Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110808

Financial Crisis
»China Suggests USA Cut Military Spending
»China Sees Its Own Downfall as US Credit Enters Twilight
»Greece Debt Crisis: The ‘We Won’t Pay’ Anti-Austerity Revolt
»Italy: Opposition Claims Berlusconi Has Ceded Power to Europe’s Central Bank
»Knesset to Hold Emergency Session as Israel’s Social Protest Grows
»Market Correction? Try Perma-Crisis
»Who Will Rescue the Rescuers?
»Accuser of Strauss-Kahn Files Lawsuit, Her Lawyers Say
»Armed Guards in Gilbert AZ Library
»Coal and Ethanol Are Not Alternative Energy Policy
»Obama Killed Osama and Then Ignored His Own Advice
»Police Work to Determine Motive in Deadly Ohio Shooting Rampage
»Rick Perry to Make Clear That He Intends to Run for President
»Riverpark Farm Takes Root on a Stalled Manhattan Construction Site
»Tampa Police Crime Scene Tech Now Admits “Fear of Muslim Reprisal” In Honor Killing Classified as Accidental Death
Europe and the EU
»215 Arrested in London Riots, Mayor Returns From Holiday
»Fury as Cameron Rules Out EU Referendum Because We Had Our Say in Poll 36 Years Ago
»Hants Police on Standby After London Riots Spread
»Italy: Secret Society Inquiry Closed, Senator and MP Face Trial
»London Riots: Theresa May Meets Police as Hackney Violence Erupts
»London on Lockdown as Police Face Gangs Armed With Petrol Bombs and Poles on Third Night of Riots
»Poland: Making a Killing in Organic Food
»The Oslo Maniac, Guilt by Association, And Chinese Food
»UK: Ken Livingstone and David Lammy: Compare and Contrast
»UK: Lunch With the Financial Times: Amanda Staveley
»UK: Man Shot in Face in Chapeltown Street
»UK: Operation Black Vote Scheme to Shatter the Political Glass Ceiling
»UK: The Cold War on British Muslims: New Report From Spinwatch
»UK: The Guardian Newspaper Publishes Daily Ramadan Timetable Provided by the McB [Muslim Council of Britain]
North Africa
»Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Execution and Hand Amputations if the Mubaraks Are Found Guilty of Murder and Corruption.
»One Copt Killed in Cairo Violence
»Red Sky at Night, Tottenham’s Alight — as Looters Liberate Everything From Trainers to Flat-Screen TVs
Middle East
»Iranian Company to Build 10 Power Plants in Iraq
»Lebanon’s Parliament Passes Maritime Border Law
»Woman Assaulted for Smoking on the Street in E Turkey
South Asia
»Indian Company Investigating Seaweed as Possible Biofuel
»Pakistan: A 38-Year-Old Man Dies in Targeted Killing in Karachi
Sub-Saharan Africa
»POV Documentary: Mugabe and the White African
Culture Wars
»Incivility a Growing Problem at Work, Psychologists Say
»More Gender Equality Leads to More Sex, Global Study Shows
»Bernard Lewis: Pied Piper of Islamic Confusion

Financial Crisis

China Suggests USA Cut Military Spending

(AGI) Beijing — China again flexed its muscles as the USA’s biggest creditor, calling on Washington to cut back its military. Following the downgrade of the country’s triple A rating Beijing suggested the the USA rethink its role as a military superpower. ‘Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States, as the world’s sole superpower, has relied on its powerful military to meddle everywhere in international affairs, advancing hegemonism, and paying no heed to whether the economy can support this’, said a commentary issued by the Xinhua news agency.

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

China Sees Its Own Downfall as US Credit Enters Twilight

The People’s Daily and Xinhua publish harsh commentaries about US politicians, their useless democracy, and US military adventurism. They are also a sign of fear that, as the US dollar goes, so will China with its US$ 1.16 trillion in US treasury bills. Beijing pleads for action.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — For the past few days, the People’s Daily and the Xinhua news agency have been full of commentaries about the downgrading of the US debt. Today was no different with two or three more pieces. However, none of these articles appears to represent the official line. So far, China’s rulers have been silent and overall media coverage in China has varied in tone and approach

Charges include attacks against American political leaders for showing “irresponsibility” and doubts about US democracy as well as insults over US “addiction to debt” and US militarism and adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, all the commentaries end pleading with the United States to honour its debt to “maintain the stable value of the dollar” and boost hope for growth in the world’s economy.

A commentary published today in the People’s Daily by Zhong Sheng (a pen name that means ‘Voice of China’) said that difficulties faced by the US and (EU) were due to multiparty democracy, which favours partisan interests over those of the nation.

“It must be understood that if the US, Europe and other advanced economies fail to shoulder their responsibility and continue their incessant messing around over selfish interests, this will seriously impede stable development of the global economy,” the paper said.

“People have deepening misgivings about the political decisiveness of the Western nations, and this has also seriously hurt global investors’ confidence in world economic recovery, exacerbating market turmoil,” it added. Speaking about the United States, “What has been pushed to the edge of the precipice is not the global economy, but Washington politics,” it lamented.

Two days ago, when Standard & Poor’s lowered US credit rating to Aa+, Xinhua published a commentary full of scorn for the “US ‘addiction’ for debt”, saying that it was high “time for the US to tighten [its] belts” and increase savings.

Today, the same paper carried a commentary accusing the United States of spending too much on defence, with heavy bills for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In it, the US was told, “to reflect on its domineering thinking and deeds,” and “change its policies of interference abroad.”

In another commentary, the US was accused of pursuing a “weak dollar” to help its exports. “For the desperate policymakers, to boost export seems to be the last way to kick[start] the U.S. economy.”

Yet, many comments end the same way, pleading with the US to remember that they have a “responsibility as the issuer of reserve currency to maintain the stable value of the dollar”, i.e. what China wants.

As the world’s biggest stockpile of foreign exchange reserves as well as the largest holder of US Treasuries, China has a lot to lose. An estimated 70 per cent of its reserves are in dollar assets, including US$ 1.16 trillion in US Treasuries. For Beijing, a weaker dollar means a diminishing nest egg.

What is more, the United States is the largest importer of Chinese-made goods worth US$ 364.9 billion. If exports decline, China’s already problem of overproduction will get worse with negative consequences for employment and social stability.

For this reason, an opinion piece signed by Li Xiangyang said, “the American people do not need to tighten their belts”. If they did, Chinese exports would suffer.

For analysts, such commentaries appear to be designed to calm Chinese public opinion, already rattled by fears of impoverishment (because of American policies) and praise China’s own decision-making system, belittle democracy and play on mainlanders’ anti-Taiwan sentiments.

However, many of the statements sound more like a plea. As one put it, before making “any move, please [. . .] don’t forget” that “as the issuer of reserve currency” you must safeguard “the stable value of the dollar”.

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

Greece Debt Crisis: The ‘We Won’t Pay’ Anti-Austerity Revolt

With Greece in financial meltdown and rocked by protests we look at the growing civil disobedience movement

Among the chic bars along Thessaloniki’s historic waterfront, one restaurant stands out. “We want our money!” reads a banner dangling from the terrace of an American-themed diner and grill. Inside, 12 staff have changed the locks, are serving cans of supermarket beer to supporters and taking it in turns to sleep nights on the restaurant floor in protest at months of unpaid wages and the restaurant’s sudden closure. This is the new symbol of Greece’s spiralling debt crisis: a waiters’ squat.

Margarita Koutalaki, 37, a softly spoken waitress, divorced with an 11-year-old daughter, worked here part-time for eight years, earning about €6.50 (£5.70) an hour. Now she is taking turns to sleep on an inflatable mattress in an upstairs room, guarding the squat, while her parents babysit her child.

“I’m owed about €3,000 in unpaid wages,” she says, warning her plight is shared by legions of workers all over Greece who are waiting for months for outstanding pay from struggling business owners. “At first we were told we’d be paid the following month, then the pay stopped completely and we were told by phone that the restaurant was closing. We’re still working, we’re keeping the place going, providing food and drinks to our supporters. We’ve got more clients than before. This protest is all we can do. It comes naturally.”

The waiters serve cheap drinks and cut-price dinners to a new clientele of leftists and protesters from the four-month-old “indignants” movement, who would previously never have set foot in this bastion of imperialism, the Greek franchise of US giant Applebee’s. A banner in English tempts tourists with cheap souvlaki and meatballs “in support of the workers”.

It is one month since Greece was paralysed by a general strike over harsh austerity measures, with mass street demonstrations and running battles between police and protesters in Syntagma Square, Athens.

Greeks are more distrustful than ever of their political class and its ability to lead them out of the crippling financial crisis. Polls show growing contempt for all parties and the discredited political system. Unemployment is at a record high of 16% — far higher for young people. Those lucky enough to still have a job have suffered dramatic salary cuts and tax increases.

Doctors and nurses recently staged walkouts over hospital cuts. Taxi drivers have hobbled Greece with strikes in the past two weeks, protesting at government plans to open up the industry. Their tactics included blocking ports and opening the Acropolis ticket office to let tourists in free.

Crucially, Greece’s long-running “civil disobedience” movement, where ordinary citizens refuse to pay for anything from road tolls and bus tickets to extra doctors’ charges, has not fizzled out in the summer holidays. The “We Won’t Pay” offensive is championed as the purest form of “people’s power”. Organisers warn it could gain renewed force in September as the government launches a new round of financial restraint.

On the main Athens-Thessaloniki road, as drivers file back into Thessaloniki from a Sunday at the beach, a crowd of civilians in fluorescent orange safety bibs stand guard at the barriers to the main road toll into Greece’s second city. Their jackets are emblazoned with “Total Disobedience”. They push aside the red-and-white barriers and wave drivers through without paying the €2.80 toll. Banners read: “We won’t pay”, and “We won’t give money to foreign bankers”. Drivers gratefully drive through, some giving the thumbs up.

“We’ll see a resurgence of civil disobedience in the autumn,” says Nikos Noulas, a civil engineer from Thessaloniki, in a city centre cafe as he rolls out a series of posters championing the refusal to pay.

Living a 40-minute drive from the city centre, he commutes by motorbike for what scarce work remains, but avoids paying for bus tickets or tolls. He also stages supermarket ambushes, handing shoppers big protest stickers to place on any goods they consider ludicrously expensive. Milk is a favourite. Noulas and his group fill trolleys with goods and ask the manager for a 30% discount. When refused, they abandon the full trolleys at the till.

He acknowledges that a recent police clampdown has made things harder: “If a police officer is watching, there’s little choice but to pay a road toll.” But he says breaking the law by not paying small tolls or bus fares is far less serious than corrupt politicians and cartels which, he claims, ran Greece for decades with impunity. “This has taught us that the Greek people can resist. It has ignited public sentiment,” he says.

The road-toll protest movement began more than two years ago outside Athens to counter what is seen as an extortionate and corrupt road toll system, with drivers expected to pay for stretches of road that have yet to be built. Some residents face paying more than €1,500 a year in tolls to get around their own neighbourhoods.

By the start of this year, the movement was flourishing and included refusals to pay for Athens metro tickets, with protesters covering ticket machines with plastic bags, as well as a long-running bus fare boycott in Thessaloniki after price rises by state-subsidised private firms. Others refuse to pay their TV licences.

Leftwing parties became involved, boosting the campaign’s visibility. By March, more than half of the Greek population supported the “We Won’t Pay” notion. The government heaped criticism on what it deemed an irresponsible “freeloader” mentality, warning that the non-payers would bring the country into disrepute and were starving the state of vital revenue from transport services. New laws were brought in on ticket evasion and police cracked down.

George Bakagiannis, an IT manager from the Athens area, has avoided paying road tolls for two years, simply stepping out of his car and pushing open the barrier at toll booths. His group stages toll-booth ambushes for two to three hours several times a week, waving drivers through without charge.

He has branched out into demonstrations against the €5 fee for doctors’ consultations. He says: “We go to the hospital and close the cashier’s room, telling people, ‘Don’t pay, we’re here.’ This isn’t our crisis, it’s the government’s crisis. They steal our money; they’re stealing our lives. Now they want us to believe even our savings aren’t safe in the bank. This movement will grow in this autumn because things are so bad now that people genuinely don’t have the money to pay.”

The social commentator and writer, Nikos Dimou, says: “It’s the beginning of a divorce between the Greeks and their politicians. That’s what all these movements have in common: they are all about a loathing and abhorring of the political class.”

In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, feelings run high. The “indignants” had their tents forcibly cleared from Athens’ Syntagma Square this weekend, but Thessaloniki’s ancient waterfront fortification, the White Tower, is still surrounded by protest tents and draped in banners reading “For sale” and “Not for sale.”

Northern Greece has been badly hit by the crisis. Businesses began closing long before the full force of the financial meltdown. So many people are too poor to regularly use their cars and so many businesses have ground to a halt that Thessaloniki’s municipality has claimed a vast improvement in the air quality of the notoriously congested city. On 10 September, when the Greek prime minister George Papandreou appears at Thessaloniki’s famous international fair to unveil his new economic measures, he will be met by demonstrations.

Thessaloniki protesters are using flash-mobbing, where crowds turn up unexpectedly to picket banks and public buildings. The latest target was the German consulate, where dozens of demonstrators chanted and spray-painted the pavement, demanding the European Union did more for Greece as plainclothes police looked on.

At the demo on 20 July, Barbara, 30, a Greek language teacher, who did not want to give her surname, said she was serving coffee in a bar for €30 per nine-hour shift on the black economy. She lives with her father, a pensioner, and mother, a shop owner who is deeply in debt.

“No one is hiring, I can’t find teaching work or private lessons. There’s no hope for a decent life. Half the people I know are unemployed; the other half are on the edge of it. Anyone who can afford to go abroad is leaving,” she says.

At the White Tower, Antonis Gazakis, a language and history teacher, says he is struck by how novices are now joining the protests, from myriad political standpoints, left to right, many with no links to parties or any history of protest. All were throwing themselves into debating how to change what they see as a corrupt political and parliamentary system. “Political history is being made in Greece,” he says. “That’s why I’m staying around this summer. The last time people went out into a square demanding constitutional change like this was 1909. This is a golden opportunity, a paradigm shift. Greece has woken up.”

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

Italy: Opposition Claims Berlusconi Has Ceded Power to Europe’s Central Bank

Rome, 8 August (AKI) — Italy’s centre-left opposition on Monday accused prime minister Silvio Berlusconi of handing sovereignty to the European Central Bank and allowing economic policies to be dictated from outside after he pledged to speed up reforms in return for help in averting a dangerous debt crisis.

Berlusconi had agreed late on Friday to accelerate cost-cutting measures to achieve the government’s target of a balanced budget by 2013 instead of 2014. The move came after pressure from the ECB in a letter sent the same day to Berlusconi by its governor, Jean-Claude Trichet, and his designated successor, Mario Draghi, head of the Bank of Italy, setting out a series of demands.

The letter disclosed in Italian daily Corriere della Sera spelled out conditions for a massive purchase of Italian and Spanish bonds agreed to by the ECB late on Sunday.

Italy’s opposition was quick to react to news of the letter saying Italy was now effectively under “external administration”, the term used for companies that go bankrupt.

“What are the ECB and the international institutions really asking of us?” said Pierluigi Bersani, leader of Italy’s largest opposition force, the centre-left Democratic Party.

“A powerless, totally discredited government that is now under external administration should at least tell us what is really going on,” Bersani said.

Antonio Di Pietro, head of the opposition Italy of Values party, said Berlusconi had been “dragged by the ear by the European Union and international economic institutions” to the news conference late Friday where the measures were announced.

“Berlusconi should perform a service to his country for the first time and go,” said Di Pietro.

Trichet and Draghi’s letter called for rapid privatisation of municipal services, changes to Italy’s labour laws and liberalisation reforms adopted by government decree. It also called for immediate spending cuts and measures to boost the moribund Italian economy, the eurozone’s third largest.

The ECB letter came as Italy becomes the latest frontline in the battle to save the euro from the escalating sovereign debt crisis amid market turmoil triggered by investor fears that Italy and Spain could default amid close-to-prohibitive borrowing costs.

Last week, worries over the two countries contributed to turmoil in global markets, which saw around 1.5 trillion dollars wiped off share prices.

Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League party, a key ally of Berlusconi’s ruling conservative People of Freedom party and coalition partner on Monday praised the Trichet-Draghi letter.

“We have to follow Europe a bit, “ Bossi, a eurosceptic, told reporters. “Europe and the ECB have their weight of course. Are they imposing conditions? Well at least it’s in a positive way,” he added.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera on Monday, Susanna Camusso, head of the CGIL, Italy’s largest trade union, demanded that Berlusconi declare “what conditions were imposed by the ECB for buying Italian bonds.”

The CGIL has warned it will oppose the government’s 48 billion euro austerity plan being financed by welfare cuts alone and want to see a “weath tax” imposed in Italy. The plan was approved by the parliament in July.

Fabrizio Cicchitto, a senior lawmaker from Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, hit back at the opposition criticism of the government and denied Italy was now being run from the outside.

“Whoever is making a fuss on this key point is either doing so in bad faith or has understood nothing about the lights and shadows of the euro,” Cicchitto said.

But the ECB’s unprecedented invervention in the Italian economy and a statement late Sunday from Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy raised questions of how much freedom of manoeuvre the Italian government really has, analysts said.

The Merket-Sarkozy statement said “rapid and complement implementation” of Italy’s announced budgetary measures is essential for restoring confidence to markets.”

Berlusconi on Saturday reiterated previous pledges to serve out his government’s full term of office until 2013 and vowed Italy would recover economically. But doubts remain over the ability of the coalition government, which has a thin majority in parliement, to deliver on its pledges and avoid early elections.

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

Knesset to Hold Emergency Session as Israel’s Social Protest Grows

The Knesset has decided to break temporarily from its summer recess and hold a special session to discuss the growing social protests across Israel, at the request of the opposition parties.

The session will take place either this Wednesday or on the following Monday. Some members of the opposition, are pushing to convene the meeting next week in order to keep the protests alive.

Hundreds of pensioners staged a protest at the Tel Aviv government compound on Monday, demanding the government lower medicine costs, cancel VAT on basic necessities and prevent a cut in their pensions.

The head of the pensioners’ union. Gideon Ben Yisrael, said the pensioners identify with the nation-wide social struggle but demand specific solutions to their sector’s problem.

Shlomo, a pensioner from Ashkelon, said that “the last time I protested was in 1947 against the British… open your eyes, look at what is happening around you — it’s a terrible thing.” Another speaker at the protest said, “The youth and the pensioners will oust Bibi Netanyahu together.”

Dozens of non-profit and social organizations will hold an emergency conference on Wednesday present their demands. Giora Rozen, head of the umbrella organization of non-profit groups in Israel, said that “most of the organizations represent the lower strata of society, therefore there can’t be a solution without dealing with Israel’s poor population together with civil society organizations.”

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

Market Correction? Try Perma-Crisis

•In 2006-7, the prevailing narrative discussed a never-ending boom thanks to hyperfinancialization. I suggested, instead: a historic, generational crisis — not just a crash, but a titanic reconfiguration of the global economy.

•In 2008-9, the prevailing narrative switched between “Zomg what just happened?! What kind of banking crisis is this? Is this a liquidity crisis? Is this a solvency crisis?!” I suggested that it was none of the above — it’s an institutional crisis, hardwired into the DNA of our economic “rules of the game” (which, as they stand, fail to reward the creation of authentic, enduring,

meaningful value, and so can’t generate real prosperity).

•In 2009-10, when the prevailing narrative was “Ah, that was just a banking crisis — we’re going to recover next quarter!! Whoops, I mean — next quarter!! Whoops….” I argued: we’re in for a prolonged period of generalized stagnation (replete with toxic dynamics like mass unemployment, falling real incomes, wealth transfers, regulatory failures) — because we’re still in an institutional crisis, not out of a simple “banking crisis.”

…The shouty talking heads still largely struggle to understand what this crisis even is.

But the market turmoil we’ve witnessed in the past few days might should not have been a surprise — and wasn’t — to those who have been paying attention. Less because of near-term political gridlock, and more because of real stagnation combined with the end of central bank life support for the markets.


[Return to headlines]

Who Will Rescue the Rescuers?

Der Spiegel, 8 August 2011

“Is the world going bankrupt?” headlines Der Spiegel, wondering about the implications of US public debt, the euro crisis and chaos on the markets. The Hamburg-based magazine paints a bleak picture in which policy in Europe and the United States is struggling to keep up with financial markets, which are increasingly unstable and destabilised by initiatives that aim to restore order.

Ever since governments took on extensive debts to save banks three years ago, no one has provided a satisfactory answer to the question of who will rescue the rescuers, warns Spiegel. To date, “European bailouts are mainly defined by the fact that they arrive too late and are later found to be inadequate.” The magazine also argues that those who believe that China will provide a solution are misguided: the Asian powerhouse, which is striving to keep control of an overheated economy that may become the next bubble, cannot be relied on to save the world economy.

In conclusion, “the moral of this sorry tale can be summarised by three words: solid public finances.” That implies a painful drive for more austerity, as well as the delegation of national sovereignty. “The wellbeing of the West will be determined by the capacity of governments to plan for the long term — well beyond the next round of elections.”

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


Accuser of Strauss-Kahn Files Lawsuit, Her Lawyers Say

The hotel housekeeper who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her sued him in State Supreme Court in the Bronx on Monday, seeking unspecified damages for an attack that she said “humiliated, degraded, violated and robbed” her of “her dignity as a woman.”

The timing of the lawsuit was unusual for cases that also involve criminal prosecutions; typically, accusers will wait until a criminal matter is resolved before proceeding with a civil action.

Nonetheless, the action seemed noteworthy for its choice of jurisdiction, the Bronx. The housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, lives there, and jurors in that borough may be more sympathetic to an African woman’s claims against a powerful Frenchman than jurors would be in Manhattan, where the encounter occurred. The lawsuit was also noteworthy for its smattering of new details in the case.

[Return to headlines]

Armed Guards in Gilbert AZ Library

The controversy began after the Maricopa County Library District, which operates Gilbert’s two libraries, reinstated security guards last month at the Southeast Regional Library.

The decision to reinstate and arm the security guards followed complaints by staffers who were confronting rising incidents of theft and increasingly hostile encounters with irate patrons over late fees and other issues.

The guards had been removed in July 2010 after the Town Council reduced funding.

Town officials contend that the library district never told them of the plans to arm the guards once funding was restored and are now exploring the feasibility of leaving the district and running Southeast Regional and Perry Branch libraries on their own.

Maricopa County arms guards at its larger libraries — including Southeast Regional, North Valley Regional in Anthem, Northwest Regional in Surprise — as well as White Tank Branch in Waddell, a small library in a remote location.

“In large buildings with multiple rooms and lots of people, you need to have some feeling among the staff, as well as the public, that it’s a secure place, particularly where it’s used a lot by children,” said library-district director Harry Courtright, who retired Friday.

In the past, the county provided its own guards but turned to a private security firm a year ago following staffing cuts.

The three guards for Gilbert cost the town $95,000.

In his 12 years with the district, Courtright said there have been no incidents of a guard drawing a gun.

“And they shouldn’t have to, because they have the training. But that gun makes a difference to the people who are coming in the building who might want to do something that could be bad; they see an armed guard, and the reality is they back off and they don’t do things — it’s a preventative thing,”…

[Return to headlines]

Coal and Ethanol Are Not Alternative Energy Policy

The domestic alternative energy policy in the US seems to rotate on semantics and adding words to other words to make it look like something is going on. However, the truth of the matter is, energy policy is as defunct as ever and on most fronts the US is lagging far behind. Mostly it is a disregard of what the economist Herman Daly has pointed out about the macro-view of the macro-economic system. His idea is that the ecological system is closed and finite, not infinite created by God for our own personal use, which needs to be included into economic models. As pointed out by this author in, The Need For a Real Domestic Alternative Energy Policy, the US will need this Energy policy to spur growth, create jobs, and remain competitive going forward. Yet, with words out there such as “clean coal” and “corn ethanol” as our savings for the future, it seems that the US gets further and further from the ability to save the economy and closer to suicide.

First, let us make the argument for alternative energy, because in the end if it has no argument, then it has no point to have a policy. Can the world be powered by alternative energy? Well, let us think about this in terawatts, terawatts being a million megawatts, and humans on this Earth of ours generate and utilize 15 terawatts per year. Solar energy from the sun per year produces 101,000 terawatts on Earth, the majority of which is not captured and utilized by us for energy, but it hasn’t been lost on the plant life the importance of that statistic. Wind is producing roughly 72 terawatts of energy in only the United States, once again above demand. And of course, with advances in conductors and decentralizing through not having large electric plants, energy loss could be cut down from the 6.5-7.5% annually that we have now. Therefore, it is not “do we have the capacity,” we very much do, but do we have the political will to make this happen. That is in order to save our country from a possible Japan-style lost decade or complete financial collapse.

Secondly, “clean coal” just does not exist, it is not an alternative, but a new name for an old game. It is stating that some how by adding scrubbers to a factory along with other minor updates that it then becomes environmentally sound and efficient. Yet, it is still a centralized plant losing power on the grid, it is to small of a retro-fitting to be of importance to long term production of labor intensive goods, and as pointed out by Joshua Frank, “coal-fired power plants in the US produce approximately 140 million tons of fly ash, scrubber sludge, and additional combustion waste.” This is not an argument stating not to mine the coal, which we can sell to China who uses it to for upwards of 70% of its energy needs. Rather, that it is not going to be an alternative and renewable energy policy. But, who knows if China will continue on the coal route when they are leading in new additions for solar, wind, and new capacity investment. As of 2010 they had already led the US for solar energy production and wind power.

Although, the US is not the only one on the block following the “clean coal” mantra, and at least that gives the US time to redirect its energy policy. Australia has gone the same route with a $150 million dollar investment by the Queensland premier creating a “clean coal” fund, however then moving $100 million AUD into a fund for solar energy after a change in policy. This change left only $50 million AUD for the “clean coal” fund, but depending on elections and the opposition party’s support of only “clean coal” it seems a battle will continue to be waged on developing energy policy in that specific country.. Even corn ethanol is an incredibly idiotic idea, being that it is fossil fuel intensive in order to create the ethanol, which in the end means not offsetting fossil fuel usage. One should not have to get that information from Fidel Castro, but he did write an article relating all of those facts as an open letter to the US. In reality, corn ethanol is only hiding fossil fuel usage underneath the label of alternative energy policy by utilizing a food source, which then raises food prices.

It seems as though the US policy has been back tracking over the years on its utilization of renewable energy to produce electricity. It is useful then to utilize a 2007 report by the International Energy Agency in order to bring to light this back tracking and its effects. In 1990 11.8% of the electric supply was produced from renewable energy sources, while in 2005 it was only 8.9% a reduction of almost 25% of renewable energy sources. It should be taken into account that there was a 22% increase in energy demand in the same time frame and that from 2005 to 2020 energy demand is expected to increase another 24%. If this is the case and renewable energy sources are decreasing, it looks as if there has been actually no proper investment in the sector. If this trend continues then energy dependence of the country which has been producing domestically 70% of its energy will decline and raise prices over time. All of this points to what should continue to be reiterated, that it is not a should we or not, but an imperative that is done, the creation of a real domestic alternative energy policy.

Alternative energy is the future, that is the cold hard truth of the matter, because in the end the process of extraction and production, geopolitical struggle, and the high environmental costs make it an imperative to be the future. The US can decide to lag behind countries such as China on this frontier when it has closed down factories and many people are out work, but that would be plain insanity. National security is not wars out there anymore, it is the war of ideas here in the US. If the argument continues to be centered on “cap and trade” or climate change, then it will never get traction. The need for the policy has to be based on the facts that show it can and could provide the US a way out of its economic dilemma with normal government fiscal policy. “Clean coal” and ethanol just are not that policy, nor will they ever be, they are a charlatans game.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Killed Osama and Then Ignored His Own Advice

The Obama administration, it seems, has granted an unusual amount of access to the team behind The Hurt Locker (writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow) for an upcoming campaign-season film about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden.

As Nolte point out, the timing of the film’s release has not been missed at the White House. Look for Hollywood to be a willing participant in this elaborate Obama re-election commercial, which is intended to remind voters of an increasingly desperate president’s only shining hour.

In addition to the desperate obvious ‘October surprise’ quality of this stunt, the cynicism revealed by the White House’s active facilitation of this film is breathtaking. It tells us something important about the Obama White House, and its readiness to abandon its most dearly-held beliefs and even its worldview on the alter of political expediency.

On nearly every issue, the president and others from his administration (not to mention the media) lecture us on the need to be sensitive to the feelings and self-image of the Muslim world. This time, however, the White House believes a bounce in the final weeks before the conclusion of a tough re-election campaign is more important than (as the president himself put it, “spiking the football” by antagonistically) reminding the world who was responsible for Bin Laden’s death.

Regardless of the merits or failings of the Obama administration’s concern for the feelings of the Muslim world, cooperating with the filmmakers displays an inconsistency that should not go by unremarked upon. Sometimes this hypersensitivity, when translated into policy, is laughably unserious— like the re-tooling of NASA to “reach out to the Muslim world.” After killing Bin Laden, Obama himself insisted America keep its celebrations subdued and decline to “spike the football,” even going so far as to protect the dignity of the arch-terrorist’s corpse so as not to antagonize the ‘Arab street.’

More insidious, however, is the compromises the Obama administration is willing to make on issues of free expression when criticism of Islam comes into play. A lone man in Florida threatening to burn a koran was enough to to imperil American national security half a world away, both Obama and his chief general said. Obama’s State Department, too, is increasingly embracing the Shariah-adherent definitions of free speech promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference— which plans to enforce blasphemy of Islam. Of course, American free speech is circumscribed by the threat actual violence from a Muslim world even its biggest apologists implicitly concede is highly combustible…


[Return to headlines]

Police Work to Determine Motive in Deadly Ohio Shooting Rampage

Police are investigating what caused a gunman to go on a deadly shooting rampage in a quiet Ohio town on Sunday, killing seven people and wounding another before dying in a gunfight with police.

The shooting spree ripped through Goodenough Avenue in Copley Township just before 11 a.m. Sunday when police say 51-year-old Michael E. Hance shot his girlfriend in one home, then ran to a next-door neighbor’s house, where he shot her brother and gunned down four neighbors.

Hance then allegedly chased four people — two through neighboring backyards — shooting one of them before bursting into a home on nearby Schocalog Road, where two others had sought refuge.

Police said Hance shot his eighth victim in that home and left, only to get into a gunfight outside with a police officer and a citizen who had been a police officer. Hance was shot and killed.

Investigators said Monday they have not yet determined a motive in the deadly rampage.

“We have no idea what prompted this incident whatsoever,” Det. Joe Krunich said during a press conference Monday. Krunich said Hance had no known criminal record.

Becky Dieter, Hance’s girlfriend, survived the attack and remains in a local hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Her condition is unknown.

Two of the victims included an 11-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. Neighbors say at least three victims were from one family.

Gilbert Elie, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years, heard the gunshots and cries for help as he got ready for church. In an account that differed slightly from the police version, Elie said he went to a house across the street and found the woman who lived there lying in the driveway, her husband shot near the garage, and their young granddaughter and another woman shot in the front seat of a vehicle, the windows apparently blown out by gunfire.

A third woman came out of the house next door and tried to talk to Elie, he said, but their brief exchange ended abruptly when a man followed her out of the house and shot her, sending the 76-year-old Elie running for safety behind a truck.

“She was talking to me, and he come up behind her and shot her, so I figured, maybe I’m next,” he told The Associated Press.

He hid until he could see the gunman was gone, then returned home. Police arrived, and Elie said he heard a second round of shots coming from behind the houses and assumed officers had killed the gunman.

Elie said his neighbors, Russ and Gerdie Johnson, lived across the street. He said the ordeal has left residents of their well-kept neighborhood shaken and wondering why

“They’re all in shock,” said Elie.

Robin Hancock, who says she was a caregiver for a couple killed in the rampage, said the confrontational behavior of Hance caused her to leave her job.

Hancock said Hance was an unpleasant and strange person who was not well-liked in the neighborhood.

Hancock, of Akron, said Hance was involved in a dispute that arose recently over the estate of his girlfriend’s late parents.

Copley Township is west of Akron and about 40 miles south of Cleveland.

[Return to headlines]

Rick Perry to Make Clear That He Intends to Run for President

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is preparing to make clear his intentions to join the Republican presidential race on Saturday, two associates said, by visiting South Carolina and New Hampshire on the same day that several of his potential rivals are taking part in the Iowa Straw Poll.

Mr. Perry, who has been inching closer to declaring his candidacy for weeks, is expected to stop short of making a formal announcement. But appearing before Republican crowds in the two early-voting states was intended to clear up any lingering questions about his plans.

[Return to headlines]

Riverpark Farm Takes Root on a Stalled Manhattan Construction Site


Riverpark and the Alexandria developer partnered with GrowNYC to manage the small farm. Besides its location on a stalled construction site, that’s unique about the 15,000 square foot urban farm is that it is completely portable — all of the plants are growing in black milk crates lined with landscaping fabric that can be easily moved. Farm manager Zach Pickens of GrowNYC says there are a lot of advantages to having moveable planters. They can be rotated for the best sun, and they can be raised or lowered depending on how they are growing. Plus, they can rearrange them make the setting more aesthetically pleasing for restaurant patrons, who will soon have the option to dine in the garden.

The farm is currently located on the stalled site of the Alexandria Center’s west tower. When construction on the tower resumes, the farm will not be over, but simply moved to a new location on the 1.1 million square foot campus. Alexandria’s developers are excited about the farm and think that it could be a catalyst for other developers to launch similar projects.

In a few short months, we have transformed a temporarily idle construction site into a productive urban farm — making purposeful use of 15,000 square feet of space until construction resumes on the west tower,” stated Scarlet Shore, Farm Co-Founder and Executive Director of Corporate Strategy at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. “We are proud to be a part of such an exciting project and encourage other developers to learn from our experience and consider additional, similar projects.”

Given that there are more than 600 stalled building sites in New York City, the Big Apple is ripe with opportunity for more innovative green spaces and urban farms.


[Return to headlines]

Tampa Police Crime Scene Tech Now Admits “Fear of Muslim Reprisal” In Honor Killing Classified as Accidental Death

We held a rally for justice for Fatimah Abdallah last June. Now at last the truth is coming out. This is justice in America in 2011: a police department cowers in fear of violence from Muslims if it tells the truth about an Islamic honor killing. Ask yourself if all the “Islamophobia” mongers care even the slightest bit about justice for Fatimah Abdallah.

Here is an extraordinary announcement from David Caton of the Florida Family Association:

Tampa Police CSI tech admits “fear of Muslim reprisal” in Palestinian woman’s death. Florida Family Association asks Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate.

Florida Family Association (FFA) now has direct evidence that officials with the Tampa Police Department are intimidated by the possible involvement of religious creed in the death of the Palestinian woman named Fatima Abdallah.

The Tampa Police Department claims that Fatima Abdallah killed herself by repeatedly beating her head against a coffee table. FFA and numerous other organizations call that assertion preposterous. Florida Family Association contends that Fatima Abdallah died as the result of an honor killing and not an accident. Florida Family Association’s full report on the mishandling of the death of Fatimah Abdallah is posted here at

Tampa Police Crime Scene Technician Shelby Garman called Florida Family Association’s private investigator on July 26, 2011 to request that her name be removed from the Tampa Police Department GO report posted at because of “fear of Muslim reprisal.”…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

215 Arrested in London Riots, Mayor Returns From Holiday

(AGI) London — At least 215 people have been arrested for their involvement in the London riots; mayor returns from holiday.

Twenty-five of the 215 people arrested have already been formally indicted. Mayor Boris Johnson decided to cut short his holiday and returned to London, while British prime minister David Cameron was harshly criticised for his decision to remain in Italy, where he is spending his summer holiday with his family and a group of friends at a villa in Tuscany. He is not expected to return to London before August 15.

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

Fury as Cameron Rules Out EU Referendum Because We Had Our Say in Poll 36 Years Ago

David Cameron has ruled out a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on the grounds that the UK had their say 36 years ago.

A senior aide to the Prime Minister enraged eurosceptics yesterday by claiming that the UK must remain a member of the EU because Brussels bureaucrats have done ‘useful work’ on climate change and global poverty.

And he ignored the fact that no one under the age of 53 has ever had the chance to state their views on Brussels in a public vote.

Critics last night dismissed the justification as ‘ridiculous’, ‘patronising’ and ‘insulting’.

Laurence Mann, Mr Cameron’s political private secretary, issued the controversial justification for ignoring public clamour for a refrendum in a leaked letter.

He wrote: ‘We had a referendum on that issue in 1975, which produced a very clear result.

‘There is also one argument, in particular, against holding such a referendum that we find irrefutably powerful, namely that most people in our country want to say neither ‘yes’ to everything from the EU, nor ‘no’ to everything.’

More than 10,000 voters have signed a petition on the Downing Street website demanding a referendum…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Hants Police on Standby After London Riots Spread

POLICE in Southampton are tonight on alert for disorder in the city as parts of London and Birmingham were sent up in flames by rioters and looters.

Hampshire Police said they were aware of social media messages inviting people in Southampton to join in and were “monitoring” communities across the city.

A spokeswoman said the force had officers on standby to respond if needed and urged residents to stay calm and indoors as a precaution.

She added there were no signs of disorder at this time.

Prime Minister David Cameron will tomorrow chair the Government’s emergency committee Cobra to discuss the London riots after cutting short his holiday to fly home tonight.

The rioters were rampaging across Britain’s capital again for a third night as politicians and police chiefs tried desperately to curb the “sheer criminality”.

Home Secretary Theresa May condemned chaotic scenes while Scotland Yard beefed up its presence before looting and violence spiralled out of control.

As thousands of yobs took to the streets across the London districts including Hackney, Lewisham and Peckham, later extending to Croydon and Woolwich, Scotland Yard’s most senior officer called on parents to contact their children and urged the public to clear London’s streets.

The fresh wave of violence also spread north to central Birmingham, with police saying shop windows had been smashed and looting had taken place.

At least 215 people have been arrested and 25 charged following the riots across London.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Italy: Secret Society Inquiry Closed, Senator and MP Face Trial

(AGI) Rome — Prosecutors in Rome have closed an inquiry into the P3 secret lobby: Verdini and Dell’Utri face trial. Overall, twenty people are under investigation: among them, former PDL national coordinator Denis Verdini and Senator Marcello Dell’Utri who face trial for criminal association and breaking the Anselmi law that prohibits the creation of secret societies.

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

London Riots: Theresa May Meets Police as Hackney Violence Erupts

Home Secretary Theresa May is meeting police chiefs about rioting in London with new violence erupting in Hackney.

Skirmishes broke out between police and groups of young people in the area around Mare Street.

Mrs May returned early from holiday after violence broke out over the weekend following the police shooting of a man in Tottenham.

More than 100 people were arrested and 35 officers were injured in two nights of rioting and looting.

A peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday over the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan, 29, was followed by violence which spread into Sunday.

A BBC journalist said the latest violence started when a man was stopped and searched by police but nothing was found.

About eight riot vans have been drafted in and there are up to 200 police officers in riot gear, in the area.

Groups of people began attacking the police at about 16:20 BST, throwing rocks and a bin at officers.

Police cars were also being smashed by youths, who were armed with wooden poles and metal bars.

Looters also smashed their way into a JD sports store before police lines dispersed the group.

Planks of wood taken from a lorry were then hurled towards riot officers.

[Return to headlines]

London on Lockdown as Police Face Gangs Armed With Petrol Bombs and Poles on Third Night of Riots

Violence erupted in broad daylight this afternoon as rioters surrounded police vans, looted lorries and targeted shops in a series of attacks across London.

Scores of police raced to Hackney as a mob of hooded youths began hurling missiles at the officers. There was also sporadic violence in nearby Dalston where shops and businesses were attacked and youths clashed with police and set fire to cars outside Lewisham Town Hall.

In Peckham Rye shops have been attacked, including Clarks and Primark, and a bus has been set on fire. Transport for London said buses were not running through Peckham and Lewisham whilst the unrest continued.

Other areas of London were braced for violence with workers barricading their shops in Stratford and Islington and barriers were erected outside Westfield Shopping Centre. Kilburn High Street has also been closed off and police were on the streets in Harlesden.

On Twitter, users posted that the violence was rapidly brimming out of control with one person tweeting he had seen ‘at least 30 riot vans and three helicopters’ in Hackney. Youths were seen setting fire to cars, rubbish bins, and were also spotted setting off fireworks in the direction of police.

Commenters said the thugs had lootedLadbrokes and JD Sports shop and other eye-witnesses suggested that the police were trying to prevent rioters from trashing Hackney’s Town Hall. Meanwhile, a man was seen on a tube train dressed in black and carrying a copper rod as he headed into the riots.

MELANIE PHILLIPS: Our police are not trusted any more. So why SHOULDN’T Dave ask America’s top cop to run the Met?

An eyewitness said: ‘One man on the tube was dressed all in black — he even had gloves on — and he had a big copper rod tucked inside his jumper. At Bethnal Green it dropped onto the floor and lots of people looked quite alarmed and got off at the stop.’

Josefinehedlund tweeted: ‘Kids smashing up police cars outside Tesco in Hackney Central Getting closer to my neighbour, scary.’

Another user, Matthew Paul Balman tweeted: ‘Just seen some live pics of London and the riots, wtf is going on. Thugs throwing chairs and facing off with the police.’

Twitter user antoinette213 wrote: ‘This is a madness. I’m seeing these youths live just opening up some truck and emptying it.’

Many warned their friends and family to stay inside and pleaded with people not to incite violence on the website.

Much of the violence seems to be centred around Mare Street, a main road that runs near London Fields.

User Vicky Simister described how youths were arming themselves: ‘big truck being unloaded by hoodies on Mare St — taking wood sticks out and throwing at police.’

In Stratford, workers were told to barricade their shops and offices and go home early as the Met feared the most violent confrontations yet in the wake of the shooting of suspected gangster Mark Duggan.

Twitter was ablaze with rallying calls for further looting and clashes with police, following two nights in which businesses were destroyed by rampaging gangs of masked youths.

As hundreds of extra officers were drafted into the capital, shops closed their doors early and staff were sent home amid fears of further damage.

Stratford Shopping Centre in east London was closed after police warned managers that the area could turn into a potential flashpoint.

Centre manager Andrew Norton said: ‘People’s safety is absolutely paramount, which is why we’ve closed early. The whole situation’s really quite bizarre.’

Nearby, the Stratford Picturehouse cinema told audiences to go home and closed its doors hours early.

The sprawling Westfield shopping centre in west London also added to the list of businesses fearing attacks tonight and built barriers around its entrance.

This afternoon, police said 215 people had been arrested since the violence began in Tottenham on Saturday night, and 25 people charged.

Haringey Council also said the damage to roads and pavements in Tottenham on Saturday night was in the region of £227,000.

This afternoon Chief Superintendent Nick Ephgrave, Lambeth Police borough commander, confirmed that three non-fatal stabbings took place in the borough during yesterday’s riots.

He said he had visited an injured police office in hospital and added that ‘his face was covered in stitches’.

A Scotland Yard homicide team has been brought in to investigate the riots, according to Mr Ephgrave, speaking at a meeting with Lambeth Council and community leaders at Lambeth Town Hall.

said the extra resources and the ‘full use of all their technology’ would allow police to catch those responsible for the violence and looting last night.

He said the police have ‘more than 30 prisoners’ following the disturbances.

A Section 60 order is in place in the area today, allowing police to stop anyone they suspect may commit violent acts.

Mr Ephgrave said much of the violence was ‘pre-planned’ using ‘PIN-protected messaging serviced’ such as Blackberry messenger that are ‘difficult to access’ by police.

He said police are also looking at Facebook and Twitter for evidence of any criminal planning.

Council leader Steve Reed and many community leaders present at the meeting expressed concerns over police resources.

Lee Jasper, chair of Brixton Splash, a community event which took place yesterday, said he knew police had extra resources in the area and that either ‘they weren’t enough or they weren’t deployed properly’.

He said he was at the Currys store where looting took place for an hour from 10.45pm last night before police arrived.

Mr Ephgrave said the outbreaks of rioting across London meant a lot of the reserves at his disposal were deployed to other areas at the time.

The alert came as plans for the Notting Hill Carnival were thrown into jeopardy amid fears that the festival could be a focal point to violence,

The carnival, which attracts up to two million people each year, could see the kind of violent clashes with police that erupted in Tottenham on Saturday evening.

There are concerns that the West Indian event over the August bank holiday could even be cancelled in an attempt to prevent more riots.

Police leaders have been meeting community leaders in a desperate bid to calm tensions over the clashes which were sparked by the shooting of ‘gangster’ Mark Duggan last week.

The developments came as Home Secretary Theresa May cut short her summer holiday to fly home and deal with the crisis.

Scotland Yard has also promised more officers on the streets of London tonight as the Met prepares for a third night of violence.

In a bid to quell the unrest, police have warned that Twitter users could face arrest for inciting violence.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanagh confirmed officers were looking at the website as part of investigations into widespread looting and rioting.

Clashes between masked rioters and police, vandalism and looting continued into the early hours of this morning as questions were raised about the shooting of suspected gangster Mark Duggan on Thursday.

A jewellery store, a McDonald’s and a Tesco were set upon in Enfield, while in Brixton, South London, hundreds of teenagers looted a Foot Locker store before setting it on fire, requiring six engines to battle the blaze at 1.30am.

Police reported that more than 100 arrests took place across the capital overnight.

Commander Christine Jones, said: ‘Officers responding to sporadic disorder in a number of boroughs made more than 100 arrests throughout last night and early this morning.

‘This is in addition to the 61 arrests made on Saturday night and Sunday morning.’

Three London fire engines also came under attack during the second night of rioting in London. One engine from Brixton station being targeted while actually fighting a blaze started by looters raiding the Foot Locker store.

Two others from West Norwood and Edmonton were on their way to blazes when they were set upon. Windows were smashed as mobs of looters hurled bricks and other missiles at the engines.

She said there had been 16 charges in relation to offences including burglary, knives, theft and violent disorder.

Seventeen people have been bailed and one has been cautioned. One person was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, 11 are awaiting CPS advice and 15 are ongoing inquiries, she added.

She went on: ‘Officers are shocked at the outrageous level of violence directed against them. At least nine officers were injured overnight in addition to the 26 injured on Saturday night.

‘We will not tolerate this disgraceful violence. The investigation continues to bring these criminals to justice.’

And, in an interview on Radio 4 today, deputy assistant commissioner Kavanagh said: ‘I can be very assured that there will be even more officers out there, even more committed and braver than they have been so far, to make sure London stays as safe as possible.’

He added that there were three times as many officers on duty on Sunday as there were on Saturday, and he promised that even more would be deployed tonight — brought in from forces outside the Met.

Claudia Webbe, who helped set up the Operation Trident’s black-on black gun crime unit, told BBC’s Today Programme that she condemned the criminals seeking to exploit the death ‘for their own personal gain’ as ‘clearly wrong’. However she sought to differentiate between the looters and those furious with police over Mr Duggan’s killing.

She said: ‘There was an element of people who were intent on criminality, violence and looting. There were also however an element of people that were seeking to, in the attacks on police, there were some who were playing out tensions that had arisen before, such as their feelings on stop and search.

‘It appeared to me that those who were attacking the police directly, those who were not carrying out the criminal and violent attacks and the looting, there were clearly those who were attacking the police directly, and anything they regarded as an “institution”, who were venting out, I believe, issues to do with inequality, decades of unemployment, poverty, stop and search being over-policed, and they were venting that.’

A teenager today told how she received a BlackBerry message telling her to bring knives and hammers to riot in Enfield.

The 17-year-old girl, known only as Alice, said: ‘It was all planned. On BlackBerry Messenger there was a broadcast to everyone, which goes to everyone on someone’s contact list, saying: “Everyone in Edmonton, Wood Green, Enfield, everyone in North London, link up at Enfield Town station at 4.00 sharp. Just bring knives, trollies, hammers, the works. Re-broadcast this”.’

Last night there were also reports of disturbances Walthamstow and Islington in North London, and sporadic clashes with police in Elephant and Castle in South London and Shepherd’s Bush in the west.

Three police officers were hospitalised after they were struck by a fast-moving vehicle while trying to make arrests after looting in Chingford Mount, Waltham Forest.

And in a dramatic development, the killing of father-of-four Mark Duggan, who was shot dead on Thursday by armed officers, came under fresh scrutiny.

There were claims that a bullet found lodged in a police radio was a force-issue bullet, meaning Mr Duggan had not fired on officers as police suggested.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Poland: Making a Killing in Organic Food

8 August 2011 Polityka Warsaw

When it comes to defrauding the EU, every nation has its specialty: the Greeks invented the plastic olive tree, while the Italians came up with virtual oranges. In Poland, phony organic farms are increasingly popular. As Polityka reports, the only problem is that they are perfectly legal.

Joanna Solska

Back in 2004, when there were no state subsidies, there were only 3,700 organic farms in Poland. The handful of pioneers who launched the sector were motivated by ideological convictions and the desire to produce healthier food. But making money out of organic farming was actually rather difficult. Now seven years down the line, Poland has more than 21,000 organic farms, covering an area of 519,000 hectares.

The scale of the increase should be a warning to the managers of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): it all seems too good to be true. Over the last six years, a period in which subsidies have been made available for all kinds of agricultural products, the average size of Polish farms has remained below 6.8 hectares. Not so in the organic sector, however, where the size of farms as ballooned to an average of 25.2 hectares, and some cases farms of several hundred or even several thousand hectares have been registered.

Dorta Metera, a member of the Organic Agriculture Council, and the owner of Bioekspert — the issuer of the Eko certification label — explains that countries such as Germany, which provide genuine support for the organic sector, insist that producers fulfill a strict set of conditions that tend to push up costs.

However, the same can not be said for the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, which has left the door open to fraudsters. After 2004, the organic sector attracted a lot of new entrants, who tended to carefully study the conditions for obtaining European subsidies with help from specialised legal firms. In some cases it turned out that these legal firms were also the owners of organic farms.

The cultivation of organic vegetables, for which the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture provides producers with a grant of 1,550 zlotys (380 euros) per cultivated hectare, is still the preserve of genuine environmentalists. It has remained mostly free of speculators who are solely attracted by profits.

However, the same cannot be said for the organic walnut sector, which has proved to be particularly attractive to subsidy-hunters. For a cultivated area of between several hundred and a thousand hectares, they can expect to cash in on grants of 2,800,000 zl, some 700,000 euros. Everyone knows that in Poland, walnuts can be worth their weight in gold.

And ‘everyone’ includes the organic certification companies, who, on their own admission, do not conduct on-site inspections of either fields or harvests, because they are not legally obliged to do so. “If the certifying company nonetheless expresses some reservations, it will quickly be replaced by one of its more indulgent competitors,” explains Teresa Ropelewska of Agro Bio Test. Worse still, overzealous certifiers may even risk court action. As a result, discipline and discretion have become watchwords for companies that want to keep their customers.

When pushed, inspectors will tell you that some of the biggest organic operations belong to farmers who are well-connected to political parties of a variety of hues. In view of the fuss that they might create, the inspectors tend to tone down reports of non-compliance and to simply notify the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture, which manages the distribution of subsidies but is not responsible for the legislation that encourages fraud. Actual responsibility for the law lies squarely with the Ministry of Agriculture, which has proved to be particularly adept at turning a deaf ear to certifiers’ recommendations for a review of the existing rules.

Everyone pledged that the law would be changed when it was revealed that a Deputy Minister for the Environment in the current government was in fact the owner of a fake organic walnut grove. Subsequently, the amount of subsidies paid for organic walnuts was considerably reduced, but crooks found another niche that was similarly lucrative.

“Now the weed-infested plantations are being filled with hastily planted apple trees, which are often put down in marshy ground where they have no chance of survival. The subsidies for apple orchards are now higher than they are for walnut groves. And with regard to the harvests, everything has remained the same. No one is asking for details,” complains a representative of one of the certification companies.

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

The Oslo Maniac, Guilt by Association, And Chinese Food

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky

The incomprehensible and shocking mass murder of scores of Norwegian young people following the detonation and destruction of an important government building in the center of Oslo by a lone maniac defies any analysis or comparison in real world terms. It is so grotesque that it simply cannot be put in any box. The lone killer was possessed with a lunatic logic that directed his wrath against his own people and neighbors as well as the country’s national leaders whom he believed had enabled turning Norway, once the most homogeneous nation in Europe (after Iceland), into a problematic and strife torn multicultural society.

I will offer up an attempt at an analogy that puts the lunatic logic into a comparable framework, just as grotesque and fantastic. Imagine after Pearl Harbor in 1941 that a lone individual in the United States — a native born White American (an atheist or agnostic with no ties to any church), angry at the attack and bent on revenge for the murder of several thousand American sailors and civilians, carried out a massacre and devastating attack on crowded Chinese restaurants in New York’s Chinatown, issuing a declaration of over 1500 pages that all those eating and enjoying Chinese food (but especially Caucasians, native born White Americans like himself and Jews as well as Blacks) were all guilty of betraying their own cultural heritage and American traditions. His claim went on to assert that these individuals all deserved to die at his hands because Chinese Americans in New York and working on the western railroads had preceded the immigration of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii and California thus providing legitimization of a fifth column responsible for Pearl Harbor.

He concluded therefore that both the white and black patrons of these Chinese restaurants had been misled and corrupted by the presence of many Jewish patrons who, as everyone knows, are addicted to Chinese food, and had conspired to make it so popular in America, thereby spreading their addiction.

Their corrupting behavior had contributed to the decline of white Christian Civilization due to overdoses of MSG. Although not religious himself, he regarded American Civilization as White and Christian by historical circumstances. He was thus a “Cultural Christian” and understood that more than alcohol or heroin, MSG was capable of producing mind destroying effects leading to the breakdown of civilization and Western culture. Only a violent crusade carried out single handedly by himself could hope to prevent this.

No, not even MAD magazine in its heyday could have come up with a scenario as remotely absurd as that which occurred in Norway or my fictional analogy. The reality of the world we live in of 2011 is that demented individuals who are anarchists in their hatred not just of the “others” (by race, religion, ethnicity or gender) but all those who disagree with their demented vision, have the opportunity and means to carry mass mayhem.

The horrific event in Oslo and the rush to condemn all those who have opposed extremist Islamic-Jihadi views as if Breivik were their friend or ally is the fallacy of Guilt by Association carried to its extreme. A and B may agree that C is a danger but that does not make them friends or allies.

The flaws and dangers of the presence in Europe of millions of unassimilated Muslim immigrants who are unwilling to become responsible citizens sharing equal civic duties and who crave special rights will not disappear; nor will the justifiable unwillingness of the police and fire services today to enter many predominantly Muslim residential areas in parts of major cities in the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and elsewhere that are considered “No-Go.”

These problems will not go away or diminish because of the crazed act of an individual. If my fantastic scenario of 1941 had really occurred, it would not have changed the course of events or the outcome of World War II nor my continued love of Chinese food.


[Return to headlines]

UK: Ken Livingstone and David Lammy: Compare and Contrast

Well, who’d have thought it — Ken Livingstone is trying to use the Tottenham riots to further his election campaign. Here he is, blaming evil Tory cuts and crowbarring three attacks on Boris Johnson into a 300-word statement. Even Thatcher gets a namecheck! The statement issued by Tottenham’s actual MP, David Lammy, who happens to be black, stands in shining contrast. His words, with their clear-sighted rejection of the easy old tunes, show how much the black community — and the Labour Party — has moved on since the days of Ken Livingstone..

Lammy said: “The vast majority of people in Tottenham reject what has happened here last night. A community that was already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of it…by mindless, mindless people. What happened here on Thursday night [the shooting of Mark Duggan] raised huge questions and we need answers. But the response to that is not to loot, to rob. This is a disgrace… this must stop. And this is nothing like the sorts of scenes we saw in Tottenham 25 years ago. Then, there was a particular relationship with the police. This is an attack on Tottenham, on people, ordinbary people, shopkeepers, women, children who are now standing on the streets homeless as a consequence… I’m concerned that what was a peaceful protest escalated. It seemed to go on for many hours before we saw the kind of policing that was appropriate. What were small skirmishes initially should have been stopped far quicker… The IPCC need to be in close contact with the family of Mark Duggan, who felt totally isolated in the initial stages after Thurs night…We don’t want 25 years of rebuilding community and trust destroyed because of mindless nonsense on the streets of London.”

Is it too late to do a swap? Labour would be so much better off with someone like Lammy as its candidate.

PS: Livingstone’s self-appointed amanuensis, Dave Hill, has been talking up the prospects of a “long, late summer of riot and rage,” “grimly confident” that there could be riots in “a dozen other parts of inner-city London any day.” Which parts is, of course, unspecified. Don’t get too excited, Dave and other bourgeois revolutionaries — the evidence is that civil disorder strengthens the hand of authority, and harms those who challenge it. Last year’s student protests virtually evaporated after the Parliament Square riot. The antics of the Black Bloc in the West End undermined the TUC’s peaceful anti-cuts demo. And by the way, if you’d actually been in any serious riots, you wouldn’t be so sanguine about the prospect of more

[JP note: And where was Lammy during all the years Labour were in power? Busy fixing the roof? We need answers on why the UK has been turned into a cesspit by Chianti-sipping socialists!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lunch With the Financial Times: Amanda Staveley

The dealmaker who has dated a British prince and now brokers multibillion dollar deals for Middle Eastern royalty talks to Roula Khalaf about provoking envy and having her eye on Iraq

Within a few minutes of arriving at Scott’s, and before we glance at the menu, I’ve heard about Amanda Staveley’s wedding dress (made by Sarah Burton, who designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress), her latest dealmaking in Dubai, from where she has arrived this morning, and — most intriguingly — her big parallel pursuit of advising an opposition tribal leader in Yemen. Yes, Yemen. The occasional former model, one-time girlfriend of Prince Andrew and now financial fixer to sheikhs is embracing the Arab spring and hoping that her client, Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar, a major businessman in Yemen, will emerge as a beneficiary of an eventual, and inevitable, political transition in the region’s poorest country.

Staveley, known by everyone in Gulf circles as Amanda, is 38, very tall and slim, with short blonde hair and wearing a simple black dress; her background and style would not seem to fit with the conservatism of the Gulf, let alone clients such as Sheikh Hamid, known for his (moderate) Islamist political views. Indeed, many of the relationships she has developed in the oil-rich Gulf in the past decade have puzzled the crowds of bankers competing for a slice of its wealth. How, they wonder, does this glamorous young British woman make inroads into the region’s royal families and bring them deals that elude the legions of bankers and investment managers who have flocked to the area in recent years?

Though Staveley has been associated with a slew of transactions, from property to telecoms, her main claim to fame occurred in the autumn of 2008, when she helped rescue Barclays from a government bail-out by bringing Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi to the table with a £3.5bn cheque. She was said to have made $40m along the way — a figure some think is a wild exaggeration and others describe as an underestimate. She neither confirms nor denies the amount, brushing off the question with a dismissive hand gesture. The Barclays deal came just after the £210m sale of Manchester City football club to the same royal (she was acting on behalf of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra), though another deal to deliver Liverpool FC to Dubai, an acquisition she had assiduously chased, ended in frustrating failure.

The combination of headline-catching transactions at a time of extraordinary financial boom in the Gulf, just before the global financial crisis struck, raised her profile massively, earning her envy in some quarters and controversy in others. Within Abu Dhabi, a traditional conservative purchaser of foreign assets, the type of acquisitions she brokered, particularly the foray into British football, was a source of unease that clashed with the emirate’s image.


[JP note: I suppose a (moderate) Islamist is something like a (moderate) pregnancy in that it never comes to term.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man Shot in Face in Chapeltown Street

A man is under armed police guard in hospital suffering “serious facial injuries” after being shot in a street in the Chapeltown area of Leeds.

Armed officers and a substantial police presence were evident on Saville Place on Monday evening.

Police said they had few details, but BBC television reporters at the scene said there had been crowd of up to 100 at the scene, and some were masked.

Later in the evening the crowd dispersed with no reports of trouble.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that a 34-year-old local man, who they did not name, had suffered gunshot injuries.

The spokeswoman said the man had been taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment, and his injuries were not thought to be life threatening.

The BBC understands the shooting was related to an incident several days ago.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Operation Black Vote Scheme to Shatter the Political Glass Ceiling

Operation Black Vote in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government are recruiting 25 dynamic, enthusiastic and committed Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Individuals for the 2011 Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme.

Since beginning in 1999, the cross-party scheme has nurtured a generation of political trailblazers embodied in the election of Helen Grant MP, who became the first woman Conservative MP of African-Caribbean origin. Nearly 50 others have stood to be either a Councillor or Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, with 20 graduates becoming councillors.

The national leadership project aims to help the deficit of BME representation within our elected chambers. Out of 649 MPs only 27 are from a BME background. Despite the historic rise at the 2010 General Election, a more representative Parliament would see between 55-65 BME MPs. Cabinet Minister, Rt. Hon Oliver Letwin who has been a mentor on the scheme said: “The work of Operation Black Vote in helping to improve and enhance political education and participation is both necessary and welcome. Long may it continue.”

The Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme will pair individuals with Members from both the House of Commons and the Lords; over the course of five months they will be given a real insight into the work of a Parliamentarian at Westminster and in the Constituency. Labour Party Leader Rt. Hon Ed Miliband MP said: “I’ve seen the good work of the Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme at first-hand, and it’s clearly a brilliant scheme. The work that OBV do — through this scheme and other projects — to encourage Black and Minority Ethnic people to get involved in politics is invaluable.”

The participants will also become Parliamentary Ambassadors playing a vital role helping to raise awareness amongst BME communities about our democratic institutions as BME communities on the whole are up to three times more likely to be disenfranchised when compared to White communities. Talking about the value of the Scheme, Rt. Hon Simon Hughes MP said, “The OBV Shadowing Scheme has for several years played a really important part in improving the chances of securing a diverse democracy in Britain for the future. Unless we all take responsibility we cannot complain later.”

Francine Fernandes, Head of Shadowing Schemes for Operation Black Vote and a graduate of the scheme said, “There are so many talented BME individuals who wish to contribute to the democratic fabric of our country. This unique programme offers that meaningful platform for individuals with the vision and commitment to become political trailblazers rather than political bystanders.

Notes to editors:

1. Operation Black Vote is a non-party political campaign
2. The term ‘Black’ is a political term. It refers to African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minorities.
3. The Operation Black Vote Shadowing Scheme is the first to specifically target ethnic minorities.
4. The Operation Black Vote Scheme is a cross party project and will be working with Labour, The Conservatives, The Liberal Democrats, The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalist Party.

Contact: Francine Fernandes on 0208 983 5430

[JP note: More Muslim Brotherhood entryism and disappointing to see this endorsed by a Tory Cabinet Minister.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Cold War on British Muslims: New Report From Spinwatch

‘Spinwatch publishes report on two influential neoconservative think-tanks, the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange’

In a report published today, Spinwatch examines the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange; two key right-wing think-tanks involved in the debate on Islam and multiculturalism which are thought to have influenced the Coalition Government’s new Prevent strategy. The report, which was completed before the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, argues that right-wing think-tanks have understated the rise of Islamophobia on the far-right and in some cases condoned the rise of groups such as the English Defence League because of their own links to the ‘counterjihad movement’.

The Cold War on British Muslims, shows how the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange have rejected counter-terrorism policies based on public safety and have instead sought to revive discredited counter-subversion policies from the Cold War era — policies which targeted a generation of trade union leaders and peace activists including future Labour Ministers. The report warns that reviving such policies is likely to stigmatise and even criminalise politically active Muslims, as well as liberals and leftists, and risk undermining the traditional freedoms enjoyed by churches, schools, universities and public libraries.

The Cold War on British Muslims also reveals for the first time the network of individuals and foundations that are bankrolling both think-tanks. Donors identified in the report include the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation in the United States, and hardline Zionists like Lord Kalms and the late Cyril Stein in the UK. It reveals that both think-tanks share major donors with a number of controversial organisations including the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, the Israel-Diaspora Trust (an organisation founded by the late Rabbi Sidney Brichto, a passionate supporter of Israel and scourge of its critics inside and outside the UK Jewish community) and the Anglo-Israel Association (founded in 1949 by the Christian Zionist Sir Wyndham Deedes).

The report’s co-author, Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University, said: ‘The policies advocated by the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange detailed in the report inevitably mean the curtailment of civil liberties and the narrowing of political debate. The consequences for British Muslims though will be even more serious.’

He added: ‘The revelations about the think-tanks’ donors arguably calls into question their ability to produce fair and balanced research and certainly underlines the need for greater transparency over the funding of think-tanks.”

[JP note: For greater transparency on the funding of Professor David Miller, see here]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Guardian Newspaper Publishes Daily Ramadan Timetable Provided by the McB [Muslim Council of Britain]

For the last 8 years, The Guardian Newspaper has been publishing daily Ramadan time tables supplied by the Muslim Council of Britain.

This year, the publication of the timetable has started in the Guardian in the ‘Weather’ section of the newspaper from the first Ramadan on 1st August 2011. It will include timings of the start and ending of the fast, incorporating regional adjustments for cities, as well as prayer times during the day. The Muslim Council of Britain and the wider community are appreciative of this service by Britain’s leading newspaper.

[JP note: Storm approaching, precipitation likely. And yes, I am sure the UK dhimmi community, if not already fully appreciative, will be taught to become so by its EU political masters.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Execution and Hand Amputations if the Mubaraks Are Found Guilty of Murder and Corruption.

THE spokesman for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which portrays itself as a moderate Islamic movement, has called for execution and hand amputations if the Mubaraks are found guilty of murder and corruption.

“If a man has stolen millions of the state’s money, the penalty is that I must cut off his hand,” said Mahmoud Ghuzlan, a professor of biochemistry at Zagazig University. “There is no argument. These are God’s words.”

The group, banned for half a century, was legalised only after the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Professor Ghuzlan said the penalty of amputation, mandated under sharia law, should apply to his sons Gamal — the younger, who was being groomed as heir — and Alaa, a businessman.

In a scene that transfixed the nation last week, the two brothers, both charged with profiteering, stood in court as their father lay on a trolley next to them.

The senior Mubarak, charged with responsibility for the deaths of about 850 protesters killed by his security forces, periodically craned his neck forward to peer from the defendants’ cage out at the court.

Professor Ghuzlan had no sympathy. Mr Mubarak should be hanged if convicted, although “beheading by the sword” would be more traditional, he said.

He sought to paint sharia as a merciful alternative to Egypt’s current legal system, saying a thief who stole only to feed his family would not suffer amputation.

Despite his words, Muslim Brotherhood rule would evidently be harsh. Adulterers would be whipped, alcohol banned, men and women separated in university classes and pre-marital sex and same-sex relationships would be forbidden.

Scant comfort will be taken from the spokesman’s assurances that the Brotherhood, which is aware of worries about Islamic extremism, would seek only one-third of parliament’s 504 seats. He admitted they planned to challenge for power in future elections.

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

One Copt Killed in Cairo Violence

(AGI) Cairo — A street brawl after a car crash in Egypt resulted in the death of one Copt and four Muslims being injured on Sunday night in the southern province of Minya. In the village of Fargallah, a Copt ran over a Muslim and the brawl quickly degenerated involving friends and relatives.

Stones were thrown and then fighting began and weapons were drawn .

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

Red Sky at Night, Tottenham’s Alight — as Looters Liberate Everything From Trainers to Flat-Screen TVs

by Richard Littlehjohn

The roots of the burning and looting in North London at the weekend can be traced back not to Broadwater Farm 1985 but to the Great Ikea Riot of 2005.

Six years ago a 7,000-strong mob went berserk at the opening of a new furniture warehouse in Edmonton. Five people were taken to hospital, including a woman who was stabbed in a fight over a cut-price sofa.

Police and security guards fought running battles with bargain hunters and the North Circular Road was brought to a standstill.

Shoppers desperate for discount bed frames, on sale for as little as £30, tried to smash their way in to the store when the doors were barred after just half an hour. One member of staff had his jaw broken and paramedics feared for their lives.

Ikea admitted that it was probably a mistake to offer such low introductory prices and to open the warehouse at midnight. But that doesn’t explain why customers ‘behaved like animals’, according to eye-witnesses.

They scrapped like alley cats over soft furnishings even as the casualties were being stretchered off to ambulances. One scared shopper said: ‘It’s just furniture. It’s not worth dying over.’

Edmonton is a couple of miles north of Tottenham as the Molotov Cocktail flies, so it was no surprise when the looting spread there on Sunday.

Some of the survivors of the Great Ikea Riot were almost certainly filling their boots on Tottenham High Road and at nearby Wood Green Shopping City, where thieves formed orderly queues to ‘liberate’ everything from flat-screen TVs to trainers.


Enfield isn’t a deprived inner-city ghetto, it’s a peaceful middle-class suburb. The disturbances there weren’t a protest against police brutality. A few hooligans figured the police would be so busy down the road in Tottenham that it was the perfect opportunity to rob the local Vodafone dealer.

Just as some of those who took part in the Great Ikea Riot had come from as far afield as Birmingham, so agitators and opportunists from all over London and beyond flocked to Tottenham and surrounding suburbs at the weekend.

Rioters were alerted to the potential for violence against the police via anti-social network messages from some of the leading lights in the Stop The Cuts mayhem in Central London earlier this year — including wheelchair warrior Jody McIntyre, who tweeted to his 9,000 followers: ‘Be inspired by the scenes in #tottenham and rise up in your neighbourhood = the way we can beat the feds.’

Let’s hope the police round up these electronic ringleaders and charge them with incitement.

The only real link to the Broadwater Farm riot was location, location, location. Relations between the police and the ‘community’ have improved beyond recognition since 1985.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to the local MP David Lammy who has lived in Tottenham all his life.

Millions of pounds have been pumped into inner city estates in the wake of the disturbances of the early to mid 1980s, not just in Tottenham, but also Brixton and other notorious concrete jungles across London.

In the case of Broadwater Farm, it would probably have been better to raze the place to the ground and start over again.


           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Company to Build 10 Power Plants in Iraq

Iranian company Ego group is to build 10 electricity generating plants in Iraq.

Following an agreement with the authorities of Diwaniyah in southern Iraq, the Iranian company Ego group will construct 10 electricity generating plants with a total capacity of 40 megawatts in Diwaniyah province, 120 miles south of the capital Baghdad.

Iran will increase its overall supply of electric power for Iraq by nearly a third, according to a recent agreement between the two neighboring countries, according to Iranian Energy Minister, Majid Namho.

During a recent meeting in Tehran with Iraq’s Electricity Minister, Raad Shallal Saeed al-Any, Namho said that “Iran’s power exports for Iraq, now estimated at 800 megawatts, are expected to rise to 1,250 megawatts, according to a decision taken by both countries recently,” The Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 reported.

Namho added that “a 400-megawatt line — Karkha-Amara is nearly complete this summer, being a part of Iran’s planned electric power exports for Iraq. The Iraqi side has confirmed the necessity to construct the Khorramshahr-Abuflous line, expected to be completed by the summer of 2012, through sending a technical team and the settling of outstanding problems, in order to increase Iran’s electric power for Iraq from its present level to 1,250 megawatts.”

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Lebanon’s Parliament Passes Maritime Border Law

Concerned about possible Israeli encroachment upon recently discovered offshore natural gas fields, Lebanon’s Parliament has passed draft legislation demarcating its maritime borders with Israel.

The 18-article law was drafted in the Parliament’s Public Works, Transport, Energy and Water Committee, headed by MP Mohammad Qabbani, The Daily Star reported.

At issue are two massive offshore natural gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan, off Israel’s northern city of Haifa, where initial prospecting estimates have concluded that the pair of sites between them could hold as much as 688 billion cubic meters of extractable natural gas.

On Thursday President Michel Sleiman told visiting delegations at Beiteddine Palace, the presidential summer residence, “We will not allow anyone to lay his hand on our wealth, which our children and grandchildren deserve. We will not only pass debts to them but also a wealth that will guarantee them a better future so that they remain in Lebanon.”

In July tensions rose after Israel’s cabinet approved a map of the country’s proposed maritime borders with Lebanon and submitted it for meditation to the United Nations, which conflicts with a map submitted in 2010 by Lebanon to the UN that gives Israel less territory. Beirut maintains that their map is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949 and not contested by Israel as well as challenging Israel’s assertion that a 2007 accord between Cyprus and Lebanon sets the same boundaries as those agreed between Israel and Cyprus last year.

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Woman Assaulted for Smoking on the Street in E Turkey

A woman was attacked by two people for smoking openly on the street during Ramadan in the eastern province of Erzurum on Saturday. She had to take shelter in a nearby men’s dormitory building and call the police for help.

The incident happened on Esat Pasa Yokusu Street in the Yakutiye district before iftar, the evening fast-breaking meal. The woman, identified by her initials Z.B., works for an international company. She lit a cigarette on the street while walking with her boyfriend, identified as I.M. when two people, identified as M.Y. and B.G., approached them, saying, “Put out your cigarette. You are shameless.” Z.B. answered: “I might not be able to fast. I might have chosen not to fast. Why does this matter concern you?” After this reply, M.Y. and I.M. allegedly advanced toward the couple.

Assaulted by the two and seeing that a crowd was gathering, the couple took shelter in a nearby men’s dormitory building and called the police. Police had a hard time calming down the crowd and taking the four to the police station. There were small clashes between the police and an angry crowd that had gathered on the street. All four people involved filed complaints about each other and were freed after their statements were taken.

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

South Asia

Indian Company Investigating Seaweed as Possible Biofuel

An Indian startup company based in Chennai, having spent several fruitless years investigating microalgae, more commonly referred to as simply algae, as a possible source of biofuels, has turned its attention to seaweed as a possible biofuel feedstock.

Sea6 Energy’s founders, four students and their professor at IIT Madras, India’s leading technical institute, spent the last two years investigating algae’s biofuel potential, as have thousands of researchers worldwide, particularly in the U.S.

Eventually however, the quintet’s calculations led them to the conclusion that algae’s possibilities as a biofuel feedstock laid many years in the future, The Economic Times reported.

Algae needs significant amounts of fresh water, large nutrient inputs and plenty of land.

Sea6 Energy chairman Shrikumar Suryanarayan said that he and his research team then realized they were looking at the wrong marine product. Suryanarayan said, “We were preparing to abandon the project when we realised that we were chasing the wrong idea.”

Unlike algae, macroalgae, more commonly known as seaweed, appeared an increasingly attractive proposition as a potential biofuel source even at first glance, as seaweed grows in shallow ocean waters and doesn’t need land, water or nutrients since the ocean itself provides them.

Sea6 Energy was formed in July 2010. Shrikumar and a few IIT Madras alumni contributed about $20,000 to get the company started.

Unlike plants, seaweed contains no lignin and is easier to break down. Sea6 needs a microorganism that works in sea water and its research has discovered a few. Converting the sugars into alcohol or other fuels is the easiest task. “Once you have sugars,” says KB Ramachandran, professor of biotechnology at IIT Madras, who is involed with the company, “we can make any petrochemical product.”

[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: A 38-Year-Old Man Dies in Targeted Killing in Karachi

Gunmen shot Arnold Archie Dass in cold blood. The attack occurred in a formerly Christian enclave. For decades, Muslims have been moving into the area and buying up homes and land, pushing out Christians. Karachi is Pakistan’s murder capital: 800 people have been murdered in the first seven months of 2011.

Karachi (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Pakistan’s Christian community has been the victim of another targeted killing. On Saturday, Arnold Archie Dass, 38, was gunned down on Drigh Road, in an old Christian colony, in Karachi, capital of Sindh Province, where violence has already claimed the lives of 800 people in the first seven months of the year. The victim was getting into his car to go home from work. Local sources say a group of gunmen opened fire in front of dozens of witnesses.

Arnold Dass was mortally wounded to the chess, dying as he was rushed to a hospital. At the same time, the group of Islamic extremists who carried out the attack left the scene undisturbed after checking that their target would not survive.

Until the 1970s, Drigh Road was a Christian colony, built by Catholics employed at the nearby Air Force base. It was meant to be an area for Pakistan’s minority Christians. However, with the expansion of Karachi International Airport, land values rose exponentially, making it attractive to rich Muslim landowners and real estate developers.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Christians have become the target of violent attacks. Many families were forced to sell their homes for a pittance. In a few years, Muslims have taken over the old Christian enclave.

Following Arnold Dass’s murder, police opened a file against persons unknown. However, the victim’s relatives complain that the police refused to find the names of the gunmen despite the presence of dozens of witnesses.

Karachi is Pakistan’s biggest city as well as its most dangerous. A recent survey indicated that 800 people were murdered in the first seven months of this year in sectarian and political violence, including targeted killings and large-scale attacks.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

POV Documentary: Mugabe and the White African

Mugabe and the White African, much of which was filmed clandestinely, tells an alarming story from one of the world’s most troubled nations. In Zimbabwe, de facto dictator Robert Mugabe has unleashed a “land reform” program aimed at driving whites from the country through violence and intimidation. One proud “white African,” however, has challenged Mugabe with human rights abuses under international law. The courage Michael Campbell and his family display as they defend their farm — in court and on the ground — makes for a film as inspiring as it is harrowing. (90 minutes)

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Culture Wars

Incivility a Growing Problem at Work, Psychologists Say

“Workplace incivility” is on the rise, researchers said Sunday at the American Psychological Association annual meeting.

The academics define workplace incivility as “a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm.”

Translation: rudeness, insults and plain old bad manners.

Research suggests “75% to 80% of people have experienced incivility. It’s a growing and prevalent problem,” said Jeannie Trudel of Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion.

“It’s very hard to target because you don’t really know if someone actually means to be rude or if it’s just off the cuff, so it’s an insidious problem,” Trudel says. “There are very, very negative effects of accumulated minor stresses.”

In a study she co-wrote, 86% of 289 workers at three Midwestern firms reported incivility at work.

As companies buy out and lay off workers while expecting to keep productivity up, the niceties suffer, suggests psychologist and researcher Paul Fairlie of Toronto: “White-collar work is becoming a little more blue-collar. There’s higher work demands, longer hours. When you control for inflation, people are getting paid less than in the late ‘60s. A lot of people are working much harder. They’ve got fluid job descriptions and less role clarity. So for some people, for a growing fringe, work is becoming more toxic.”

The Civility in America 2011 poll of 1,000 adults found 43% of Americans say they’ve experienced incivility at work, and 38% believe the workplace is increasingly disrespectful. In the online survey, done in May by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research, 67% cited a “critical need” for civility training.

Fairlie’s online survey of 574 full- or part-timers found meaningful work is important to all ages. Older workers “don’t see it as meaningful anymore because they were expecting more,” he says. “Younger people are seeing what work did to their parents” and saying, “‘I’m not paying my dues. I’m going backpacking. I’ll come back and get a job.”‘


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More Gender Equality Leads to More Sex, Global Study Shows

That’s the gist of a new study about the sexual marketplace that used global data and found there’s more sex in countries with higher gender equality than in those with less.

The study is part of a big-picture look at sexual behaviors worldwide using “sexual economics,” in which supply and demand are key elements.

It’s a “notoriously unromantic theory,” said Roy Baumeister of Florida State University in Tallahassee Sunday at the American Psychological Association meeting here.

In his presentation, “Sexual Economics: A Research-Based Theory of Sexual Interactions, or Why the Man Buys Dinner,” Baumeister, a psychologist, explained how applying economic principles helps understand people’s sexual decision-making, especially when they’re just beginning a relationship.

“Women’s sexuality has a kind of value that men’s sexuality does not,” he says. “Men will basically exchange other resources with women to have sex, but the reverse doesn’t work. Women … can trade sex for attention, for grades, for a promotion, for money, as in prostitution or sex with a celebrity.”

The idea, he says, is that men want sex more than women do (on average) and that sex in a relationship begins when women decide it’s time. Supply and demand rule, so whichever sex is more scarce has more power. The theory focuses on heterosexual interactions only.

When women outnumber men (as on many college campuses today) there’s more competition among women for those guys, says Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas-Austin. He addressed that in the book he co-wrote, Premarital Sex in America, out earlier this year.

Regnerus says Baumeister’s theory of sexual economics was a key element. “It’s a perspective through which to understand sexual relationships and sexual behavior,” he says.

Regnerus’ research attributes the rise of the “hookup” culture on campus to the fact that there are so many more women in college. He says Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs “wrote the key work on the subject” in 2004. Because a woman’s sexuality has a value to men, a man who wanted sex typically had to give her something of value, such as a marriage proposal.


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Bernard Lewis: Pied Piper of Islamic Confusion

This summer’s Claremont Review of Books contains a featured review essay by Robert R. Reilly which discusses Bernard Lewis’s essay collection “Faith and Power,” and the nonagenarian historian’s reflections upon the so-called Arab Spring unrest in the Middle East, particularly North Africa.As distilled by Reilly, Lewis’s views reiterate what the historian described to the Wall Street Journal’s Bari Weiss during an April 2nd interview.

The failure of a young journalist v such as Ms. Weiss to appreciate important glaring and irreconcilable inconsistencies in Lewis’s narrative is concerning, but understandable. It is remarkable, and unacceptable, when a writer of some stature … such as Reilly, Chairman of the Committee for Western Civilization, and senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, blithely ignores Lewis’s extensive record of self-contradiction.

Reilly, in his essay, “Bernard Lewis and the Arab Spring”, never discusses either Lewis’s contemporary evangelical, even hectoring appeals to “bring them freedom” (i.e., Muslims under the authoritarian rule their systems have always engendered), lest “they” destroy us, or Lewis’s earlier sobering, 180-degree contradictory analyses of Islam as a totalitarian system devoid of a conceptual basis for Western individual political freedom. Without a mention of this intractably confused and confusing record of pronouncements from the early 1950s, through the present, Reilly invokes Lewis as the ultimate clarifying sage on such developments, for whom all owe “thanks.”

Lewis’s legacy of intellectual and moral confusion has greatly hindered the ability of sincere American policymakers to think clearly about Islam’s living imperial legacy, driven by unreformed and unrepentant mainstream Islamic doctrine. Reilly’s highly selective and celebratory presentation of Lewis’s understandings—the man Reilly dubs the “foremost historian of the Middle East”— is pathognomonic of the dangerous influence Lewis continues to wield over his uncritical acolytes and supporters.


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