Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111019

Financial Crisis
»Left Behind: Not All Chinese Are Profiting From the Great Boom
»Leveraging the Backstop: A Trillion Euro Insurance Policy for the Common Currency
»Lobbyists Confront US Budget Crunch
»Massive Strike Shuts Down Greece Ahead of Austerity Vote
»More Downgrades, Mass Strike as EU Counts Days to Summit
»Opposition Vents Fury Over New EFSF Extension
»Shock Therapy in Greece: A Mega-Strike Aims to Challenge Austerity
»Sink-or-Swim Summit for Debt-Laden EU
»Spain Shrugs Off Fresh Downgrade Amid Euro Fears
»Spanish Officials Fight Negative Outlook for Debt Recovery
»Succah at Occupy London Stock Exchange
»Detroit Struggles to Keep Lights on
»DOJ Official: Holder ‘Firmly Committed’ To Eliminating Anti-Muslim Training
»Feds Order School Dist. To Close Gap Between Minorities
»Hotel Cancels Tea Party Event on Islam
»Obama’s Department of Sharia
»Passenger: ‘You’re All Going to Die’
»Teen Told She Can’t Wear Religious Headscarf in JROTC Parade
»The Wrong Way to Fight Terrorism
Europe and the EU
»Ancient Greek Ships Carried More Than Just Wine
»EU Aid Program That Feeds Millions Hinges on Ministers’ Vote
»Greece: Clashes Between Police and Hooded Youths in Athens
»‘Ice Mosque’ To be Built Near Sweden’s Ice Hotel
»Key European Nuclear Firms Attacked by Variation on Stuxnet Virus
»Netherlands: ‘Fortuyn Would Still Have the Biggest Party’
»Norway: Breivik Psychiatrists Given More Time
»Norway: Claims Russian Journalist Broke Into Breivik’s Attorney House
»Sweden: Thieves Charged After Pooping at Crime Scene
»Swedish Institute Launches Arabic Website
»Trichet Hands Over ECB Presidency to Draghi
»UK: ‘Dreams Infinity’: Mantra for UK Asian Muslims
»UK: Conservatives Ordered to Vote Against EU Referendum
»UK: Can Those Who Smear Bob Lambert Claim Such Anti-Terrorist Success?
»UK: Pro-Israel? Time for a British Media Fox Hunt
»UK: Secret Courts to Shut Down £1m ‘Cashpoint’ For Terror Suspects
»UK: The Battle for Dale Farm: Protesters Torch Caravan as Riot Police Wielding Axes Finally Start £22million Eviction of Travellers’ Camp
»UK: The Islamic Forum of Europe Becomes a Three-Time Loser in the Complaint Stakes
»UK: Uncle Daud Defends Lambert
»UK: Why Paul Goodman is Right (And Brave) To Take on Douglas Murray’s Muslim-Bashing
»Past and Prejudices Damaging the Economy
»Serbia: Rival Serbian Muslim Organizations Settle Their Differences in Turkey’s Capitol
Mediterranean Union
»Brussels Opens Consultation on ENPI Plans in 2011
»Spain: Campus Party on Mediterranean Technological Progress
North Africa
»Italy: Pope’s Interreligious Meeting Invite — No Praying
»Tunisia: Ennahdha to Get Over 50% of Votes, Gannouchi
Israel and the Palestinians
»Would-be Bomber Tells Gaza Children to be Like Her
Middle East
»Car Crashes Dropped 40% in Middle East During Blackberry Outage
»Iraq’s Move to Revoke Immunity for Troops Adds to US Problems
»Lebanon: the Invisible Domestic ‘Slaves’
»Turkey: PKK Attack, 26 Dead; Gul Promises Vengeance
»Violence Escalates in Turkey After Deadly Kurdish Rebel Attack
»A Marriage of Cosmic Convenience: Russia and Europe Launch a Tricky Partnership
»Europe Looks to Russia After NASA Falls Short on Exomars
»Europe’s Navigation Satellite Hopes Riding on Russian Rocket Launch Thursday
South Asia
»Europe Can Learn From Islamic Finance, Says Malyasian Finance Minister
»Who is Poor? India Grapples With the Definition of Poverty
Far East
»Filipino Troops Search for 10 Missing Soldiers
»France Pipped by Japan on Three Star Restaurants
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Disabled Frenchwoman Held Hostage in Somalia Dies
»France Confirms Death of Kidnapped Woman
»Kenya on Alert Over Al-Shabab Terror Attacks
»Kenya: Embracing Islam in Africa Rising
Latin America
»Stakelbeck: Hezbollah in Your Backyard
»Indonesia: Fourteen Iranian Migrants Arrested
»Spain No More El Dorado, More Going Than Coming
Culture Wars
»Can Somebody Please Explain Multiculturalism?
»Poland: Palikot Power Transforms National Politics
»Cars With Big Grilles Look Like Old Men, Study Finds
»Epic Pi Quest Sets 10 Trillion Digit Record
»Next-Generation, Honking-Big, Recession-Proof Alien Hunting
»Seven Billion and Counting

Financial Crisis

Left Behind: Not All Chinese Are Profiting From the Great Boom

Despite China’s economic boom, many are being left behind. Experts say disparities between rich and poor, which are now larger than ever, will be a major challenge for Chinese society.

But while most Chinese people are materially better off than they were 50 years ago, social disparities have grown considerably throughout the country. There is an east-west and an urban-rural gap; While the coasts are home to modern high-tech cities, inland populations are still fighting with massive problems in infrastructure and the number and quality of schools and hospitals. The average income of a person living in Shanghai is about three times higher than that of someone in the western Gansu province. Within the cities there are alarming discrepancies between the rich and poor, the poorest of whom are usually the so-called migrant workers — people from rural areas who migrate to big cities in search of work.

Experts say the gap between the affluent and impoverished, which, according to recent surveys, is now larger than that in the United States, will pose a major challenge for China. Though the country is experiencing an unprecedented boom, blue-collar workers and farmers are hardly profiting. On the contrary, today’s inflation is creating a bigger hole than ever in their pockets. The price of food had risen by over 13 percent within just one year. Yet the wealthy are growing richer, as attested by the growing number of luxury cars on city streets.

Some say politicians are profiting most from the boom. State officials and party cadres, on the other hand, are earning higher wages than ever, as corruption in the political system is rampant.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Leveraging the Backstop: A Trillion Euro Insurance Policy for the Common Currency

Berlin and Paris appear to be close to an agreement ahead of this weekend’s euro summit. Media reports indicate that the impact of the EFSF euro backstop fund is to be increased to as much as 2 trillion euros by leveraging the fund. Meanwhile, Greece may have found a vast source of new tax revenues.

With just days to go before European Union leaders gather in Brussels for a summit aimed at finding a way out of the euro zone’s ongoing debt crisis, an agreement appears to be taking shape. But renewed concerns about the state of France’s fiscal health are creating fresh hurdles in the effort to save the common currency. The Financial Times Deutschland reported on Tuesday evening that euro-zone leaders have come up with a plan to increase the impact of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) over and above the €440 billion ($608 billion) lending capacity it currently has. The paper said the leveraged EFSF will be able to martial aid worth up to €1 trillion. A similar story in the British daily the Guardian indicated that the ceiling was to be even higher, as much as €2 trillion.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Lobbyists Confront US Budget Crunch

Money for advocacy is tight as federal cuts loom.

The business of lobbying the US government on behalf of research has rarely been more challenging, according to an informal survey. A polarized Congress focused on reducing government spending, coupled with anti-science sentiment among some lawmakers, has created a chilly atmosphere for those arguing for robust and long-term investment in basic research. “The environment is toxic. It’s dysfunctional. It’s like it’s always been, but worse,” says Mike Lubell, who oversees government relations at the American Physical Society in Washington DC. And it is leading lobbyists to adopt new tactics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Massive Strike Shuts Down Greece Ahead of Austerity Vote

Greece’s unions have launched a massive general strike a day before a vote on further austerity measures. Public services, flights, shops and schools have all been affected, as lawmakers debate the deep cuts.

In the midst of a massive protest that coincides with a general strike in Greece, protesters clashed with police in front of the Greek parliament building in Athens on Wednesday. Witnesses reported seeing stones, Molotov cocktails, and eggs hurled at riot police, while police responded by launching tear gas canisters into the crowd. There have also been reports of police being bombarded by firebombs in Thessaloniki.

For the most part, however, the protests in Greece have remained peaceful, with reports indicating that at least 70,000 people gathered in Athens alone. The protests are part of a major 48-hour strike led by Greek unions that began on Wednesday. One newspaper has called it the “mother of all strikes.” The two-day action follows smaller strikes, primarily in the public sector, on Monday and Tuesday. The demonstrations were arranged to coincide with the buildup to a parliamentary debate and vote on further austerity measures.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

More Downgrades, Mass Strike as EU Counts Days to Summit

Ratings agencies have downgraded Spanish debt and a raft of Italian banks, while Greece on Wednesday (19 October) expects a massive strike ahead of an EU summit on new anti-crisis measures. Moody’s on Tuesday pulled Spanish debt down two notches from A1 to Aa2, putting the eurozone country in a similar bracket to Italy and non-euro states such as Botswana, Japan and Poland.

It cited debt-laden banks and low growth prospects in its statement, noting: “Since placing the ratings under review in late July 2011, no credible resolution of the current sovereign debt crisis has emerged and it will in any event take time for confidence in the area’s political cohesion and growth prospects to be fully restored.” The same day Standard & Poor’s cut grades for three major Italian banks — Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Banco Popolare and UBI Banca — as well as 21 local-level lenders. “Funding costs for Italian banks … will remain noticeably higher than those in other eurozone countries unless the Italian government implements workable growth enhancing measures and achieves a faster reduction in the public sector debt burden,” it said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Opposition Vents Fury Over New EFSF Extension

German opposition parties have demanded another parliamentary vote following reports that the French and German governments are planning to expand the eurozone financial safety net even further.

According to a report in Wednesday’s Financial Times Deutschland, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has told MPs from the three government parties that the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is to be given extra levers to give bondholders extra guarantees, boosting its effective financial might to a maximum of €1 trillion. The British Guardian newspaper even suggested on Tuesday that France and Germany were preparing to create a European bailout fund worth €2 trillion euros.

The UK paper calculated that the by insuring the state loans, the lending capacity of the EFSF — currently €440 billion — would multiplied fivefold. “The EFSF will in effect become an insurer,” the paper wrote. Schäuble is said to have assured government MPs that Germany’s guarantee limit of €211 billion would not be lifted any further.

“There were several critical questions,” one unnamed Free Democratic Party (FDP) MP told the paper after the meeting. And there was also apparently much grumbling from Schäuble’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Shock Therapy in Greece: A Mega-Strike Aims to Challenge Austerity

The Greek parliament is expected to pass painful austerity measures on Thursday in order to prevent insolvency. But as the cuts begin to affect an ever-larger number of people, the general strike called for two days this week promises to be massive.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sink-or-Swim Summit for Debt-Laden EU

Europe’s leaders gather for a sink-or-swim summit starting Friday to seek a “lasting” solution to the nearly two-year-old debt crisis and prevent EU disintegration. The big two of Germany and France are at odds entering marathon Brussels talks culminating Sunday night amid global pressure to avert the “scary” recession US President Barack Obama fears awaits if Europeans fail.

While German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has suggested Berlin will offer only “cover for uncertainty on financial markets,” Paris wants much more, leading French Prime Minister Francois Fillon to warn that “if we don’t succeed on Sunday, Europe will face very great risks.” As Greeks launch a fresh 48-hour shutdown around another parliamentary vote on ever-deeper EU-IMF austerity, a climate of protest stretching right to Wall Street has added to the urgency with which the 17-nation eurozone must resolve its failings.

Already put back a week, and with markets threatening a fresh tailspin, the clock is ticking towards a deadline when Europeans meet with the United States, Japan and other G20 rivals on November 3-4.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain Shrugs Off Fresh Downgrade Amid Euro Fears

(MADRID) — Spain leapt Wednesday to reassure investors it can pay its debts after a third rating agency downgraded its sovereign debt and warned it is at high risk from the eurozone crisis. With European leaders seeking an urgent and lasting solution to the debt crisis, Spain — seen by economists as a fiscal weak link in the eurozone — chalked up a hat-trick of downgrades by all the three big ratings agencies.

Moody’s on Tuesday cut Spain’s rating by two notches to A1 from Aa2, with a negative outlook, “to reflect the downside risks from a potential further escalation of the euro area crisis.” Spain’s Treasury challenged the move, saying in a letter to investors the downgrade “may be motivated more by a short-term reaction to negative news about the eurozone debt markets” than by long-term fundamentals.

“The nation’s significant deleveraging has significantly reduced its external financing needs,” the Treasury said. “The Spanish government remains committed to fiscal consolidation and structural reform.” The Moody’s downgrade came days after Standard & Poor’s cut Spain’s sovereign rating to AA-minus from AA, with a negative outlook. Fitch Rating slashed Spain’s rating by two notches less than two weeks ago. Citing slow growth and high levels of debt and unemployment, Moody’s warned that Spain was likely to suffer particularly hard from a further economic slowdown.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Officials Fight Negative Outlook for Debt Recovery

Moody’s has joined the other two major ratings agencies and downgraded Madrid’s long-term debt. Spanish government bonds were downgraded by two notches to A1. But the nation’s leaders are putting up resistance.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Succah at Occupy London Stock Exchange

Protesters at the Occupy London Stock Exchange have been invited to take temporary shelter — in a succah. Following in the footsteps of Jewish demonstrators in New York, a group of British activists have decided to put up a “protest succah”. They have called for people to “bring radical Jewish decorations to hang in the succah, like your favo u rite Emma Goldman and Abraham Joshua Heschel photos, or whatever else you think belongs.” They added: “Bring some food to share; decorations to beautify, as we dwell and celebrate together.” The organisers also promised that there would be a lulav and etrog available. Protesters began occupying the area on the weekend, mirroring the larger-scale protests set up across the United States last month.

[JP note: They’ll be playing soccer in the trenches next.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Detroit Struggles to Keep Lights on

Copper thieves, aging equipment darken blocks in cash-starved city

Detroit —Like many swaths of the city, Keith Wicks’ historic Indian Village neighborhood has remained largely dark at night after vandals destroyed transformers in nearly every streetlight pole that powers them. On a recent rainy day, Wicks, 64, a retired GM engineer who has lived in Detroit for decades, watched as city Public Lighting workers put new transformers at the top of the aging wooden poles. Just days later, those streetlights were out — again.

“We’ve still got a ways to go,” Wicks said with a laugh. The growing lack of public lighting has become a troubling problem for cash-starved Detroit, where entire stretches of neighborhoods and thoroughfares — such as portions of the Southfield Freeway — are feeling the effects. “This city…it’s dark without streetlights,” said Wicks, who lives on Iroquois. “You look down Iroquois at night now, it’s black. It’s very dangerous.”

The war to keep the lights on in Detroit is a serious one. Thieves, antiquated equipment and a lack of funding have made it impossible for city officials to catch up to the problem. City officials estimate 15-20 percent of the 88,000 lights in the Motor City are not working, and they acknowledge that figure could be as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods. Providing lighting to the city costs $10.7 million annually.

And often when they are fixed, they break down weeks and months later — or thieves steal the high-grade cable for its copper materials.

[Return to headlines]

DOJ Official: Holder ‘Firmly Committed’ To Eliminating Anti-Muslim Training

Attorney General Eric Holder is “firmly committed” to nixing anti-Muslim material from law enforcement training, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Dwight C. Holton said Wednesday.

Holton, who was U.S. Attorney when the FBI arrested the so-called Christmas tree bomber, said that he spoke specifically with Holder about the “egregiously false” training that took place at the FBI’s training headquarters at Quantico and at a U.S. Attorney’s office in Pennsylvania, which was first reported on by Wired.

“I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for,” Holton said. “They will not be tolerated.”

The training materials, Holton said, “pose a significant threat to national security, because they play into the false narrative propagated by terrorists that the United States is at war with Islam.”

Holton said that he spoke about the issue with Holder directly when he was out in Oregon.

“He is firmly committed to making sure that this is over,” Holton said. “Now the reality is it is going to take a bit to go back and figure out what trainings have happened in the past that we need to go back and fix — we’re a big organization, we’ve got lots going on with lots of people and lots of contractors — but Attorney General Holder is firmly committed to it, and we’re going to fix it.”

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez also condemned the anti-Muslim training material in his subsequent speech during a conference on anti-Muslim discrimination, saying that Muslims have “every right to be upset about the issue of the trainings.”

“The Attorney General is equally upset, the Deputy Attorney General is upset, the FBI Director is upset, and we’re upset because we have accomplished so much,” Perez said.

“I recognize the words of my mother, that it only takes one or two incidents to make all that great work seem a part of the past,” Perez said. “So we have to make sure that we have the quality control across the board.”

Holton struck a similar theme, recalling how he talked to his local FBI special agent in charge (SAC) the day after the Quantico revelations came out.

“The SAC said to me — Greg Fowler, who used to be in New York, he’s now in Oregon — said ‘You know, they tell you on your first day as an agent at the FBI that one person can make a difference. What they forget to tell you is that it can be a good difference or a bad difference.’ So we’re working hard to get that right,” Holton said.

Progress has been made on engagement with Muslim communities, including in the way that criminal complaints refer to Islam, said Holton.

“Before this effort, a lot of us didn’t understand that when we make an arrest in a high-profile terrorism case that involves someone who claims they follow Islam, it creates a mini-backlash against people in communities,” Holton said.

“In the 37-page complaint that laid out the allegations against Mohamed Mohamud, he is never once identified as a Muslim. We were very careful about that. It’s not relevant from our perspective, what’s relevant is the violence,” Holton said.

“Every time I opened my mouth about that case, I said maybe two or three main points and one of them is ‘violence knows no country, no religion, no boundaries’,” Holton said.

He added that not referring to him as a Muslim made him the target of Islamophobic bloggers.

“Of all the hateful things that have been said about me as U.S. Attorney, it’s part of the job, right, having to deal with the bloggers comments — and believe me the medical marijuana crowd does not love me — but of all the hateful things that have been said about me was in response to me saying that,” Holton said. “There are people who don’t get it.”

Holton called the outreach he did with the Muslim community over the course of his tour as U.S. Attorney for Oregon the most important work of his career, joking that he put on “10 pounds in lamb weight” and recalling having 15 to 20 imams over at his house for a halal meal that went until 2 a.m.

“My wife jokes that our social life has been taken over by Muslim engagement,” said Holton.

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Feds Order School Dist. To Close Gap Between Minorities

“On a mission to narrow the academic achievement gap between minorities and whites, the Obama Administration has ordered the nation’s second-largest public school district to cut back on disciplining black students and develop a special curriculum for those who don’t speak English.”


“Key among the administration’s demands is that the school district “eliminate inequitable and disproportionate discipline practices” for blacks and that it renews its focus on “identifying the academic English needs of African-American students.” The LAUSD must also implement a “first-of-its-kind pilot project for a community school in a predominantly African-American neighborhood” that will become a “sustainable and replicable model for promoting African-American student success.”

“For the district’s 200,000 non English speakers, many of them illegal immigrants, the administration wants a costly English Learner Master Plan that will address the “specific needs” of each pupil. Students who reach high school without mastering English skills required to take college-prep courses will also get extra help and both non English speaking and black students will get “better teachers” as well as other resources.”

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Hotel Cancels Tea Party Event on Islam

SUGAR LAND, Texas — Hundreds of Tea Party members were forced to scramble to find a new location to host a controversial event Tuesday night. The Hyatt Place Houston Sugar Land hotel canceled the Sugar Land Tea Party’s meeting when it learned the featured speaker is a prominent critic of Islam who routinely draws protesters. Organizers were able to secure the Sugar Land Community Center instead.

Inside, Tea Partiers listened to political activist Pamela Geller speak and received signed copies of her new book. On Tuesday night she had an extra message for her supporters: “boycott” the Hyatt Place Houston Sugar Land hotel for canceling the tea party’s reservation there. “I think it’s reprehensible, the restriction of free speech, because that’s what we’re talking about,” Geller said. Geller is a longtime critic of Muslim causes. She’s been accused of promoting Islamophobia and Muslim hate speech on her blog and at events.

“I think she’s telling the truth,” said Bill Moore, the Sugar Land Tea Party president. Moore believes the hotel succumbed to pressure. “I think we’re seeing this more and more in America, our freedom of speech being oppressed,” he said.

Jamie Zimmerman, a Hyatt representative, issued the following statement:

“Hyatt Place Houston/Sugar Land respects the various opinions expressed by our guests and visitors. In this particular situation, the changing security needs required for the safety of our guests and others on the hotel property and to avoid business disruption prompted us to ask the organizers to move it to an alternate location. We are pleased that the organizers were able to identify a venue better equipped to provide services to en sure the safety and well-being of everyone involved with the event.”

A few dozen protesters outside the event’s new location chanted “No Room For Hate,” and held signs.

“I want to make sure I let people know Sugar Land is a great place to live. We respect diversity,” said Qaisar Iman, one of the protesters. “We don’t stand for what they stand for. That’s a minority, no doubt. That’s a minority,” said Deron Patterson, co-founder of the Sugar Land Democrat Club. Gellar’s supporters say they’re strong in their belief that Islamic law is a threat to the American way of life. “I’m not bashing Muslims. I’m not bashing people. I love people. It’s why I do what I do. I’m opposing the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth,” Geller said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Department of Sharia

In the continuing Islamization of the Department of Justice, Barack Obama’s DOJ filed a lawsuit against a Chicago-area school district for not allowing Safoorah Khan, a Muslim teacher at MacArthur Middle School, to take time off to make the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, thereby abandoning her students for a month. The DOJ sued the school district and last week forced it to give Khan $75,000 in lost back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.

The Berkeley School District didn’t deny Khan’s request because they hated Muslims. The school needed her. That’s why they said no. She was the only math lab teacher and was a new hire on probation — she had only been on the job for nine months. Why take a job you can’t do? Why take a job that you plan on leaving for a month? Islamic supremacism.

Khan herself made that clear when she said: “I’m glad that we settled, and I hope this does set a precedent. I hope they realize that hajj means a lot to Muslims and there will be more and more people taking the trip. I hope this helps people and their employers to accommodate Muslims and their requests.”

In other words, employers better get used to changing the way they operate their businesses in order to accommodate Muslim demands, or else. Your taxpayer dollars at work: to sue on behalf of an Islamic supremacist and to force the school district to pay 75K in jizya, the tribute money Islamic law requires non-Muslims to pay to Muslims.

Obama’s Department of Shariah filed this outrageous lawsuit against the school district in December 2010, not to ensure the kids get a good education, mind you, but more importantly, to ensure that the Muslims get special rights and extraordinary accommodation. Obama’s Department of Shariah sued to ensure the kids got the shaft but the teacher got the hajj.

This is the same DOJ’s Eric Holder who spoke at the Muslim Advocates dinner a few months back and reassured Muslims of “DOJ’s anti-bias focus.”

This is the same DOJ that scuttled the prosecutions against Muslim Brotherhood-tied groups, i.e. CAIR et al.

This is the same DOJ that is creating Muslim majority legislative districts by converting a religious class into a racial one.

This is the same Eric Holder who sued a New Jersey county demanding that a correction facility change its rules to allow a Muslim prison guard to wear a khimar, an Islamic head covering, even though it’s a choke hazard and she will be among prisoners.

The Department of Justice sponsored a booth at the Muslim Brotherhood front ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) convention underwritten by, among others, the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-linked CAIR. Further, Obama’s Department of Justice dropped the “charges” against the Muslims who blew up the USS Cole.

We don’t need the Justice Department on cases like those. We need the Justice Department investigating how taxpayer dollars are being used to fund Islamic finance (thereby funding jihad and prohibition on whole American business sectors). We need the Justice Department on the violation of the separation of mosque and state in the public schools, in the workplace, in the courtroom and in foreign policy. We need the Justice Department on the violation of the Constitution in regards to Muslims — no longer are equal rights sufficient; now it’s special rights for a very extra special class, Muslims, as the Safoorah Khan case demonstrates.

We need the Justice Department presenting a parade of reliable witnesses like the ex-Muslim human-rights activists Nonie Darwish; Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Ibn Warraq; the former Sudanese jihad slave and Christian activist Simon Deng; witnesses to the Fort Hood jihad murders; witnesses to the Christmas underwear bomber jihad attack on a plane in Detroit; witnesses to the failed jihad bombing in Times Square; compatriots of jihad plotter Najibullah Zazi; and hundreds of victims of jihad attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere.

These would finally educate the American people about Islamic jihad. But instead, we see the Obama administration aiding and abetting Islam’s ongoing war against the principle of the equality of rights of all people, and against the few brave people who speak candidly about Islamic jihad and the hundreds of thousands who have been slaughtered in jihadist wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations and enslavements. Obama and Holder want to use your tax dollars to make sure that Safoorah Khan, Nihad Awad, Ibrahim Hooper, Sheik Qaradawi and the hundreds of other Muslim Brotherhood individuals and groups achieve their goal unmolested, and that nothing stands in the way of that stated goal: “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and s abotaging its miserable house.”

The Safoorah Khan case is just the beginning of Islamic supremacist attempts to gain special privileges for Muslims. It is incumbent upon all free Americans to fight all the harder for equality and justice for all people.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Passenger: ‘You’re All Going to Die’

Southwest flight makes emergency landing

Somewhere in the heavens above Amarillo, angry shouts rang out from the back of Southwest Airlines Flight 3683.

“You’re all going to die,” a man dressed in black screamed at passengers Tuesday afternoon. “You’re all going to hell. Allahu Akbar,” translated as God is great in Arabic.

Federal authorities arrested Ali Reza Shahsavari, 29, of Indialantic, Fla., onboard the Boeing 737 after pilots made an emergency landing at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport at 3:30 p.m. He is being held in the Randall County jail on a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.

None of the 136 passengers and five crew members on the flight from Los Angeles to Kansas City was hurt, said Brad Hawkins, spokesman for Dallas-based Southwest.

Police said the incident began with Shahsavari arguing with another passenger. The flight crew separated the men, said Amarillo police Cpl. Jerry Neufeld.

Shahsavari went into a bathroom and yelled obscenities from the rear of the plane, said passenger Doug Oerding, of Sacramento, Calif. Attendants tried to calm Shahsavari before a female flight attendant finally succeeded in quieting him. Oerding said.

As the tension mounted, the aircraft began to gain speed and descend, Oerding said. The slender Navy veteran said he put his shoes back on in preparation to act.

“All of us guys were looking at him like, ‘Are we going to have to do something?’“ Oerding said after finishing a cigarette outside the Amarillo terminal while waiting to reboard the plane.

Amarillo Aviation Director Patrick Rhodes said an emergency call was placed about 3:30 p.m. to the control tower at Rick Husband. The caller initially reported a male passenger was attempting to break into the cockpit, Rhodes said. Amarillo police said the call came from the cockpit.

“He was being disruptive and unruly on the flight, but he was not specifically trying to break into the cockpit,” Rhodes said.

When the plane reached a gate at the airport, police boarded it and arrested Shahsavari without incident, Neufeld said…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Teen Told She Can’t Wear Religious Headscarf in JROTC Parade

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — A national Muslim civil rights group has filed a complaint with the Williamson County Schools after a freshman was told she could not march in the homecoming parade with her Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps class while wearing a religious headscarf. Fourteen-year-old Demin Zawity said she felt like crying when her commanding officers told her she couldn’t wear her headscarf with her uniform, which she would be wearing for the first time at the parade. The scarf covers the hair and neck and is worn by many Muslim women as a sign of modesty. “They were making something that is not such a huge deal into something so dramatic,” she told The Tennessean. “The next day was the parade, and I couldn’t march.”

Schools spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said the district follows military regulations for the U.S. Army program. “Junior ROTC only exists at high schools if approved by the U.S. military,” she said. Zawity’s mother, Perishan Hussein, said she contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations about her daughter’s treatment. “There are some Muslims who say she shouldn’t be involved in this, and there will be Americans who say she needs to assimilate,” Hussein said. …”She’s an American. I’m an American. She has a right to stand up for her rights.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent an Oct. 13 letter to Williamson County schools Director Mike Looney asking for an apology for the teen and a change of policy for the JROTC program. The letter argues that schools are not bound by the codes and regulations of the U.S. Army. “This failure to protect religious rights sends a negative message to students of all faiths,” the letter states. Zawity has since quit the JROTC and returned to regular physical education classes, but she said she wants to make it easier for future Muslim girls to participate. A New Jersey teen dropped out of the Naval Junior ROTC in 2003 over the same issue. Her school ultimately offered to exempt her from the uniform rules.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Wrong Way to Fight Terrorism

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ continued use of anti-Muslim training materials could lead to the collapse of a critical partnership with the Muslim American community.

We in the Muslim American community have been battling the corrupt and bankrupt ideas of cults such as Al Qaeda. Now it seems we also have to battle pseudo-experts in the FBI and the Department of Justice. A disturbing string of training material used by the FBI and a U.S. attorney’s office came to light beginning in late July that reveals a deep anti-Muslim sentiment within the U.S. government.

If this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community — another example of the ineptitude and/or apathy undermining bridges built with care over decades. It is not enough to just call it a “very valid concern,” as FBI Director Robert Mueller told a congressional committee this month. The training material in question provided to FBI agents at the academy in Quantico, Va. — as first reported by Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog — contained bigoted and inflammatory views on Muslims, including claims that “devout” Muslims are more prone toward violence, that Islam aims to “transform a country’s culture into 7th century Arabian ways,” that Islamic charitable giving is a “funding mechanism for combat” and that the prophet Muhammad was a “violent cult leader.”

Wired also found a 2010 presentation by an analyst working for the U.S. attorney’s office in Pennsylvania that warns of a “ ‘Civilizat ional Jihad’ stretching back from the dawn of Islam and waged today in the U.S. by ‘civilians, juries, lawyers, media, academia and charities’ who threaten ‘our values.’ The goal of that war: ‘Replacement of American Judeo-Christian and Western liberal social, political and religious foundations by Islam.’“

Such baseless and inflammatory claims shall best be left to those few who share Al Qaeda’s agenda of keeping America in a perpetual state of war with Islam. In other words, the rhetoric of Al Qaeda and these law enforcement trainers are opposite sides of the same coin of hate. If our law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to use incorrect and divisive training literature, the crucial partnership between the Muslim American community and law enforcement will slowly disintegrate. According to the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Post-9/11 Terrorism Incident Database, these partnerships have proved effective in keeping our nation safe. Nearly 40% of Al Qaed a-related plots threatening the American homeland since 9/11 have been foiled thanks to tips from Muslims.

One example of this is the so-called Virginia 5 case in 2009, in which information from the Muslim community in Virginia led to the arrest in Pakistan of five Muslims from Virginia who were trying to join an Al Qaeda group. Last year, in another case, members of a Maryland community warned law enforcement about Antonio Martinez, who had recently converted to Islam. He was subsequently arrested after he allegedly tried to blow up a military recruitment center. More important, Muslim leaders, not FBI agents, can more effectively battle Al Qaeda’s destructive ideas.

I have worked for more than 20 years with law enforcement and Muslim American communities, and one of the biggest consequences of these training sessions and use of this material is the setback of a vital relationship that required years to build. I know justifiable criticism can be levied against some Muslim leaders in America for not aggressively promoting civic engagement, for not being self-critical enough and for not distancing themselves from rabble-rousers. But how can we persuade Muslim American communities to stay at the table when the food on the table is filled with poison?

These training manuals are making it more difficult for Muslim Americans to foster any trust with law enforcement agencies. Biased and faulty training leads to biased and faulty policing. The real challenge now is getting the partnership back on track, and for the FBI and the Justice Department to take the following steps: issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community; establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials; invite experts who have no animosity toward any religion to conduct training about any religious community to law enforcement. Finally, the White House needs to form an interagency task force that can conduct an independent review of FBI and Justice Department training material.

The following words are etched into the walls of the FBI headquarters building in Washington: “The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation … of all law enforcement agencies with the support and understanding of the American people.” Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and FBI Director Mueller, take some leadership on this matter, or the partnership we’ve built to counter violent extremism will forever be handicapped. The question you have to answer is simple: Are we on the same team or not?

Salam Al-Marayati is president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

[JP note: No. Not on the same team.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Ancient Greek Ships Carried More Than Just Wine

DNA tests of shipwrecked jars illuminate early trade markets in the Mediterranean.

A DNA analysis of ancient storage jars suggests that Greek sailors traded a wide range of foods — not just wine, as many historians have assumed. The study, in press at the Journal of Archaeological Science1, finds evidence of vegetables, herbs and nuts in nine jars taken from Mediterranean shipwrecks. The researchers say DNA testing of underwater artefacts from different time periods could help to reveal how such complex markets developed across the Mediterranean.

Archaeologist Brendan Foley of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts and geneticist Maria Hansson of Lund University, Sweden, retrieved DNA from nine amphorae — the storage containers of the ancient world — from sunken ships dating from the fifth to the third centuries BC. The researchers found grape DNA — as would be expected for containers of wine — in only five of the nine jars, and olive DNA, possibly from olive oil, in six of them. Other ‘hits’ included DNA from legumes, ginger, walnut and juniper and from herbs such as mint, thyme and oregano.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Aid Program That Feeds Millions Hinges on Ministers’ Vote

The EU will decide this week whether to cut funding for a program that has helped feed the continent’s poorest citizens for the last 25 years. As the economic downturn drags on, more people have begun asking for help. About 70 families show up every week to a food distribution center in the west of Paris. They receive staples like pasta, milk, meat and canned goods. Fatima Belhassi, who immigrated to France from Morocco 20 years ago, comes here once a month. Due to rising energy bills and a divorce, she says she can no longer feed her three children on a cleaning woman’s salary.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Clashes Between Police and Hooded Youths in Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 19 — Clashes have broken out on Syntagma Square, in the centre of Athens, between the police and hooded young people. The access roads to the square have also been reduced to battlefields, with burning rubbish bins, smashed shop windows and bent road signs, all shrouded in a dense cloud of teargas. The news was reported by a correspondent of private television network Skai in a live connection. Around fifty riot police are trying to protect the monument for the unknown soldier — outside the Parliament -, wearing gasmasks, and with dozens of youngsters hurling stones. In an off street, more police officers charged other young people dressed in black, also with their faces covered.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Ice Mosque’ To be Built Near Sweden’s Ice Hotel

The highly popular church built near the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in Northern Sweden might soon be joined by an ice mosque by next winter, if all goes according to plan. “We are open to everything and we practice freedom of religion here in Jukkasjärvi,” said Yngve Bergqvist, CEO of Icehotel, to local paper Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD).

Every year the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, builds a church in pure ice that is later gifted to the Church of Sweden during a service on Boxing Day. The ice church has proved a successful way to reach out to the community and draw in a new crowd. According to NSD, 150 couples from all over the world are married at the church yearly.

Imam Mahmoud Aldebe told the paper he is now hoping that an ice mosque could have the same effect on Islam in the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Key European Nuclear Firms Attacked by Variation on Stuxnet Virus

Several European firms that create software that controls industrial facilities, including nuclear reactors, have been hit by a virus that extracts information from their systems, The New York Times reports.

The virus, known as Duqu, appears to have been made by the same people who made the Stuxnet virus, an infamous cyber weapon that attacked the Iran nuclear program last summer.

Internet security organization Symantec describe Duqu on their website:…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: ‘Fortuyn Would Still Have the Biggest Party’

THE HAGUE, 18/10/11 — Over one-quarter of the Dutch would still prefer to vote for Pim Fortuyn, nearly 10 years after his death, than for any other politician. This means that a party led by Fortuyn would still be the biggest in the Netherlands, according to a poll by Maurice de Hond.

De Hond asked voters if they would prefer to have voted for Fortuyn than for an existing party or politician if Fortuyn was still alive. Twenty-seven percent answered yes, 61 percent no and 12 percent were undecided. With 27 percent, Fortuyn would win about 41 seats in the Lower House, more than any other party.

Fortuyn, an outsider, was shot dead by an environmental activist on 6 May 2002, nine days before general elections. At that moment, his party, Pim Fortuyn List (LPF) was the biggest according to a number of polls.

Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Party for Freedom (PVV) voters would now vote for Fortuyn if he were still alive. Among conservative (VVD) voters, this is 31 percent. Fortuyn also still has many followers among Socialist Party (SP) voters; 25 percent of these would vote for him.

De Hond also looked at the differences in voting behaviour in relation to the educational level of voters. Parties scoring well among the best-educated segment are the VVD (40 seats), centre-left D66 (30 seats) and Labour (PvdA) with 19 seats.

In the lowest educational segment, the PVV (46 seats) and the SP (35 seats) are the winners, followed at some distance by the VVD (22 seats).

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

Norway: Breivik Psychiatrists Given More Time

Psychiatrists evaluating Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik’s mental state were given an another month by an Oslo court on Wednesday to decide whether he can be held criminally accountable for the July 22nd attacks. Psychiatrists evaluating Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik’s mental state were given an another month by an Oslo court on Wednesday to decide whether he can be held criminally accountable for the July 22nd attacks.

Experts Synne Sørheim and Torgeir Husby had initially been given until November 1st to report their conclusions on Behring Breivik’s mental state, but the defence and prosecution have agreed to a four-week delay, the court said, adding it would expect the report by November 30th. “This case is so big that we need more time,” Husby told AFP through a spokeswoman. The two psychiatrists have been tasked with determining if the 32-year-old rightwing extremist, who has confessed to the twin attacks that killed 77 people, is psychotic or not.

Their conclusion will determine whether he can be sentenced to prison or will be locked up in a mental institution. At the end of July, Behring Breivik’s lawyer Geir Lippestad suggested his client was “insane,” something psychiatrists AFP has talked to disagree with.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Claims Russian Journalist Broke Into Breivik’s Attorney House

Breivik’s attorney, Geir Lippe City, says his daughter (3) found Russian journalists in their kitchen. The daughter of Anders Breivik’s attorney surprised two Russian journalists prowling in their family home. According to VG, Lippe City’s daughter (3) found the journalists in the kitchen of their locked home. Apparently, the journalists were searching for information on the terrorist case.

“She came running in after discovering them. I told them to go very quickly, and they did,” said Lippe City to VG.

Most of the evidence is at the police station in Oslo. Any sensitive information in Lippe City’s home is secured within a locked safe.

Lippe City has experienced intense media pressure in the terrorist case. He praises Norwegian journalists for their “exemplary behavior” — compared to foreign media.

As of Saturday afternoon, Lippe City had not returned Dagbladet’s calls.

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Thieves Charged After Pooping at Crime Scene

Three piles of human excrement left at a crime scene in central Sweden served as key evidence in the case against two men charged for tying up and robbing a strawberry farmer earlier this year. Last February, strawberry grower Elof Dahlén was attacked by two masked men who barged into his home near Vara in central Sweden.

“They taped my arms behind my back. They taped my legs and my entire head so I couldn’t see or hear anything,” Dahlén told the local Sveriges Radio (SR) in Skaraborg. But before carrying out the theft, the two robbers, along with an accomplice, had all defecated on the ground near their getaway vehicle, not far from Dahlén’s home.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Institute Launches Arabic Website

Sweden’s “official gateway” on the internet launched an Arabic edition on Wednesday, in an effort to strengthen Sweden’s dialogue with the Arabic speaking world. “We’ve seen that this region is very important for Sweden in many ways, but that they have very little knowledge about Sweden,” Frida Roberts, web manager for, told The Local. “This is not just another language version of the site, it is locally adapted with everything from imagery, the content, and the technological aspects.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Trichet Hands Over ECB Presidency to Draghi

All eyes on former Bank of Italy chief to help fix eurozone

(ANSA) — Frankfurt, October 19 — Jean-Claude Trichet handed over the presidency of the European Centeral Bank (ECB) to Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi at a ceremony in Frankfurt Wednesday.

Trichet will not officially step down until his eight-year term ends on October 31.

“His term was during the most difficult period since the ECB was created,” said Draghi in his acceptance speech, referring to the sovereign debt crisis that still plagues the eurozone.

Draghi’s biggest challenge in his new job will be to help steer the eurozone towards financial stability.

He has already been deeply involved in this in his role as Bank of Italy governor, in particular in August, when he and Trichet pressed the Italian government to beef up austerity measures in exchange for ECB bond-buying to stop the spread between Italian and German bonds becoming unmanageable.

By taking the ECB post Draghi will be forced to step down not only as Bank of Italy governor but also as chairman of the Group of 20’s Financial Stability Board (FSB). His appointment has also put into question Lorenzo Bini Smaghi’s future on the ECB’s six-member governing board. After some cajoling from France and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi this summer, he agreed to step down before his term expired in 2013 to make room for a French member.

Many observers are convinced that Bini Smaghi held out because he would like to have Draghi’s job at the Bank of Italy, a possibility that even Sarkozy is reported to have suggested to Berlusconi.

In his press conference in June, Berlusconi said that Bini Smaghi was one of three people on the short list to become the next governor of the Bank of Italy, along with Treasury director General Vittorio Grilli and Bank of Italy Director Fabrizio Saccomanni.

Disputes within the government over who should replace Draghi as governor of the Bank of Italy have gone on for months.

Berlusconi said on Wednesday he would nominate a new governor on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Dreams Infinity’: Mantra for UK Asian Muslims

In 2007, the Indian-born, Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie established a new high for Asian Muslims living in the UK when he was honored with a knighthood. More recently, Abdul Arain, a nonresident Indian and Cambridge-based grocery-store owner, shot to fame when he was nominated in the Cambridge University chancellor elections. Though he lost, there continues to a lot of hype about the commoner with an MBA from Cambridge.

As a result of British colonial rule over South Asia, millions of Muslims left their homelands and migrated to the UK. But being so far from their own countries has not diminshed the determination of the Asian Muslim community to make their dreams come true. According to “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”, a report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, the UK has the third-largest Muslim community in Europe, after Germany (4,119,000) and France (3,574,000). The UK Muslims account for 16.8 per cent of all Muslims in Western Europe. In terms of percentage, the UK is ninth, after Belgium (6 per cent), France, Austria and Switzerland (5.7 per cent), The Netherlands (5.5 per cent), Germany (5 per cent), Sweden (4.9 per cent) and Greece (4.7 per cent).

The Kenyan-born Arain, whose family belongs to Jalandhar, has been a resident of Cambridgeshire, where he runs his Al-Amin grocery store on Mill Road, for the last 15 years. Being at the grassoots level, Arain attempted to give Cambridge a chance with help from people belonging to different walks of life. Naveeda Ikram made headlines when she was appointed Lord Mayor of Bradford by the District Council earlier this year. She is the first Pakistani-origin woman to join the council and the country’s first Muslim woman to become Lord Mayor. Lord Mayor Naveeda, who spent her teenage years in Punjab, represents the growing face of Asian Muslims in Britain.

According to a BBC report, Islam is Europe’s fastest growing religion, thanks to immigration and above-average birth rates. The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 per cent in the next 20 years, from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a Pew study. Though personalities like Sir Salman Rushdie still rule the roost, it is the current generation of Asian Muslims who are making Islam more diversified than before. According to a report on population trends, published by ONS in 2001, the majority of British Muslims come from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The diplomatic circle is added to, by the Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan, who was born in London and belongs to a family of Pakistani immigrants. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament from Tooting and is now the Shadow Lord Chancellor. He was also both the first Asian and the first Muslim Cabinet member. The discussion must also include the likes of Shabana Mahmood, Sayeeda Warsi and Yasmin Qureshi, women who have family roots in Pakistan and have asserted their presence in the field of politics. Warsi and Qureshi, of the Labour Party, are MPs for Birmingham and Bolton South East respectively.

Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi, is a British lawyer and politician. An unelected Life Peeress and a member of the Conservative Party, she is the current Chairman of the Conservative Party and a Minister without Portfolio in David Cameron’s Cabinet. Her appointment makes the Baroness the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet. Journalist Irene Zubaida Khan, a native of Bangladesh, has also made her presence felt in the UK and around the world with her human rights and social work. With significant success rates in different fields, Asian Muslims are bringing mainstream people together to achieve a prosperous future for the UK.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Conservatives Ordered to Vote Against EU Referendum

David Cameron next week will order Conservative MPs to vote against holding a referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

Even as MPs agreed to hold a Commons vote on a referendum, government sources made clear that the Tories would be whipped to vote against a poll.

Mr Cameron’s decision to impose a three-line whip has angered many MPs, since the vote was called under rules the Coalition promised would give backbenchers more freedom.

The back-bench business committee yesterday voted to hold a debate on the issue on Oct 27 after more than 100,000 people signed a petition demanding a choice.

The Prime Minister, who has expressed his desire to take back some powers from Brussels, is publicly opposed to a referendum and will order his MPs to vote against it.

Although any vote would not be binding, the decision sets the scene for a Tory rebellion and a test of Mr Cameron’s authority over his party.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Can Those Who Smear Bob Lambert Claim Such Anti-Terrorist Success?

Those of us who worked with Lambert knew of his police past. What matters is how his approach kept Muslims from extremism.

The “exposure” of the former special branch officer Bob Lambert comes at a convenient time: it can serve as a distraction from the scandals that have engulfed the neocon tendency in the government. Lambert has been a staunch critic of the government’s Islamophobic rhetoric and exclusivist policies. This, to a large extent, explains the excitement that has greeted disclosure of information about Lambert’s past career among certain people.

These people seek to achieve two things: to assassinate Lambert’s character and discredit his academic work. Both will fail. Those of us who worked with him during the difficult decade after 11 September 2001 always knew he came from a police background, and specifically the special branch unit. It was no secret. If at any point he was involved in the infiltration of legitimate protest and political groups while being a special branch officer, then that was wrong. That being said, the political authors of such a policy should bear the full responsibility for it and not any single officer. What has stood out about Lambert has been his commitment to peace, justice and social harmony. He was never as preoccupied with words as he was with deeds. Hence he entered into partnerships with almost everyone who was committed to these ideals.

I attended meetings with him in police stations with young men, exploring the best ways to keep them on the straight and narrow. Together, we shared a goal: to stop terrorists from undermining the achievements of British Muslims. Lambert knew that the Islamophobes were using the anti-terrorist agenda to exclude Muslims from politics. He believes this is wrong. He argues that Muslim communities have legitimate grievances that should be not only acknowledged, but also channelled effectively through mainstream politics.

It was this approach to countering terrorism, his support for the Muslim community in their darkest hours and his stand against the rightwing politicians that made him unique.

Recently, the home secretary detained and issued a deportation order against Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic movement in Israel. Lambert was one of the expert academics who testified against the order in court and spoke about his work in countering anarchy and terror on our streets. In his characteristically balanced statement he acknowledged the work of the Community Security Trust, the group that lobbied the home secretary, in combating fascism. But, he pointed out that their analyses on Israel lacked balance and objectivity.

Academically, Lambert was very critical of the divisive and negative role played by the thinktank Policy Exchange and its influence on official policy — not just at home but also in foreign policy making. They have, for many years, targeted groups that particularly support Palestine, such as Interpal. Lambert was one of those who took exception to this.

Speaking in a recent BBC radio interview, Lambert criticised government policy on tackling terrorism. The policy, he said, “is demonising some of the most effective Muslim groups and organisations against al-Qaida.”

In London, perhaps one of his most outstanding achievements was in turning around the Finsbury Park mosque, once a hub for followers of the notorious Abu Hamza al-Masri. This mosque was a source of embarrassment for Muslims. Today it is a source of pride. In Brixton, Lambert’s work was pivotal in giving a sense of hope and direction to many youngsters. The vehicle was the Strategy to Reach Empower and Educate Teenagers (Street). This enterprise combats gang warfare in the Brixton area and helps to protect young Muslims from the lure of violent extremism. The Centre for Social Justice, set up by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, praised the constructive work of Street. Yet, the modest funds granted by the government have been slashed thanks to narrowminded thinking.

Those who smear Lambert have no such accomplishments. Unwittingly, though, they have vindicated him and emphasised the need for a real dialogue. If the government cannot listen to Lambert today, there is no likelihood they will listen to any Muslim tomorrow. The time for exclusion is over.

[JP note: This article by Daud Abdullah — a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration and therefore a confirmed traitor — aspires to new levels of absurdity.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Pro-Israel? Time for a British Media Fox Hunt

A lot has been said in recent weeks about Liam Fox, and very little of it is true. It may well be, as Fox himself has said, that he “blurred the lines”. It may be that he made a serious error in not formalising Adam Werritty’s role. But he was also the subject of a range of totally unsubstantiated witch-hunts which ended up scalping the best Defence Secretary in a generation. Among those witch-hunts, one stood out.

Fox could have survived the innuendo about his friendship with Werritty. He could have survived further speculation about his friend and adviser’s business dealings. He certainly could have survived the revelation that both men had meetings with people from Sri Lanka. But the moment when it was clear it was all over was when the press started repeating, for no apparent reason, the fact that Fox is “pro-Israel”. “That’s it”, I thought: “time to send for the removal men.”

Over recent days, the wildest imaginable headlines have been run by broadsheet and tabloids. Last Sunday, the Observer led its front-page with: “Revealed: Hidden Tory links to US radical right”. If you were under the impression that “radical right” might, like “radical left”, mean something really nasty, then you’d have been disappointed to discover that the relevant links were -prepare yourself — to pro-business organisations. But there is a notch even beneath this in the lexicon of dastardliness. For the British press, the circle of hell beneath that inhabited by Americans arguing for lower taxes is anyone at all with a link to Israel.

The British press no longer use the term “pro-Israel” descriptively — only ominously. To state that someone is pro-Israel is not to state a fact but to make a slur. It is to suggest dark and sinister dealings. It is as fine an example as exists of the moral inversion that now grips this country. So the press repeatedly highlighted that Werritty had been with Fox at the Herzliya Conference in Israel. Worse even than appearing in Israel was the fact that Fox was known to be “for” the country he had been in. In contrast, few reports mentioned that Fox was “pro-Sri Lanka”. Indeed, the press didn’t bother to investigate Fox’s attitudes towards any of the other countries in the world that exist and whose existence — as a result — Fox recognises. Saying someone is for a country should be like saying they are “pro-gravity” — not so much a statement of principle, just a statement of fact. But when the country in question is not just a friend and ally, but a beacon of common values in a neighbourhood blighted by despotism and fanaticism, to be additionally supportive of the state ought to constitute not an aberration but a demonstration of decency.

Of course this is not what it means any more. In the eyes of our press, to say someone is “pro-Israel” is to make a statement about malign motives and malign intent. If you are “pro-Israel” then the gloves are off. And there are several well-worn illogical conclusions that this always heads towards. Sure enough, stories followed about rich Jewish and Israeli donors. Liam Fox has always been supportive of Israel. But, once the money trail story comes up, another theme is suggested: nobody could actually support that country, it says. Not, unless they were being paid.

It was the Independent that took the plunge the others wanted to. Last Sunday it ran on its front page: “Werritty ‘plotted with Mossad to target Iran’.” There’s something especially delicious about those quotation marks. A hybrid of “scare-quotes” and “we-know-we-can’t-stand-this-one-up-so-we’ll-use-these-to-pretend-we-haven’t-invented-it” quotes. Perhaps I do them an injustice. Perhaps Johann Hari was their source. Amid all this, it was claimed that Werritty had met members of the Iranian opposition. Even if this was remotely true, when did opposing the usurping Revolutionary Islamic government in Tehran become a negative? How will Werritty ever make this up to the Independent? Perhaps he’ll not be rehabilitated until he’s finally done time promoting the gay-hanging, women-torturing genocide-mongering theocracy in Tehran. Only then will he finally be allowed to rejoin civilised British society.

A friend from Northern Ireland often used to say how funny the Troubles would have been if it weren’t for all the guns. It’s the same with Israel. It would be laughable how absurd the moral disorientation towards Israel in Britain has become — if it weren’t all the warm-up to genocide. A concerted effort is being made in this country to normalise the abominable and abominate the normal. When people wonder how nightmares come about: this is how. First, you lose control of the facts. Second, you lose control of the language. Finally, you lose control of events.

Douglas Murray is the associate director of the Henry Jackson Society and author of ‘Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Secret Courts to Shut Down £1m ‘Cashpoint’ For Terror Suspects

Secret hearings will be held in terror compensation cases, in an attempt to stop the taxpayer being used as a £1million ‘cashpoint’ for fanatics.

The move is designed to end the dilemma faced by the Cabinet Office when MI5 and MI6 hold classified intelligence on terror suspects who are lodging compensation claims, which under civil court rules must be released to them and their lawyers.

It follows public outrage over payouts of millions of pounds to 16 terror suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, who claimed they had been mistreated by security and intelligence officials.

Currently, the rules covering civil court cases mean claimants and their legal teams can demand access to all of the intelligence held about them.

Officials then face the choice of handing over the information — revealing secret techniques or sensitive intelligence on other live investigations — or caving in and writing a cheque for up to £1million.

Government sources say that, under the current rules, there is no option but to write taxpayer-funded cheques to ‘bad men’ even when they are confident there has been no wrongdoing. One said: ‘The danger is that we have become a cashpoint for terrorists.’

Under the new system, which will be unveiled by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke in Parliament today, parts of the case which involve classified or sensitive material would be heard in secret.

The claimant would be represented by a ‘special advocate’, who would be entitled to see the information but not disclose it to anybody else, even the client.

The proposal is likely to be hotly contested by civil liberties groups, who will argue it goes against the principle of open justice.

Several cases are currently going through the system in addition to the 16 in which payments have been made.

To complicate matters, compensation claims also involve intelligence gathered by the U.S. which it requires Britain not to disclose.

In these instances, officials feel they have little option but to pay out, even when they have grave doubts that the terror suspect is telling the truth.

The Prime Minister has said he is deeply worried by the ‘inability of the security services to defend themselves in civil cases because they cannot compromise national security by revealing sensitive information in open court’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: The Battle for Dale Farm: Protesters Torch Caravan as Riot Police Wielding Axes Finally Start £22million Eviction of Travellers’ Camp

Police were this afternoon clearing away the last of the protesters from the Dale Farm site as victory for the council seemed to be within reach.

Demonstrators who were awoken by a raid this morning retaliated by throwing a hail of missiles and buckets of urine at the officials which resulted in two people being shot with Taser guns by police officers. Seven people have been arrested throughout the day.

Anarchists chained themselves by the neck with motorcycle D-locks but police used their shields to barge protesters aside as they marched deeper into the site.

Electricity was cut and moments later a caravan was set alight, sending flames and thick black smoke into the air. After a 90-minute stand-off, the police made another push into the site at 9.25am and scaled the scaffolding at the entrance to the camp.

By the end of the afternoon just a handful of protesters could be seen on the scaffolding tower protecting the site and the families of travellers appeared to have moved onto the neighboring legal site.. Officers were slowly removing the demonstrators after being lifted 40ft into the air on a cherry picker crane.

The authorities are due to pack up at 6pm but may have to remain on the site to prevent it from being reoccupied.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: The Islamic Forum of Europe Becomes a Three-Time Loser in the Complaint Stakes

The Islamic Forum of Europe, the extremist group which runs the East London Mosque and has been accused of taking over Tower Hamlets council, has lost yet another complaint — its third — against my coverage of its affairs.

As very attentive readers may remember, we reported last February how Lutfur Ali, a man with close links to the IFE, had been appointed assistant chief executive of Tower Hamlets despite being unqualified for the £125k job (the council’s professional recruitment consultants described him as “superficial,” “rather limited,” “o ne-dimensional” and a man who might “struggle with the intellectual challenges [of] a highly strategic role”.) On the panel which appointed him were the IFE-backed council leader, Lutfur Rahman, and another councillor, Abjol Miah, who is an IFE activist.

The IFE, bizarrely, waited more than a year before complaining to the Press Complaints Commission that it was wrong to describe Lutfur Ali as someone with close links to them. We pointed out, as patiently as we could manage, that Mr Ali had in fact set up a think-tank with a number of co-directors who were either senior officials of the IFE or closely linked to it. The PCC accepted this as evidence of a close link and ruled last week that “no inaccuracy could be established” in our pieces.

I still can’t quite understand why the IFE wanted to make an issue of this now — I can only speculate tha t their ally Lutfur Rahman, now the elected mayor, wanted to bring Mr Ali back to work at the council (he was forced to resign after our expose.)Last year, the IFE also comprehensively lost an orchestrated campaign of complaints it waged against me at the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom. They later tried to take the Lutfur Ali point to Ofcom as well, but the complaint was rejected as out of time — not that stopped them claiming that Ofcom had found in their favour. Abjol Miah, too, made failed complaints to both Ofcom and the PCC. Not that stopped him lying about the outcome, either.

The reason this complaint took seven months to resolve is that the IFE simply would not take no for an answer, betting that we would get tired of responding to their endless new responses. Like the complaint itself, that was a bet they lost. Islamists use the tactics of serial pestering and legal threat (we’ve h ad one of those from the IFE, too) to escape media scrutiny, relying on the fact that most journalists do not have the time and energy to fend them off. For the slower learners out there, I should state once again that we are the exception. We will always find the energy, and put in the time, to defend our journalism against the lies of proven liars.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Uncle Daud Defends Lambert

Well, the pro-Hamas Lobby has decided to back Bob Lambert after all. Here’s Daud Abdullah in (where else!) Comment is Free:

The “exposure” of the former special branch officer Bob Lambert comes at a convenient time: it can serve as a distraction from the scandals that have engulfed the neocon tendency in the government. Lambert has been a staunch critic of the government’s Islamophobic rhetoric and exclusivist policies. This, to a large extent, explains the excitement that has greeted disclosure of information about Lambert’s past career among certain people. These people seek to achieve two things: to assassinate Lambert’s character and discredit his academic work. Both will fail.

Nice try mate. A small anarchist group is part of the World Wide Neocon Conspiracy? Of course it is. Even more amusing is the subheading of Uncle Daud’s article:

Those of us who worked with Lambert knew of his police past. What matters is how his approach kept Muslims from extremism

Coming from a man so extreme that his refusal to backtrack from the terrorist threats contained in the pro-Hamas Istanbul Declaration resulted in both Labour and the Coalition breaking off relations with the Muslim Council of Britain, that’s pretty cheeky! Check out the comment thread for even more drollery.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Why Paul Goodman is Right (And Brave) To Take on Douglas Murray’s Muslim-Bashing

If I could have a dream dinner party, I’d have it catered by Heston Blumenthal and hold it at Somerset House. And I’d invite Paul Goodman, journalist and former MP, and Douglas Murray, polemicist. They’re both great value — waspish, articulate, opinionated and blessed with an enviable memory. Alas, that memory is not only for entertaining anecdotes but also for slights, which makes the likelihood of them both showing up at my dinner close to nil.

As Paul Goodman writes this morning, Murra y is waging battle against him. Why? Because Goodman quite rightly distinguishes between Islam and Islamists, while Murray blurs the distinction between the worst extremists and your ordinary Muslim. Worse, because he is a fabulous agent provocateur, Murray doesn’t just portray the Muslim community as rabid Sharia fanatics: he urges Britons — in fact all Europeans — to make life difficult for them. In a speech to the Dutch Parliament that Goodman quotes, Murray argued that “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.” He went on to suggest that mosques be demolished in some cases, and that Muslim immigrants should be banned.

That’s true hatred of religious freedom for you. Muslims, by virtue of their faith, must suffer.

No wonder that the Conservative Party promptly broke off all relations with Murray: to be seen to condone this visi on of religious cleansing would be horriffic. Yet the Conservatives’ snub rankled and Murray began to misrepresent them, too — or at least to misrepresent Goodman, who as an MP had worked hard for the Muslim community in his Wycombe constituency and beyond, shadowing the Department for Communities and Local Government. It was a stupid move on Murray’s part. I suspect he will rue the day when he revealed his true opinion of Muslims — and of those who exposed him as he tried to stamp out a crucial freedom. The beauty of Britain lies in its tolerance towards all, Muslims and Murrays. But when the latter tries to eject the former, someone has to step in. Thank you, Paul Goodman, for doing so.

[JP note: Goodman is neither brave nor right, but a mediocre dhimmi whose intervention only serves to strengthen Islam in the UK.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Past and Prejudices Damaging the Economy

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE — The past, old feuds and prejudices continue to weigh down upon the Balkans, not only in the political sphere but also in terms of the economy, with a negative impact on commercial exchanges and investment flows as a result.

The countries in the region, which together make up a market of 22 million people, are unable to confront the growing competition from the EU alone. This is why businesspeople and economic operators are aiming to join forces to increase the chances of success on third-party markets. But this is not an easy task.

“The biggest obstacles to greater regional collaboration are in our heads,” says Dejan Turk, president of the Slovenian association of entrepreneurs. “Twenty years ago, we separated, growing apart from each other, so now it is not easy to resume collaboration. We have a common language and this is a good starting point. Infrastructure, telecommunications and energy are the other conditions needed for solid collaboration,” he added. Turk says that the European Union should not be relied upon to increase the volume of investments, as Slovenia’s experience shows that although it is positive to be part of the EU, it is difficult to make one’s voice heard when only a small part of the union.

Vojin Lazarevic, president of the board of directors of the Rudnap company, agrees. “The integration of economies in the region is the best way to overcome the historical obstacles and differences between the various countries” of the former Yugoslavia, he said, adding that after years of destruction, it is now necessary to change direction and concentrate on construction. “There are obstacles to investments in the region, and these are often based on historical experience. And sadly, history in this region has not been good,” Lazarevic says. “The integration of economic and infrastructure projects in this area is the best guarantee of future political stability”.

Serbian investments in other countries of the former Yugoslavia amount to a total 1.5 billion euros, according to figures from the Chamber of Commerce, while Croatia’s investment in Serbia alone comes to around 480 million euros. More than 200 Croatian companies are currently operating in Serbia, compared to a meagre number of Serbian firms active in Croatia. The same is true for Slovenia, which has 1,500 registered companies in Serbia, 500 of which are operational, while very few Serbian firms operate in Slovenia. For many people, twenty years on from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia is still seen as the dominant country to be held arm’s length, as if to avoid it “broadening” too much. This prejudice is difficult to shift, and is damaging the economy of the Balkans.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Rival Serbian Muslim Organizations Settle Their Differences in Turkey’s Capitol

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Turkey has successfully intervened to end the damaging split between Serbia’s two rival Islamic communities, one based in Belgrade and the other in the mainly Bosniak [Muslim] southwest Sandzak region. Ankara has resolved a dispute that has caused an escalating crisis inthe predomiantly Muslim Serbian region of Sandzak, which at times has resulted in violence and imams being harassed on both sides.

The split dates back to 2007. The Islamic Community in Serbia, based in Novi Pazar, the biggest town in Sandzak, looks to neighbouring Bosnia for sp iritual guidance and is led by Muamer Zukorlic. The Islamic Community of Serbia, based in Belgrade, is led by Adem Zilkic. The dispute was caused by speculation that Sandzak was becoming autonomous, a goal promoted by Zukorlic. As a result, some 350,000 residents of the region have been torn between the two religious leaders, both of whom claimed superiority over the other for a say in how Sandzak should be run. , which the mufti of Sandzak has called for, was reportedly settled by Ankara last week.

A meeting was held for both sides in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Attendees including the mufti of Sandzak Muamer Zukorlic of the Bosniak Culture Community; Sulejman Ugljanin, a state minister supporting rival Bosniak Ticket; Rasim Ljajic, the minister of labor, employment and social affairs supporting the Bosniak Renaissance; and Bosnia’s grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu and Directorate of Turkish Religious Affai rs (DÝB) head Mehmet Görmez, succeeded in getting both sides to draft an agreement to end the crisis that has damaged the Sandzak community. The Turkish-mediated agreement is to be signed by the two heads of the two Serbian Islamic communities and the head of the Muslim community in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ugljanin said that the separation of religious institutions in Sandzak was “finally concluded under the guidance of the Turkish authorities,” and that the Bosnians in Serbia reached an accord thanks to their efforts. Ugljanin added that the participants of the meeting would pay the utmost respect to the “sovereign rights and territorial unity of Serbia” while they resolve their problems, and that the meeting was a sign of victory for all Muslims in Sandzak.

The meeting in Ankara foresees the establishment of a religious affairs directorate, which would see to the separation of politics and religious affairs in the minority Muslim community , a development Ljajic hailed as a turning point in Sandzak’s history after which “the real problem of Sandzak, its economy, can finally be discussed and resolved.”

Sandzak Mufti Zukorlic, a figure who grabbed international attention with his calls for autonomy for Sandzak, expressed his gratitude to the Turkish authorities at the end of the meeting, admitting that he had “surrendered himself to the will of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan,” a leader he believed was capable of establishing a strong emotional bond with his people. Noting that he would follow Ankara’s advice of unifying the Muslim communityl. “I admire the efforts of Davutoðlu and Görmez to come up with a solution to the problem in Sandzak,” Zukorlic was quoted by Anatolia as saying. He concluded that he would agree on any solution the Bosnian grand mufti and Turkey reached, and noted that the draft agreement would be signed and submitted to Belgrade on his return to the country.

Sandzak has suffered from a serious economic backlash, being a region mostly ignored under Yugoslavian rule, battling high levels of unemployment and lack of investment as a result of decades of ineffective policies that left the region under-served. Protests for an autonomous Sandzak erupted after a referendum held in the region after the collapse of Yugoslavia showed that 99 percent of the residents demanded political sovereignty — a demand that is still voiced by many local politicians and religious leaders in Sandzak.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Brussels Opens Consultation on ENPI Plans in 2011

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 14 — Interested parties in the Neighbourhood Partner Countries with which an Action Plan is agreed with the Eu have been invited to send in their contributions for the European Commission’s ENP 2011 progress reports. According to the Enpi website (, Commission services are now beginning the preparations for the sixth package of progress reports, which will cover implementation in 2011 and which will be adopted in spring 2012. It pointed out that in preparing its reports last year, the Commission had made use of contributions received from civil society in their specific areas of expertise.

“In order to ensure — the invitation said — a maximum of transparency and objectivity in the reports, the EEAS and the Commission services draws on the widest possible array of sources. In this context, all interested parties, including non-governmental organisations and other interested organisations active in the fields covered by the ENP Action Plans are invited to provide any information, reports or assessments”. The progress reports will cover many south countries: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories and Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Campus Party on Mediterranean Technological Progress

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 19 — Over 2,500 participants from Mediterranean countries have given life to the Campus Party Milenio Movistar, which over the past 5 days in Granada has taken stock of technological progress on the two shores of the Mediterranean. About 100 experts and 600 technology buffs from Algeria, Albania, Palestine, Bosnia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Turkey, Italy, Tunis, Syria, San Marino, Malta, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, France and Greece exchanged views at the forum to support emerging and often ignored talents in the area of creativity and social media, innovation and cooperation, science and sustainability. According to the forum’s organisers, the event aims to build a better world through technology, with sustainable projects, focused on people with disabilities or integration problems, through the creation of citizen collaboration platforms. There were numerous round tables in which entrepreneurs or professionals specialised in internet security, censorship and freedom, electronic commerce, and new means of communication took part, who traded experiences on how to apply creativity in all professional spheres or how to use technology in the healthcare and educational fields.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Italy: Pope’s Interreligious Meeting Invite — No Praying

POPE Benedict XVI has invited Hindus, Jews, Taoists and Muslims to join him for a peace pilgrimage to the hilltop town of Assisi — but they won’t pray together because the Pope doesn’t want to show different beliefs and rituals mixing.

The October 27 event marks the 25th anniversary of the first such interreligious prayer for peace, which was promoted by Pope John Paul II and held in the town known for its native son, St Francis. Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, didn’t attend that first 1986 meeting and later criticised it as an example of religious relativism — the idea that there are no absolute truths and that all religions are somehow equal — since people of different faiths were seen praying together, jointly. In 2000, when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, Ratzinger issued a controversial document in part as a response to the Assisi meeting, which suggested the fullness of human salvation was found in the Catholic Church alone.

Now Benedict is presiding over his first Assisi interreligious gathering, and the decision to eliminate the common, public prayer is being seen as his way of further correcting the wrongs from the 1986 event, which was repeated in 2002, albeit with changes. Vatican officials outlined the day’s schedule on Tuesday and released the guest list, which includes a record 300-plus delegates representing dozens of faiths — and even four people who profess no faith, a new feature this year.

Some of the big names include Rajhmoon Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who will head a Hindu delegation; the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; a delegation from Israel’s rabbinate authority; a Bahai, a Zoroastrian, three Jains, five Sikhs, and a Yoruba. The Dalai Lama had a scheduling conflict and is sending an envoy, and Russia’s Orthodox Church — with which the Vatican is trying to improve ties — is dispatching a representative from Kazakhstan. For the first time, a Buddhist from mainland China is coming.

Some 48 Muslims are expected, but none from Cairo’s Al-Azhar institute, the pre-eminent school of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world, which cut ties with the Vatican over Benedict’s call for Christians to be better protected in Egypt.

The delegates will travel together with the Pope aboard a train leaving from the Vatican’s train station and will sit together for speeches in Assisi’s St Mary of the Angels basilica. They’ll have a “spare” lunch together — obviously heavily vegetarian — and then they will go to pray privately, separately in rooms of an Assisi convent. They’ll come back together for a wrap-up session and light candles as symbols of peace.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ennahdha to Get Over 50% of Votes, Gannouchi

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 18 — Rached Gannouchi is convinced that his party, Ennahdha, will get an absolute majority of votes in the election for Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, adding that on October 26 the country would have a coalition government led by Ennahdha. A government which — he said — will be the one that the country “needs”.

Gannouchi made these statements in an interview with the Egyptian paper Al Ahram, of which Business News published substantial excerpts from. Polls are expressly prohibited by rigid electoral regulations in Tunisia. However, the last carried out before the electoral period blackout showed that Ennahdha enjoyed a wide lead of between 20 and 30% of support. Ennahdha’s leader said that his party will be prepared on October 24, and that “we have plans and a government model.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Would-be Bomber Tells Gaza Children to be Like Her

GAZA CITY (Reuters) — A would-be suicide bomber freed by Israel in the prisoner swap told cheering schoolchildren in Gaza the day after her release Wednesday she hoped they would follow her example.

“I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs,” Wafa al-Biss told dozens of children who came to her home in the northern Gaza Strip.

Biss was traveling to Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for medical treatment in 2005 when Israeli soldiers at the Erez border crossing noticed she was walking strangely. They found 10 kgs of explosives had been sewn into her underwear.

A member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group aligned with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Biss was sentenced to a 12-year term for planning to blow herself up.

After she spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted: “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine.”

Biss said she had planned to blow herself up at the checkpoint but her detonator malfunctioned.

“Unfortunately, the button did not work at the last minute before I was to be martyred,” Biss told Reuters.

She said she had not yet adjusted to her freedom and arose early on Wednesday for prison roll call.

“This morning I woke up in my room, wore my scarf and stood up awaiting the line-up time before I realized I was home and not in jail,” she said.

Once she settles back to her routine, Biss said she plans to complete university psychology studies but added that she remained defiant in the face of Israeli warnings to act against those who return to fighting.

“We will pursue our struggle and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu) knows that. Arrests will not deter us from our strong battles and confrontation in the face of Zionist arrogance in the land of Palestine,” she said.

Biss was one of 477 Palestinians freed by Israel on Tuesday in the first stage of an exchange with Hamas that ended Gilad Shalit’s five years of captivity.

Another 550 Palestinians will be freed in the second stage later this year.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Car Crashes Dropped 40% in Middle East During Blackberry Outage

Blackberry’s data centre crash may have proved catastrophic for the firms and workers who rely on the smartphones’ email services to do business.

But while the disruption may have sounded the death-knell for Research In Motion, the phones’ embattled maker, it may have helped save lives elsewhere.

In the United Arab Emirates, a dramatic fall in traffic accidents has been directly linked to the three-day blackout of Blackberry services.

In the kingdom of Dubai, the number of crashes fell 20 per cent on the days Blackberry users were unable to use its service.

In nearby Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, the fall was even more dramatic, with the number of accidents plummetting 40 per cent — with no fatal crashes at all.

Usually there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi someone is killed in a crash every two days.

Brigadier General Hussein Al Harethi, the director of the Abu Dhabi Police traffic department, linked the fall in crashes directly to the smartphone blackout.

‘Accidents were reduced by 40 per cent and the fact that BlackBerry services were down definitely contributed to that,’ he told The National, a government-owned English language paper.

‘People are slowly starting to realise the dangers of using their phone while driving. The roads became much safer when BlackBerry stopped working,’ he added.

For three days, at least ten million of the Blackberry’s 70million users could not make full use of their smartphones after the company’s ‘core switch’ failed at its European headquarters in Slough.

What began as a minor inconvenience last Monday turned into an fiasco by Tuesday morning as problems spread throughout Europe and the Middle East before hitting users in India and Latin America.

Everyone from CEOs to text-addicted teenagers was left electronically stranded, unable to send or receive emails or instant messages or surf the internet.

But the drop in the number of car crash deaths was an unexpected benefit, and one with special poignancy in the UAE, where high profile tragedies have highlighted the dangers of using a smartphone while driving.

Two weeks ago Theyab Amana, a UAE international footballer, was killed when he crashed his car into the back of a lorry while reportedly using his Blackberry.

Mr Amana’s mourning father subsequently urged motorists to think twice before using their phones while driving.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Iraq’s Move to Revoke Immunity for Troops Adds to US Problems

The Iraqi government’s intention to revoke immunity for US troops staying on past the official withdrawal date poses a problem for the US not only in Iraq but potentially for all its future overseas deployments.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: the Invisible Domestic ‘Slaves’

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, OCTOBER 18 — They meet in the streets of Beirut’s trendy quarters, often wearing uniforms, walking a dog or accompanying children to a playground or an elegant shopping centre. They look like well-paid workers who are happy with what they are doing, also considering the wealth of many of the families that hire them. But the reality of the 200 thousand domestic helps who are working in Lebanon is completely different, according to Gulnara Shahinian, UN rapporteur for initiatives against slavery. In a conference in Beirut she denounced the existence of a situation of exploitation and physical and sexual abuse, asking the government to intervene. “The domestic helps who immigrated to Lebanon, most of them women, are legally invisible. This makes them extremely vulnerable to domestic slavery,” said Shahinian, who has been rapporteur for three years now and has recently made her first visit to Lebanon. “Immigrated domestic helps,” she continued, “are forced to live in the houses of their employers. They face race and gender discrimination, and are deprived of the necessary legal protection.” “I have met women,” Shahinian added, “who have been forced to work long hours without remuneration and without a valid contract. They are physically and sexually abused and psychologically mistreated through constant insults and humiliations.” Just looking at most of the apartments and houses in Beirut’s better districts gives an idea of the conditions these women, most of them coming from south-east Asia and Africa, have to live in. A tiny room is usually connected to the kitchen, completely separated from the luxurious salons and rooms, so small that it is hard to imagine that someone actually lives there. And yet most maids are forced to sleep in these rooms, which usually have a small toilet next to it. And they are ‘forced’ in the real meaning of the word: “Current legislation on visas,” the UN representative for the fight against slavery points out, “states that if a domestic help leaves his or her employer, he or she breaks the law.

Therefore a maid who is held as a slave and decides to leave the house is treated as a criminal, not a victim.” Gulnara Shahinian admits that the Lebanese government has taken some steps in the right direction, like opening a telephone line to hear the complaints and help requests of domestic helps. Also, a national committee has been created to offer suggestions on how to deal with the situation. One of the first initiatives of this committee was to write a standard labour contract and a draft law for immigrant workers. “But this draft,” Shahinian underlines, “has been under discussion for three years now and its approval must become a government priority now. The law must explicitly guarantee that immigrant workers can keep their passport, can move around freely, that they have one day off per week so that they can leave the house, and that they get adequate accommodation and wages. The law must also include clear regulations on how employment agencies must do their work.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: PKK Attack, 26 Dead; Gul Promises Vengeance

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) unleashed an attack of nearly unprecedented proportions, killing and injuring Turkish soldiers. And Turkish President, Abdullah Gul, responding immediately with a series of air strikes in Iraq, vowed a “great vengeance”, while Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned: “We will never back down against any attack.” In one of the most violent attacks in the last 20 years in Turkey, last night Kurdish terrorists of the PKK killed at least 26 Turkish soldiers in the southeast of the country on the Iraqi border, also causing about 20 injuries, according to preliminary figures. Ankara reacted with bombardments in Iraqi territory, where units were sent to hunt down the terrorists. The Turkish media, citing several sources, reports that “simultaneous attacks” were conducted for several hours on 8 army and police buildings in the mountainous province of Hakkari. Nearly 1000 members of Turkish special forces accompanied by 2 helicopters were sent after the attackers while they were returning to their bases. The troops entered at least 4 kilometres into Iraqi territory, crossing the border at 2 points.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Violence Escalates in Turkey After Deadly Kurdish Rebel Attack

Turkish troops have reportedly killed at least 15 Kurdish militants in retaliation for earlier attacks by the rebels on Turkish officers near the Iraqi border. At least 26 Turkish troops were killed.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attacks on its website but said over 100 Turkish troops were killed. The party’s spokesman added that Ankara faced a “bigger hit” if the Turkish military followed through with its ground incursion into the mountains of northern Iraq where Kurdish rebels are based.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


A Marriage of Cosmic Convenience: Russia and Europe Launch a Tricky Partnership

For the first time, a Russian Soyuz rocket will lift off from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana this week. The site’s proximity to the equator allows the rocket to carry larger payloads into space. But technical problems and cultural differences have plagued the partnership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe Looks to Russia After NASA Falls Short on Exomars

The US agency’s shrinking budget and growing space-telescope costs are squeezing other projects.

The European Space Agency (ESA) will forge ahead with ExoMars, an ambitious two-part robotic mission that would look for signs of life on the red planet, even though NASA has reneged on its promise to provide a launch rocket for the first stage of the mission.

During a 12-13 October ESA council meeting in Paris, the agency decided to begin negotiations with Russia for a rocket that would launch the first stage of ExoMars, in 2016, in exchange for Russian participation in the mission. Already €150 million (US$207 million) shy of the €1 billion it needs for the entire ExoMars project, ESA has deemed it too costly to use its own Ariane rocket for the 2016 launch, according to a senior ExoMars official who asked not to be identified.

The initial 2016 phase of the mission would carry an orbiter designed to sniff out possible sources of methane and other trace gases that might signal the presence of microbial life on Mars. The orbiter would then serve as a data relay for a rover, to be launched in 2018, that would collect Martian soil samples. A future mission would carry those eagerly awaited samples back to Earth, where scientists would examine them for signs of past or present biological activity.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Navigation Satellite Hopes Riding on Russian Rocket Launch Thursday

The first operational navigation satellites for a new European GPS system are poised to blast into space Thursday (Oct. 20) atop a Russian rocket that will be making its debut launch from Europe’s South American spaceport.

The two satellites, the first of 30 planned in Europe’s Galileo constellation, are slated to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz at 6:34 a.m. EDT (1034 GMT) on Thursday. The rocket will lift off from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, marking the first time a Soyuz has operated outside the old Soviet realm.

This launch comes almost two months after a Soyuz failed while launching the robotic Progress 44 resupply vessel toward the International Space Station on Aug. 24. But the Soyuz blasting off tomorrow is a different model, so there’s no reason to fear it could have similar problems, officials with European launch services provider Arianespace have said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Europe Can Learn From Islamic Finance, Says Malyasian Finance Minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Europe can learn and gain from Islamic finance, given that financial institutions under it, have remained stable against the backdrop of the eurozone debt crisis. This observation was made by Malaysian Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, Luc Frieden, in a keynote address at the IFN 2011 Issuers & Investors Asia Forum here today. Frieden said despite the credit crunch that has impacted Europe’s banks, Islamic financial institutions had weathered the global crisis and emerged to be the most well managed.

“Therefore, we can learn a lot from Islamic finance and from Asia, as we have much in common. The key elements in Islamic finance that we need in the world today, particularly in Europe, are stability, financial partnership, provision of excessive risk and speculation as well as ethical principles,” he added. He said in Islamic finance, the financial relationship between the lender and borrower, had assured the “partnership mentality”, which was found to lead to certain stability.

Explaining the need to avoid excessive risk taking place, Frieden said this is among the key goals of Europe and is an important feature found in Islamic finance. “The provision against speculation and gambling which is prohibited in Islamic finance, is what we can concentrate on,” he added. He also said the element of ethical principles should not be limited to the Islamic finance industry alone. Frieden gave an assurance that Europe would find a solution to the debt-crisis that had led to volatility in the global economy.

“There’s no one easy solution and one meeting can’t solve the crisis. We have embarked on a step-by-step process to solve the problems. We will find a solution to the Greek issue. The Euro will be a currency you can count on in the future and see growth,” he said. He said Asia and Europe must join forces for the development and prosperity of the global economy. “Therefore, Asian investors should look at Europe for trade and investment purposes, going forward,” he added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Who is Poor? India Grapples With the Definition of Poverty

India’s Planning Commission believes that 25 rupees, or half a US dollar, is enough for daily expenses in India’s villages. In cities, 32 rupees should suffice. The recommendations have triggered a debate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Filipino Troops Search for 10 Missing Soldiers

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops searched Wednesday for 10 soldiers missing after fierce clashes with Muslim rebels left 19 combatants dead and an already-shaky cease-fire in jeopardy. The daylong fighting on southern Basilan island erupted Tuesday between army special forces — backed by bomber planes and artillery fire — and members of the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It was some of the deadliest fighting since 2008, when peace talks bogged down and ignited widespread clashes that killed hundreds and displaced 750,000 people.

The rebels have waged a bloody insurgency for self-rule in the southern Mindanao region, the homeland of minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. The conflict has killed more than 120,000 people in nearly four decades and stunted development of the resource-rich but impoverished south. Since the clashes in 2008, a Malaysia-led peacekeeping contingent has kept watch to prevent further battles and keep the atmosphere ripe for peace talks.

Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said Tuesday’s fighting started when troops clashed with armed men believed led by a former Muslim rebel commander, Dan Laksaw Asnawi, who escaped from jail in 2009 and was accused of involvement in the beheadings of marines in 2007. At least 13 soldiers were killed, 11 wounded and 10 others were missing, he said. Rebel spokesman Von Al Haq said five rebels were slain. Police reported at least six rebels were killed. Al Haq said government troops provoked the fighting by attacking the rebels in their Al-Barka stronghold in violation of the existing cease-fire. Army troops shelled the rebel stronghold after the initial clash, trapping villagers in the fighting, he said.

Cabangbang said troops were deployed to check reports by villagers that a group of gunmen known to be holding kidnap victims had strayed in areas close to their communities. He said the troops did not intrude on the guerrilla stronghold, and were about two miles (four kilometers) from it when they were fired upon by the Moro rebels, prompting the troops to fight back, he said.

Under cease-fire rules, government troops should notify the Moro rebels first if they want to venture into guerrilla strongholds in search of criminals to prevent accidental clashes.

Cabangbang said Wednesday that the clashes had stopped and the military had asked a joint government-rebel cease-fire committee to allow troops to search for the missing soldiers in the Moro rebels’ Al-Barka stronghold. Al-Haq, however, said rebels from his group have reported they are not holding any captives. Several army soldiers apparently fled during the clash into nearby communities, he said. “Our men have been ordered not to advance or attack unless they come under attack,” Al Haq said. “Hopefully we can diffuse this with the other side.”

Malaysian-led peacekeepers were trying to pacify both sides, Al Haq said. It was not immediately clear if al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants, known for beheading soldiers, got involved in Tuesday’s clashes. The militants are active in Basilan, a predominantly Muslim island about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila, and some are relatives of the Moro rebels.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France Pipped by Japan on Three Star Restaurants

France has been overtaken by Japan when it comes to the number of restaurants with three Michelin stars, according to the latest guide to the nation’s western cities to be released on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Disabled Frenchwoman Held Hostage in Somalia Dies

(AGI) Paris — The French foreign ministry reports that the French woman taken hostage by Somali gunmen in Kenya, has died.

Marie Dedieu, an elderly woman confined to a wheelchair, was kidnapped on 1 October. She was seized at Manda Bay, in the Lamu archipelago where a British tourist had previously been kidnapped in August, while her husband was killed by armed bandits. The bandits then gave the woman to the ultra-Islamic Shebaab al-Mujahideen guerillas, al-Qaeda’s bridgehead in the Horn of Africa.

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

France Confirms Death of Kidnapped Woman

Marie Dedieu, 66, a handicapped Frenchwoman who was kidnapped from her beachfront suite at a Kenyan island resort and taken to neighbouring Somalia has died, the French government confirmed on Wednesday. “The contacts through which the French government was seeking to obtain the release of Marie Dedieu, held in Somalia since October 1th, have announced her death, but we have not been able to determine the date nor the circumstances,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Mrs Dedieu’s state of health, uncertainty over the conditions of her detention and the fact that the kidnappers probably refused to give her the medication that we sent her lead us to believe that this tragic outcome is unfortunately the most likely,” the ministry said. A gang of 10 armed men seized Dedieu, 66, from Manda Island in Kenya’s Lamu archipelago earlier this month and fled by sea to Somalia, fighting off an attempt by Kenya’s navy to stop them. There had been serious concern over the health of Dedieu, who was wheelchair-bound after an accident several years ago and required medication every few hours.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kenya on Alert Over Al-Shabab Terror Attacks

The ongoing civil war in Somalia between Islamist militants and the provisional government has spilled over into Kenya. Now Nairobi is wading into the fray, taking direct aim at al-Shabab militias.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kenya: Embracing Islam in Africa Rising

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Head of Kenya’s Muslims Supreme Council said more people embrace Islam in Africa every day. Abdul Ghafur Bu Saeedi told reporters that many in African tribes are converting to Islam. Predicting a bright future for Islam in Africa, he said Islam is going to be the first religion in the continent. “People show amazing interest in reading, reciting and memorizing the Quran,” he added. Bu Saeedi also noted that the number of institutes promulgating Islam in Africa has been on the rise. “On Fridays, you can see people coming into mosques all across Kenya to say the Shahadatayn (testimony of faith) and learn how to say prayers and read the Quran.” While the predominant religion in Kenya is Christianity, conversion to Islam is a growing phenomenon in the country.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Stakelbeck: Hezbollah in Your Backyard

On this week’s edition of the Stakelbeck on Terror show, I sit down with two leading experts on Latin America to discuss the major inroads the terrorist militia Hezbollah and its Iranian master are making in the Western hemisphere.

Watch as former Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Jose Cardenas discuss Hezbollah’s alliance with Venezuela, its new terror base in Cuba, its work with Mexican drug smugglers along America’s southern border, and much more.

It’s frightening information you won’t hear anywhere else. Watch it at the above link.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]


Indonesia: Fourteen Iranian Migrants Arrested

Jakarta, 18 Oct. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian authorities on Tuesday announced the arrest of 14 Iranian immigrants who had been staying at hotel in eastern Indonesia.

Local immigration and police officers in the the west Timor city of Kupang. also arrested two people who were allegedly acting as agents for the group, attempting to transport the immigrants across the Timor Sea to Australia’s Ashmore Reef.

The immigrants and the agents are currently being detained at Kupang Police office.

“[Before the arrest], officers received information that some immigrant agents were looking for fishermen willing to help them reach Australia,” Kupang Immigration official Moon Bagarai said Tuesday in Kupang.

He added that all the immigrants had passports and visas.

“They claimed to be tourists planning to visit a number of tourist areas in Kupang, not immigrants. But we can’t just believe them, because pretending to be tourists is a modus immigrants often use to cross over to Australia,” Moon said.

Kupang has often been used as a stopover for foreign immigrants attempting to reach Australia. In 2011 alone, local authorities arrested 406 immigrants in the East Nusa Tenggara capital.

The immigrants often rent fishing boats in Rote, Flores and Sumba, as well as several islands in neighboring West Nusa Tenggara to make the crossing to Australia.

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

Spain No More El Dorado, More Going Than Coming

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 18 — Spain is no longer an El Dorado for immigrants from the Maghreb and South America due to the crisis that has hit the country and the threat of a new economic recession. Data on the current population, released by the national statistics institute (INE), confirm this turnaround, which had been predicted: in the first 9 months of 2011 the immigration balance was negative for the first time in a decade. >From January to September around 317,500 immigrants arrived in Spain, and around 356,700 returned to their countries of origin, leaving a negative balance of more than 39,200 migrants.

According to INE, the emigration concerns men rather than women, which indirectly confirms that most people who decide to return do this because they lost their job. Faced with a 21% unemployment rate, with more than 5 million people jobless by the end of this year based on estimates, immigrants start looking for work in their own countries. Spain is expected to see its population fall by more than half a million in the coming decade as a result of a declining foreign population, falling birthrate and Spanish citizens emigrating to find work.

Before 2011 Spain’s immigration balance was always positive: 511,995 people in the first nine months of 2007 for example, with more than 735,000 arrivals and more than 223,000 foreigners returning to their countries of origin.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Can Somebody Please Explain Multiculturalism?

The Lord Harries of Pentregarth, a former Bishop of Oxford and now a cross bench peer, asked a very interesting question last week. “What”, he enquired, “is the Government’s definition of multiculturalism and what is their policy towards it?” Alas, although he received a reply, it was not an answer. “The Government,” the Minister told him, “do not have any particular definition of multiculturalism”, before retreating into a smokescreen of waffle about us all finding those things that unite us by understanding our differences.

Lord Harries pointed out that as the Prime Minister himself had used the expression, “might it not be helpful if the Government had a clear definition and made it clear what they approved of and what they didn’t approve of?” The Minister, Baroness Hanham, was having none of that, pointing out that in these matters “it is very hard to say what one approves of and what one does not approve of”.

There were several brief exchanges before the Minister seemed to shift ground a little, observing: “We have one of the largest numbers of nationalities living here and, however one defines it or whatever one says — multicultural or multiculturalism — we know what we mean and understand that what we mean is trying to provide a homogeneous community.”

Is that really so? Is the Government trying to create a homogenous community? It does not loook that way to me. And is t hat what multiculturalism means? According to my dictionaries, the essence of homogeneity is sameness of content and construction, and that of multiculturalism is differences of culture.

It was George Orwell who invented the concept of Doublethink, which he helpfully defined as the “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them”, but it was the unfortunate Baronoss Hanham who drew the short straw and had to demonstrate that the policy of the Government towards multiculuralism (surely in itself an Orwellian concept) is one of Doublethink.

I suppose that I should not have been surprised. When I asked some months ago in a written question how they defined the expression “equal civil marriage and partnerships” about which they had said they were consulting, Lord Wallace of Saltire was unable to give me an answer. That, it seems, is one of the things about which they are consulting. No wonder the Government gets itself into a muddle if it it uses expressions which it is unable to define. It is hard to know wether this is a demonstration of dysfuntionality, or wether perhaps the leadership of the Government knows perfectly well where it is going but prefers to proceed under the cover of a smokescreen of misleading verbiage.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Poland: Palikot Power Transforms National Politics

Wprost, 18 October 2011

“Palikot’s revolution”, headlines Wprost weekly on the movement which garnered over 10 percent of the vote in the recent Polish election, making it the third largest party in the Sejm. Leading with a frontpage photo of three Palikot’s Movement (RP) leaders — founder Janusz Palikot, transsexual Anna Grodzka and gay activist Robert Biedron — the Warsaw weekly asks: “Will they change politics, the Church and the Poles?”. Certainly, all three have huge political ambitions. Their first proposal — to remove the wooden cross hanging in Poland’s parliament — has already caused a stir and a wave of criticism from the mainstream parties. According to a poll published in Gazeta Wyborcza, most Poles (71%) did not like the idea either.

But Janusz Palikot is not easily discouraged. In an interview with Wprost he hints that his goal is not to create “another political party” but to “carry out changes”. “Polish society will be incredibly transformed, even if we don’t enter any government or implement anything because our proposals will be voted down. It is going to be a normalisation of otherness on a gigantic scale”, enthuses Palikot who calls for public funding of IVF treatment, a clear separation of the Church from the state, legalisation of gay and lesbian unions, liberalisation of abortion laws as well as marijuana legalisation — a message that met with a surprisingly warm reception from an electorate long considered conservative. “Not only has Palikot tapped into a strong anti-clerical sentiment in Polish society, he has also caught a wind of change blowing from the West”, concludes philosopher and columnist Marcin Król.

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


Cars With Big Grilles Look Like Old Men, Study Finds

Is your car an adult or a child? Male or female? Friendly or hostile? Asking these questions about a hunk of metal and glass may seem nonsensical, but a new study shows that people attribute facial features and humanlike traits to automobiles, even in areas where car advertisements and anthropomorphic auto movies such as Disney Pixar’s “Cars” are almost nonexistent.

The findings are additional evidence that humans are evolutionarily predisposed to see faces in everything, said study researcher Sonja Windhager, an anthropologist at the University of Vienna. This tendency likely would have protected our ancestors, Windhager told LiveScience.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Epic Pi Quest Sets 10 Trillion Digit Record

A pair of pi enthusiasts have calculated the largest chunk of the mathematical constant yet, reaching just over 10 trillion digits. Alexander Yee and Shigeru Kondo, respectively a computer scientist in the US and a systems engineer in Japan, fought hard-drive failures and narrowly missed widespread technical disruptions due to the Japan earthquake to break their previous Guinness world record of 5 trillion digits.

[Return to headlines]

Next-Generation, Honking-Big, Recession-Proof Alien Hunting

The Square Kilometre Array should be able to pick up signals coming from aliens living halfway around the galaxy.

With some luck (and money), the ATA will continue its search for extraterrestrial civilizations at least through 2016, when there will be a new, much bigger kid on the block: the $2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array, or SKA, a collaboration among 70 organizations in 20 countries. The SKA is essentially a bigger, more advanced version of the ATA. The site is undecided, but the blueprints call for thousands of dishes-each wider and more powerful than those of the ATA-to be spread over an area more than 1,800 miles wide. The dishes can point and turn in unison, picking up radio waves from vast tracts of sky and relaying the ATA to computing facilities with the processing power of 1 billion PCs. The SKA will be 50 times as sensitive as its predecessor, capable of registering booming “we are here” broadcasts from civilizations halfway across the Milky Way. It could also detect faint alien signals leaking into space, akin to those from airport radar or TV broadcast towers. In other words, the SKA could hear ETs even when they are not trying to call us.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Seven Billion and Counting

A look behind this month’s global population landmark reveals a world in transition.

What’s in a number? This month, the world’s attention turns to a big one: 7 billion, the latest milestone in humanity’s remarkable and worrying rise in population. According to a calculation based on surveys, censuses, probabilistic analyses, human sleuthing, expert opinion, heated academic debates and not a little guesswork, 31 October 2011 is the most likely day that the number of living humans will top that figure. The date is a rough marker. Assuming a 1% margin for error, the milestone might have arrived earlier this year, or may not be reached until 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]