Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110704

Financial Crisis
»Debt Renewal May Trigger Default: Rating Agency Issues Greek Rescue Plan Warning
»Germany’s Top Court to Examine Greece Bailout
»Greece Faces ‘Massive’ Loss of Sovereignty
»Greece: Race Against the Clock for the Government
»Regulator Says 10% of European Insurers Fail Stress Test
»S&P Fires Warning Over Greek Debt, Despite Weekend Deal
»Spiegel Interview With Finance Minister Schäuble: ‘We Can’t Allow a Second Lehman Brothers’
»Swiss-Based Greeks Alarmed by Financial Crisis
»The National Inflation Association
»Lonely Star State: Texan Germans Dwindling
»Maid Cleaning Up as ‘Hooker’
Europe and the EU
»British Muslim MEP and Family Under Round the Clock Police Protection
»German Politicians Consider Banning Facebook Parties
»Italy: Anti-TAV Train Protests See 188 Police Officers Injured
»Italy: Eternit: Judge Asks for 20 Years in Prison
»Italy: Rail Protesters Face ‘Heavy’ Charges
»Italy: House Passes Naples Trash Measure
»Otto Von Habsburg, Heir to Austria’s Last Emperor, Dies at 98
»Shifting Perceptions of Greece in EU
»Spain: Barcelona: First Non-Socialist Mayor After 32 Years
»Stauss-Kahn is ‘Still to be Reckoned With in France’
»Strauss-Kahn to Sue Journalist for Slander
»Westerwelle Calls for Closer Turkey Ties to EU
»Will Glaring Errors Lead to Strauss-Kahn’s Political Rehabilitation?
»Belligerent Mladic Removed From UN Hearing
»Serbia and Kosovo Sign First Post-Independence Agreement
North Africa
»Egypt: Sinai: Explosion Hits Gas Pipeline Built Thanks to Egypt-Israel Accords
»Muslim Brotherhood Spokesman: We Are Willing to Dialogue With US
»Tunisia: Internet and Censorship, Battle Continues for Blogger
»Tunisia: Leftist Parties Report Salafite Attacks
»Two Christian Girls Disappear From State Care Home in Egypt
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza Flotilla Boats Preparing to Confront Greek Coastguard
»Gaza Border Opening Offers Fewer Opportunities Than Hoped
»Greece Offers to Ship Gaza Aid Supplies as Activists Raise a Stink
»PNA Slashes Wages, Promised Funds Delayed
Middle East
»Emirates: Facebook Threats Rise, Women More Vulnerable
»Europe’s Largest Healthcare Complex to be Built in Ankara
»Germany Wants to Supply Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia
»Indian Church in Abu Dhabi: Care of Young and Sick, But Only in India
»Jordanian Official: America’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan Will Turn it Into One Big Terrorist Camp
»Meteorite Hunter: My Two Months in an Omani Jail
»President of American-Iranian Council: US Offered Iran a Non-Aggression Pact
»Saudi Arabia: We Will Seek Nuclear Arms if Iran Gets Them
»Saudi Prince Raises Prospect of Nuclear Arms Race With Iran
»Saber-Rattling as Russia Meets NATO in Sochi
»Trial of Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Turns Into Political Spectacle
South Asia
»‘Billions Worth’ of Treasure Found in Indian Temple
»Pakistan Mounts Search for Swiss Hostages
»Yingluck’s Challenge: Thailand’s New Leader Must Step Out of Brother’s Shadow
Far East
»China Wants to Buy Facebook
Australia — Pacific
»Police Given Power to Remove Burkas
Sub-Saharan Africa
»A Trip to Hell
»Netherlands: Plan to Deport Jobless Poles is Dangerous, Say Polish Ministers
»Finger Length Linked to Penis Size
»Rupert Murdoch’s Failing Attempts to Control the Internet Reformation

Financial Crisis

Debt Renewal May Trigger Default: Rating Agency Issues Greek Rescue Plan Warning

Rating agency Standard & Poor’s has cast fresh doubt on Greece’s hopes for an economic rescue by warning that a French bank plan to renew maturing Greek bonds could be classified as a default. The agency has also questioned the country’s ability to implement its new austerity program. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s warned on Monday that a proposal by French banks to roll over Greece’s debt could be classified as a default, casting fresh doubts on plans to secure a bailout for the crisis-hit nation. “It is our view that each of the two financing options described in the (French banks’) proposal would likely amount to a default under our criteria,” S&P said in a statement. The rating agency is referring to the so-called Paris model under which banks, insurers and hedge funds would renew maturing Greek debt on different terms. German banks have agreed in principle to join the scheme.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany’s Top Court to Examine Greece Bailout

While the EU’s struggles to deal with debt-ridden Greece have been played out in Brussels and in Athens, a new front will open on Tuesday when Germany’s top judges consider whether last year’s €110bn EU-IMF bailout was legal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Faces ‘Massive’ Loss of Sovereignty

Eurozone finance ministers over the weekend staved off looming bankruptcy in Greece by agreeing to release the next tranche of aid to the country, but Athens will pay with a massive loss of its sovereignty, the eurozone chief has said. In return for the €12 billion — the fifth payment from the €110 billion EU-IMF loan agreed last year — Greece will have to push through a swathe of privatisations reminiscent of the selling of East German firms in the 1990s after the fall of Communism. “The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited,” Jean-Claude Juncker told Germany’s Focus Magazin in an interview published on Sunday (3 July), just hours after the eurozone ministers reached agreement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Race Against the Clock for the Government

By the end of July the Greek Finance Ministry will have had to begin implementing the new austerity measures laid out in the Medium-Term Plan passed by the Socialist government in cooperation with the country’s creditors. Furthermore, it will have to race against the clock because by the end of 2011 it will have to have raked in 6.8 billion euros to fill the “black hole” in tax revenue. Apparently all this will be dealt with by the EU Commissioners who are expected to arrive in Athens shortly, as announced by Eurogroup President Jean Claude Junker. The agreement between the EU and the Greek government also provides for the setup of an Inter-ministerial Commission which will monitor the institutional reforms launched. There will also be working groups, which will be run by a Greek technocrat with the help of an advisor chosen by Brussels; they will have to report back to the Commission every 3 months on the progress of the reforms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Regulator Says 10% of European Insurers Fail Stress Test

About 10 per cent of European insurance companies tested do not have enough capital to withstand exceptional economic shocks, results published by the sector regulator showed on Monday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

S&P Fires Warning Over Greek Debt, Despite Weekend Deal

Rating agency S&P fired a warning shot over Greek debt on Monday, upsetting relief at a weekend deal by saying that proposals for a payment holiday under a new rescue could trigger partial default. S&P, which has already lowered the long-term rating on Greek public debt to “CCC” from “B”, warned that a proposal floated by the French Bank Federation risked putting Greece into a selective default. “It is our view that each of the two financing options described in the FBF proposal would likely amount to a default under our criteria,” a statement said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spiegel Interview With Finance Minister Schäuble: ‘We Can’t Allow a Second Lehman Brothers’

Last week, Greece passed strict austerity measures and is out of immediate danger of insolvency. For now. SPIEGEL spoke with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble about what happens next, whether a Greek default is inevitable and how dangerous the debt crisis is for democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss-Based Greeks Alarmed by Financial Crisis

It’s not an easy time to be Greek and the Greek diaspora, including some 9,000 people living in Switzerland, can only watch the economic and social turmoil in dismay.

In the week that the Greek parliament voted in more austerity measures to meet the terms of the EU-IMF bailout and street protests turned violent, the anger and frustration of the Greek public finds an echo in Swiss homes.

With the stakes so high, Greeks have become armchair economists and political commentators. The ties, according to Achilles Paparsenos of Greece’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, are very strong and Greek expats are following events very closely.

“The Greeks love to discuss, democracy was born in Greece and the Greeks love dialogue and feel very passionate about their country of origin. A lot of them travel to Greece regularly and there is a genuine affection and interest about Greece,” Paparsenos told

Share the blame

One of the Greek expats best qualified to talk about the situation in Greece is chief economist at Zurich Cantonal Bank Anastassios Frangulidis. It is not as simple as laying the blame on the government, he told

“All of society has to take part of the responsibility. In the last 30 years there has not been only one government or party in power. In a democratic system every population gets the government they deserve,” said Frangulidis.

Today’s problems are the result of a sustained period of Greeks living beyond their means. “This led to a huge current account deficit which was financed for years by foreigners at a very low interest rate — until the economic crisis hit in 2008/9,” the economist added.

By passing the painful austerity package, albeit with a slim majority, the Greek government has bought some time. “We know Greece will survive the next months and won’t have default this summer but the problems remain. Based on the EU-IMF agreement, the Greeks have a lot of homework to do,” Frangulidis said.

Despite his professional distance and 20 years living abroad, Frangulidis is pained by the plight of his country and he finds the anger of the demonstrators “understandable” . “For me the Greek crisis is not only a matter of figures and information. I know the people there and I see their problems,” he said.

Close ties

Theocharis Nastos of the Greek Epirotes Association of Switzerland has lived in Zurich since 1972 but he still watches the Greek evening news on television. Seeing members of his family in financial difficulty, he does blame the government for the current economic mess.

“I have built a house in Greece and I’m closely connected to my home region, as well as to Greeks here in Zurich. The financial crisis is a big subject. My brother had a clothing shop that went out of business.”

There are 120 members in Nastos’ expat club, all from the coastal Epirus region. Children learn the Greek language and traditional dance through the club. There are parties for cultural and religious events.

The Greek community in Switzerland is very active and well-organised, with around 40 such clubs and associations, according to an official at the Greek embassy in Bern. By far the largest group of immigrants lives in Zurich, followed by Geneva and Lausanne.

“A significant group of Greek immigrants arrived in Switzerland in the 1960s and there are now many successful Greeks, some of them third generation, in highly-ranked positions in Swiss society,” said the embassy worker who asked not to be named.

“We have many lawyers, doctors and scientists; there are 17 Greek scientists working at Cern alone,” she told “There are also Swiss politicians of Greek origin, such as Josef Zisyadis, as well as people involved at a high level in business and finance”…

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

The National Inflation Association

The National Inflation Association is an organization that is dedicated to preparing Americans for hyperinflation and helping Americans not only survive, but prosper in the upcoming hyperinflationary crisis. The United States now has over $76 trillion in total debt obligations. Our budget deficit in February of 2011 alone was a record $222.5 billion, more than the entire year of 2007. Although our 2010 cash budget deficit was $1.3 trillion, once you factor in changes in our unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, our real budget deficit for the year actually surpassed $5 trillion. NIA believes that not only will it be impossible for the U.S. to ever pay off its national debt, but it will be impossible for the U.S. to ever balance its budget again. Even by the White House’s own projections, the U.S. budget deficit in 2011 will be 43% of total government expenditures. This level of deficit as a percentage of total expenditures is about equal to what most countries have experienced right before reaching an outbreak of hyperinflation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Lonely Star State: Texan Germans Dwindling

Countless German immigrants moved to Texas in the 1800s, forming their own unique culture. With their language now near extinction, Moises Mendoza spoke to some of the last speakers and a professor trying to preserve it. Rodney Koenig can look back upon a career as a high-powered attorney in Houston, but he often prefers to think about his childhood in rural Fayette County in southeastern Texas. Back then, the 70-year-old remembers, everyone spoke German.

“It was our primary language at home,” he recently told The Local from his office where he handles tax and estate planning. “The neighbours all spoke it, the church services were in German.” Today, like many other former havens for German Texans, his home county is now full of native English speakers. And Koenig is one of the last-remaining native speakers of the unique German dialect native to Texas. As the ranks of the roughly 10,000 speakers of the language dwindle, a piece of Texas history, and its rich German heritage, goes with them. Koenig, who is now one of the dialect’s youngest speakers, knows it. “There just aren’t that many of us left,” he said. “It’s sad for some people, but it’s reality.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Maid Cleaning Up as ‘Hooker’

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser wasn’t just a girl working at a hotel — she was a working girl. The Sofitel housekeeper who claims the former IMF boss sexually assaulted her in his room was doing double duty as a prostitute, collecting cash on the side from male guests, The Post has learned.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

British Muslim MEP and Family Under Round the Clock Police Protection

LONDON, July 4 (APP): The British Muslim member of the European Parliament Sajjad Karim and his family have been placed under 24 hour police protection following a protest by the right wing English Defence League at his constituency residence in north west England. According to the MEP of Pakistani heritage, around 50 EDL extremists turned up unannounced at his UK address on Saturday at just after midday, bearing anti-Islamic placards intent on violence.

“It was only through the presence of Lancashire Constabulary officers that harm was avoided,” he told media via a digital message.

He went on to say that the extremists then carried on to his original hometown of Brier field, Lancashire, where they carried out violent attacks and four arrests were made

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

German Politicians Consider Banning Facebook Parties

Hoards of uninvited guests, extreme noise, destruction and violence: German politicians are at a loss for how to deal with the phenomenon of Facebook parties. Over the weekend some regional politicians urged a ban. But the demand is unlikely to be met.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Anti-TAV Train Protests See 188 Police Officers Injured

(AGI) Rome- Some 6,000 protesters, of whom 3,000 belonged to the no-TAV movement, took part in today’s rallies. The anti TAV [high velocity rain] protest began in Exilles and ended in Chiomonte. The remaining 3,000 protesters who reached Maddalena hailed from Giaglione and Ramat. The number of injured people among the police, according to Turin’s authorities, reached 188 after the clashes, but will certainly continue to rise.

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

Italy: Eternit: Judge Asks for 20 Years in Prison

(AGI) Turin — Judge Raffaele Guariniello has asked a 12 year sentence for culpable catastrophe with an additional eight years added on for continuing criminal activities for the Swiss millionaire Stephan Schmidhaeny and the Belgian Baron Louis De Cartier De Marchienne in the Eternit case. The judge asked for three further punishments; banned from public employment, and from undersigning contracts with the public administratio for three years as well as being on the board of driectors of companies for 10 years.

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

Italy: Rail Protesters Face ‘Heavy’ Charges

Minister calls incident ‘attempted murder’

(ANSA) — Milan, July 4 — After violent weekend protests at a high-speed rail site in Northern Italy left 200 police injured, the Italian interior minister urged prosecutors to press “heavy” charges Monday.

“I consider it attempted murder,” said Interior Minister Roberto Maroni of the actions of some protesters Sunday trying to block construction of a high-speed rail (TAV) tunnel connecting Turin to Lyon.

They were “a group of thugs looking for victims,” he added, referring to protesters who threw Molotov cocktails at police outside the building site in the Alpine town of Chiomonte.

Police have made four arrests and are looking for another suspect.

The grass-roots protest group called “No TAV” said that 50,000 demonstrators came from all over Europe Sunday, whereas police counted only 6,000, at least six of whom required an ambulance and 15 more received first aid.

Opponents to the project say the tunnel will create pollution and mar the area’s natural beauty, arguing that the money would be better spent on improving public transport locally.

Supporters of the project, including most Italian political parties and the European Commission, say the link will actually reduce pollution by minimizing road-based freight traffic.

Construction resumed Monday after demonstrators had used rocks, tree branches and incendiary devices to confront police and disrupt the project in separate instances over a week-long period.

Last week a clash left 28 police officers injured, including five who were hospitalized, after a riot squad broke up a human blockade.

Despite the public backlash, administrators of the project say construction of the 53-km tunnel will continue as planned.

“The state can’t buckle in the face of these protests,” said Transport Minister Altero Matteoli. “Work will go ahead”.

The movement against the tunnel has seen other episodes of violence in the past but opposition has grown more hostile recently.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: House Passes Naples Trash Measure

Northern League opposed

(ANSA) — Rome, June 30 — The House passed a measure Thursday addressing the Naples trash crisis despite a dissenting vote from the Northern League party.

Overriding preexisting law, the measure permits the Campania region to export refuse to other parts of the country, emphasizing that neighboring regions should be the “priority target”. Sources from within the government said that the regionalist Northern League had decided to vote against it even before today’s meeting, “as a way to draw a line between the League and a measure it abhors”.

The European Union recently criticized the Italian government and threatened sanctions for the estimated 14,000 tonnes of trash covering city streets and the surrounding province.

Last week, armed police escorts began accompanying garbage trucks as exasperated protesters resorted to tipping over dumpsters, blocking traffic and setting fire to the growing piles of waste that continue to choke the daily flow of city life.

Police were investigating Thursday how a 40-tonne trash compactor wound up in the Bay of Naples. 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.

With the passing of today’s measure, Berlusconi said that the government will present a plan within one month outlining a proposed solution to the crisis

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Otto Von Habsburg, Heir to Austria’s Last Emperor, Dies at 98

Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of Austria’s last emperor who became a champion of Europe’s enlargement as a Bavarian politician, died Monday in Germany at the age of 98. The man who was once first in line to the throne of the former Austro-Hungarian empire which covered most of central Europe, died at his home in Pöcking on Lake Starnberg in Bavaria, his spokeswoman said in a statement. The son of emperor Karl I, who reigned for only two years before the empire disintegrated, Habsburg was born on November 20, 1912 in Reichenau an der Rax in eastern Austria. Known abroad as Otto von Habsburg, this elegant man with large glasses and a big smile was just Otto Habsburg-Lothringen in Austria, after the state abolished his family’s titles and confiscated their property in 1919.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Shifting Perceptions of Greece in EU

“Do not worry. Your friends in Europe will eventually find a solution for your country. They have to, otherwise the crisis will undermine the whole system of the Eurozone,” said Sociology professor Savvas Katsikides from the University of Cyprus, a known scholar on European Union, or EU, affairs. “It is the sociological aspect of the Greek crisis that I am more concerned about,” he added. The conversation took place over breakfast at a hotel in Brussels at the end of an interesting youth conference on “Turkey on the doorstep of Europe” hosted by the Cypriot MEP Eleni Theocharous and participated by Turkish, Greek Cypriot and Greek politicians and scholars, as well as students from Turkey, Greek Cyprus, and Brazil. The former Foreign Minister and Justice and Development Party deputy Yasar Yakis and the former Republican People Party, or CHP, deputy chairman Onur Öymen were the main political speakers on behalf of Turkey. They both claimed that at a moment of a deep economic and structural crisis in the EU, the entry of Turkey as a full member could give the kiss of life for a Europe that has lost its dominant role in world political and economic affairs. But however interesting and challenging our meeting in Brussels was, it was obvious to me that neither the Cyprus issue nor Turkey and its problematic relationship with the EU, was at the center of the attention in Brussels this time. The worrying developments evolving at that “remote tip of the Balkan peninsula” had suddenly brought the very idea of the European political and economic integration to question. In a highly politicized society as the Greek society, this serious economic crisis is now developing into a deeper existential crisis, which shakes the very foundations of the perception that Greeks had of themselves as a nation state and their position in the family of the European democratic nations. One of such certainties which had been formed since the Greek rebellion against the Ottomans in the 19th century was that the Philhellenism legacy would keep Greece at a respected place among the Europeans as the “nation who invented democracy”. The threat that Greece’s economic crisis poses in the whole Eurozone structure is fast eroding this concept. In fact, looking more carefully, behind the public statements of support “to our friends, the Greeks”, the attitude of the powerful European member states towards a “misbehaving, corrupt and unruly Greece” has brought to the surface a new intellectual fashion of anti-Hellenism, quite the opposite to what brought so many Western Europeans to fight on the side of the Greek rebels against the Ottoman rulers. The new intellectual trend, which creates a new series of stereotypes among the western populist media, places on the shoulders of Greece — and notably to a much lesser extent on those or Ireland of Portugal — the blame for an obvious systemic weakness. In the words of the eminent Greek historian Prof. Antonis Liakos, “We are witnessing the revival of an internal orientalism, the rise of new nationalist populism in all the European countries, even the ones in the north who were known for their democracy and tolerance.” It may be too far stretched for an idea, but my recent visit to the EU capital, showed me that there are now curious similarities between the way the Western Europeans view Greece and Turkey, albeit for different forms of misbehavior. As if these two countries possess an inherent systemic inability to adjust to the European standards; even if the context of these standards is increasingly becoming obscure against the forces of the market.

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

Spain: Barcelona: First Non-Socialist Mayor After 32 Years

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 1 — Today moderate nationalist Xavier Trias (Ciu) became the new mayor of Barcelona, putting an end to 32 years of socialist reign over the Catalan city.

With the election of Trias as Barcelona’s mayor (who replaces socialist Jordi Hereu), for the first time since the end of the Franco era the nationalists of the Ciu party will simultaneously control the regional government of Catalonia, presided by ‘governor’ Artur Mas, and the municipality of the largest Catalan city. A fact which the website of El Pais defined ‘historic’. According to a survey published on Wednesday, 43% of Catalonia’s citizens would vote in favour of a potential referendum on Catalonia’s independence, compared to 28% who would vote against it.

Catalonia’s nationalists gained the relative majority in Barcelona’s municipal council during the May 22 administrative elections, winning 15 seats out of 41. Trias should govern with the outside support of the eight council members of the Partido Popular and with the support of the two representative of the pro-independence party Unidad per Barcelona, one of which is former Barcelona FC president Joan Laporta.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stauss-Kahn is ‘Still to be Reckoned With in France’

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been released from house arrest in New York after serious doubts were raised over the credibility of his alleged victim. But what does it mean for his career? German commentators are uncertain whether Strauss-Kahn will run for French president next year, or even if he wants to. It was yet another shocking twist in the remarkable saga surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The former head of the International Monetary Fund was released from house arrest on Friday after prosecutors admitted they had serious doubts about the credibility of his alleged victim . Although the charges have not been officially dropped, it appears the man known as “DSK” may soon be cleared. And that leads to the intriguing question of what the future holds for Strauss-Kahn. Before his arrest stunned the world in May, Strauss-Kahn was considered the favourite to clinch the Socialist Party’s nomination to become the party’s presidential candidate in France ahead of next year’s election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Strauss-Kahn to Sue Journalist for Slander

(AGI) Paris — Strauss-Kahn will sue for slander the French journalist Tristane Banon who has accused him of rape and intends to have him charged for this crime. DSK’s lawyers announced the news today according to Le Parisien. The journalist announced today that she will turn to the courts about the attempted rape allegedly inflicted on her eight years ago. “Seeing him free having dinner at a restaurant makes me fell ill,” said Banon in an interview with L’Express.

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

Westerwelle Calls for Closer Turkey Ties to EU

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is calling for deeper integration with Turkey, arguing that the country deserves greater support as it makes a bid to join the European Union. Westerwelle told the daily Die Welt that Turkey is becoming a regional powerhouse and the fact that it’s EU aspirations appear to be at a standstill is shameful to all sides involved. It’s location, diversity and European outlook can make it a “bridge to the Islamic world,” he said. “We want to overcome this impasse,” Westerwelle added. Berlin’s foreign minister has just returned from a trip to Turkey, where he held extensive talks with his counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. In the coming days Davutoglu will undertake travels in the Arab world, where Germany has deep interests. Turkey’s long-running EU accession bid has run into strong opposition among many Europeans who see it as not being economically or politically ready.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Will Glaring Errors Lead to Strauss-Kahn’s Political Rehabilitation?

Seldom has anyone fallen as far and fast as former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is being tried on charges of attempted rape in New York. The sensational admission by prosecutors that they no longer trust their key witness could pave the way for his political comeback in France.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Belligerent Mladic Removed From UN Hearing

Former Bosnian-Serb General Ratko Mladic was ordered out of his own hearing at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Monday after shouting at judges and refusing to enter a plea. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Serbia and Kosovo Sign First Post-Independence Agreement

After five months of talks under EU mediation, Serbia and Kosovo on Saturday (2 July) signed a breakthrough deal allowing people to cross the border with Kosovo papers, and to get real estate documents and school diplomas recognised on both sides. The agreement is the first one between the two sides since since Kosovo declared independence three years ago. Belgrade was quick to point out that it does not imply that it recognises its former province as being a state of its own, however.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Sinai: Explosion Hits Gas Pipeline Built Thanks to Egypt-Israel Accords

Sources tell AsiaNews that Islamic extremists placed the bomb because they are opposed to the government’s pro-Israel policies still in place following Mubarak’s fall. More clashes occur in Tahrir Square ; 12 people are injured.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — A pipeline carrying gas from Egypt through the northern Sinai to Israel and Jordan has been hit by an explosion. It is the third attack on a pipeline in Sinai since February, when a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

Sources told AsiaNews that pro-Palestinian Islamic extremists placed the bomb to force Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to change the country’s policy towards Israel.

The pipeline (pictured) began supplying Israel with gas in 2008. It was made possible by the 1978 accords signed in Camp David (US). Under the deal, Egypt will sell natural gas to Israel for 20 years at a preferential rate.

“Extremists want an end to the Camp David accords,” sources said. “They want to force the government to break ties with Israel developed under Mubarak’s regime.”

Another reason is the rising cost of natural gas. “After the Jasmine Revolution, the military government reduced domestic supplies, causing prices to rise,” sources said. “Various Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have criticised Mubarak’s concessions to Western governments and Israel, demanding they be terminated.”

Four months since the fall of Egypt’s strongman, the country is still unstable.

Yesterday, 12 people were hurt in Tahrir Square during a demonstration to commemorate the victims of the Jasmine Revolution.

Clashes were provoked by some local merchants, who attacked demonstrators backed by Islamic extremist groups, media reported.

In Upper Egypt, clashes between Copts and Muslims continue. On 30 June, hundreds of Muslim extremists set fire to Christian-owned homes in Kolosna (Minya). About ten people were injured.

Meanwhile, the trial of 48 extremists began. They were involved in Christian-Muslim clashes that left 12 people dead in Cairo in May. (S.C.)

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

Muslim Brotherhood Spokesman: We Are Willing to Dialogue With US

In response to statements by State Secretary Hillary Clinton about an American intention to dialogue with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the movement’s spokesman, Mahmoud Ghazlan, said that the MB was willing to engage in dialogue as long as it is based on mutual respect. He said that so far no dialogue has taken place, except for some contacts between officials at the US embassy in Cairo and former parliament members from the MB. Dr. ‘Issam Al-’Arian, deputy-chairman of the MB political party, said that several US congress members visited the party headquarters last week.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Internet and Censorship, Battle Continues for Blogger

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 4 — The days of internet censorship by Ben Ali and Mubarak are at an end, but free access to information must be defended from potential new attacks, including those hidden by demands to defend morality or to block pornographic websites. This is the outcome of the debate on “citizen journalism” that ended the annual meeting of Arab communities of Creative Commons, which has brought together in Tunis the bloggers and musicians of the Arab Spring.

“The battle continues because censorship still exists in people’s minds,” says Sami Ben Gharbia, the co-founder of the collective independent blog,, which played an important role in the Tunisian revolution. “The defence of morality is always the first justification for censorship, and if [the Islamist party] Ennadha came to power tomorrow, we need top guarantee that this would not be repeated”.

This is not merely a theoretical issue, however. Only a few weeks ago, a court in Tunis accepted the fast-tracked request by three lawyers to give the government-run Agence Tunisienne de l’Internet the right to censor pornographic sites. The hearing to discuss the matter has been fixed for today, July 4. The court’s initial ruling is “a very serious decision, which equates to transferring judicial power to the government,” says Riadh Guerfali, a professor of constitutional law who is also part of the team, writing under the pseudonym Astrubal. Guerfali explains that a distinction must be made between the duty of the judiciar to protect on a case-by-case basis the rights of individuals who feel damaged by internet content, and the potentially unlimited power of an administrative authority entitled to carry out Internet censorship.

This is why “the new Constitution will have to guarantee internet freedom explicitly,” the legal expert says.

The issue is a very topical one in Tunisia, notes Ben Gharbia, who has returned to the country in the last few months after spending years in Holland to avoid trouble from the regime.

But social media are now facing another challenge, that of guaranteeing the “credibility” of the information that they publish. “Our platform’s team does this because they know well the people who they are working with,” he says.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Leftist Parties Report Salafite Attacks

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 4 — A protest by the Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (POCT) in Cite’ Ettadhamen (west of Tunis) and another by the Moderate Democratic Party in a Kelibia (Cape Bon) were targeted by Salafite groups yesterday.

The POCT protest, according to spokesman Hamma Hammami, was interrupted by a hail of stones and tear gas, while there were allegedly several attacks on the protesters themselves.

‘Kapitalis’ reports that, according to Hammami, the attackers included several women wearing a ‘niqab’. He added that the attackers “were not just Salafites; they included former RCD (former president Ben Ali’s party) members, as well as drug and dealers.” The police did not make an appearance. According to PSG (Left-Wing Socialist Party) leader Mohamed Kilani, in Kelibia a group of “members of the Islamic freedom party” tried to scupper the first meeting of the Moderate Democratic Party, which was taking place outdoors. Army and police units had to intervene to restore peace.

The Moderate Democratic Party comprises the Etajdjd Movement, the PSG, Al Wifak Al-Joumhouri, the Justice and Citizenship Movement, the Middle Path, The Patriotic Democratic Labour Party, the Reform and Development Party, the Democratic Patriots Movement, the People’s Union Front and the Arab Democratic Party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Two Christian Girls Disappear From State Care Home in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Parents and lawyers of Christian teens Nancy Fathy and her cousin Christine Fathy, who allegedly converted to Islam, were shocked to learn the two girls have been taken by security officers from the care home where they were entrusted by the attorney general and held in a undisclosed place without knowledge or consent of the attorney general.

Lawyer Amgad Mourad said he went to the orphanage in Hadayel el_Koba on July 3 with the girls’ parents, but were surprised to learn that Nancy and Christine were taken by security from the orphanage on June 29. “We contacted south Cairo prosecution general, who was surprised and defensive, as we had a meeting yesterday with the General Council for Childhood and Motherhood and we were assured of the presence of Nancy and Christine in the orphanage.”

Today, lawyers with the parents went to south Cairo general prosecutor and were told by him the teens are in a safe place with public security, as they were afraid the parents may go to the orphanage and create problems there, according to Mourad. “Still we were not told where they are staying.”

According to attorney Dr Naguib Gabriel, President of the Egyptian Union Organization of Human Rights, who is also one of the lawyers representing the parents of the Christian girls, the girls were moved to another place because of the threats of violence issued by the unlawful Muslim group calling itself “Alliance for the Support of New Female Muslims.”

“It may be the Muslims knew the whereabouts of the two girls, and they were moved to the safer place,” said Gabriel. He said he contacted Mrs. Lamia Mohsen, head of the Childhood and Motherhood Council and she also had no knowledge that Christine and Nancy were moved from their care home.

Both 14-year-old Nancy Magdy Fathy, and her 16-year old cousin Christine Ezzat Fathy, disappeared while on their way to church on Sunday June 12. Their parents accused two Muslim brothers from a neighboring village of abducting them. Two weeks later, the girls appeared in Cairo and surrendered themselves at a Cairo police station. The Christian minors said they converted to Islam of their own free will, and refused to return to their families, and even applied for protection from them. The prosecution decided to put them in a state care home and provide protection for them, until the completion of the investigation. Al Azhar denied that the two Coptic teenagers had converted to Islam, because they are still minors and have not yet reached 18 years of age, as is required by law (AINA 6-26-2011).

Investigation of their case was transferred to child prosecution at the south Cairo court as they are still minors. The prosecutor ordered reconciliation sessions between Nancy and Christine and their parents in the presence of a social worker from the Childhood and Motherhood Council. Three sessions were held, only one of which was attended by the parents.

Gabriel stressed that “none of the girls said she converted to Islam. During the meeting with their parents the younger threw herself in the arms of her father, sobbing while the older girl said she was afraid to return home, the matter is not conversion to Islam at all, they are just afraid of family retribution”

He said the lawyers went with the parents yesterday to south Cairo prosecution for child care and met with the committee of the Childhood Council, which is comprised of two social workers and two psychiatrists. “The committee wrote conflicting reports. It reported the girls are psychologically disturbed and cannot control their behavior and then it said one of the girls talked of her preparedness to convert to Islam.” He said they objected to the formation of the committee and demanded Christian representation in it. “Even the two social workers wore the Hijab,” he explained. They also demanded that the care home would be a neutral one or at least its administration would include a Christian.

Gabriel believes the psychological rehabilitation will never succeed as long as there is the presence of Sharia associations and Hijab-clad social workers. “We are not assured at all. It is not possible to leave them in the hands of a committee without any Christian presence, and it is not possible to leave them in care for 6 months or a year, until they reach 18 years old, when we will be told they have become Muslims.”

He said he would be meeting Dr. Lamia, of the Childhood Council, to discuss the timeline foreseen for the intended return of the children to their parents and the schedule of the psychiatric rehabilitation. “The main danger for the girls is being kept away from their parents and not by lodging them in a care home.”

He said they demanded that there should be guarantees not to deliver the children to Muslims, or Muslim Brotherhood members, or leave the control over the girls to them, stressing that such requests were approved. “However, we were greatly surprised that after the approval of our demands, the two girls suddenly disappeared from the care home.”

Yesterday in Minya the Court of Appeals released until further evidence appears Gomaa Sayed Gomaa and his brother Arafat, the Muslim men accused of being behind the abduction of Christine and Nancy and taking them to Alexandria and Cairo. “This is a very serious matter, as investigations are still going on and the virginity exam has not yet been carried out on the minors, which is a part of the criminal investigations. Depending on the results, charges in this case would be raping of a minor or minors,” Gabriel said.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Flotilla Boats Preparing to Confront Greek Coastguard

Flotilla members are preparing to defy a Greek order not to sail to Gaza, as Athens says the project would threaten regional stability. Armed and masked Greek soldiers already stopped and detained the US boat, The Audacity of Hope, when it left the port of Perama on Friday (1 July) on grounds that the vessel was not seaworthy. The Greek authorities later the same day issued a blanket order for all nine flotilla boats not to sail and offered to deliver the humanitarian supplies to Gaza themselves together with Israeli help. The Quartet — the EU, Russia, the UN and the US — on Saturday also published a communique urging the boats to deliver their cargo through “established channels.” Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told EUobserver the sailing ban was made on the basis of “maritime law, both national and international … safety mainly, it has to do with the safety of people at sea.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gaza Border Opening Offers Fewer Opportunities Than Hoped

The 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip could not leave — until Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing in May. That gave rise to many hopes, some of which have been disappointed. The fields of farmer Ahmad Shafi are located just one kilometer from the Israeli border. From nearby fields, Palestinian militants sometimes fire homemade rockets into Israel. As long as such attacks continue, Israel says it will severely restrict imports and exports into Gaza. Israel uses the sanctions as a means to to pressure Hamas, the governing party in Gaza.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece Offers to Ship Gaza Aid Supplies as Activists Raise a Stink

Greece clamped down on pro-Palestinian activists when a Gaza-bound aid vessel left port without permission. But after the activists took to the streets in protest, Athens came up with a concessionary plan B. Greece offered to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip itself on Sunday, after protesters denounced the country’s storming of a banned aid boat. “Greece … proposes to undertake the task of transporting the humanitarian aid, with Greek vessels or other appropriate means, through the existing channels” requested by the United Nations, the foreign ministry said in a statement. The move was an apparent bid to counter accusations that Greece was complicit in Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

PNA Slashes Wages, Promised Funds Delayed

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) will be forced to slash the wages of public sector workers due to a shortage of funds caused by the delay in the arrival of financial aid promised by certain donating countries. This is according to the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, who has been speaking in Ramallah. Fayyad said that countries in the region, which he did not name, had not donated the funds promised. The PNA relies on foreign aid to pay the wages of 150,000 public sector workers in the West Bank and in Gaza and for monthly benefits for 75,000 people. So far this year, the PNA has received only 331 of the 970 million dollars promised by donor countries. Fayyad says that the PNA has a monthly cash deficit of 30 million dollars and has now exhausted the possibility of obtaining credit from banks. The Prime Minister added that one of the donor countries, Saudi Arabia, had given 146 million in 2010 and 241 million in 2009, but was yet to pay a penny this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Emirates: Facebook Threats Rise, Women More Vulnerable

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JULY 4 — There’s the version of Facebook which contributed toward coordinating and upholding social aims, fostering the explosion of the Arab Spring, but there’s also the other version, which is set to crash head-on into the deeply-rooted traditions of that same Arab world, alarmingly highlighting women’s vulnerability.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country with the highest incidence of social network usage in the region (45%), the number of cases which see women blackmailed in exchange for money or sex for having posted pictures in which they are wearing “dishonourable” attire are increasingly rising.

Pictures in a bathing suit, or in an off-the-shoulder top, are explosive tools in a society where, despite the wide liberal margin granted to the majority of the foreign population, respect for traditions, religion, family and honour are still strongly considered to be fundamental principles. The risk of being killed by a male family to rid the family of the shame of dishonour is infinitely smaller than in countries such as Jordan for example, where “honour killings” are still a potential — though increasingly frowned upon — solution to women’s disrespectful behaviour.

The blackmailers are looking for money, forced sexual relations or emotional and psychological control, according to operators from the dedicated department set up by the Ministry of the Interior to tackle this growing phenomenon which has women in the Emirates stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they turn to the police to report cases of abuse they could be arrested. In cases where there were consensual sexual relations, despite being forced through blackmail, the victim can be arrested and locked up for having consented to a sexual act outside of marriage. This is an illegal and punishable act in the UAE.

The ministry’s social department is victims’ only safe harbour at the moment. “We offer victims total privacy”, states a staff member at the office, who requested that he remain anonymous, “but acting as a police department we carry out inquiries and when necessary, such as in cases where there are other victims forced to perform criminal acts, we cannot merely protect, we must also report”. Such would be the case if, for example, the investigation lead to the discovery of a criminal organization, making it more difficult to defende the victims’ privacy. The younger generation’s comments reveal the paradox within a country which is on the fast track toward futuristic investments and projects on the one hand, and proudly tied to Islam and the ancient Bedouin culture on the other. On the one hand, some people praise parents who allow their daughters to open Facebook accounts, even though they ban them from posting pictures, while on the other young men berate “easy” women who “market themselves” using social networks, girls they “would never marry”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Largest Healthcare Complex to be Built in Ankara

A Turkish-Italian partnership on Thursday won a tender for the construction of Europe’s largest healthcare complex in Turkey’s capital of Ankara, as Today’s Zaman reports. According to the results of the tender, the Astaldi-Turkerler partnership will build the Ankara Etlik Health Campus, which is expected to cost 2.4 billion Turkish Liras (1 billion euros), and own it for 25 years, with the state operating it, after completion. The state will have to pay rent of 319 million Turkish Liras (136,34 million euros) for the first year, with the annual rent being adjusted according to annual inflation in Turkey for the subsequent 24 years. The state will own the entire complex after a quarter of a century. The facilities within the complex will include eight hospitals and one hotel. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany Wants to Supply Battle Tanks to Saudi Arabia

Right in the middle of the Arab Spring, Germany plans to supply high-tech weapons to an undemocratic regime in the region. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, Saudi Arabia is interested in buying up to 200 “Leopard” battle tanks. A sale would end Germany’s traditional restraint on arms sales to the country. Germany is prepared to deliver modern “Leopard” battle tanks to Saudi Arabia in a reversal of its decades-old policy not to supply heavy weapons to the authoritarian kingdom.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indian Church in Abu Dhabi: Care of Young and Sick, But Only in India

Financial support to 40 seriously ill patients, cataract surgeries already paid for 400 elderly people, scholarships to 40 poor students: this is the charity program of the Marthoma Church. Launched for the 40th anniversary of the church, the program can not take place in the UAE, because of accusations of proselytism.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) — “We are very happy to celebrate 40 years of our church with works of charity, for the next year,” says Rev. George Oommen, bishop-designate of the Marthoma Church, an Indian church in Abu Dhabi. The community has launched a charity drive for one year, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding. However, the plan can only be carried out in India, not in Abu Dhabi: in the UAE, the Church is only allowed freedom of religious worship, not other activities, otherwise it could be charged of proselytizing.

In particular, the plan provides financial assistance to 40 patients, without discrimination of caste or religion. In addition, 40 poor students will receive scholarships to attend professional courses. In the second stage, financial support will be extended to 400 patients, mostly elderly, for cataract surgeries.

Although this program will be implemented only in India, Rev. George is confident that “in the future we can make everyone participate in celebrations like these. The divisions must be overcome and the Church is called to transcend any barrier of caste, colour and religion. God the Father is God of all mankind. “

Also Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesman for the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church, said he was “happy” for this initiative, and added: “Usually, the celebrations end up with excessive spending and few useful initiatives. Instead, the Marthoma Church is ready to reach out to those who suffer, wherever possible to alleviate the pain of the people and share their burden” (N.C.)

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

Jordanian Official: America’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan Will Turn it Into One Big Terrorist Camp

In response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that U.S. troops with be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Jordanian Broadcasting Authority director Saleh Al-Qallab wrote that the withdrawal will bring destruction upon Afghanistan, for it will leave the country at the mercy of the terrorists and in a state of increasing chaos.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Meteorite Hunter: My Two Months in an Omani Jail

Michael Farmer tells the tale of his quest for extraterrestrial geology and how it landed him in prison, and explains why he eats bits of the moon and Mars

I understand you have an unusual habit. What is it?

I’ve eaten a small piece of every moon rock and Mars rock that I have purchased or found. After all, not many people can say they have eaten a piece of the moon. And I know for a fact that numerous scientists have done the same.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

President of American-Iranian Council: US Offered Iran a Non-Aggression Pact

Iranian-American businessman Hooshang Amirahmadi, president of the American-Iranian Council, who, according to his claim, negotiated with Iran on behalf of the US, told the website Asr-e Iran that the US wants to sign a non-aggression pact with Iran in the Persian Gulf. He said that this American proposal was presented at a meeting attended by USCENTCOM Commander General James N. Mattis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: We Will Seek Nuclear Arms if Iran Gets Them

Saudi Arabia has warned NATO that it would pursue policies that could lead to “untold and possible dramatic consequences” if Iran obtains nuclear weapons. A source close to Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal told the London daily The Guardian that Iranian nuclear weapons would compel the kingdom to develop its own nuclear arms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudi Prince Raises Prospect of Nuclear Arms Race With Iran

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief, has warned that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would too. Analysts say the two are already engaged in a ‘cold war’ in various parts of the world. Britain’s Guardian newspaper revealed recently that Prince Turki al-Faisal gave an unpublicized speech earlier this month to senior officials at a NATO air base in the UK during which the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington and Britain implied that a nuclear arms race could break out in the Middle East if Iran continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions.

Faisal did not outline specific policies, but warned that if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it “would compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences.” The newspaper also quoted an unnamed Saudi official as saying “we cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don’t.” “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable and we will have to follow suit,” the official said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Saber-Rattling as Russia Meets NATO in Sochi

As a Russia-NATO summit begins in Sochi, Moscow has threatened to beef up its European forces, if talks between the alliance and the Kremlin fail to resolve sticky missile defense issues. Russia’s NATO ambassador, Dmitri Rogozin, referring to alliance plans to erect a missile defense system in eastern Europe, said Moscow views the West’s intentions as a direct threat to the homeland. “This is the red line, which we must not and will not abandon. No Russian leader can ever question the strategic potential of Russia or reduce it to zero,” Rogozin said. NATO has been planning the system — to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic — as a way to protect the continent against missiles from rogue Middle Eastern states. Moscow, however, argues that the system could too easily be used to target its own missiles and is dangerously close to its territory.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Trial of Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Turns Into Political Spectacle

The Ukrainian government has accused opposition figure Yulia Tymoshenko of abusing her power when she served as prime minister. She says that government is using the judiciary to silence the opposition. Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko appeared in court in Kyiv on Monday as the media spectacle surrounding her trial on corruption charges continued. The woman with the trademark braided hair is a shining light for many people in Ukraine. During her pre-trial hearing, about 200 fans gathered in Kyiv’s main boulevard, Khreshchatyk Street, where they set up tents and waved flags with symbols of Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party while playing music and chanting “Yulia! Yulia! Ukraine!”

The charges leveled against Tymoshenko say she abused her powers as prime minister in order to conclude backroom deals that hurt Ukraine’s national interests. The Ukrainian judiciary has flexed its muscles by freezing 1.45 million euros ($2 million) of Tymoshenko’s considerable financial assets as bond for her trial. Tymoshenko faces several different charges all of which stem from the time she served as prime minister.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

‘Billions Worth’ of Treasure Found in Indian Temple

A treasure trove of gold and silver jewelry, coins and precious stones said to be worth billions of dollars has been found in a Hindu temple in southern India, officials said. The valuables have an estimated preliminary worth of over 500 billion rupees ($11.2 billion), said Kerala Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar, catapulting the temple into the league of India’s richest temples. The thousands of necklaces, coins and precious stones have been kept in at least five underground vaults at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple which is renowned for its intricate sculptures.

“We are yet to open one more secret chamber which has not been opened for nearly 140 years,” Jayakumar told AFP. The actual value of the treasure haul can be ascertained only after it is examined by the archaeological department, said Jayakumar. The temple, dedicated to Hindu lord Vishnu, was built hundreds of years ago by the king of Travancore and donations by devotees have been kept in the temple’s vaults since. A necklace found on Thursday was 18 feet (six metres) long. Thousands of gold coins have also been found.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan Mounts Search for Swiss Hostages

Pakistan has launched a search operation and engaged tribal elders to help secure the release of a Swiss couple abducted in the insurgency-hit southwest, officials said Saturday. The Swiss nationals were kidnapped on Friday while travelling in impoverished and sparsely populated Baluchistan province, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan. They were seized in Loralai district, 170 kilometres east of the provincial capital Quetta, provincial home secretary Zafarullah Baloch told AFP. “We have launched an intense search. We have alerted police and paramilitary troops and we have also contacted tribal elders to help us locate the abductees,” said Sohail-ur-Rehman, deputy commissioner of Loralai. Loralai police chief Ghulam Ali Lashari said officers had found the couple’s Volkswagen vehicle abandoned in Killi Nigah area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Yingluck’s Challenge: Thailand’s New Leader Must Step Out of Brother’s Shadow

Thailand’s powerful army has recognized the election victory of Yingluck Shinawatra and her Pheu Thai party. But the future prime minister faces a Herculean task: She must redeem her numerous promises, reunite a deeply divided country and step out of the shadow cast by her exiled brother Thaksin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Wants to Buy Facebook

On Thursday, Business Insider reported that China is trying to buy “a huge chunk” of Facebook. According to the business news website, Beijing approached a fund that buys stock from former Facebook employees to see if it could assemble a stake large enough “to matter.” Moreover, Citibank is rumored to be trying to acquire as much as $1.2 billion of stock for two sovereign wealth funds, one from the Middle East and the other Chinese. Business Insider reports a third source, from a “very influential” Silicon Valley investment bank, confirms that Citi is representing China.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Police Given Power to Remove Burkas

New South Wales police conducting routine car stops will be given the power to demand the removal of head coverings for identification.

Premier Barry O’Farrell says cabinet approved the move on Monday so police could properly identify motorists or any other people suspected of committing a crime.

“I don’t care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burka, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear,” he said in a statement.

“I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification.”

Mr O’Farrell says there has to be a balance between religious customs and a police officer’s ability to do their job.

“It’s also an issue with other religions. It’s also an issue with other cultures,” he said.

“But whether it’s a driver’s license or passing through customs, identity checks are required in this day and age and we’re determined to ensure police have the powers to undertake them when required.”

The new laws come in the wake of a successful appeal by a Muslim woman who had been sentenced to jail for falsely accusing a police officer of forcibly trying to remove her burka.

The sentence against Carnita Matthews was quashed on appeal last week.

The magistrate said he was unable to confirm whether Ms Matthews had made the accusation as police had been unable to see the face of the woman who made the complaint.

Attorney-General Greg Smith says he will not be appealing against the Matthews decision, but says the new laws should prevent a recurrence of the case.

Police have had the power to ask women to remove face veils during the investigation of serious offences but did not have such powers during routine car stops.

           — Hat tip: Salome[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

A Trip to Hell

The latest US anti-slavery report says Nigeria is meeting minimum anti-trafficking standards. Yet tens of thousands of Nigerian women are being brought to Europe and forced to work as prostitutes, as a German film shows.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Plan to Deport Jobless Poles is Dangerous, Say Polish Ministers

Plans by the Netherlands to deport jobless Poles and other Eastern Europeans are dangerous and worrying, Poland’s economic affairs minister Waldemar Pawlak is quoted as saying in Monday’s Trouw.

The paper says Pawlak made the comments during a meeting in Warsaw on Saturday. ‘We are concerned about the Dutch plans,’ Pawlak said. ‘This development is dangerous and could lead to the collapse of the European system of freedom of movement.’

Earlier this year, social affairs minister Henk Kamp presented proposals to expel Polish and other eastern European nationals who are without work and have little prospect of finding any. He also plans to withhold welfare benefits (bijstand) from people who do not speak Dutch.

Robust talks

Poland’s European affairs minister Mikolaj Dowgielewicz is quoted as saying there have been ‘robust talks’ with the Netherlands on the plan. He is quoted as saying that he is surprised a maximum of 200 people could lead to such heated political debate.

Such problems could be better solved at a European level, through community-wide agreements on social security and working conditions, he said.

Poland took over the presidency of the EU on Friday for the next six months.

In February, Poland’s ambassador to the Netherlands said Dutch attitudes to Poles bordered on discrimination.

Earlier stories

Attitude to Poles borders on discrimination: ambassador

EU warns Holland on Polish deportation plan

Deport jobless eastern Europeans who won’t go voluntarily: minister

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


Finger Length Linked to Penis Size

Men: Hold up your right hand. Are your pointer and index fingers close to the same size? Congratulations, you’re more likely than men with mismatched digits to have a long penis. A smaller ratio between the second and fourth fingers is linked to a longer stretched penis size, researchers report today (July 4) in the Asian Journal of Andrology. The findings go beyond providing a new finger ratio-based pick-up line for men in bars, however; researchers say that a quick look at a man’s fingers could reveal his exposure to male hormones in the womb, providing a hint about his risk for hormone-driven diseases like prostate cancer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Rupert Murdoch’s Failing Attempts to Control the Internet Reformation

Rupert Murdoch lost nearly his entire investment in MySpace the other day when he sold the failing social network to musician and actor Justin Timberlake and an ad agency he backs for some US$30 million. This was a good deal less than the US$500 million-plus Murdoch paid for it. Why did Murdoch make such a bad investment? Because he hoped to use the network as a vehicle from which he could disseminate news. He wanted to make MySpace into a mechanism to deliver current-events content. When it didn’t work out — and he must have known that fairly soon — he obviously lost interest. And as his interest waned, so did MySpace.

This speaks to Murdoch’s desperation — and mainstream media’s generally. In a digital world, he is willing to burn US$500 million simply to confirm that a social network is not a news delivery system. I could have told him that for a much lower fee. This also shows us the importance of news to the powers-that-be. The Anglosphere elites — for whom Murdoch evidently and obviously works — are determined (thus far without much success) to find a way to protect their failing information franchise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Malcolm Smith said...

That article about finger length and finger length is interesting, considering that the ratio 2nd finger to 4th finger length is closer to equal in women than in men. There are also some evidence that it is closer to equal in homosexuals than heterosexuals.
What bothers me is that, according to this criterion, I must be homo on my left side and hetero on my right. I don't know what this says about the rest of my body.