation reported on Monday. The group has reported that the ship Juliano has been sabotaged while berthed in Piraeus harbour, in Greece. “It is time for the international community to put their foot down and say: It’s enough!” said Swedish spokesperson Mattias Gardell in a statement on Monday. According to Mikael Löfgren, press coordinator of the organisation, it is not known who was behind the attack in which hostile divers destroyed the propeller housing and severed the two propeller axles beneath the boat.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

7-Months Pregnant After Delivery!

When a Saudi man took his wife to hospital, doctors were shocked to learn she is pregnant in her seventh month although she delivered only three months before. But their shock was nothing compared to that of the husband.

Hospital staff were on their feet trying to find an explanation after the confused husband rushed to the management and complained how on earth his 19-year-old wife delivered three months ago while she is pregnant in her seventh month.

“The mystery was unraveled when the hospital manager and the doctors checked their medical files and found that the woman who delivered three months ago was not the same woman who has just been checked although they carry the same name,” the Saudi daily Alwatan said in a report from Riyadh.

The paper said both women had been visiting the same hospital and that the man’s wife had already delivered three babies at that hospital.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Kidnapped French Aid Workers ‘Located’ And ‘Alive’: Yemen

Three French aid workers kidnapped in southeastern Yemen a month ago have been “located” and are “alive,” the deputy information minister told reporters on Tuesday. “Security services have managed to locate the French. They are alive,” Abdo al-Janadi said. Yemeni authorities “cannot provide any information on the kidnappers or their demands to ensure the safety of the investigation and to secure their release as soon as possible,” he added. The three — two women and a man — were kidnapped in the Hadramawt town of Seyun, 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Sanaa on May 28. The trio are part of the French non-governmental organisation Triangle Generation Humanitaire, and were working with a group of 17 Yemenis in Seyun. “They were kidnapped because they had written a letter to Yemeni security services asking not to be accompanied by anyone for protection,” said Janadi, who added that their demand was accepted.

Foreigners have frequently been kidnapped in Yemen by tribes who use the tactic to pressure the authorities into making concessions. More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, with almost all of them later freed unharmed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pope Calls on Leaders to Support Middle East Christians

‘The East is their Earthly homeland,’ Pontiff says

(ANSA) — Vatican City, June 24 — After repeated assaults targeting Christian communities in the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI made a fresh plea, Friday, calling on world leaders to support the Christian presence there and in North Africa.

“The East is their Earthly homeland,” he said before the Reunion of Organizations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

“Intervene with the public authorities with whom you have contacts at the international level,” he told members, “to ensure that the pastors and faithful of Christ can remain in the East where they were born, not as strangers but as citizens who bear witness to Jesus Christ as the saints of the Eastern Churches did before them”.

A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo has so far killed 24 and injured more than 200 Christians following the wave of political revolutions in the Middle East known as the “Arab Spring” which began last December in Tunisia, spreading to Egypt and other countries.

Since the downfall of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February, three churches have been burned in Egypt where Christians make up 10% of the 80 million population.

“If things don’t change for the better, we’ll return to what was before, maybe even worse,” said Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria Antonios Naguib at a conference this week in Venice on the Arab Spring and Muslim-Christian relations.

The Pontiff’s comments came as an uprising escalates in Syria, where, as in Mubarak-era Egypt, Christians and other minorities have been granted a degree of protection by a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

Anti-Christian violence predated the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East.

Last October 50 people were killed and 80 wounded in a Catholic church in Baghdad when security forces took on insurgent hostage-takers.

“At present,” said Pope Benedict in response to that massacre, “Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Law Approves Marriage With Foreigners

Law sets conditions for such marriages and SR100,000 fine for violators

Saudi Arabia approved a law regulating marriage between its citizens and foreigners after several years of haggling because of widening rifts among law makers on the landmark law, the official media reported on Tuesday.

The law allowed Saudis to have foreign spouses but stipulated that they need prior approval by a new government committee which could take up to three months to decide whether to agree or reject the request.

Under the law, the marriage must be in line with Islamic rules and the couple must be free of any serious diseases, should not be drug addicts and the age gap between them must not exceed 25 years.

After a lengthy debate on Monday, the Shura council, the Gulf Kingdom’s appointed parliament, ratified the law which gave Saudis the right to have spouses from the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

A Saudi man or woman seeking to marry from outside the Kingdom or the GCC must submit an application to a government committee to be created shortly by the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, justice and social affairs. The committee also comprises representatives from the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

“After receiving the application, the committee will present its proposal to the minister of interior to decide on the application three months after it is submitted to the committee,” the official Saudi press agency said.

“Those who violate the new rules on the marriage of Saudis to non-Saudis or non-GCC citizens will be fined a maximum SR100,000 ($26,500) to be deposited with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and credited to the ministry of social affairs, which will allocate the funds to help Saudi men seeking to marry.”

Experts described the law as a policy turnaround in the conservative Moslem nation and reverses recent calls to introduce tougher curbs on mixed marriage.

They said the new law would help reverse an upward trend in the number of spinsters in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

Official data showed Saudi Arabia had around 1.8 million unmarried national women above 30 years old and that their number could exceed four million in the next four years. Officials attributed the problem to the fact that many Saudi men prefer foreign wives despite the existing curbs due to the high wedding expenses and dowries demanded by national spouses.

Another reason is the high divorce rate among Saudis, standing at 18,000 cases in 2010, nearly 30 per cent of the total 60,000 marriages last year.

The new law is a reversal of a recent tendency by Riyadh to introduce harsher laws against mixed marriage

The Kingdom, which controls over 20 per cent of the world’s oil, already enforces controls governing the marriage of Saudis with foreigners.

Before it was ratified by Shura on Monday, the marriage law faced reservations from the country’s human rights groups, which had demanded the cancellation of the proposal to deprive those involved in mixed marriage from government loans because such a move will also affect the relatives of the spouse.

According to a Shura member, around 700,000 Saudi women are married to foreigners but their husbands and children are deprived of most government benefits granted to Saudis. The new law is expected to end this practice.

“The Shura is also considering a draft law to grant Saudi citizenship to foreign husbands of Saudi women if they meet specific terms,” Shura member Sadqa Fadel said, quoted by the Arabic language daily Almadina.

“These include the need to get children, the continuation of marriage for many years and the need for the foreign husband to prove his good intention towards his Saudi wife and to treat her nicely.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Student Goes Into Labour During Exam

RIYADH: A Saudi pregnant school girl went into labour during examinations, prompting the teacher to stop her and phone her husband, a newspaper in the Gulf Kingdom reported on Thursday.

The woman at a secondary school in the northern province of Qiryat felt sharp pain and started groaning during the semi annual examinations, Aljazira Arabic language daily said.

“The teacher noticed her and quickly phoned her husband, who rushed to the school and took her to hospital,” it said.

The paper said the woman delivered a baby boy and agreed with her husband to name him Abdullah after Saudi Arabia’s Monarch.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Syria: Blogger: Alawites Have Lost Their Identity

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 23 — Syrian Alawites are no longer sure of their religious or cultural identity. The only thing still holding them together is their support for the ruling Assad clan, which belongs to this religious group. This, in summary, is the damning content of a post left by a Syrian Alawite on the blog of the American professor Joshua Landis’s blog (one of the most authoritative sites for issues regarding Syria). For security reasons, the blogger gives his name as “Khudr”.

“Today, many Alawites support the regime, or rather the Assad clan,” the blogger says. Some Alawites, he continues, “who were once extremely critical of the actions of President Assad, today defend him with daggers drawn”.

The overriding feeling is that Assad has used his power to transform the cultural, religious and tribal identity of the Alawites, the blogger explains. “Today we identify ourselves solely as a minority sect that controls power. For decades, we lived in denial of this”. The blogger claims that very few acknowledge this fact and openly admit this to be the case. The Alawite of today “no longer corresponds to a certain type of ideal, but more than anything means belonging to a certain ethnic group. A person is an Alawite as a result of their birth, without understanding what this really means”.

The one thing holding this branch together, he claims, “is our common sense of profound injustice over persecution suffered in previous centuries”. For a long time, “Alawites were unable to express their traditions freely and were forced, like other minority branches of Islam, to live in the shadows. In a free society, this would never have occurred”. Today, then, many Alawites realise that belonging to this community outside the Assad clan no longer has any meaning. Now that the entire structure is under attack, Khudr continues, “Alawites have turned into fanatical ‘Basharists’“ However, the blogger warns, “Alawites only feel under attack because the regime is falling and not because anyone is threatening them”. Alawites, he ends, “will fight until the end to defend the regime”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Arms Market Proliferating in North Lebanon, Press

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JUNE 27 — With degenerating security conditions in neighbouring Syria, the market for light weapons is proliferating in the Lebanese border region of Wadi Khaled where, according to a reportage by the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, prices for automatic weapons have increased by 40%. Over the past 72 hours in Wadi Khaled — an area well-known for heating fuel and building supplies smuggling from and to Syria — 400 more refugees have arrived from the Syrian province of Homs, which since Friday has been the target of a wide-ranging military operation by the Syrian regime to crack down on demonstrators and dissidents. “The price of a kalashnikov has risen to 1,000 dollars,” wrote the author of the reportage Susan Al Abtah. “I wish I had bought a kalashnikov before,” said one Wadi Khaled inhabitant, who admitted that “no one can foresee what will happen in the near future and we are forced to defend ourselves.” According to witness statements gathered by the daily paper, those buying arms from the North Lebanese market for the last few months are also Syrian pro-regime armed groups, made up for the most part of Alawites and known as “shabbiha”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Daily: 34 Generals Imprisoned for Coup Plans

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 27 — A total of 34 generals and admirals have been remanded into custody in Turkey due to investigations into alleged coup plans against the moderate Islamic government of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The news was reported in Turkish daily Vatan, underlining that there are more generals in prison (28) than there are in service for the General Staff.

The total of 34 officers being held at the military prison in Hasdal, explained the daily, was reached following the arrest of rear admiral Mucahit Sislioglu under accusations in connection with the “Balyoz” (Hammer) plan. The highest ranking official in jail is General Belgin Balanle, the Commander of the Military Academy. Under the Constitution, the Turkish Armed Forces are the protectors of the secular order in Turkey, which has a 99% Muslim population.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Metals, Hydrocarbons Hold Russia’s FT Rank

Eleven Russian companies ranked among the world’s 500 largest companies, according to the Financial Times Global 500 index. Russian companies featured prominently in the metallurgy and the oil and gas sectors of the index, but were absent from other key sectors, including information technology and telecommunications. Russia was 12th on the list of countries where the largest companies are located. It was also among the countries that had the largest growth in the market capitalization of their companies over the past year. Gazprom ranked highest among the Russian companies in 15th place with $190 billion in market capitalization.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russia Resumes Vegetable Imports From Two EU Countries

Russia on Tuesday resumed vegetable imports from the Netherlands and Belgium after imposing an embargo on the 27-nation EU bloc due to Germany’s killer E. coli outbreak at the start of the month. “After an expert assessment, we allowed imports from the Netherlands and Belgium,” Russia’s consumer protection agency chief Gennady Onishchenko was quoted as saying by Russian news agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Governor of Central Bank of Afghanistan Flees to USA

(AGI) Kabul — The governor of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, Abdul Qadir Fitrat, has fled to the US and resigned. He claims that his life was in danger. The background to the unexpected move is a corruption scandal involving leading figures in Afghan politics, which the governor publicly denounced. The former governor said that “The independence of the bank has been undermined by repeated high level political interference.” .

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

Indonesia: “Obedient Wives Club”, Pretext for Legalizing Polygamy in Indonesia

The club, based on the original Malaysian model divides the country. The goal is to teach women total devotion to their husbands, even in the sexual sphere. For activists it is a pretext to justify marriage with several women. Islamic scholar: the relationship is like a car, the husband is the driver and the wife a “submissive and obedient” passenger.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Civil society is divided between those in favour and against, the ruling class has expressed concern, while the fundamentalist Islamic wing strongly supports the initiative. What is certain is that the birth in Indonesia — after Malaysia — of the Obedient Wives Club (OWC), an organization in which women are completely subject to their husbands, even regarding their sexual demands, has not passed unobserved. Critics point out that the foundation of the club is only a “pretext” to legitimize polygamy in the country, opposed by the majority of the population and outlawed by former President Suharto, in power from 1967 to 1998.

On 19 June KlubTaat Suam Global Ikhwan was born, under the leadership of President Gina Puspita. The group has 50 women members already, even though the association claims about 300 have joined. The purpose is to teach Indonesian women how to be “good wives” in the eyes of the family and husband and at the same time reinforce the principles of the Islamic faith in wives.

For Mrs. Puspita, head of the club, the real aim is to inculcate in women the desire to “accept” polygamy, if the case is decided by the husband. And to do that, the president uses the example of the car: the husband is the driver and the woman should assume the attitude of “good” a passenger, in short faithful, submissive and obedient.

The attempt to introduce Islamic law through the principle of polygamy in Indonesia — opposed by civil society and prohibited by law — is denounced by women’s rights activists. They remember how the OWC is the fruit of the same “source” that in 2009, gave birth to the controversial Polygamy Club, which was founded by conservative and fundamentalist Islamic group with ties to Global Ikhwan in other countries including Thailand and Singapore.

The powerful Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has supported the establishment of the clubs and states that it is not contrary to the dictates of Sharia, or Islamic law. Gusrizal Gazahar, deputy head of the MUI of Padang in West Sumatra province, said that “it is the duty of every Muslim woman to obey her husband in everything.”

Among the earliest critics of the association is Linda Agumar Gumelar, Indonesian Minister for the Empowerment of women, according to whom it represents “a backwards step” for society and the journey towards equality between the two sexes. The Indonesian National Commission for Women — better known as Komnas Perempuan — also points the finger at the mayor of Bogor Diani Budiarto (also the protagonist of the episode where he opposed the construction of the Catholic Church in Yasmin), in accordance with the principle of polygamy has recently married his fourth wife, a girl of only 18.

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

NATO Says Helicopters Kill Three Attackers on Kabul Hotel Roof

KABUL, June 29 (Reuters) — Two helicopters from the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan fired on and killed three insurgents on the rooftop of a hotel in Kabul after Taliban fighters, including suicide bombers, launched an attack, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Two International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) helicopters have just engaged three individuals on the roof,” coalition spokesman Major Tim James told Reuters. “The indications are that the three individuals on the roof have been killed.”

Afghan officials said at least five suicide bombers attacked Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, one of two major hotels frequented by Westerners in Kabul, late on Tuesday night. (Reporting by Paul Tait; editing by Alistair Scrutton)

[Return to headlines]

Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb

‘We May Be Naive, But We Are Not Idiots’

He built Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and is accused of having sold his knowledge to Libya and Iran. Since 2004, Abdul Qadeer Khan has been under a state of house arrest. In an e-mail interview, he now explains why he accepted sole blame for the accusations at the time and points a finger at the Pakistani army.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Suicide Bombers and Gunmen Attack Kabul Hotel

Four suicide bombers and four gunmen attacked a Western-style hotel in Kabul late on Tuesday night and police who went to the scene fought the assailants with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said. Some Afghan provincial governors were staying at the hotel.

Samoonyar Mohammad Zaman, a security officer for the Ministry of Interior, said officials believe there are still four gunmen in the Inter-Continental hotel, which sits on a hill overlooking the capital.

“They may be on the roof. We’re seeing gunfire going back and forth. Some of that is Afghan police firing from hilltops onto the roof,” he said. “I saw the bodies of two suicide bombers at the main entrance of the hotel.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to the Associated Press.

Zaman said some Afghan provincial governors were staying at the hotel and some of them had left. But some members of their entourages might still be inside.

“There have been some people who have escaped, but most of the guests are still inside,” he said.

Zaman said there were 60 to 70 guests at the hotel, which is frequented by Afghan political leaders and foreign visitors. He said the insurgents were armed with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. The were using grenade launchers, he said.

Afghan national security forces were moving inside the blacked out hotel slowly as to not frighten or hurt any guests, he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said all the suicide bombers either blew themselves up or were killed while two gunmen continued to fire from the roof.

“There are foreign and Afghan guests staying at the hotel,” Sediqqi said. “We have reports that they are safe in their rooms, but still there is shooting.”

Associated Press reporters at the scene said the two sides fought with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They saw tracer rounds go up over the darkened hotel and saw shooting from the roof of the five-story building in the rare, nighttime attack in the Afghan capital.

Police ordered bystanders to lie on the ground for safety.

There was no immediate word from Afghan officials on casualties among the guests or workers inside the hotel.

Mujahid later issued a statement claiming that Taliban attackers killed guards at a gate and entered the hotel.

“One of our fighters called on a mobile phone and said: ‘We have gotten onto all the hotel floors and the attack is going according to the plan. We have killed and wounded 50 foreign and local enemies. We are in the corridors of the hotel now taking guests out of their rooms — mostly foreigners. We broke down the doors and took them out one by one.’“

The Taliban often exaggerate casualties from their attacks. The statement did not disclose the number of attackers, but only said one suicide bomber had died.

A few hours into the clashes, an Afghan National Army commando unit arrived at the hotel.

The US-led military coalition said the Afghan Ministry of Interior had not requested any assistance from foreign forces.

A guest who was inside said he heard gunfire echoing throughout the heavily guarded building. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking the city and streets leading up to it were blocked. The scene was dark as electricity at the hotel and the surrounding area was out.

Azizullah, an Afghan police officer who uses only one name, told an Associated Press reporter at the scene that at least one bomber entered the hotel and detonated a vest of explosives. Another police officer, who would not disclose his name, said there were at least two suicide bombers.

Jawid, a guest at the hotel, said he jumped out a one-storey window to flee the shooting.

“I was running with my family,” he said. “There was shooting. The restaurant was full with guests.”

Earlier on Tuesday, officials from the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan met in the capital to discuss prospects for making peace with Taliban insurgents to end the nearly decade-long war.

“The fact that we are discussing reconciliation in great detail is success and progress, but challenges remain and we are reminded of that on an almost daily basis by violence,” Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister, said at a news conference. “The important thing is that we act and that we act urgently and try to do what we can to put an end to violence.”

The attack occurred nearly a week after President Barack Obama announced he was withdrawing 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan and would end the American combat role by the end of 2014.

It took place the day before a conference was scheduled in Kabul to discuss plans for Afghan security forces to take the lead for securing an increasing number of areas of the country between now and 2014 when international forces are expected to move out of combat roles. Afghans across the country were in the city to attend, although it’s not known if any where staying at the Inter-Continental.

[Return to headlines]

Two More Explosions Rock Kabul Hotel

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Back-to-back explosions have rocked a Western-style hotel where Afghan police are battling insurgents who attacked with suicide bombers, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Associated Press reporters at the scene said the two blasts — about a minute apart — occurred around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Three helicopters flew over the roof of the Inter-Continental hotel where some attackers have taken up positions. At least one rocket was fired from the helicopters.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says four suicide bombers either blew themselves up or were killed in the attack.

A U.S. official in Washington said initial reports are that there were no Americans at the hotel.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Four suicide bombers and four gunmen attacked a Western-style hotel in Kabul late Tuesday night and police who rushed to the scene fought the assailants with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Afghan officials said. Some Afghan provincial governors were staying at the hotel.

Samoonyar Mohammad Zaman, a security officer for the Ministry of Interior, said officials believe there are still four gunmen in the Inter-Continental hotel, which sits on a hill overlooking the capital.

“They may be on the roof. We’re seeing gunfire going back and forth. Some of that is Afghan police firing from hilltops onto the roof,” he said. “I saw the bodies of two suicide bombers at the main entrance of the hotel.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press.

Zaman said some Afghan provincial governors were staying at the hotel and some of them had left. But some members of their entourages might still be inside.

“There have been some people who have escaped, but most of the guests are still inside,” he said.

Zaman said there were 60 to 70 guests at the hotel, which is frequented by Afghan political leaders and foreign visitors. He said the insurgents were armed with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. The were using grenade launchers, he said.

Afghan national security forces were moving inside the blacked out hotel slowly as to not frighten or hurt any guests, he said.


Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said all the suicide bombers either blew themselves up or were killed while two gunmen continued to fire from the roof.

“There are foreign and Afghan guests staying at the hotel,” Sediqqi said. “We have reports that they are safe in their rooms, but still there is shooting.”

Associated Press reporters at the scene said the two sides fought with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. They saw tracer rounds go up over the darkened hotel and saw shooting from the roof of the five-story building in the rare, nighttime attack in the Afghan capital.

Police ordered bystanders to lie on the ground for safety.

There was no immediate word from Afghan officials on casualties among the guests or workers inside the hotel.

Mujahid later issued a statement claiming that Taliban attackers killed guards at a gate and entered the hotel.

“One of our fighters called on a mobile phone and said: ‘We have gotten onto all the hotel floors and the attack is going according to the plan. We have killed and wounded 50 foreign and local enemies. We are in the corridors of the hotel now taking guests out of their rooms — mostly foreigners. We broke down the doors and took them out one by one.’“

The Taliban often exaggerate casualties from their attacks. The statement did not disclose the number of attackers, but only said one suicide bomber had died.

A few hours into the clashes, an Afghan National Army commando unit arrived at the scene.

The U.S.-led military coalition said the Afghan Ministry of Interior had not requested any assistance from foreign forces.

[Return to headlines]

United Nations Praises Terrorist-Sponsoring Iran

Iran hosts “World Without Terrorism Conference” conference and invites Sudanese international criminal.

Has the United Nations no shame? Apparently not, as it continues to legitimize some of the world’s worst tyrants and human rights abusers.

The most recent example is the UN leadership’s endorsement of the so-called “World Without Terrorism Conference” hosted by the Iranian regime in Tehran on June 25-26, 2011. The “distinguished” roster of attendees included the indicted international criminal Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, the corrupter-in-chief Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and the hear-no-Bin Laden, see-no-Bin Laden Pakistani president Asif ‘Ali Zardari.

The conference website set the tone with an anti-Semitic cartoon depicting a hooked nose Israeli soldier looking like the devil with horns and another cartoon displaying the Statue of Liberty holding a stick of dynamite in her hand.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Firebomb, Shooting Fuels Gang War Fears

COOLAROO residents who witnessed drive-by attacks on a Guildford Avenue house last week fear a gangland war could erupt in their area.

The house was firebombed last Tuesday and sprayed with gunfire the next morning, hours after another shooting at a house in nearby Jacana.

No one was injured in the attacks.

Broadmeadows Detective Superintendent Kevin Sheridan told the Weekly police were investigating if the incidents were linked.

The Santiago Taskforce, which has investigated the fatal shooting wars between drug families in Melbourne’s north and west, has taken over the investigation.

Superintendent Sheridan said the taskforce would determine if the attacks were related to Lebanese crime circles.

“There’s no evidence to suggest that it’s gangland-related yet, it’s too early in the investigation,” he said.

He conceded the consecutive attacks on a single house was “unusual”.

A witness to the Tuesday morning shooting on the Guildford Avenue address, who asked not to be named, said he saw a small truck smash in the front of the house and heard swearing before shots were fired.

“It’s a rough neighbourhood, and this house has been targeted a few times,” the witness said.

“It’s like a war, the whole neighbourhood is sick of it.”

Superintendent Sheridan tried to abate any fears, saying the gunman had targeted the Coolaroo house, rather than it being a random attack.

A heightened police presence and security would be in place at night.

The head of the Coolaroo household, Abdul Tiba, told reporters he was not scared by the latest attack, but feared for his family and residents of the neighbourhood.

“I’m worried for my family and neighbours. I feel really sorry for my neighbours,” he said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said arson and explosives squad detectives had not yet determined what type of bomb had been thrown through the window of the family home. The investigation is ongoing.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Brazil to Grant Permanent Visa to Battisti

Italy appealing refusal to extradite left-wing terrorist

(ANSA) — Brasilia, 23 June — Local authorities in Brasil have moved to issue a permanent residence visa to former Italian left-wing terrorist Cesare Battisti. The visa, which is pending approval by the justice minister, will afford the four-time convicted murderer the same rights as Brazilian citizens, minus the right to vote or to run for office. Thursday’s decision to grant the visa came just two weeks after Brazil’s supreme court ruling to release Battisti from custody, prompting Italy to recall its ambassador to Brazil.

On his last day in office, outgoing Brazilian president Inacio Lula Da Silva declined Italy’s request to extradite Battisti last December.

Italy is appealing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the refusal to extradite him. Battisti’s release had already brought relations between the two countries to a new low with officials and victims’ relatives voicing anger.

In January, the relatives of Battisti’s victims staged street protests outside the Brazilian embassy in Rome and consulates and offices elsewhere in Italy, while members from Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s key government ally the Northern League called for a boycott of Brazilian goods.

Battisti was arrested in Brazil in April 2007, some five years after he had fled to that country to avoid extradition to Italy from France following the end of the Mitterrand doctrine which gave sanctuary to fugitive leftist guerrillas.

He had lived in France for 15 years and become a successful writer of crime novels.

In January 2009 the Brazilian justice ministry granted Battisti political asylum on the grounds that he would face “political persecution” in Italy.

The ruling outraged the Italian government who demanded that it be taken to the Brazilian supreme court, which in November 2009 reversed the earlier decision and turned down Battisti’s request for asylum.

However, the court added that the Brazilian constitution gave the president personal powers to deny the extradition if he chose to.

Battisti’s legal counsel have stated that their client would continue to live in Brazil.

“He has a lot of friends here. He’ll probably work as a writer”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Asian-Born Australians May Soon Outnumber Whites, Says Government Study

The number of Asians in Australia has almost doubled in a decade, from 1.03 million in mid-2000 to 2.1 million in the middle of last year, according to government statistics.

Pramod Kumar is part of a wave of immigration that has changed the face of Australia over the past decade. Mr. Kumar is from Hyderabad in India’s northwest. He recently graduated from a private college in Melbourne after arriving in Australia’s second-largest city in 2008. He is in the process of applying for residency and has been given an 18-month bridging visa while his application works its way through the system.

“Close to 1 in 10 people in Australia are born in Asia,” says Bob Birrell, a director at Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research. “There is nothing like that in other countries including the US or Canada, which are considered highly multicultural. It is a massive shift and it has happened over a very short time span.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Row Over Foreign Criminals Goes Into New Round

Experts have presented proposals to implement a rightwing initiative approved in nationwide vote last November to automatically expel foreign criminals from Switzerland. The report, published on Tuesday, serves as blueprint for the government’s bill to parliament, but the rightwing Swiss People’s Party is adamant that only its proposal is true to the intentions of the initiative. Of the four proposals drafted by the seven-member group of experts, only three won a majority, while the hardline proposal was backed merely by the two People’s Party representatives on the committee.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Joke of ‘Secure Britain’: Vile Banned Militant Extremist Strolls Through Heathrow Immigration as 200 Somalian Criminals Are Allowed to Stay Due to Human Rights

Britain’s powerlessness to control who has the right to be in this country was glaringly exposed last night by two extraordinary cases.

In the first, an anti-Semitic preacher of hate whom the Home Secretary had banned from entering Britain was able to stroll in through Heathrow.

Last night, Raed Salah was giving a lecture organised by Islamist radicals to a large crowd in Leicester, and today he was due to speak at Westminster at the invitation of Left-wing Labour MPs.

In the second, a bombshell ruling by European judges blocked the deportation of some 200 Somali criminals back to their homeland.

The Strasbourg court said the men, including drug dealers and serial burglars, might be persecuted in war-torn Somalia, and that they must be allowed to stay to protect their human rights.

So, irrespective of how heinous their crimes or the danger they present to the public, Britain has no power to expel them.

The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights stemmed from appeals against deportation by two asylum seekers convicted of a string of serious offences including burglary, making threats to kill and drug dealing.

But it will now also apply to 214 other similar cases which have been lodged with the court using Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 3, which protects against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, is an ‘absolute’ right, meaning that it applies regardless of the offences committed.

The two men, who were both granted thousands in legal aid to fight their cases, will now be released from immigration detention centres and will be free to walk the streets.

They were jointly awarded more than £20,000 for costs and expenses.

Critics accused the Government of rolling over to the demands of the court, and branded the Human Rights Act a ‘criminals’ charter’.

Backbench Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The pathetic truth is that we do not have control over our borders, and these cases quite clearly show that we do not control not only who comes in to the country but who we choose to remove.

‘My constituents do not want any more mealy-mouthed promises about getting a grip on this — they want to know what the Government is actually going to do.

‘Successive governments have given all the promises on immigration you would expect of a second-hand car salesman. Ministers now need to start actually delivering on real promises and real control over our borders.’

UK Independence Party MEP Gerard Batten said: ‘It is the absolute duty of the British Government to protect the lives and property of British citizens.

‘If foreign nationals prey on people here they should be sent home to where they came from — no ifs, no buts.’

He added: ‘For the European Court of Human Rights to give Britain orders is bad enough; knowing that the Government will roll over to their demands is worse.

‘This decision confirms that the Human Rights Act is a criminals’ charter.’

The case involves two Somalis whom ministers intended to return to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, because of their serial offending.

Abdisamad Adow Sufi, 24, entered the country illegally in 2003 using a fake passport. He claimed asylum on the grounds that he belonged to a minority clan persecuted by the Somali militia.

His claim was rejected by officials and an appeal tribunal said his account was ‘not credible’.

Since then he has amassed a string of convictions for offences including burglary, fraud, making threats to kill, indecent exposure and theft.

The second Somali, drug addict Abdiaziz Ibrahim Elmi, 42, was granted asylum in 1988. Since then he has committed crimes including handling stolen goods, fraud, robbery, carrying a replica gun, perverting the course of justice, theft and dealing heroin and cocaine.

Attempts to deport him began in 2006 and his appeal was rejected by an immigration judge. A deportation order was stayed in 2007 pending the outcome of his Strasbourg case, and since then he has been convicted of possessing Class A drugs and charged with drug dealing.

The panel of seven judges ruled that because the level of violence in Mogadishu was so high there was a real risk of the men coming to harm.

In a unanimous judgment, the court also rejected the argument the men could leave the capital and return to safer parts of the country.

The judges said Sufi could not join his relatives because they lived in an area controlled by a strict Islamic group. If returned, he could face punishment according to their code — also a breach of his rights.

He would also be particularly vulnerable if forced to live in a refugee camp because of his ‘psychiatric illness’, the court said.

Elmi claimed he would be at risk of persecution if he moved to an area controlled by the same group, because he wore an earring, which might lead to them thinking he was gay.

If they found out he was a drug addict and thief he could face amputation, public flogging or execution, he said.

The court ruled he had no experience of living in a strict Islamic area because he has been in this country for so long and would therefore be at risk of harm.

The ruling said: ‘The court reiterated that the prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was absolute, irrespective of the victims’ conduct.

‘Consequently, the applicants’ behaviour, however undesirable or dangerous, could not be taken into account.’

The case will seriously hamper further attempts by ministers to deport foreign criminals, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants back to Somalia. Last year just 35 were kicked out.

Around two thirds of the 214 other cases are thought to involve criminals. Others are failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are very disappointed with the European Court’s decision and are considering our legal position.

‘This judgment does not stop us continuing to pursue the removal of foreign criminals who commit a serious crime, nor does it find that all Somalis are in need of international protection.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

White House Revives Push for Dream Act

Administration officials are beginning to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to pass controversial immigration-reform measures, but critics fear the changes are already being made without lawmakers’ consent.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters on Monday the nation “desperately” needs to enact the Dream Act, which would prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants who are studying at American colleges and universities or have served at least two years in the military.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Feds Find Fix Was in on ‘Study’ Of Homosexuality in Ranks

Inspector General says executive summary written before troops surveyed

A previously undisclosed report by the inspector general of the Department of Defense concludes that the fix — maybe even handed down by the White House — was in before the military ever started asking soldiers and sailors about how opening the ranks to homosexuals would affect the nation’s defense.

The 33-page report is marked “For Official Use Only” and describes an “Investigation of improper disclosure of For Official Use Only information from the Comprehensive Review Working Group draft report.”

However, the inspector general documents how the co-chair of the commission working on the assessment, Jeh Johnson, “read portions of ‘an early draft’ of the executive summary … to a former news anchor, a close personal friend visiting Mr. Johnson’s home” three days before service members even were given the survey.

A source provided the IG report, which aimed to determine who prematurely released information about the study, to Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness. Donnelly analyzed the documentation and warned that it suggests Congress was deceived, probably deliberately, by those with a pro-repeal agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hillary, State Dept. ‘Instrumental in Sealing Deal’ For Lady Gaga’s Gay Pride Gig in Rome

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that the State Department played an instrumental role in “sealing the deal” for pop-rock star Lady Gaga to perform at a gay pride rally in Rome, Italy. Clinton specifically pointed to a letter that David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, sent to Lady Gaga urging her to participate in the event. “And then there is the work that our embassy team in Rome has been doing,” Clinton said. “Two weeks ago they played an instrumental role in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a Euro Pride concert. “Now as many of you know Lady Gaga is Italian American and a strong supporter of LGBT rights,” said Clinton. “And the organizers of the Euro Pride event desperately wanted her to perform and a letter to her from Ambassador Thorne was instrumental in sealing the deal.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Asteroid Protoplanet May Hold Clues to Earth Formation

Never have old leftovers made so many scientists salivate. After a four year journey, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned the first close-up views of the giant asteroid Vesta, a relic of planet-building that could hold clues to how Earth formed. At 530 kilometres across, Vesta is one of the biggest denizens of the asteroid belt, the junkyard of leftover planetary building blocks found between Mars and Jupiter. For most of Dawn’s journey, Vesta appeared as no more than a star-like speck in the sky. But Dawn is now close enough to return the best views of Vesta yet, surpassing the detail available in Hubble Space Telescope portraits. Last week, NASA showed off the images to the media and described what Dawn will do to investigate Vesta while in orbit.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Irradiating Organic Food Would Save Lives

The organic industry can be proud of its achievements in putting animal welfare, environmental protection, traceability and food quality at the heart of the farming and food agenda.

However, in recent years I have become increasingly concerned by the willingness of the organic industry to market its products as both a healthier and safer alternative to conventional food production. They are not. In fact, by shunning science, organic producers could be increasing consumers’ risk of contracting Escherichia coli and other food-borne diseases.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Space Junk Forces Astronauts to Take Shelter in Russian Spaceships

A piece of space junk zoomed uncomfortably close by the International Space Station today (June 28), so close that the outpost’s six-man crew had to take shelter in Russian space capsules in case of a collision. The space debris made its closest approach to the space station at 8:08 a.m. EDT (1208 GMT), coming within 850 feet (260 meters) of the space station, where it posed a slim chance of hitting the station. However, the debris passed by the station without incident and the spaceflyers were able to re-enter the station after about a half hour. “Mission Control, right after the time of closet approach, gave the crew an all-clear and told them they could back out,” NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries told from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]