Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110722

Financial Crisis
»Dodd—Frank: One Year Later
»EBRD Warns on Impact of Eurozone Crisis in Ex Soviet Bloc
»EU and Private Investors Save Athens With 160 Bln
»European Central Bank Chief Does Not Exclude Greek Default
»Eurozone Leaders Hail Leap Towards Economic Union
»Fitch Rates Greece in Limited Default After New Bailout
»German Press Divided Over Greek Plan and Merkel’s Role
»Ireland and Portugal Get Lower Interest Rates on Bailouts
»Papandreou Says Rescue Plan Makes the Burden Lighter
»Portugal Says Rescue for Greece Will Help Portuguese
»Saving the Euro: Sarkozy Gets His European Monetary Fund
»World Stocks Jump After Greek Debt Deal
»Congress Needs a Cold War-Style Effort to Root Out Civilizational Jihad
»Ex-Credit Suisse Workers Indicted in US
»Exploiting the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary
»Studies Map Key Spots on African Americans’ Genomes
»US Government Pushes Forward Cybersecurity Policy
Europe and the EU
»Germany: Berlin’s Kebabs Are a Culinary Universe
»Indignados Towards Madrid for Next Sunday’s Demonstration
»Is This Norway’s 9/11?
»Italians Fed Up With Rome’s Pampered Politicians
»Italy: Senate Rejects Arrest Warrant for Tedesco With 151 Nays
»Norway Police Say at Least 80 Killed in Youth Camp Shooting
»Romania Pushes for Clarity on Wind Power
»Scotland Yard Investigation Spreads to Other Newspapers
»Swedish Man’s Thong Use Prompts Police Probe
»Wilderness, Shopping and Blondes Shape Sweden’s Image Abroad
»Serbia: EU Enlargement Commissioner Cold to Serbian Membership
North Africa
»Egyptian PM’s New Cabinet Sworn in Before Military
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Israel’s Premier Opportunist
»Stakelbeck Exclusive: Palestinian Law Says Selling Land to Jews “Punishable by
Middle East
»Books: The Smile of the Crescent, Humour and the Arab World
»Cyprus: Turkey Plans to Build Nuke Plant in Occupied Area
»Jordan’s Foreign Debt Reaches USD 17 Billion
»NATO’s Partnerships and the “Arabellion”
South Asia
»Bangladeshi Has Brick Tied to Penis as Punishment
»COIN is Dhimmitude
»Nepal-India: West Bengal: Gurkha Tea Growers Get Autonomy
»Tajikistan: In Dushanbe Minors Can Not Enter Church Without Authorization
Far East
»China Wishes US to Stay Out of ASEAN Business
Sub-Saharan Africa
»ANC Youth Leader With Extravagant Lifestyle Pleads Poverty
»Famine in East Africa: A Catastrophe in the Making
»Germans ‘Reluctant’ To Help Africa, But Famine Victims Dying
»Instability to Blame for Famine in Horn of Africa, Aid Groups Say
»Somalia Drought: Militia Refuse International Aid
»Spain to Make U-Turn on Labour Market Access for Romanians
»Diamonds Hold Secret to Plate Tectonics’ Birth
»NASA Invaded Red Planet With Viking Mars Landing
»Snowstorms on Mars May Dwarf Those on Earth
»Vertical Farming: Can Urban Agriculture Feed a Hungry World?

Financial Crisis

Dodd—Frank: One Year Later

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Dodd—Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It comes in at some 2,300 pages, so it should surprise no one that dozens of regulatory deadlines have been missed, and a multitude of agencies are months behind in their rulemaking schedule. It is certainly fair to question, then, how the bureaucrats and technocrats who cannot get the rules written can possibly manage the vast and roiling markets over which they now rule.

They cannot—at least not successfully. And a principal reason is that their colossal regulatory edifice teeters on the faulty premise that the economic crisis was a consequence of too little regulation—as opposed to misguided housing policies and twisted tax and regulatory incentives. Thus, Dodd—Frank and its 243 separate rulemakings (by 11 different federal agencies) are an ill-conceived attempt to reduce financial risk by constraining banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, investors, accountants, and myriad other financial products and services.

In so doing, Congress has expanded the powers of the very regulatory behemoths that were supposed to protect us from financial calamity last time around. Yet the torrent of regulation does nothing to tame Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—major contributors to the financial crisis.

Failure Is the Only Certainty

Dodd—Frank’s results to date have been less than stellar to say the least. With few of the rules actually finalized, financial firms now inhabit a regulatory purgatory of sorts, while billions of dollars are funneled into expanding the size of government.

Ironically, Dodd—Frank supporters claim the monstrous regulatory rollout was intended to inject certainty into a market made jittery by the 2008 crisis. The uncertainty is now worse than ever—and nothing beats uncertainty for inhibiting investment and job growth.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent. The budget deficit tops $1.3 trillion, and federal debt has hit the ceiling at $14 trillion. Consumer spending is tepid, wages are stagnant, and prices for energy and food are rising.

President Obama actually complains of lobbyists and lawyers “trying to undo the progress that we’ve made.” But try as he might to demonize bankers, the President’s misreading of public sentiment will come back to haunt him. Americans, for the most part, understand that punishing success is a losing proposition. The public is far more frustrated that his Administration has rewarded failure by lavishing billions of tax dollars on mismanaged banks.

More Risk, Not Less

In reality, placing new burdens on financial institutions and their customers will actually increase risks to the financial system.


[Return to headlines]

EBRD Warns on Impact of Eurozone Crisis in Ex Soviet Bloc

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warned Friday that the eurozone debt crisis could pose serious risks to the ex Soviet bloc, even as the organisation upgraded its growth forecasts. The EBRD’s warning came amid an easing in the crisis after eurozone powers had agreed late on Thursday for a second bailout package for troubled member nation Greece. “An escalation of the eurozone crisis would pose serious risks to growth and recovery across the region, especially in south-eastern Europe and the new EU members,” said EBRD chief economist Erik Berglof in an economic update. However, the bank lifted its 2011 growth forecast for eastern Europe to 4.8 percent, up from the prior estimate of 4.6 percent expansion, amid the broader global economic recovery. The 2012 forecast was unchanged at 4.4 percent.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU and Private Investors Save Athens With 160 Bln

Eurozone leaders have responded to the sovereign debt crisis by agreeing a deal worth around 160 billion euros to save both Greece and the single currency. An unprecedented package of measures was adopted unanimously at the EU summit and will also see the participation of banks. Faced with the risk of a selective default that could be imposed by ratings agencies, the leaders of the 17 eurozone countries have also decided to create a parachute system by rewriting the terms of the state-saving fund, the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility).

“We have taken important decisions that are fully supported by all sides to alleviate Greek debt, to ward off the risk of contagion and to improve our management of the eurozone crisis”, said the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, following the meeting. “For the first time, politics and markets have come together in a very credible package,” said the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank, described the deal as “crucial” for the financial stability of the euro area and for the management of Greek debt. “It is a good deal,” added the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, “and there is clear commitment from the Eurogroup to ensure that no state defaults. We have worked hard to avoid contagion”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

European Central Bank Chief Does Not Exclude Greek Default

European Central Bank chief Jean Claude Trichet on Thursday (21 July) said that he could not prejudge if ratings agencies would declare a ‘selective’ default of Greek bonds, but noted that eurozone leaders have prepared for that event with €55bnn for bank recapitalisations and improving the creditworthiness of Greek government debt. Admitting that eurozone leaders had disregarded his advice on avoiding a selective default for Greece or any other ‘credit event’, Trichet however stressed that the leaders prepared themselves with the exact tools he recommended. He also insisted that the red line the ECB had set for private sector involvement in the second Greek bailout — that it be “voluntary, not compulsory” — had been respected by eurozone leaders.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Leaders Hail Leap Towards Economic Union

European leaders thrashed out an agreement to save the stricken euro last night, with a major step towards a full economic union in which taxpayers in rich nations would cover the spending of poorer ones.

The attempt to bail-out Greece and other struggling eurozone countries raised the prospect of a two-speed European Union with far closer ties between countries using the euro compared with those, such as Britain, that remained outside. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, said the deal had pulled the eurozone back from the brink of disaster and laid foundations for the creation of an EU “economic government”. He hailed it as “a historic moment” that would provide “bold and ambitious” plans for the creation of an embryonic EU treasury in the form of a European Monetary Fund. “By the end of the summer, Angela Merkel and I will be making joint proposals on economic government in the eurozone. Our ambition is to seize the Greek crisis to make a quantum leap in eurozone government,” he said. “The very words were once taboo. We will give a clearer vision of the way we see the eurozone evolving. We have done something historic. There is no European Monetary Fund yet, but nearly.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fitch Rates Greece in Limited Default After New Bailout

Fitch ratings agency said Friday that it would consider debt-stricken Greece to be in limited default under the terms of a second eurozone bailout agreed at an emergency Brussels summit. Fitch said the overall accord agreed Thursday was an important step forward but because private sector creditors will lose money on their holdings of Greek government bonds as a result, then Athens must be considered to be in ‘Restricted Default’ and its debt assigned ‘Default’ ratings. Banks and other financial institutions agreed to swap their current Greek government bond holdings for new debt, taking a loss of 21 percent in the process, which Fitch said justified the default rating. It currently rates Greece CCC, the lowest level. Once the exchange is completed, however, Fitch said it would then issue fresh, likely higher ratings for new Greek bonds as the government’s position is strengthened by the bailout.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Press Divided Over Greek Plan and Merkel’s Role

German media were divided on Friday in reacting to decisions from an emergency eurozone summit on a new rescue for Greece, as much over what was decided as on the role of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The left-of-centre Frankfurter Rundschau felt that “Europe got a grip” on the debt problem, and centre-left Berliner Zeitung saw “the birth of a European Monetary Fund.” Die Welt, a conservative daily, was much less enthusiastic, running a headline that said “another rescue package.” For the economic daily Financial Times Deutschland, “Europe can applaud, at least with one hand.”

The FTD forecast a “hot” time in the Fall however, when decisions taken in Brussels on Thursday have to be put into action. But at least “no one can question the system any longer,” the left-of-centre Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote. “Since the Spring, the European Union has decided on an impressive series of reforms, which would never have seen the light of day had it not been for the pressure the problems created,” it added. Meanwhile Merkel, who has been criticised for delaying the process, received rare commendation from the left-of-centre tageszeitung which said on its front page that “Merkel has made her mark on the euro.” Succeeding in getting private investors to sign on to the rescue plan was “her success,” the FTD and Die Welt added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland and Portugal Get Lower Interest Rates on Bailouts

Ireland and Portugal on Thursday (21 July) were given longer deadlines and lower interest rates to pay back their loans under their respective EU-IMF bailouts, but eurozone leaders made it clear that no private investors will be involved in their rescue, as it is the case with Greece. Similarly to Greece, both Ireland and Portugal will be given 15 to 30 years to repay their loans, as opposed to the current 7.5 year-deadline and their interest rate will be lowered to around 3.5 percent. Leaders however drew a clear distinction between the one-off private sector involvement in the Greek case and the other eurozone countries under an EU-IMF bailout, an attempt to stem the downgrading spiral by ratings agencies that both Ireland and Portugal have been drawn into. Saluting the “robust” response of the eurozone leaders, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said that the new deal will allow Portugal and Ireland to see “increased the conditions for success” and calm markets.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Papandreou Says Rescue Plan Makes the Burden Lighter

(AGI) Brussels — European leaders today agreed on a 109 billion dollar rescue plan. At the end of the Eurozone summit, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou remarked that the bailout fund will lighten the burden on the Greek people. “Today we can count with a plan and measures which will create a sustainable path for Greece and a sustainable debt management.” .

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

Portugal Says Rescue for Greece Will Help Portuguese

The debt rescue for Greece is a “decisive contribution” to steadying the eurozone and to helping Portugal deal with its own debt crisis, Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar said on Friday. But the minister stressed that even though the agreements reached late on Thursday eased also the debt interest paid by Portugal, the country was still fully committed by tough commitments to reform its budget under its own EU-IMF rescue programme. The eurozone summit deal “undeniably improved the conditions under which Portugal can develop,” Vitor Gaspar told parliament.

But Portugal’s “determination to respect its international engagements remains as important as before,” Gaspar said. Eurozone leaders agreed late on Thursday to offer Greece a second bailout in a complex deal involving a significant reduction in interest rates for Portugal and Ireland, the other countries receiving European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout loans. In May, Portugal committed itself to a 78-billion euro ($112.4-billion) debt rescue programme in which it must engage significant budget reforms and sell-off state assets. Late on Thursday, Portuguese Prime Minster Pedro Passos Coelho said decisions taken in the new bailout for Greece “significantly increased” the chances for success in Portugal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saving the Euro: Sarkozy Gets His European Monetary Fund

European leaders on Thursday pushed through a second bailout package for debt-stricken Greece, one which includes a surprisingly high level of private participation. In addition, the euro-zone backstop fund has been given new powers, making it look suspiciously like a European IMF. In the end, there were important resolutions to announce after all. Euro-zone heads of state and government agreed on Thursday evening to a second emergency aid package for Greece “and some other things,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel following the special summit of the 17 euro-zone member states in Brussels. She exuded satisfaction and said it had been an “important day.”

In the weeks prior to the summit, Merkel had repeatedly insisted that there was no need for the special summit and she made it clear that she was not enthusiastic about participating . As recently as Tuesday, she warned that one should not expect any “spectacular” moves. And the Thursday agreement does indeed fall short of being spectacular , but it provides the clarity that was so badly needed. The new package provides for €109 billion worth of credit for Athens. The majority of the fund comes from the euro backstop fund known as the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Private creditors are to contribute an additional €50 billion by 2014 via a combination of debt buybacks and swaps. The level of private involvement in the plan is much higher than had been expected and reflects the position that Germany had been insisting on for months. It can be seen as a personal success for Merkel.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

World Stocks Jump After Greek Debt Deal

World stocks have hit a two-week high as European leaders embrace the new Greek rescue deal. Eurozone leaders have agreed a second package of emergency loans aimed at preventing the debt crisis spreading across Europe. The world’s stock markets breathed a sigh of relief on Friday, rising to a two-week high after the news of a new Greek rescue package sunk in.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Congress Needs a Cold War-Style Effort to Root Out Civilizational Jihad


So pervasive now is the Brotherhood’s “civilization jihad” within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order. To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-era’s HUAC and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American — and anti-constitutional — activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists 50 years ago. Critics of a new select committee with such a mandate have an obligation to propose another approach to address this manifestly growing problem.

[Return to headlines]

Ex-Credit Suisse Workers Indicted in US

The US Justice Department on Thursday charged three former Credit Suisse bankers and a Swiss trust company founder with helping wealthy Americans evade US taxes by keeping money in secret Swiss bank accounts. The indictment did not mention Credit Suisse by name, since it was the individual bankers, not the bank itself, who were indicted. But Credit Suisse announced last week that it was the target of a US Justice Department investigation, which is typically a prelude to an indictment, and media reports indicate that Credit Suisse is the bank in question.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Exploiting the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary

As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the Islamists and their supporters are busy preparing a disinformation campaign to whitewash Sharia law and Islamic ideology under the banner of an operation they call “Prepare New York.” The intent is to use a front of “interfaith” alliances with progressive groups to marginalize those who are trying to expose the truth about the Islamist agenda and to exploit the 9/11 anniversary for propaganda purposes.

Prepare New York is following the blueprint laid out by the Muslim Brotherhood in its 1982 manifesto entitled Toward a Worldwide Strategy for Islamic Policy, a 12-point strategy to “establish an Islamic Power on the earth.” To do this, the Muslim Brotherhood set out to “channel thought, education and action” to “influence centers of power both local and worldwide to the service of Islam,” and to “work within various influential institutions and use them in the service of Islam.”

In a document entitled the Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group In North America, written in 1987 and published in 1991, authored by the Muslim Brotherhood operative Mohamed Akram, the work of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates in America was described as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

The method for “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” would include developing “a mastery of the art of ‘coalitions,’ the art of ‘absorption’ and the principles of ‘cooperation.’“

One of the first steps for Islamists upon arriving in a non-Muslim country to live is to declare the common bonds between Islam and the more prevalent religions in the host country through bridge-building and interfaith sessions. As they gain more of a foothold, the Islamists become more vocal about the host country’s need to accommodate the special demands of Islamic law, which they couch in human rights terms of free expression of religion, anti-racism and anti-discrimination. They find willing partners among progressive religious groups and opinion leaders to help carry this phony message of tolerance and anti-bigotry.

Prepare New York is a leading example. It describes itself as “a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations who have joined together to help create a city-wide climate that promotes healing and reconciliation in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.” Their website mentions such “Steering Committee Partners” as the Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, and the Tanenbaum Center.


[Return to headlines]

Studies Map Key Spots on African Americans’ Genomes

The first detailed maps of the places where DNA is likely to be reshuffled in their genomes provide a tool to help find genes that cause disease.

Two independent research teams have used a new method to develop the first detailed maps of the places where DNA is likely to be reshuffled in the genomes of African Americans, creating a tool that will help find genes that cause disease, scientists reported Wednesday. The new maps pinpoint thousands of “hot spots” on chromosomes where recombination — a gene-swapping process that is crucial to creating genetic diversity but is sometimes linked to disease — is likely to occur. The knowledge will help researchers uncover the genetic underpinnings of illness in all people but particularly in African Americans, said Harvard Medical School geneticist David Reich, the senior author of a study published online by the journal Nature. To date, medical genetics studies have focused almost exclusively on people of European descent. “African Americans have a unique gene structure,” he said. “If they’re not studied, we won’t find the genes that cause disease.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Government Pushes Forward Cybersecurity Policy

Cyberdefense policy has reached into the highest levels of government, military, legal theory around the globe. The US military alone will spend $12 billion on cyberdefense capabilities in 2014. On Thursday, a group of American senators said that the Pentagon’s latest report on cyberdefense policy, which was released last week, failed to adequately address Congressional concerns. In a letter sent to US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Senators Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican, called this incomplete policy “a significant gap in our national security that must be addressed.”

They added that the Pentagon needs to further explain what would constitute an act of war in cyberspace, as well as clarify the rules of engagement for commanders in cyberspace. This is just the most recent chapter in the ongoing evolution of the nature of war in cyberspace. Last week, US Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn spoke at the National Defense University in Washington. During his address, he revealed that a cyberattack against the Pentagon in March 2011 resulted in the unauthorized access of 24,000 secret American military documents, which the US government presumes was orchestrated by a foreign government. “The technology has surpassed our legal and political framework and we are trying to catch up,” Lynn said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Germany: Berlin’s Kebabs Are a Culinary Universe

There’s a rumor that the döner kebab was invented in Berlin. It’s probably not true. But anyway the city is over the döner. The variety of Mid-Eastern meat sandwich in the capital is now basically infinite. Earlier this week, Thilo Sarrazin — the same one who wrote the infamous book about Germany’s immigrant communities, entitled “Germany Does Away with Itself” — was kicked out of a kebab shop in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. I lived in Kreuzberg for eight years, and I cannot imagine anything worse. The thought that I might be barred from even one of this area’s myriad delicious Anatolian/Mid-Eastern meat sandwich emporiums — depriving me of a staple of my diet — is unspeakable. It would certainly put me off writing a book that could offend the Turkish or Arab communities in any way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indignados Towards Madrid for Next Sunday’s Demonstration

(AGI) Madrid — “Indignados” are marching from all over Spain towards Madrid, in preparation of next Sunday’s protest demonstration organized by the activists. After the first demonstrations two months ago, when 200,000 people took to the streets, indignatos are now relaunching the protest organizing marches all over the country, all of them converging towards Madrid .

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

Is This Norway’s 9/11?

Last week, a Norwegian prosecutor filed terror charges against an Iraqi-born cleric for threatening Norwegian politicians with death if he is deported from the Scandinavian country. The indictment centered on statements that Mullah Krekar — the founder of the Kurdish Islamist group Ansar al-Islam — made to various news media, including American network NBC.

Last month, we posted on a presentation in Ottawa by Norwegian anti-immigration activist Hege Storhaug. Storhaug cautioned her fellow Norwegians and many of us in Canada and the US about the consequences of a politically correct state that permits significant unassimiliable Muslim immigration into this small Scandinavian country.


Perhaps July 22nd in Oslo is a wakeup call to Norway’s elitists that dhimmitude and leaving open the gates of unchecked immigration from Muslim countries across the ummah doesn’t pay. You let in barbarians to live off your dole, multiply like proverbial rabbits, rape your women and blow you to smithereens. Then these ingrates demand self governing Shariah ruled no-go areas. This is not 9/11 in Manhattan, 3/11 in Madrid or 7/7 in London. It is 7/22 in Oslo. We are witnessing homegrown Jihadis seeking to wrest control of a Scandinavian country and convert it to a Caliphate on the arctic circle. Time for Storhaug and others of good repute in Norway to lead their fellow citizens and take back their country from the Islamic terrorists among them.

[Return to headlines]

Italians Fed Up With Rome’s Pampered Politicians

As Rome implements deep austerity measures in a bid to save its economy from a fate similar to Greece, many Italians are voicing anger over the privileged lifestyles of their elected representatives. Italy’s elected officials are the highest paid politicians in the world and are also among the biggest cheaters, according to an anonymous Italian blogger who calls himself “Spider Truman.” The blogger says he was laid off from his job in the Italian parliament after working there for 15 years. He is now using the social media site Facebook to leak details of the privileges the Italian political class enjoys.

Italian politicians receive free national airline tickets for themselves and friends, lend out state-paid chauffeured cars to political supporters, receive discount rates on phone bills and vehicles, and make false reports of death threats to qualify for bodyguards. They are also paid 12,000 euros ($17,000) a month after tax, which is over twice the European average.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Senate Rejects Arrest Warrant for Tedesco With 151 Nays

(AGI) Rome — The Senate has said no to a request from prosecutors in Bari to arrest Senator Aberto Tedesco ( a former member of the PD and now part of the Mixed Group, with 151 nays, 127 yays and 11 abstentions in a secret ballot .

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

Norway Police Say at Least 80 Killed in Youth Camp Shooting

At least 80 people were killed on Friday when a gunman stalked youths at an island summer camp for young members of the governing Labor Party, the police said on national television early Saturday.

Before the shooting attack, explosions in Oslo killed seven people and wounded at least 15, the police said, according to the state television broadcaster.

After the shooting the police seized a 32-year-old Norwegian man on the island, according to the police and Justice Minister Knut Storberget. He was later identified as Anders Behring Breivik and was characterized by officials as a right-wing extremist.

The man was arrested in connection with both attacks.

[Return to headlines]

Romania Pushes for Clarity on Wind Power

Romania currently hosts the largest on-shore wind park in Europe. Wind energy is booming in the economically weak country, yet investors remain worried about a lack of clear regulations. Strong winds and strong state support: Romania is on its way to becoming wind energy’s paradise. Back in 2008, the Bucharest government agreed on a law to promote renewable energies, which it published in the Romanian government gazette. However, the European Commission has to approve these plans since they count as state aid. It was not until this summer that the document was submitted to Brussels for signature.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Scotland Yard Investigation Spreads to Other Newspapers

(AGI) London — Scotland Yard is investigating a number of newspapers, and not only those owned by Rupert Murdoch’s corporation, within the framework of the controversial habit of using private detectives to obtain confidential information.

According to the BBC, the Metropolitan Police has requested files on an previous media investigation know as ‘Operation Motorman’, carried out in 2003 by the Information Commissioner, an independent body responsible for the media.

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

Swedish Man’s Thong Use Prompts Police Probe

On Thursday visitors to a beach on lake Falkträsket, in northern Sweden, witnessed uniformed police turn up and make their way through the sea of towels to question a man in his thirties about his choice of swimwear. The man, who was practising yoga in the sun, was only wearing a thong. “Did they think he was some kind of a sexual criminal just because he was wearing a g-string?” said holiday-maker Ellinor Perlefelt to local paper Norran. She was upset by the incident and told the paper she was convinced that it was someone among the other sunbathers that made a complaint to the police. The police confirmed to Norran that it was indeed some of the beach dwellers that had contacted them after witnessing the man adopt yoga positions in the flimsy attire.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wilderness, Shopping and Blondes Shape Sweden’s Image Abroad

When foreigners are prompted to share what they think of Sweden their thoughts wander to the great outdoors, shopping, snow and beautiful women, according to a new survey from VisitSweden. “A typical view of Sweden still exists, but is starting to be replaced with the image of the modern and progressive way of life in Sweden,” said said VisitSweden CEO Thomas Brühl in a statement. Visit Sweden’s survey involved 6,400 potential visitors from a slew of countries including Norway, Germany, France, Russia, the UK and the US, asking them to respond to the question — “What is the first thing you think about when you think of Sweden as a travel destination”.

Among the replies are included the common themes of “snow”, “peace and quiet”, and “blond people”. But in addition Sweden’s variety of shopping and reasonable prices were also noted by some, along with “friendly people” and “chocolate”. Variations were great, and often contradictory, among the various nationalities responding to the survey. Among Norwegians, Sweden is a budget shopping destination with 25 percent citing the good value on offer; the Brits meanwhile held the opposite view. Several groups were in agreement that Sweden offers “life quality”, “modernity”, “forests”, “lakes” and “space”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Serbia: EU Enlargement Commissioner Cold to Serbian Membership

Belgrade, 22 July (AKI) — European Union commissioner for enlargement Stefan Fuele said on Friday the arrest of Serbia’s last war crimes fugitives Goran Hadzic this week wasn’t enough for Serbia to join the 27-nation club.

“I think that the arrest is excellent news and it’s great that Serbia fulfilled its promise,” Fuele told Radio Free Europe. But that lone won’t be enough for Serbia to get a status of an official candidate in October as Belgrade expects, he added.

“My answer is absolutely clear — no,” Fuele said. He pointed out that Belgrade had to fulfill many obligations relating to reforms, especially in its judiciary system, freedom of press, creation of a “friendly business climate” and improving relations with Kosovo which declared independence in 2008.

“The ball is in the Serbian court and I know they are doing whatever they can,” Fuele said.

He hailed the ongoing talks between Belgrade and Pristina on practical matters, but pointed out that the main topic, the status of Kosovo, hasn’t been touched on yet and will have to be dealt with soon.

“Serbia can’t become a member of the European Union without solving that problem, there is no doubt about it,” Fuele said. “It is up to Belgrade and Pristina to find a solution,” he concluded.

Pro-European Serbian president Boris Tadic has been saying that the arrest of war crimes suspects was the last precondition for EU membership. But opposition leaders have accused Tadic of treason, saying he was working on a tacit approval of Kosovo independence as a last condition for joining the EU.

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

North Africa

Egyptian PM’s New Cabinet Sworn in Before Military

(AGI) Cairo — The new cabinet of Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf, emerging from a recent reshuffle, has been sworn in.

The ministers were sworn in before the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which has ruled Egypt since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is headed by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. It was reported by state news agency Mena.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Israel’s Premier Opportunist

Saying that Israel faces daunting challenges today and that those challenges will multiply and grow in the near future should not be construed as a partisan or ideological statement. Rather, it is a statement of fact.

It is also a fact that the greatest dangers facing Israel stem from President Barack Obama’s rapid withdrawal of the US from its position as the predominant power in the Middle East on the one hand, and from Iran’s rise as a nuclear power and regional power on the other.

These power shifts along with the Muslim Brotherhood’s rising power in Egypt; Turkey’s Islamist government’s regional ambitions; the rise of jihadist forces throughout the Persian Gulf; and the growing instability of the Syrian and Jordanian regimes, together constitute a threat environment unmatched in Israel’s history…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck Exclusive: Palestinian Law Says Selling Land to Jews “Punishable by

My CBN colleague Chris Mitchell has filed a must-watch report from Israel detailing a Palestinian Authority law saying that any Arab who sells land to a Jew must be killed.

This is an important story that you won’t see anywhere else. Click on the above link to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Books: The Smile of the Crescent, Humour and the Arab World

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 22 — Who says that Arab people are incapable of laughing at satire, making fun of themselves or of the ills that afflict their society? Those who claim that Arab people are unable to use irony or write wittily are mistaken. In their new book “The Smile of the Crescent: Humour, irony and satire in Arab culture” (Carocci, 196 pages, 18 euros), Barbara De Poli, Paolo Branca and Patrizia Zanelli aim to debunk what, in western culture, has become something of a myth — the idea that the Muslim Arab, reactionary and lacking in humour, is capable only of brandishing the sword against the “infidel”.

The authors of this collection have researched and collected anecdotes, jokes, stories, proverbs and satire from the pages of certain Arab newspapers. The study spans a considerable period of time, from the classical era through to the present day. The picture that emerges is of an Arab Muslim world that is able of going beyond the outlook presented by western stereotypes, and of not being limited to a clichéd world of veiled women, bearded men and boorish conservatism, however much it might be present in certain strands of Arab society. Salacious gossip centring on rulers and their entourage existed in classical times, in essence since the first century of Islamic history, says Professor Paolo Branca.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: Turkey Plans to Build Nuke Plant in Occupied Area

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 22 — Ankara’s energy plans include the construction of a Russian-type nuclear plant in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, according to English-speaking Turkish daily Hurriyet, citing a board member of the country’s chamber of mechanical engineers. The newspaper underlines that the general plan provides for the construction of a nuclear plant in occupied northern Cyprus or laying underwater cables from Turkey. The daily published statements by Haluk Direskeneli, a board member of the Chamber of Mechanical Engineers and head of its energy committee, who said that “Russia’s barge-mounted nuclear power plant might be built in northern Cyprus,” adding that such a facility would generate electricity “not only for the Turkish part (of the divided island), but also the Greek part.” He also said that “the idea of a nuclear power plant in northern Cyprus was brought up at a seminar in the British Council’s Ankara office on January 16, 2007, attended mainly by academics.” The newspaper writes that the nuclear plant plan was confirmed by the Turkish Cypriot sources as well. In May 2010, Turkey and Russia signed a deal for construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, a small town on the Mediterranean coast, which is expected to cost about 20 billion USD. Russian state-owned atomic power company ROSATOM is likely to start building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in 2013 and the first reactor is planned to generate electricity in 2018. Russia will build four 1,200 megawatt units on Akkuyu site (with a total capacity of 4,800 MW), and run the power plant for 60 years. The Akkuyu nuclear power plant is expected to meet 14% of the energy Turkey currently generates. But the site planned for the first Turkish nuclear plant — as ecologists warned — is only a couple of dozen miles away from a fault line which geologists fear is in danger of sliding at any time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jordan’s Foreign Debt Reaches USD 17 Billion

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, 22 LUG — Economy of Jordan continues to grapple with economic difficulties after recent figures revealed that foreign debt stood at nearly USD 17 billion until end of June, official figures showed yesterday. Debt of the aid dependent kingdom is mainly to international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund with nearly 75% of the total debt to these institutions, according to figures provided by ministry of finance. The government has been grappling with impact of economic difficulties and lack of investment following ongoing political turmoil that sent a shockwave across the region. Jordan depends on aid from the US, Saudi Arabia, the EU and other western countries to balance its books. Activists blame successive governments for the high debt and say corruption in the public sector and a policy of welfare by the state to certain groups have contributed to the kingdom’s economic plight.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

NATO’s Partnerships and the “Arabellion”

Karl-Heinz Kamp: For decades, NATO favored stability over freedom in the Arab world. Now, the Alliance should support its partner countries with expertise to make their armed forces more effective in a democratic environment, especially in human rights training, international law, defense planning and border security.

NATO has been a player in the region for a long time. Through the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), the Alliance has provided military advice, training and a consolidated approach to new security challenges. But the “Arabellion,” which came as a complete surprise not only for NATO, has revealed two weaknesses in the Alliance’s approach: first, all NATO members for a long time sacrificed their own values on the altar of realpolitik, which favored stability over democracy. Second, NATO never developed a vision for MENA’s long-term future.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladeshi Has Brick Tied to Penis as Punishment

Bangladeshi police said on Thursday they were investigating the case of a man forced to parade naked through his village with a brick tied to his penis as punishment for kidnapping and marrying a minor. The punishment was meted out Saturday to the 30-year-old man by the local council in a village 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of Dhaka. Police said he had kidnapped and then forcibly married a 12-year-old girl, who later managed to escape.

“The council chief and some village elders beat him and made him parade with a brick tied to his penis at a river ghat (steps) under the full gaze of at least 200 people,” police sub-inspector Binoy Krishna Kar said. Village courts are legal in Bangladesh but only empowered to settle disputes related to land ownership, inheritance and other minor issues. They are proscribed from handing down physical punishment. The latest incident came a week after the global rights monitor Human Rights Watch released a statement highlighting abuses committed by local councils which are often the result of religious edicts or fatwas. The group urged Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 142 million people, to take “urgent” measures to prevent such cases, which have been blamed for the deaths of dozens of women in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

COIN is Dhimmitude

by Diana West

This week, the madness of the counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN), which drives the war in Afghanistan, reached new heights — or depths — as revealed by two news stories.

In Great Britain, a former Royal Marine told the Sun newspaper after the inquest into the 2010 death of Sgt. Peter Rayner that soldiers were prevented from opening fire at Taliban fighters in the act of laying IEDs so as not to disturb the local population.

So as not to disturb…?

In Iowa, a community mourns the death of National Guard soldier Terry L. Pasker, who, along with contractor Paul Protzenko, was killed last week in yet another attack by an Afghan army soldier. reports: “The U.S. military considered the area so safe that soldiers didn’t wear body armor, so as not to offend the friendly locals.”

So as not to offend…?

Fear of offending has long been a salient feature of our culture. It has become an expression of a self-deprecating, if not self-loathing, society where the “dead white males” who brought us “Hamlet,” the Constitution and the light bulb have become embarrassments for their X-chromosome and pigment deficiency, their failure to partake of non-Western religion, the homosexual rights agenda, and other postmodern assets, the very lack of which is deemed offensive. But that’s an old story.

Since 9/11, however, this psychosis has had a new application…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Nepal-India: West Bengal: Gurkha Tea Growers Get Autonomy

The new Christian-majority autonomous region will have a parliament of 50 members and will manage the agricultural and industrial policies related to tea. Communists and Hindus protest who fear the emergence of a new independent state led by Christians.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The ethnic Gurkhas tea planters of Darjeeling (West Bengal) are celebrating their independence, obtained a few days ago after decades of struggle. The new majority autonomous region of Nepal, the Gurkhaland Territorial Adiministration (GTA), will be entitled to a parliament composed of 50 members. Among its powers, the ability to define and administer the industrial policies of the region, world famous for the production of tea, which amounts to approximately 10 thousand tons per year.

Predominantly Christian, the Gurkhas have been fighting for independence for the region since 1980. The granting of the new government of West Bengal, elected last May, has sparked controversy among the communist opposition, which fears the creation of a new independent state. The Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist has administered the state for 34 years and together with the Hindu party Akhil Bharatiya Gurkhas, has always opposed the demands for autonomy of the Gurkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) formed mostly by Christians.

According to tradition the Gurkhas are the first ethnic Nepalese to be evangelized by missionaries. To date, approximately 50% of Christians in Nepal come from or originated in the Darjeeling region.

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

Tajikistan: In Dushanbe Minors Can Not Enter Church Without Authorization

New amendments to ban children from any religious activity, punishing parents who “do not prevent it.” The state says it wants to prevent Islamic extremism and protect children. But Christians are concerned that in fact, is a tool to target any religious group.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews/F18) — The upper house of the Tajik Parliament yesterday approved new restrictions on religious freedom for minors. In addition there are new penalties for those who preach “religious extremism”, but there is concern because it has failed to outline the contents of the law. The new law on parental responsibility states it is the “duty” of parents “not to allow underage youth to participate in the activities of religious organizations, with the exception of those included in official religious education”, those approved by the State .

The ban was expected, but that children could at least attend “funerals”. Now even this possibility has been excluded, a small but important change for the concept it expresses.

Control is entrusted to the Committee for Religious Affairs, which also has local offices in the country, thus capable of keeping the public life of families under surveillance and to denounce their parents who do not exercise the required supervision. Parents should monitor that their children do not even participate in religious activities when they are abroad and now special government permission is needed to register them in a foreign religious school.

Forum 18 sources explain that it has become much more difficult to obtain state approval for any form of religious instruction. In practice, the ban prevents young people from having any religious education or involvement until they reach adulthood.

Supporters of the law counter that young people under 18 may not have sufficient maturity to participate with awareness and that the new law only wants to protect them. But local religious sources tell F18 that “all religious activity was forbidden for people under 18 years” and that this law “does not respect international human rights standards” for minors. “All the Protestant churches — said another source — are concerned, now it is against the law for a child to be in church,” because the state authorities “do not even give permission to non-Islamic groups for Sunday catechism classes “.

Article 9 of the Act prohibits children and young people from “receiving instruction in schools and educational institutions or from individuals which are not state recognized.”

The main purpose is to target the madrassas (Islamic schools) abroad: in August 2010 the President Emomali Rahmon urged families to call children who attend Islamic schools abroad, warning against the danger that they become “extremists and terrorists” . Many poor families send their children to similar Muslim institutions, where they are housed, fed and receive a basic education, even if the level is very questionable.

But the ban affects everyone: under the new law on religious freedom in 2009, many mosques were destroyed, Christians tried and convicted for “illegal” meetings and activities and Jehovah’s Witnesses banned from the country.

Up to 2 years imprisonment has also been introduced for anyone who arranges “unauthorized meetings, demonstrations, pickets and road marches”, basically any gathering of illegal matrix. It ‘also punishes those who teach “extremist” religious doctrines but it was not clear what is meant by extremist, leaving, therefore, considerable discretion to the police: teaching “in any place” is punishable, even in private homes, with imprisonment of up to 12 years for the organizers and the confiscation of property.

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

Far East

China Wishes US to Stay Out of ASEAN Business

China has told the US to respect Chinese “territorial integrity” during a bilateral meeting in Indonesia. This comes after ASEAN nations reported a breakthrough in the South China Sea agreement after months of tension. The United States and China have moved to repair strained ties, saying tensions over the South China Sea were easing with new guidelines on conduct between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, meeting at Asia’s biggest security conference in Indonesia, appeared eager to ensure the dispute over the oil and gas-rich waters did not become another source of friction between the world’s largest economy and the second-largest. “I want to commend China and ASEAN for working so closely together to include implementation guidelines for the declaration of conduct in the South China Sea,” Clinton said at the meeting on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

ANC Youth Leader With Extravagant Lifestyle Pleads Poverty

The ‘champion of the poor’ denies building a costly home and owning a luxury car, writes BILL CORCORAN in Cape Town. THE YOUTH League leader of the African National Congress has refused to answer journalists’ questions about how he funds his extravagant lifestyle, saying his finances were none of their business and that he is in fact a poor man. The controversial firebrand Julius Malema, who in the past has said he earns about €2,000 a month from the ruling party as leader of their youth wing, hit the headlines in recent days when it was reported he was building a house worth over €1.6 million in Sandton, one of the country’s richest suburbs. Since his rise to power in the Youth League in 2008, Malema (30) has continuously lambasted rich white South Africans who, he claims, hold most of the wealth in the country. He has also heralded himself as a champion of the poor. As part of his plans to redistribute wealth, Malema has been calling on the ANC to nationalise the mines and introduce land expropriation without compensation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Famine in East Africa: A Catastrophe in the Making

Aid workers have long been warning that a famine was approaching in East Africa. Now that it is here, they are struggling to feed millions of victims of what is said to be the worst drought since 1950. The situation is likely to get even worse.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germans ‘Reluctant’ To Help Africa, But Famine Victims Dying

Germans seem less prepared to donate money for aid operations in Africa then elsewhere, according to the aid group federation Aktion Deutschland Hilft, referring to the latest famine in eastern Africa. Appeals to help victims of the earthquake disaster in Haiti attracted donations of more than €7 million within days, said Manuela Roßbach, a manager with the organization, but so far projects to help those caught in the famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have only received €800,000. Willingness to help African causes, in general, has been relatively low in Germany, Roßbach said on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Instability to Blame for Famine in Horn of Africa, Aid Groups Say

Crop failure, droughts and floods are not the only causes of hunger. Corruption, mismanagement and bad governance are mainly to blame for catastrophes such as the current famine in the Horn of Africa. Every day, between 1,000 and 2,000 refugees from Somalia come to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya. They are fleeing from hunger — and from a nation which isn’t a country at all.

“The situation is so chaotic in southern Somalia, that it’s even dangerous for us aid workers to go there,” said Ralf Südhoff from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). Rebel groups are spreading fear and terror among the population, blocking desperately needed food aid and making any possible help from the outside world impossible. Add to this the extreme drought. The result is that many who are already living at the poverty level and below are robbed of their last chance to survive. The food scarcity is causing prices to soar. Whoever can’t pay them starves. “Millet is a very important foodstuff in Somalia and is twice as expensive as it was just a short time ago,” Südhoff said. “The people don’t have any choices anymore.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Somalia Drought: Militia Refuse International Aid

(AGI) Mogadishu — Hard-line militant Islamists in drought-ridden Somalia are continuing to refuse international aid. They are accusing the UN of giving false information about the real situation in Somalia. This is a turn-around from a fortnight ago when the extremists announced that the ban on international agencies working in areas under their control, in place since 2009, had been revoked.

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


Spain to Make U-Turn on Labour Market Access for Romanians

The Spanish government is on Friday (22 July) set to approve a measure restricting the access of Romanian workers on its labour market from 1 August, due to the high unemployment rates plaguing the country. The measure would be a “temporary one” and only target new incoming Romanian workers, not the almost one million already officially registered in Spain, junior minister for immigration Anna Terron told Europa Press on Wednesday. With an unemployment rate of 21 percent and the construction boom over, spare work for Romanians — who head to the Iberian country because of the similarity between the Romanian and Spanish languages — is thin on the ground. “There is a 38 percent unemployment among the Romanians who are in Spain and it seems reasonable that first Spain absorbs those who are here,” Terron said. The measure, which has been already notified to the Romanian authorities, is also meant to have a “pedagogical impact” by discouraging other Romanians from coming. But the decision is a blow for Romanian diplomacy, with officials currently trying to woo allies for its already delayed entry to the border-free Schengen area.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Diamonds Hold Secret to Plate Tectonics’ Birth

Diamonds hold the secret to when the continents formed locked inside them. A study of the gems suggests that plate tectonics began 3 billion years ago, 1.5 billion years after our planet was born. We know that plate tectonics has been pushing new bits of crust into existence and engulfing old segments back into the bowels of the mantle for hundreds of millions of years. What we don’t know is when it all started. Stephen Richardson of the University of Cape Town in South Africa now claims to have found the answer locked inside thousands of ancient diamonds collected from around the world.

Diamonds form deep in the mantle before being pushed up towards the surface in volcanic eruptions. Gems considered to be “flawed” by the jewellery industry can contain tiny clumps of minerals from the rocks in which they formed. It is these flawed diamonds that Richardson and Steven Shirey of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington DC, focused on (see here). Some mineral clumps are made of peridotite, the most common mineral in the upper mantle. Others are made of the rarer eclogite, which is only formed when volcanic rocks from the surface are forced deep into the mantle and crushed by the immense heat and pressure. So to get eclogite, you need plate tectonics. Richardson and Shirey were able to date the mineral clumps by looking at their isotopic make-up. They found that peridotite clumps ranged from 2 to 3.5 billion years old, but the oldest eclogite was 3 billion years old. This, say Richardson and Shirey, proves plate tectonics cannot have been active before then.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

NASA Invaded Red Planet With Viking Mars Landing

On Mars Day every year, people celebrate the first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars — NASA’s Viking 1, which touched down on the Red Planet 35 years ago. The craft that landed July 20, 1976, the first of many visitors to Mars, had been designed to work for 90 days, but it continued gathering data for more than six years. In doing so, Viking 1 helped answer many questions about the nature of Earth’s neighbor, but it also left behind a mystery that remains tantalizingly unsolved to this very day: Is there evidence of life on Mars? Before Viking 1 arrived, scientists had no high-resolution images of the Martian surface. The mission helped image the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of about 500 to 1,000 feet (150 to 300 meters), with selected areas at about 25 feet (8 m).

Viking also represented the first and so far only attempt to search for life on Mars. Its findings are hotly debated today. “One school of thought, exemplified by Gil Levin, made the cause for life, while the other from Norm Horowitz argued against it on Mars,” Zubrin said. “The Viking experiments remain inconclusive.” The landers had detected organic molecules such as methyl chloride and dichloromethane. However, these compounds were dismissed as terrestrial contamination — namely, cleaning fluids used to prepare the spacecraft when it was still on Earth.

“The real question of Mars is about life, and to answer it we’ll need people there,” Zubrin said. “If one thinks the laws of science of life on Earth are the same elsewhere in the universe — which I do — then it’s rational to believe that life once developed on Mars when it was a warm and wet planet. There may now be fossils on the surface and maybe living organisms underground.” He added: “The question that a human mission to Mars could resolve is whether the origin of life is a high-probability event that occurs in a natural sequence of chemical complexification. If that’s the case, then life should have appeared on Mars and life is extremely abundant in the universe. If not, then we could be unique. Mars is a Rosetta stone for understanding the potential and diversity of life in the cosmos.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Snowstorms on Mars May Dwarf Those on Earth

SNOWSTORMS more violent than any on Earth may have hit Mars — and could occasionally strike again, despite its extremely dry climate. No rain or snowstorms have ever been observed on Mars, which has been mostly cold and dry for about 3.5 billion years. But mineral evidence suggests short-lived lakes have formed intermittently on the planet, sometimes inside craters. Lakes may form when meteorite impacts heat ice in the crust or when underground reservoirs of water kept liquid by geothermal heat leak onto the surface.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Vertical Farming: Can Urban Agriculture Feed a Hungry World?

Agricultural researchers believe that building indoor farms in the middle of cities could help solve the world’s hunger problem. Experts say that vertical farming could feed up to 10 billion people and make agriculture independent of the weather and the need for land. There’s only one snag: The urban farms need huge amounts of energy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]