Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110730

Financial Crisis
»Senate Vote on Debt Limit Postponed Until Sunday Afternoon
»Iran’s Missiles Could Soon Reach U.S. Shores
Europe and the EU
»Ancient Etruscan ‘Holy Site’ Found Near Viterbo
»Ancient Reindeer Engraving Among Britain’s Oldest Rock Art
»Copper Thieves Target Sweden’s Churches
»Germany/Islamophobia: Germany Urged to Fight Islamophobia
»Greece: Census Shows Population Decline by More Than 1%
»In Northern Italy: Elementary School Hunting Lessons Spark Controversy
»Italy: the Market for Schoolgirl Sex Videos
»Mapping the Most Complex Object in the Known Universe
»Pedophilia Victims Bring Class Action Against Vatican
»Ramadan: Algerian Imams to Lead Prayers in Europe
»UK: Curry Workers Brawl With Drinkers in the Battle of Brick Lane
»UK: Judge’s Attack on Extremist Jailed for Using Internet to Incite Muslims to Murder MPs
»UK: Toddlers’ East End Sports Day Marred by Yobs
North Africa
»Attack on Gas Pipeline in North Sinai, 5th Since February
»Egypt: Parties Leave Square to Protest Against Islamists
»Egypt: Call to Arms
»Egypt: Militants Attack Gas Pipeline to Israel
»Egypt: The Revolution Remains on Track
»Egyptian Islamists Hijack Tahrir Square Demonstration, Demand Islamic State
»Thousands Demonstrate for an Islamic State in Egypt
Middle East
»Lebanon: 4 Suspects in Hariri Killing Named
»Turkey: Chief of General Staff and All Commanders Resign
»Turkey: Italian Archaeologist Discovers Tomb of Apostle
»Turkey: Erdogan Wants Another Apology, This Time From Armenia
»Russia: Protests in Rostov Against Jehovah’s Witnesses
Far East
»38 of Japan’s 54 Reactors Closed, Almost 70%
»Algeria: Green Light for New Great Mosque in Algiers
Australia — Pacific
»Diplomatic Dole Scandal
»Man Accused of Facebook Bomb Threat
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ivory Coast: Muslim Chief’s Violence Chasing Residents From Homes
»Australia: What Really Happened When Asylum Seekers Boat Exploded
»Italy Repatriates 64 Illegal Immigrants This Week
»UK: What About Our Human Right to a Common Language?
Culture Wars
»Facebook and Twitter Creating Vain Generation of Self-Obsessed People With Child-Like Need for Feedback, Warns Top Scientist
»Men Allege Sexual Discrimination at Swedish Police Academy
»UK: Fury as Judge Frees Paedophile Teacher and Tells Him ‘Staff Are Often Attracted to Children’
»Earth’s Tallest Lightning Seen in Unprecedented Detail
»Existence: Why is the Universe Just Right for Us?
»Redefining Hydrogen Bonds, The Givers of Life
»Ten Myths About Islam

Financial Crisis

Senate Vote on Debt Limit Postponed Until Sunday Afternoon

The Senate will delay a crucial vote on the Democratic debt ceiling bill until 1 p.m. tomorrow amid growing indications that a compromise is in the works that will avert a federal default on Tuesday.

The delay averts a 1 a.m. legislative showdown in the Senate and all-night wrangling that Democrats had threatened on Friday. And it suggests that the looming deadline is working to pressure both sides toward a last-minute agreement.

[Return to headlines]


Iran’s Missiles Could Soon Reach U.S. Shores

Iran is also perfecting its missile delivery systems. Recently, the Revolutionary Guards held war games in which they launched several long-range ballistic missiles from missile silos. They also successfully tested two long-range ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, into the Indian Ocean. While the Guards’ ballistic missiles have a range of 1,200 miles covering all U.S. bases in the Middle East and all of Israel, they now possess missiles from North Korea with a range of 2,000 miles, which covers most of Western Europe.

In an alarming July 18 statement, Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayari said the Iranian navy plans on deploying warships in the Atlantic Ocean as part of a program to ply international waters, although he did not say where in the Atlantic the ships would be sent. Two days later, Rear Adm. Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi revealed, for the first time, that the Iranian navy has equipped a number of its logistic vessels and units with long-range surface-to-surface missiles. He stated, “Missile frigates and destroyers have been equipped with these missiles since a long time ago and the surface-to-surface missiles of the logistic vessels were successfully tested and assessed during the recent naval war games, dubbed as Joushan.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Ancient Etruscan ‘Holy Site’ Found Near Viterbo

‘Clear evidence of votive offerings’, says expert

(ANSA) — Soriano nel Cimino, July 26 — Italian archaeologists have discovered a sacred mountain where ancient Etruscans worshipped gods and burned sacred objects in their honour during the Bronze Age 3000 years ago.

Experts from the Archeological Superintendency for southern Etruria and La Sapienza University in Rome found the site at Mount Cimino near Viterbo, 80 km north of Rome.

The discovery is considered one of the most important in the early history of Lazio, the region surrounding Rome, with archaeological remnants dating back to 1000 BC.

Working on the summit of the 1000-metre high mountain, the team of archaeologists led by Professor Andrea Cardarelli has carried out excavations for the past three years.

Cardarelli said they found a number of materials which were linked to cult fires and “clear evidence of votive offerings” “Religious activities 1000 years BC were carried out through fire,” he said. “Offerings were burnt for the gods — sacred objects, food or animals”.

Remnants of an ancient wall encircling the mountain were also found by the archeological team.

“These excavations have raised so many questions,” said Laura D’Erme from the Archeological Superintendency.

“What relations did the inhabitants of Mount Cimino have with the nearby community of Soriano? Was the mountain inhabited by the ruling class? Was this the point of religious reference for Etruria”?

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ancient Reindeer Engraving Among Britain’s Oldest Rock Art

A faint engraving of a reindeer in a South Wales cave looks to be among the oldest rock art known in Britain. Researchers completed an analysis on July 27 that dated the image at roughly 12,600 years or older, putting it about on par with Britain’s oldest known rock art. The archeologist who discovered the engraving, George Nash, from the University of Bristol, said he believed it could be even older.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Copper Thieves Target Sweden’s Churches

Tourists and church-goers are not the only ones to be drawn to Sweden’s many attractive copper-roofed churches.

A surge of copper thefts have left the country’s churches reeling.

“We’ve seen a sharp increase during 2011,” Leif Eriksson, CEO of Kyrkans Försäkring, the insurance company in charge of insuring 60 percent of Sweden’s churches, told The Local on Monday.

“Thefts increase every year, but this year they’ve really taken off,” he said.

In 2010, a total of 27 copper thefts were reported, costing churches a damage cost of 1.3 million kronor ($198,000). So far in 2011, 26 thefts have already been registered, at a total cost of 1.8 million kronor.

The roofs are expensive to rebuild, and replacing a roof containing 30,000 kronor worth of copper can cost as much as 500,000 kronor.

Copper is an attractive material, and more and more churches are now looking to replace the stolen goods with some other material, of less interest to potential thieves.

Leif Eriksson believes that smaller parts, such as copper drainpipes, may come to be replaced with other materials when the copper has been stolen repeatedly.

Copper roofs however, are hard to avoid, as many churches are protected buildings falling under cultural heritage regulations, where the original material must be used when renovating.

“There’s a heavy pressure on churches to have copper roofs,” said Eriksson.

He hopes that publicising the growing problem will lead to a change in future.

“We have to trumpet this in papers, and make the public more aware. People need to know to call the police if they see anything strange.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany/Islamophobia: Germany Urged to Fight Islamophobia

BERLIN, Shaaban 29/July 30 (IINA)-German Muslims have called on Berlin to take legal action against websites which provoke Islamophobia and endanger peaceful coexistence in the European country.

Head of the Center for Islam in Munich in the state of Bavaria, Benjamin Idriz, called on the German government to resort to the constitution and exercise more supervision over the websites which contain insulting material against Islam, DPA reported.

The center says it expects German authorities to counter extremist movements which seek to jeopardize peaceful coexistence in the country, Idriz further explained.

The moderate cleric specifically mentioned the offensive anti-Muslim remarks in the German website pi-news, a far-right news outlet which as a part of its agenda opposes the spread of Islam and Islamic teachings across Europe.

Meanwhile, Bavaria state officials argue that by virtue of the law on freedom of expression they cannot take any action against the website…

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Greece: Census Shows Population Decline by More Than 1%

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JULY 26 — Greece’s population has shrunk by more than 1% over the last 10 years, according to the preliminary results from the census carried out earlier this year, thereby bucking the trend of the last few decades.

Officials from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said that the first count of the figures collected indicate that Greece’s population is 10,787,690 (49.2% men and 50.8% women) compared to 10,934,097 in 2001, when the last census was carried out. This is a decline of 1.34%. Greece has an aging population, which has put a strain on its social security system, as daily Kathimerini notes. This has been somewhat counterbalanced by the influx of immigrants into Greece since the early 1990s. ELSTAT officials said they were not yet able to explain the apparent drop in population as the statistics which have been gathered have not been examined in detail yet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

In Northern Italy: Elementary School Hunting Lessons Spark Controversy

A handful of elementary schools in northern Italy have taken to teaching children about bird hunting. Environmentalists are crying foul and asking the national government to ban school courses that promote killing wildlife

In the spirit of exposing young students to all walks of life — and death — local hunters are offering lessons in some elementary schools in northern Italy. In villages around the city of Brescia, east of Milan, hunting is a traditional activity that many consider worthy of as much preservation as the local dialect or traditional local cheeses.

Two years ago, at the school in the village of Nave, the Italian migratory birds hunters association ANUU began organizing lessons and walks for the children of the elementary school. But when the lessons spread recently to other villages, there was an outcry from environmentalist activists…

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

Italy: the Market for Schoolgirl Sex Videos

Classroom strip shows and sex. Adolescents film each other with camera phones, swap videos and sell them on internet

MILAN — School-age children’s increasingly premature and uninhibited contact with sex involves camera phones and the internet. TV, the web, social networks and videoclips all seem to be speeding up young people’s sexual maturity. A report from Italy’s national health institute (ISS) points out that “the age of first sexual intercourse has fallen to 13-14 years”. In the mid 1970s, that age was 20-21 years. Today’s youngsters, however, often favour exhibitionism over desire, turning mobile phones into Big Brother’s watching eyes.

We met Andrea, 16, who studies at a scientific secondary school in northern Italy. Andrea showed off his videos to our cameras with a touch of pride. He told us that he took some clips himself and then swapped them with other teenagers. Once upon a time, it was football cards but today’s kids swap hard-core videos of their classmates. One clip features a 14-year-old girl. The teacher hasn’t arrived in class yet and Maria accepts a challenge from the other students: “Show us whether you’ve had a boob job”. A few moments later, the class is clustering around, mobiles at the ready to immortalise the strip show that Maria performs three or four times for her sniggering classmates. Maria herself is laughing and waving like a film star. Andrea thinks it’s quite normal when he shows us a girl sitting behind her desk and simulating — or perhaps not even simulating — oral sex with a classmate. The next video shows the teacher explaining to the class while in the back row of desks, a girl’s hand is busy at something that has little to do with schoolwork…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Mapping the Most Complex Object in the Known Universe

It’s paint-by-numbers for neuroscientists. At the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, researchers have devised a faster way of computing the neural connections that make up the brain. Mapping out this intricate web previously depended on the human eye as no computer was powerful enough to handle the brain’s complex network of 70 billion neurons and thousands of kilometres of circuits. For this gargantuan task, even the smallest sliver of neural tissue was painstaking, demanding an experienced team to make modest progress. Now with the help of two computer programs, Moritz Helmstaedter, Kevin Briggman and Winfried Denk have developed a faster and more accurate way of completing this neural cartography.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pedophilia Victims Bring Class Action Against Vatican

(AGI) Brussels — A few dozen Belgian victims of pedophile priests are to bring a class action against Belgian bishops, those responsible for the Catholic Church in Belgium and the Vatican. The case ill be heard in the Gand court on September 16th as announced by the leader of the group’s legal team, Chrisitne Mussche, who was speaking to the Flemish language daily newspaper De Morgen. Of the about 80 victims initially ready to take part in this class action, some have withdrawn .

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

Ramadan: Algerian Imams to Lead Prayers in Europe

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 29 — About a hundred Algerian imams will be going to a number of European countries to guide the taraouih prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. APS reports that the religious figures will go to France (where the largest number of them will be going) as well as Germany, Belgium and Austria, and will lead prayers in the mosques run by Algerians. The initiative was made official during a meeting between the imams and the Minister of Religious Affairs Bouabdallah Ghlamallah.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Curry Workers Brawl With Drinkers in the Battle of Brick Lane

A Wild West-style brawl broke out in Brick Lane as curry house workers armed with rolling pins and brooms fought with drinkers in the street.

Diners fled as one of London’s most famous restaurant districts was engulfed in the violence. One man had his jaw broken and another suffered head injuries in a mêlée involving up to 30 people, allegedly including chefs and waiters. CCTV footage showed men streaming out of restaurants just before midnight and a brawl breaking out. One man was seen having his head stamped on. The fight went on for about 10 minutes as passers-by attempted to calm tempers before police arrived to break it up.

Paramedics treated six people at the scene, mostly for cuts and bruises. The injured were taken to hospital. Police later raided six restaurants in Brick Lane and arrested four men.

Today, a worker at one venue, Aladin said: “We’re not gangsters, we’re just normal people trying to earn a living. A lot of our guys were so shaken up and traumatised by what happened that they are too scared to come to work.”

After the fighting on Wednesday last week, officers cordoned off the street under Operation Target, the Metropolitan police’s drive against violent crime. Detective Inspector Craig Robinson said: “People go to Brick Lane to socialise and it is famous — rightly so — for its great curry restaurants. People go there to have a good night out and they shouldn’t have to witness or be involved in that level of violence.” Four men were arrested at the scene and another four, aged between 25 and 39, were detained a week later on suspicion of violent disorder and causing grievous bodily harm. All were bailed pending further inquiries. Police will report to Tower Hamlets council on whether any of the restaurants may have broken their licensing conditions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Judge’s Attack on Extremist Jailed for Using Internet to Incite Muslims to Murder MPs

A judge launched a blistering attack on a British Muslim extremist yesterday, branding him ‘a viper in our midst’ and ‘a corrosively dangerous threat’ to the democratic process.

Jailing Bilal Zaheer Ahmad for 12 years, Mr Justice Royce said he was sending out a ‘loud and clear’ warning that Britain would not tolerate extremists preaching messages of hate and violence.

Ahmad, 24, who called on Muslims to murder MPs who supported the Iraq war, was the first person to be found guilty of inciting religious hatred under new laws banning the publication of inflammatory material.

The IT worker from Wolverhampton exhorted others to ‘raise the knife of jihad’ after a female Islamic extremist was jailed for trying to murder a Labour MP at his constituency surgery.

The judge told Ahmad: ‘You purport to be a British citizen, but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country.

‘You became a viper in our midst willing to go to as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Toddlers’ East End Sports Day Marred by Yobs

Police were called eight times when youths disrupted a nursery school’s toddler sports day in church gardens in London’s East End smashing bottles and setting off fireworks.

The yobs gather through the day in the grounds of St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell and taunt parents with foul abuse and threats in front of their children. One mum was even robbed of her mobile phone last month, while there has also been an attempted mugging of a dad collecting his child. But things came to a head when Greengables Montissori, which meets in the church crypt in The Highway, held its end-of-term toddlers’ sports day for 80 children and their parents in the church grounds. The yobs swore and hurled abuse, smashed bottles and set off fireworks—terrifying the children. Eight parents rang 999 during the half-hour melee.

“I am just raging by the whole thing,” nursery manager Grace Ivory told the East London Advertiser. “We had 300 people at our sports day including 80 toddlers when the youths turned up setting off fire-crackers which could have gone in direction of the children—it was all quite scary. Police said it would take an hour to get here. Of course the gang cleared off before they arrived.”

The parents want more police presence in the open church grounds and have even suggested a ‘zero tolerance’ zone around Shadwell, similar to non-alcohol zones that have been used around Brick Lane and Whitechapel. Grace calls the Shadwell neighbourhood police “every other day from 9am onwards”—but says response is poor. “We need to get this out in the open,” she added. “It’s ridiculous—I worry about the children I’m responsible for.” Now the angry parents want to run a petition when the nursery resumes after the summer break in two weeks’ time to send to the Met’s Tower Hamlets borough commander demanding higher police presence.

St George’s has been troubled with yobs going back at least four years, when parish priest Michael Ainsworth was attacked in the church grounds. It led to calls by the East End’s Interfaith Forum for more police protection for vulnerable vicars and churches.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Attack on Gas Pipeline in North Sinai, 5th Since February

(AGI) Cairo — A commando attacked an gas pipeline leading from Egypt’s North Sinai to Israel for the fifth time since February. The group launched grenades from motorcycles and cars and tried to assault the Al Shulaq gas hub although the attack was countered by armed forces in a shootout. At the end of the conflict, the militiamen succeeded to escape. However, the gas hub had been empty of gas since the attack of the 11th of July.

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

Egypt: Parties Leave Square to Protest Against Islamists

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JULY 29 — Around thirty Egyptian political parties and groups have decided to leave the demonstration that is in progress at Tahrir Square, to protest against the attitude of the Islamic movements, whose supporters have crammed the square since this morning. The parties have said in a press conference that the Islamists have not respected the agreements on a united demonstration today, avoiding religious slogans. The political parties were surprised by the “flagrant violations” by the Islamist movements and announced that they would leave the demonstration, but not the demonstration that is in progress since July 8. The Islamists are accused of acting in their interest while breaking the agreement that states that today’s protest should serve “the interests of the revolution.” A Salafite source, quoted by news agency MENA, has said that there are half a million members of this fundamentalist Islamic movement at Tahrir Square, denying accusations that religious slogans are used.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Call to Arms

The Egyptian impasse raises a sobering question: whether a revolution can succeed without violence

CAIRO — When Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned after 18 days of public demonstrations here last winter, Tahrir Square instantly took its place in the world’s iconography of peaceful protest. Young men and women brandishing nothing more lethal than shoes and placards had toppled a dictator. One subversive slogan — “The people want the fall of the regime” — in the mouths of a million people overpowered a merciless police state.

It was not bloodless; some 846 people were killed by police and regime thugs, according to an Egyptian government inquiry. But for the protesters, and for people watching around the world, Egypt’s uprising appeared a heartening entry in the history of successful nonviolent movements stretching from Gandhi and Martin Luther King to the “velvet revolutions” that unraveled the Iron Curtain in 1989.

That was half a year ago. Today, Mubarak’s military council runs the country, wielding even more power than before when it had to share authority with the president’s family and civilian inner circle. The military has detained thousands of people after secret trials, accused protesters of sedition, and issued only opaque directives about the country’s path toward a constitution and a new elected civilian government.

As time passes and revolutionary momentum fades in the broader public, a new current of thought is arising among the protesters who still occupy Tahrir Square, demanding civilian rule and accountability for former regime figures. Many are now asking an unsettling question: What if nonviolence isn’t the solution? What if it’s the problem?

“We have not yet had a true revolution,” said Ayman Abouzaid, a 25-year-old cardiologist who has taken part in every stage of the revolution so far. At the start, Abouzaid wholeheartedly embraced nonviolence, but now believes that only armed vigilante attacks will force the regime to purge the secret police and other operatives who still retain their jobs from the Mubarak era. “We need to take our rights with our own hands,” he says.

Among the dedicated core of Egyptian street activists who have been at the forefront of the protests since the beginning, an increasing number have begun to argue that a regime steeped in violence will respond only to force.. Egypt’s revolution appeared nonviolent, they argue, only because it wasn’t a revolution at all: it was a quiet military coup that followed the resignation of the president. They cast a glance at nearby Syria and Libya, still racked by sustained violent revolts against their authoritarian leaders, and wonder if that may be what a true revolution looks like.

Leftist political thinkers have turned to the history of the French and Russian Revolutions to argue that a full break from Egypt’s authoritarian past will ultimately require the use of force against the regime. Rank-and-file activists in Tahrir Square invoke a more visceral rule of power, pointing out that riot troops and secret police agents will yield only to the raw strength of popular confrontation.

Egypt’s trajectory is also raising a bigger question about revolutions: Is the modern view of regime change naive and inaccurate, reading too much into the uprisings that swept Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union? Perhaps these swift and largely peaceful overthrows of former Communist regimes are the exception rather than the rule when it comes to revolution. And if that’s true, Egypt and the other countries driving the Arab Awakening might be heading not toward something better, but something worse.

Nonviolence was philosophically at the heart of Egypt’s revolution since the beginning, and it’s part of why Tahrir Square appealed not only to millions of Egyptians but to so many in the West. January 25 fit nicely on a bumper sticker, signifying a gentle, acceptable kind of popular uprising for the modern age.

But some in Egypt — even among those who don’t want to see a more violent turn now — are already saying we need to see last winter’s events differently. The days that led to Mubarak’s fall were starkly violent, they point out, and the youth who battled their way into Tahrir Square in January did so by overpowering riot police with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

“We did use violence, but we never started violence,” says Alaa Abd El Fattah, an influential labor activist and blogger who has been organizing teach-ins and impromptu conferences on his country’s future. He has pushed a less utopian narrative of the revolution’s origins, although he still believes that protesters today need to remain nonviolent to achieve their goals.

Recent events, however, have convinced some revolutionaries to feel otherwise. Since Mubarak resigned in February, the military has taken charge of internal security and run the show with the same caprice and impunity that characterized the reign of Mubarak’s secret police. Little headway has been made on the demand that unifies protesters and the Egyptian public — that police officers who killed or abused civilians under the old regime be removed from their jobs and held accountable. Egyptian citizens who express political dissent are still routinely denounced on state-run television as foreign agents and spies. And on June 28, the riot police deployed for the first time since Mubarak left office, and with apparent relish pummeled demonstrators with tear gas, birdshot, and plastic bullets. YouTube videos capture police in and out of uniform taunting demonstrators with swords and sarcastically chanting one of the uprising’s own slogans back to them: “Raise your head, you’re Egyptian.”

Since then, a persistent chorus has started to call for a more violent challenge to the regime’s behavior. Core activists in Tahrir Square point out that it was the brute force of people fighting riot police in January that startled the regime and forced Mubarak’s resignation; they argue that the mostly peaceful manifestations since then have allowed the military dictatorship to survive intact. During the initial uprising, Abouzaid, the cardiologist, slept in front of Egyptian Army tanks to stop them advancing into Tahrir Square. In the past month he has come to embrace an even more radical approach. “Freedom means death,” Abouzaid said. “That is the equation of a true revolution. You know the police officer who killed your son? You go and kill him.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Militants Attack Gas Pipeline to Israel

Egyptian security officials say a militant Islamist group has blown up a terminal along the Egyptian natural gas pipeline to Israel in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Officials say Saturday’s attack on the terminal in al-Shulaq destroyed the last terminal before the line enters the sea on its way to Israel. It is the third attack on the pipeline this month and the fifth since the 18-day uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February. While no one claimed responsibility, officials accused a militant Bedouin group for the attack. Clashes between the group and security forces killed 5 people Friday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: The Revolution Remains on Track

The Egyptian revolution has pulled itself back from the brink in a quite an extraordinary way. Everyone feared a clash in Tahrir Square today but, so far, a deal struck between the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, the pro-democracy activists and the military is holding. Tahrir Square is teeming with white-clad Hajis. But everything is calm.

The military gave into to a number of key demands from the protesters, including making some changes in the newly-promulgated electoral law. The Muslim Brotherhood feared being blamed by the military for a confrontation and being seen as too close to the Salafists. And the Facebook liberals wanted to keep the revolution united for now.

It is this to scrape out unity from disunity which has kept Egypt stable until now, not the fact that the military is somehow in complete control (which they are not). In today’s Egypt everyone is weak: the military is not like Turkey’s army; the Muslim Brotherhood know they have overplayed their strong hand; and the liberals are disunited. But this collective weakness is also fuelling everyone’s will to compromise.

After today Ramadan begins, and then the electoral process. It is hard to see any other outcome than the Muslim Brotherhood-led alliance with Wafd winning a majority, while a few liberal parties make it into parliament. Then a period of politicking will follow, especially as the 0.5 per cent threshold will create quite a fissiparous body. As a new constitution-drafting committee will have to be created to determine the parliament’s powers, the new legislature will have little to do by way of real work. Posturing will be the key activity. After a constitution has been written, presidential elections can be expected in spring next year.

Though the mood in the West is one of pessimism, and in Egypt one of fragmentation, there is no cause to despair. The military has made mistakes and committed human rights violations. But none of the mistakes have been fatal. The brethren are a fact of Egyptian life from now on, but so is debate and democracy. And as Egypt faces a massive economic challenge, the Muslim Brotherhood will have to deliver.

[JP note: With cheerleaders in the White House, the European Union and the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, happy clapping its every move, why shouldn’t the Muslim Brotherhood be able to deliver its promise of a global Pax Islamica?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Islamists Hijack Tahrir Square Demonstration, Demand Islamic State

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The worst fears of many Egyptians and non-Muslims were realized today when Islamists hijacked today’s million-man sit-in at Tahrir Square. The planned sit-in was intended to be a form of pressure to achieve the demands of the revolution, mainly cleansing from corruption, freedom and social justice, as well as reuniting the revolutionary groups.

“Over three days a series meetings were held between representatives of several political and Islamist groups to unify all people attending the sit-in in Tahrir Square on July 29, in order to achieve the demands of the revolution, “demands that unify not splinter,” said Dr. Amr Hamzawi, founder of Masr el Horreya, party “ and leave everything else like the constitution, or elections for a later date.” The sit-in was named “Friday of Popular Will and Unification” instead of “Sharia Friday” as Salafists wanted. It was also agreed that no sectarian or religious slogans or chanting was to be used, and all parties signed the statement to adhere to these terms. “We were surprised to find that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists did not adhere to the agreements, and they intimidated other liberal groups,” Hamzawi added.

Tens of thousands of Salafists and other Islamic factions came in buses from all Egyptian provinces.

From their podium, one of twelve erected in the Square, Salafists called for the creation of an Islamic State in Egypt, and the application of Sharia Law. They chanted and raised posters with “Islamic, Islamic, Egypt will remain Islamic against all secularists wishes” and “The people want Allah’s Sharia,” and “There is no god but Allah — Koran is our constitution.”

One of their favored chants was one addressed to the US President: “Obama, Obama—-We are all Osama.” A large poster was erected in the Square with photos of Al Qaida’s Bin Laden, Hamas Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, Libyan fighter Omar Mukhtar, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna, the former Brotherhood hero who was executed by President Nasser, Sayyid Qutb and Shaikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is being held in a U.S. prison.. Under the photos was written , “May Allah rest your souls in peace” and “You are in our hearts, we will never forget you.”

Hundreds of Saudi Arabian flags were raised by Islamists and others were sold by vendors. “Tahrir Square has been transformed into Islamabad,” commented one participant.

Skirmishes between other participants took place. Salafists wanted the Copts from the Maspero Coptic Youth out of the Square. “They came to us and asked us to remove our tent,” said volunteer Dr. Sonia, “which has been here since July 7. We refused and one of the Coptic doctors who is serving as a first-aid doctor in the tent spoke to them politely, so other people rebuked the Salafists. However, the prayers session which Copts usually have after Friday prayers was cancelled.”

It was also reported that many participants were ousted from the sit-in by Salafists, who chanted “There is no god but Allah, the secularist is the enemy of Allah.” They pelted the podium of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth with oranges because they played nationalistic songs and they wanted the Koran to be chanted.

One angry Coptic priests, wrapped in the Egyptian flag, was interviewed by Al Jezeerah TV on the MB podium. He criticized the Muslim Brotherhood for not keeping to the agreement. “We are here to demand social justice and democracy, and these [Islamic] slogans should disappear,” said father Botros Eweida. “We are here for Egypt, there is no Muslim, Christian, Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist, only Egyptians. This is against our agreement. We agreed on Egypt only.”

Dr. Naguib Ghobraeel, President of Egyptian Union for Human Rights, issued a statement rejecting today’s Islamists slogans, which he says “splinter and fragment Egyptians” and are sectarian slogans, which lead to conflicts between the political forces in Egypt. He also criticized the chant “not Eastern or Western — Egypt is an Islamic State” As well as inscribing Islamic verses on the Egyptian flag, which transforms the revolution into an Islamic one.”

In the afternoon, 28 parties and coalitions pulled out from Tahrir Square, angered by what they are calling the Islamists’ hijacking of the protests with their own demands, and have not kept to the agreements.

Magdi el-Gallad, editor in chief of Al Masry Al Youm, described today’s events as “a quarrel over a legacy, a quarrel over political gains, a quarrel over the body of Egypt.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Thousands Demonstrate for an Islamic State in Egypt

Calls for an Islamic state have taken over Cairo’s Tahrir Square as the largest demonstration since February has been mobilized by the country’s Islamist organizations. Ultraconservative Muslims turned out in force Friday as hundreds of thousands filled Cairo’s central Tahrir Square in a rally marked by a growing rift in the protest movement.

Crowds of ultraconservative Salafis, however, gave a common protests chant an Islamic twist — sparking criticisms from others who said the chants violated an agreement to avoid divisive issues.

Instead of “Peaceful, peaceful,” which demonstrators have chanted during confrontations with security forces, they repeated “Islamic, Islamic.” And instead of “The people want to topple the regime” — a chant made famous in Tunisia and adopted across the region — they yelled, “The people want to implement Sharia,” or Islamic law.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: 4 Suspects in Hariri Killing Named

The UN-backed Lebanon tribunal released on Friday the names, photographs and details of four men wanted for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a bid to speed up their arrest.

Lebanon received the indictments and four arrest warrants from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) last month. While the suspects were not named then, Lebanese officials said the accused were members of the Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Chief of General Staff and All Commanders Resign

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 29 — Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner and all four force commanders have resigned from their positions amid controversy on appointment of generals, the Today’s Zaman daily website reports as a breaking news. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan earlier ruled out any prospects of tensions between the government and the military at a Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting slated for Monday, saying that the decisions to be made at the meeting will be in accordance with the law. YAS meets each August to discuss promotions and dismissals within the armed forces. The fact that there are some commanders and military officers who are suspects in ongoing coup cases has led some to speculate that there could be some disagreement between the military and the government about the promotion of these individuals. The ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had earlier signaled that it would not give the green light for the promotions of these individuals at the YAS meeting. Currently there are 195 suspects, all retired and active duty members of the armed forces, in the ongoing case against Sledgehammer, a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003, which allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. More senior military personnel have recently been arrested and jailed on charges of links to the subversive coup plan. The government plans to prevent the promotion of 41 Sledgehammer suspects who are active TSK members.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Italian Archaeologist Discovers Tomb of Apostle

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 27 — The tomb of St. Philip the Apostle, one of the original 12 disciples of Christianity’s central figure Jesus Christ, has been discovered during the ongoing excavations in Turkey’s south-western province of Denizli, as Anatolia news agency reports. Italian professor Francesco D’Andria, the head of the excavation team at the Hierapolis ancient city in Denizli, told reporters on Tuesday that experts had reached the tomb of St.

Philip whose name is mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. D’Andria said archeologists had been working for years to find the tomb of the Biblical figure, and finally, they had managed to reach the monument while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church in Hierapolis. D’Andria said the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity. Describing the discovery as a major development both for archeology and the Christian world, D’Andria said the tomb, which had not been opened yet, was expected to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination. Hierapolis, whose name means “sacred city”, is an ancient city located next to the renowned Pamukkale, white Travertine terraces, in Denizli province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city, famous for its historical hot springs used as a spa since the 2nd century, is a mixture of Pagan, Roman, Jewish and early Christian influences.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Erdogan Wants Another Apology, This Time From Armenia

The Turkish news website Today’s Zaman, reporting on Erdogan’s current trip to Azerbaijan, quoted him as saying that Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan should apologize for calling on Armenian school children to occupy eastern Turkey.

“What we see here is a pattern developing,” one Israeli diplomatic source said of Erdogan’s most recent demand for an apology. “Who is going to ask Erdogan to apologize for Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Russia: Protests in Rostov Against Jehovah’s Witnesses

After accusations, trials and physical attacks, street protests now target the JW. Slogans and banners stigmatize the community as an extremist sect.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — After house raids, court trials for extremism and physical aggression now the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) in Russia are also the target of street protests. Last July 23, in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, different public organizations and institutions took part in a picket organized by the movement “Rostov without drugs” targeting the JWs.

The protest which took place in Gorky Park was attended by around fifty people, including members of the Orthodox youth centre, youth organizations “Aktiv 61” and “Concept of Social Security.”

The demonstrators gathered hoisting placards and chanting slogans “against the sect” as the JWs are regarded in Russia. Some banners recalled the various sentences for extremism inflicted on the community, while others read: “Denial of patriotism, stupidity or treason?” Or “refusing blood transfusions is a crime.”

Rostov is one of the areas where the authorities and population aversion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses is strongest. Already in 2009 the city of Taganrog JWs provincial court had ruled that they were religious extremists and ordered the dissolution of the organization, the confiscation of property and the prohibition of any activity.

As reported by Sova Center, according to an improvised survey by journalists who followed the protest, out of 40 respondents among the locals, 34 were opposed to Jehovah’s Witnesses calling them “inadequate to the traditions of the Russian people.”

Of the religious minorities in the former USSR, the Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the most harassed. With about 200 thousand believers scattered throughout the Federation, they are accused of sectarianism, “religious extremism”, “incitement to social isolation” and behaviours that undermine the country’s civic life.

Moreover Russian authorities do not like some of the practices of the faithful such as conscientious objection to military service, the refusal to use weapons, the renunciation of blood transfusions and the demand for total dedication of followers to the community.

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

Far East

38 of Japan’s 54 Reactors Closed, Almost 70%

(AGI) Tokyo — Reactor number 4 of the Takahama nuclear power plant, in the central prefecture of Fukui, was closed today.

This means that Japan has now closed 38 out of its 54 reactors, almost 70%. After the crisis triggered by the serious damage suffered by the Fukushima Daiichi 1 power plant during the earthquake of last 11th of March and the subsequent tsunami, the reactors that were active at the time were no longer put back into operation.

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

Algeria: Green Light for New Great Mosque in Algiers

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 18 — The figures are impressive, both in terms of the estimated final cost and its size; yesterday the first official step was taken toward building the Great Mosque of Algiers when the judging committee whittled the bids down from 7 to 3.

The new Mosque will be located in Mohammadia (East of the capital) in a dedicated 20-hectare stretch of land. It will include a prayer room (2 hectares), rooms dedicated to the reading and study of the Koran, an Islamic cultural centre, a library (which will seat 200), a 6,000 car parking lot, and shops. Aside from areas for plants and trees, there will also be a conference room (which will hold 1,000 people), a museum and a research centre on Algeria’s history. The Great Mosque will be unique thanks to its (quadrangular) minaret, which will be over 300 metres high.

The project involves the use of a lot of steel; apart from conservation considerations, it can also guarantee a maximum resistance to earthquakes.

The project also entails large sums of spending, which, according to the country’s authorities, must not surpass 100 billion dinars (some 975 million euros).

This is a huge sum which, however, given the size of the project, has already been exceeded by different amounts by the three bids which “made the cut”.

Specifically, the bids were submitted by an Italian-Lebanese consortium (comprising Astaldi and Arabian construction company), an Algerian-Spanish one (Etrhb Haddad-Cosider-FCC) and Chinese company China State construction.

The Italian-Lebanese consortium’s offer proposes to finish the job over 42 months at an expense of over 216 billion, 628 million dinars (2 billion euros). The Algerian-Spanish consortium would have the project done in 44 months, at a cost of 130 billion, 500 million dinars (1 billion, 264 million euros). The Chinese company made the lowest offer (109 billion dinars, just over 1 billion, 6 million euros) , but with a longer delivery time: 48 months.

Once the project has been assigned, the winning consortium or company will come under scrutiny by an evaluation committee.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Diplomatic Dole Scandal

A CRIMINAL investigation is under way into allegations that staff at the Lebanese consul-general’s office in Sydney have been paid wages in cash while illegally pocketing Centrelink payments.

The revelations come just days after the consul-general, Robert Naoum, returned to Sydney agreeing to pay off his unrelated debts in return for an arrest warrant being withdrawn. Now federal police have been called in to examine claims that his office has been defrauding the Commonwealth.

It is alleged some staff, among more than a dozen at the Edgecliff office, collected welfare and, in at least one case, a dole payment. At the same time, the consul-general’s office had not been paying tax, superannuation or workers’ compensation for its locally engaged staff.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Man Accused of Facebook Bomb Threat

A CLEANING business owner used Facebook to threaten to “kill all Christians and Jews” and bomb Sydney, police allege.

Khaled Zakaria, 30, faced Parramatta Bail Court yesterday charged with one count of using a mobile phone to menace or harass and two counts of making hoax threats using a mobile phone.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ivory Coast: Muslim Chief’s Violence Chasing Residents From Homes

‘Security’ forces keep half million in ‘atmosphere of fear’

Nearly half a million people have been driven from their homes as a result of the post-election violence in the Ivory Coast, and reports confirm that many of the refugees are supporters of former president, a Christian, Laurent Gbagbo.

That’s one of the conclusions in a report from Amnesty International about the situation that came to a head when international forces arrived to enforce the installation of a Muslim, Alessane Ouattara, as president.

The report describes a population that is fearful.

A missionary serving in the Ivory Coast who asked only to be identified as Andrew says Ouattara’s religion is playing a part.

“It’s obvious, but I don’t know how come others can’t see how obvious it is. It’s my observation that Ouattara is biased to, at least his point of view to his Islamic faith,” Andrew stated.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Australia: What Really Happened When Asylum Seekers Boat Exploded

The Defence department has released its record of the sequence of events during the recovery of Asylum seekers after a boat explosion near Ashmore reef, off Australia’s northwest.

The fatal explosion on April 16 has stoked renewed debate over Australia’s immigration laws amid an influx of asylum seekers fleeing their homelands.

The blast left five people dead and dozens fighting for their lives in hospitals around Australia, after a massive rescue effort was launched by the defence force.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Italy Repatriates 64 Illegal Immigrants This Week

(AGI) Rome — The Interior Ministry informs of the repatriation of 64 non-EU nationals without permits this week. The repatriations, involving mostly Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans, were carried out via several flights.

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

UK: What About Our Human Right to a Common Language?

A 54-year-old Indian woman has launched a human rights challenge in the High Court to overturn a new immigration rule, introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May, that bans her husband from coming to the UK from India because he can’t speak English.

Needless to say, we’re footing the bill for this preposterous case, since she’s funded by legal aid.

And it won’t be cheap — Rashida Chapti is represented by one of our leading human rights lawyers. She claims the law violates her right to a family life under the Human Rights Act.

Mrs Chapti, who has lived here for six years and can hardly speak English herself — she needed a translator when she appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme this week — says her 57-year-old husband, Vali, will be ‘a valued member of society’.

But how can a person who cannot speak English possibly be a meaningful member of British society?

Isn’t it time we ended all this nonsense? This case goes to the heart of the debate over what a nation is and what it is that holds us together. And central to that debate is a shared language. It’s got nothing to do with human rights, or the subjugation of minority cultures.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Facebook and Twitter Creating Vain Generation of Self-Obsessed People With Child-Like Need for Feedback, Warns Top Scientist

Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes.

Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an ‘identity crisis’, wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: ‘Look at me, Mummy, I’ve done this.’

Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, believes the growth of internet ‘friendships’ — as well as greater use of computer games — could effectively ‘rewire’ the brain.

This can result in reduced concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Men Allege Sexual Discrimination at Swedish Police Academy

Dozens of men have filed sexual discrimination complaints with Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (DO), after being denied admission to Sweden’s National Police Academy. The ombudsman has received around 80 complaints from men alleging they weren’t admitted to police training programmes because of their gender. The complaints come on the heels of an initiative by the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa) examining suspicions that police academy recruiting efforts put male applicants at a disadvantage relative to female applicants.

According to the Centre, there may be “thousands” of cases of sexual discrimination. In its analysis, the Centre found that, for several years in a row the police academies have admitted the same number of men as women, despite the fact that fewer than 40 percent of applicants were women and that they generally performed worse on the language and physical parts of admissions tests.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Fury as Judge Frees Paedophile Teacher and Tells Him ‘Staff Are Often Attracted to Children’

A judge has let a paedophile teacher walk free after telling him she did not criticise him for being attracted to children.

Supply teacher David Armstrong had admitted hoarding more than 4,500 indecent images of children.

But handing the 63-year-old pervert a suspended sentence, Judge Mary Jane Mowat said: ‘I don’t criticise you for being a teacher who’s attracted to children.

‘Many teachers are but they keep their urges under control both when it comes to children and when it comes to images of children.’

Her extraordinary comments — recorded by a local newspaper reporter — provoked fury from campaigners who labelled them ‘outrageous’.

Senior teaching representatives expressed disbelief at the remarks and said they sent the wrong message to child sex offenders.

The case is not the first time Judge Mowat has stirred controversy over sentences handed to sexual offenders.

In 2008, she allowed a former headmaster to walk free from court after he said drugs he was taking for Parkinson’s disease made him a paedophile.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Earth’s Tallest Lightning Seen in Unprecedented Detail

Mysterious and gigantic jets of lightning that shoot up to near the edge of space have now been observed in unprecedented detail, revealing just how much charge they pack and how they form. More than 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, extreme ultraviolet radiation from the sun reacts with air molecules to produce highly charged particles, generating an energetic region known as the ionosphere. In 2001, scientists discovered gigantic jets of lightning arcing up from clouds in the lowest portion of the atmosphere, the troposphere, to the ionosphere. These rarities apparently are caused by the profound difference in electric charge between the ionosphere and the rest of the atmosphere, but much else about them remained unclear.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Existence: Why is the Universe Just Right for Us?

IT HAS been called the Goldilocks paradox. If the strong nuclear force which glues atomic nuclei together were only a few per cent stronger than it is, stars like the sun would exhaust their hydrogen fuel in less than a second. Our sun would have exploded long ago and there would be no life on Earth. If the weak nuclear force were a few per cent weaker, the heavy elements that make up most of our world wouldn’t be here, and neither would you.

If gravity were a little weaker than it is, it would never have been able to crush the core of the sun sufficiently to ignite the nuclear reactions that create sunlight; a little stronger and, again, the sun would have burned all of its fuel billions of years ago. Once again, we could never have arisen. Such instances of the fine-tuning of the laws of physics seem to abound. Many of the essential parameters of nature — the strengths of fundamental forces and the masses of fundamental particles — seem fixed at values that are “just right” for life to emerge. A whisker either way and we would not be here. It is as if the universe was made for us.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Redefining Hydrogen Bonds, The Givers of Life

WITHOUT them, life as we know it could not exist, yet the exact definition of the hydrogen bond — credited with keeping water liquid and giving DNA its signature helical shape — has always been fuzzy. Now these fundamental linkages have a new official definition that broadens the situations in which they can arise. It should allow various chemical reactions and behaviours to be better modelled and understood. Unlike covalent bonds, which hold atoms together to form molecules, weaker hydrogen bonds form between molecules. They arise when a hydrogen atom is covalently bonded to an electron-hungry, or electronegative, atom that tugs on hydrogen’s electron cloud, creating a partial positive charge at its other edge. The H bond forms between that charge and an electron-rich atom on another molecule.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ten Myths About Islam

A wise man named Francis Bacon once said that knowledge is power. Certainly this is true when dealing with foreign, and often hostile, ideologies that confront our Western civilization and way of life. One of these ideologies is Islam. Americans, and Westerners in general, whether Christian or not, are all too often still dangerously ill-informed about Islam. Many people in the West hear and believe the propaganda promoted by various Muslim groups, but fail to search out the facts about the history, theology, and psychology of the Islamic phenomenon.

While knowledge may be power, ignorance can render a person, a nation, or an entire civilization absolutely powerless. It is the intention of this book to dispel ignorance about Islam and to expose it to the light of open and honest investigation. How much does your average Westerner, your average American, your average churchgoer, or your average secularist, know about Islam? How can we sort through the varying images and claims made by and about Islam? What is truth, and what is falsehood, as far as what we are being told about the religion of Islam? Are we being lied to, and if so, then how can we detect these falsehoods and avoid them?

[Return to headlines]